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What are the Different Types of Cleansing Lotion?

By G. Melanson
Updated Feb 18, 2024
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Also known as “skin cleanser” or simply “cleanser,” cleansing lotion is typically divided up into two categories: cleansers for the face and cleansers for the body. Facial skin cleansers tend to contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or alcohol for the purpose of removing makeup, oil and dead skin cells from the pores which can cause acne. Cleansing lotion for the body, which is sometimes also referred to as “body wash,” typically contain ingredients like as aloe that restore moisture to the skin in addition to cleansing it. Cleansing lotion for the body usually comes in the form of a gel, which turns into foam when mixed with water, and is meant to be used in the bath or shower.

Cleansing lotion for the face comes in a variety of different forms. There are lotions and gels that turn to foam when mixed with water, as well as cream cleansers with a heavier oil base, most often used for dry skin. Certain facial cleansers such as cold cream are not meant to be rinsed from the skin, but rather removed with a tissue. Exfoliating skin cleansers contain granules of oatmeal, sand or polyethylene. The harsher the exfoliating cleanser, the more granules the cleanser contains.

Different types of cleansing lotions are marketed toward different demographics. For example, brand names that market to teenagers tend to sell products in unisex packaging that promotes the product’s “acne blasting” or “zit vanishing” abilities. Products that are marketed toward adult or mature women usually claim to “revitalize” skin or make it appear younger. Regardless of which demographic is targeted, cleansing lotions usually come in different formulas to treat specific skin types, such as oily, dry, or combination skin, which is both oily and dry.

Cleansing lotion is sometimes considered the first step in a three-step skincare regimen, immediately followed by toner or astringent, and then moisturizing lotion. The aim of this three-step process is to open up and cleanse the pores in step one, tighten and refine the pores in step two, and replenish any moisture that has been stripped from the skin in step three. Skincare professionals tend to advise that this three-step process be used both in the morning and before going to bed at night. In addition to cleansing lotion, skin cleansers may come in other forms such as bars of cleansing soap, cleansing wipes or cleansing masks. Pore strips and “spot cleansers” thath treat individual blemishes are sometimes also used in addition to the three-step process.

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Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Sep 05, 2011

My husband was dead against using body washes. For some reason, he didn't think it's very manly even though he knows that there are brands that produce body washes especially for men.

Last winter, I finally got him to try it because his skin was so dry and itchy. It was almost flaky and he was still using soap! Soap is just way too drying in general, but in winter, it's over-the-top drying on already dry skin.

I got my husband a very mild body wash with little scent and added moisturizers. He was so amazed at the results. His skin immediately got better and he said it felt less tight and didn't itch anymore.

He's a fan now, uses body wash year around!

By ysmina — On Sep 04, 2011

@turkay1-- Actually, cleansing lotion works really well. Cleaning the face doesn't mean that we want to get rid of all the moisture on the face and that's where cleansing lotions are better.

I, for example, have oily skin but if I use a cleanser without any moisturizer in it, it over-dries my face and my face produces even more oil to make up for the dryness. Guess what the result is? More breakouts!

When I use a cleansing lotion, it cleans and moisturizes my face and controls oil production in my skin. So my face doesn't become dry or oily, it balances out.

You can think of it this way, even though it will be washed off, the lotion makes up for the drying qualities of the cleanser, so your face is cleaned but more moisture remains behind on your skin.

By candyquilt — On Sep 04, 2011

I don't really understand the logic behind cleansing lotions. If we are supposed to clean our face with a cleansing lotion and then moisturize it with a face cream after, then why do we need lotion cleanser?

We can just use regular cleanser. Since the cleanser gets washed away anyway, I don't see the purpose of lotion in a cleanser.

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