Should you use soap on acne-prone skin?

When it comes to skincare, the general consensus is that soap is not your friend. But a new wave of soaps is changing that perception. Facial soaps are the new kids on the block, formulated to gently cleanse the delicate skin on your face. Some of them claim to control acne too. Could soap be the answer to your pimple problems? Let’s find out.


Can you use bath soap on the face?

It is better not to. Here’s why regular bath soap is not your best choice:

  • Bath soap is abrasive.
Washing with bath soap strips the face of its natural oils. The skin gets dry and flaky, which pushes the sebaceous glands into overdrive. The glands start producing excessive amounts of sebum (the oily substance that keeps the skin hydrated and supple). Too much sebum ends up clogging the pores, creating an environment where acne bacteria can grow.

  • Bath soap is alkaline.
Why is this a problem? The skin on your face is naturally acidic. Cleansing with regular alkaline soap disrupts the skin’s pH balance. Not just that, the soap dissolves away the fatty acids and hydrating proteins which are naturally present on the outer layer of the skin. The end result is a dull and itchy complexion.

  • Bath soap contains scents and dyes.
Does the soap in your shower smell amazing? Is it available in pretty colours? That’s two more strikes against it. Fragrances and dyes are well-known skin irritants. These components in your bath soap could leave your face red, blotchy, and irritated.



Is face wash better than soap?

The ‘soap vs face wash’ debate has been doing the rounds for a while. True, soap has earned a bad rap for being harsh on the skin. Face wash jumped in to fill that gap and is now an essential component of many people’s skincare routines. Here are a few reasons why face wash is better than soap.

  • Face washes and your skin have a similar pH.

Soap is alkaline and its pH level can go as high as 9 or 10. That’s much higher than the skin’s natural pH, which is acidic and often ranges between 4.7 and 5.75. If you use soap, the acid mantle of the skin gets disrupted, which leads to dryness and irritation. When this happens, your skin may produce too much oil, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.

Face wash could mitigate these effects. Many face washes have a pH level of 4.5 to 7, which is closer to the skin’s natural pH level. This is why they are less likely to upset the skin’s natural balance than regular soap.


  • Face washes are kinder on the skin.

The skin on your face is thinner and more delicate than the skin on other parts of the body. A good face wash is specially designed to meet the everyday needs of facial skin. 

From the point of view of acne, it’s important to note that the face has more sebaceous glands than other parts of the body. The oil produced by these glands lubricates and protects the skin. When you use soap, the natural oils get stripped away. Then the glands overcompensate by producing more oil than is needed. This may eventually lead to clogged pores, blackheads, whiteheads, and acne.

Face washes are not quite as harsh. Your everyday anti-acne face wash clears out dirt, pollution, and excess oil from the skin’s surface and its pores without drying the skin. In short, the skin gets clean and stays hydrated. As a result, the sebaceous glands don’t go overboard with sebum secretion, which helps prevent clogged pores and acne. Besides, face washes tend to be hydrating, thanks to ceramides, glycerin, and other moisturising ingredients.


So, should you ditch soap completely?

Not necessarily. Keep regular bath soap away from your pretty face, even as you explore the range of anti-acne soaps with face-friendly formulas. Here’s what to keep an eye out for and what to avoid:


  • Moisturising ingredients like ceramides, glycerine, and hyaluronic acid
  • Active anti-acne ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide
  • Terms like ‘non-soap’, ‘neutral pH’, and ‘non-comedogenic’

Better avoided: 

  • Scents and dyes, which could be allergens
  • Comedogenic substances like lanolin which could clog the pores 


How good is your cleansing technique?

The cleanser you select is a tool. And as with all tools, you will need to use it effectively. Tally your current cleansing technique against the following six-step formula. How do you measure up?

  1. Wet your face and neck with lukewarm water.
  2. Work the soap or face wash into your hands to form a lather.
  3. Apply all over the face and neck using gentle, circular movements.
  4. Do this for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Rinse off the soap with lukewarm water.
  6. Pat dry with a soft towel or washcloth.

For best results, cleanse your face once in the morning and again at night. Throw in one bonus cleanse if you have been sweating profusely.


Will soap bring acne-free skin?

The job of any cleanser is to clear the skin of dirt, oil, and residue. But it is hardly a cure-all. To achieve a blemish-free glow, your skin may demand some extra pampering.

  • After washing your face with a gentle formula like Clearica Anti-Acne Cleanser, apply toner to balance the pH level and clear residual oil and grime.
  • Clarify pores and fight acne with a targeted formula like Clearica Anti-Acne Cream. This soothing ointment also reduces inflammation and revives dull, pimple-prone skin. 
  • Finally, apply a non-comedogenic moisturiser. You could use a lightweight product with sun protection for the day and a richer, more nourishing formula at night.



Whether you use soap or face wash to cleanse your face is a personal preference. What matters is that you invest in a formula that is easy on the skin. When coupled with a consistent skincare routine, the right facial soap could sort out your acne woes. Stick with it to enjoy the reward of radiant, acne-free skin in the long term.




Disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a recommendation or for diagnostic purposes. Please consult your dermatologist or doctor before acting on any of the information provided here.