A woman using face wash

Face Scrub vs. Face Wash, What’s The Difference?

What are the differences and similarities between these two incredibly popular facial products?
Updated: November 9, 2022
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When choosing a face cleaning product, it’s super important to understand the specific jobs they do and what ingredients they contain. Getting it wrong could mean you use products that aren’t suited to your skin type, or you just become frustrated that you aren’t getting the results you want. Two of the most popular items on the market are face scrub and face wash, but what is the difference between them?

Everything you need to know about face scrub

First and foremost, a face scrub is an exfoliator. It aims to break down and remove dead skin cells that lie on the surface of your face. To do this, it has a bumpy texture made from physical scrubbing elements like salt crystals, micro-plastics, and polished walnut shells. Ridding your skin of dead cells is incredibly important as your pores could get blocked and be prone to breakouts if you leave the issue unchecked. Face scrubs are also packed with healthy vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids that further aid to maintain your skin. Usually, when people finish washing their face with a scrub they notice they have a more youthful look and their skin is smoother to the touch. The only drawback to face scrub is the harshness of the scrubbing granules. Sometimes, if used too much, these components can actually scratch your skin on a micro level and cause uncomfortable levels of irritation. It’s always good to be aware of over-using skincare products.

Everything you need to know about face wash

Face washes are exactly how they sound, they’re relatively simple products designed to cleanse and wash your face. Some brands market them as ‘face cleansers’, but the line is somewhat blurred here as you can get cleansers that aren’t exactly like traditional face washes, but that’s nothing to worry about as they’ll be very similar. Face washes are gentle cleaners that are designed to remove surface-based dirt from your face. This can include dust and environmental debris that your skin has collected over time. They contain anti-bacterial agents and are perfect as a light wash at the end of the day to refresh your skin. You can use them to remove makeup, or just to easily moisturize your pores.

Here’s the difference

Face scrub is a much more powerful product in basically every way. The key here is the bumpy, rocky texture contained within, which scrapes away dead skin cells that have accumulated on your face over time. This ensures you get a much deeper facial clean. Face wash on the other hand is way softer and not as impactful. It is only designed to remove shallow-lying dirt and can’t really open up pores as effectively as a face scrub.

Which one is better?

They’re both great at doing their respective jobs. Comparing them isn’t fair since they have key textural differences, but you could absolutely use them together in your skincare routine to get the best results. Start with a face wash to prime your skin, then follow up with the harder face scrub to put the cherry on top. That sounds good to us!


The differences between face scrub and face wash are minimal but significant. The texture of face scrub is formulated to be harsher and more hard-hitting on your skin than a face wash, which is incredibly soft by comparison. Yes, they are both facial cleaning products, but they operate in their own ways.

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