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With the overwhelming array of cleansers available, it can be tempting to dismiss any differences between, say, face wash and body wash, as pure marketing. While any old bar of soap may do the trick of removing dirt and bacteria, it’s important to remember that not all soap is created equal. “Definitely as a general rule, we don’t suggest body washes on the face,” Toronto-based dermatologist and skin-allergy expert Dr. Sandy Skotnicki says. Unlike many facial cleansers, body washes contain sulfates, which Skotnicki says can irritate the face but may serve a purpose elsewhere on the body. “People want to get off their odours and their sunscreens and their oils. And, body washes tend to be more fragrant.”

The author of the bestselling book Beyond Soap, Skotnicki says that you shouldn’t make a habit of using body wash on your face, where skin is more reactive. The ingredients in a typical body wash can sensitize skin, causing redness or a feeling of tightness, or can exacerbate existing skin conditions such as rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis. For those who like to simplify their routine by using fewer products, Skotnicki recommends choosing a gentle face wash that’s also designed to be used on the body.

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Bioderma Sébium Foaming Gel, $22.90 at drugstores.

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