Washable creams or lotions contain many of the same basic ingredients as cleansing creams. However, varying amounts of soaps or detergents have been added to these products to enhance their oil- and grease-removing abilities. These products are intended to be rinsed off in plain water, rather than wiped off with a tissue; hence the designation washable creams. Washable lotions simply contain more water than washable creams, but are otherwise about the same.
Washable creams and lotions can be helpful if you have excessively dry skin. As a rule, most people using washable creams do not feel as clean as they do after soap and water cleansing. On the other hand, if you have excessively dry, sensitive skin, it is better for your skin if you don’t try to get it “squeaky clean”; the effort may simply irritate it.
For patients with dry and sensitive skin I often recommend that they alternate the use of gentle soap and water cleansing with the use of washable creams or lotions. You might, for example, use soap and water to clean your face in the morning and use a washable lotion at night. For sensitive skin this is often much less irritating than washing twice daily with soap and water and can be an especially helpful measure in the wintertime when skin chapping is a common problem for many people. If your skin still remains dry after a routine such as this, you may find it better to use the washable cleansing cream or lotion by itself or to alternate its use with soap every other day.
Summertime can be a difficult season for sensitive skin; excessive chlorine exposure from pool swimming or overexposure to the sun can be very drying. Here again, washable cleansing cream or lotions used by themselves or in alternation with soap and water may be more gentle to your skin than the routine use of soap and water.