True soap can be very harsh on skin and remove too many necessary oils, which is bad enough for normal or oily skin, and even worse for dry or sensitive skin. Cleansing creams are different because they tend to add moisture, which is especially helpful for dry or problematic skin.
You might also prefer cleansing creams to deodorant bars and soaps that are made with certain alcohols or a heavy fragrance; these substances can also take away natural oils and dry your skin out [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. If your skin is very sensitive, you might want to look for mild soaps or cleansing creams labeled as hypoallergenic or noncomedogenic.
Another reason that some people opt for cleansing creams over soap is that when soap is used with hard water -- water that has high calcium levels -- it doesn't work as well as it would otherwise, so you might end up using more of the soap to get the job done [source: New Zealand Dermatological Society]. Also, using soap with hard water means you're more likely have soap scum on your sink when you're through washing.
Aside from soap and cleansing creams, there are other face washes that might be good for your skin type. Lipid-free cleansers do not have fat in them, so they don't remove as much oil and are best if you have dry skin, are older, or have eczema. Astringents and toners do the opposite -- they are designed to remove as much oil as possible, and often work well for people with acne. Exfoliants contain tiny scrubbers that wash away the dead or dry skin on your face, but they should not be used on a daily basis.
If you think cleansing creams might be worth a try, read on to weigh the pros and cons of this skin care product.