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Foaming cleansers are the most satisfying and deeply purifying cleansers to wash your face with. But people have mixed feelings about them. While some people assume that they clean better because they lather, others assume that they clean too well. But know that foaming cleansers have come a long way. And if you think that they’re not for everyone, you’re missing out big time. Find below everything you need to know about foaming cleansers, their benefits, and the best foaming cleansers to try.
What Is a Foaming Cleanser?
A foaming cleanser, also called a cleansing foam, is a type of face cleanser that has a whipped cream or mousse-like texture. Foaming cleanser forms a lather when mixed with water. That’s why it’s sometimes called a lathering cleanser too.
Foaming cleansers contain a type of surfactant in higher concentration, which is what creates foam in the first place. They are known for leaving the skin ‘squeaky clean’. Foaming cleansers can work for most skin types but they’re more suitable for oily skin.
Benefits of Foaming Cleansers
Foaming cleansers have unique benefits too.
1. They cleanse better.
Foaming cleansers are overall more cleansing for the skin. Compared to other types of cleansers, foaming cleansers provide a more thorough cleansing experience, leaving the skin super clean and fresh.
2. They remove oils from the skin.
Because of the presence of surfactants, foaming cleansers are better at removing oils from the skin. Compared to a gel cleanser, a foaming cleanser will be more mattifying, absorbing, and balancing for the skin. And since excess oil stuck inside the pores is usually responsible for blackheads, and pimples, foaming cleansers help keep oil from congesting your skin.
3. They’re better at makeup removal.
Again, because of the surfactants, foaming cleansers are better at removing oil-based makeup from the skin. This supports the fact that they provide a more thorough cleansing experience. In the end, foaming cleansers usually leave the skin as smooth and radiant as if freshly exfoliated.
Drawbacks of Foaming Cleansers
1. They can be drying for the skin.
The formulation of foaming cleansers makes them very absorbent and better at removing oils from the skin. But this makes them potentially drying for the skin too. So it’s essential to use one that’s suitable for your skin type and use it correctly.
2. They usually lack nourishing ingredients.
Foaming cleansers are all about removing things from the skin as opposed to adding things to the skin. For example, while a gel cleanser can contain hydrating ingredients or even antioxidants to care for the skin, foaming cleansers usually don’t. Their formulation doesn’t allow that so you don’t see secondary benefits from these types of cleansers. It’s all about cleansing.
Who Should Use Foaming Cleansers?
Foaming cleansers, as long as you find one that suits your skin, are suitable for all skin types. But in general, people with very oily skin and acne-prone skin are the ones who will benefit from foaming cleansers the most. Foaming cleansers will soak up excess oil and help you manage excess sebum production. But not all foaming cleansers work the same way, which is why you can use one even if you have sensitive skin.
Best Foaming Cleansers
1. Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash
This is the first foaming cleanser I’ve ever used back when I was younger. It helped me so much with my oily skin and breakouts. I still use it when my skin is going through a phase where it becomes oily and congested. It’s made with spearmint oil, which makes the cleanser smell fresh and minty. It also contains anti-bacterial tourmaline. It cleans up skin, removes makeup, and leaves it looking matte without drying it. Hey, I can use it comfortably on my rosacea skin!
Suggested Review: Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash Review
Key Ingredients: Spearmint leaf oil, tourmaline
Size: 5 oz/150 ml
Good To Know: SLS-free, vegan
2. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser
This is another foaming cleanser with a satisfying level of lather. It’s suitable for normal to oily skin and it helps keep your skin grease-free all day. The fragrance-free formula foams up and picks up any oils and makeup residue from the skin. If you’re looking for a cleansing foam for your summer skincare routine, or if your skin is breaking out from using comedogenic products, add this into your routine to give your skin a quick headstart.
Key Ingredients: Lemon extract
Size: 5 oz/150 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, SLS-free
3. Clinique All About Clean Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser
This has a very similar texture to Origins, which is that truly satisfying feel of a foaming cleanser. The pink face wash lathers up very quickly and nicely, gives your skin a thorough sweep, and leaves it clean as a whistle. This particular foaming cleanser is for people with oily and combination skin. However, it’s gentle enough that I can use it even on my rosacea skin. Alternatively, you can try Clinique Acne Solutions Foam Cleanser if you have acne-prone skin. It’s made with 2% salicylic acid, which treats and prevents acne. It comes at oily, blemish-prone skin from all angles and keeps pores clean.
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid
Size: 5 oz/150 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, SLS-free, gluten-free
4. Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser
This is a very unique formula in that it’s actually a cream cleanser that lightly foams up. Unlike the true foaming cleansers like Origins and Clinique, this one requires more water to lather up. So it’s basically a low-foaming, slow-lathering cleanser, which means it’s gentler on the skin. And it absolutely is. It doesn’t make the skin squeaky clean but doesn’t leave any creamy residue either. It smells amazing and it’s equally great at removing makeup. If you have dry skin, mature skin, or sensitive skin, this foaming cleanser will clean up your skin and leave it soft and supple.
Key Ingredients: Greek yogurt
Size: 5.07 oz/150 ml
Good To Know: SLS-free, cruelty-free
5. Caudalie Vinoclean Gentle Foaming Cleanser
This is like a bubbling cleanser in that instead of lathering up, the foaming cleanser creates these soap suds. The non-drying formula picks up excess oil and dirt and leaves your skin looking even, balanced, and calm. It smells very nice and also contains soothing chamomile extract. The cleansing foam is free of SLS and soap, which makes it super gentle on the skin. After rinsing, you’ll see that your skin looks matte but not tight.
Key Ingredients: Chamomile extract
Size: 5 oz/150 ml
Good To Know: SLS-free, vegan
6. Shiseido Clarifying Cleansing Foam
Another personal favorite is this one by Shiseido. It has an amazing consistency that quickly lathers up with small water and wraps your skin with a blanket of light froth. It’s not noticeable in the formula but the cleanser actually contains clay, which allows it to balance oil too. One thing to note here is that the Japanese cleanser is not SLS-free. Though it’s gentle enough for all skin types, I’d recommend using it once a day at first just to make sure it doesn’t irritate. Alternatively, you can try their Deep Cleansing Foam, which is formulated for oily and acne-prone skin and also contains gentle granules that make the cleanser work like a scrub.
Key Ingredients: Clay, yomogi extract
Size: 4.6 oz/125 ml
7. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
This is a budget-friendly drugstore foaming cleanser you can use no matter your skin type. But here’s the thing. This is more like a gel cleanser than a foaming cleanser because it lacks that satisfying texture we associate with a foaming cleanser. It just doesn’t lather up too much or too quickly; it just bubbles up and requires a lot of water to lather up. That’s why it’s so gentle but it’s something to keep in mind. It leaves your skin clean, removes a lot of base makeup, and does not irritate or dehydrate your skin.
Key Ingredients: Ceramides
Size: 12 oz/355 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, SLS-free
So these are the best foaming cleansers out there. A foolproof option for the ultimate foaming cleanser experience is Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash. It lathers beautifully and is amazing for removing makeup too. A less foaming option that’s more affordable is Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser. It’s gentler and suitable for all skin types. If you haven’t found what you’re looking for here, below is your guide to how to choose the best foaming cleanser for your skin.
How to Choose Foaming Cleansers
Again, foaming cleansers are all about removing stuff from the skin as opposed to nourishing the skin. So while we can go on and on about different ingredients to look for in other types of cleansers, these things become secondary when it comes to foaming cleansers. So here are the most important things to keep in mind.
When choosing a foaming cleanser, you should keep your skin type in mind. While there’s more wiggle room with an average gel cleanser and you can take everything with a grain of salt and afford to experiment, foaming cleansers are usually geared toward specific skin types. So pay attention to the formula and pick one that’s suitable for your skin type.
Make sure your foaming cleanser is soap-free and SLS-free. These surfactants are the traditional surfactants that tend to be very mattifying and oil-absorbing. So even oily skin types may have trouble using a cleanser made with SLS continuously. Look for the labels SLS-free and/or soap-free on the packaging of your foaming cleanser. Additionally, if you have very sensitive skin, go for fragrance-free options.
How to Apply Foaming Cleansers
Step 1: Wet Your Skin
Wet your skin before applying your foaming cleanser as water allows the foam to quickly lather up.
Step 2: Lather Your Cleanser
Squeeze out a little amount of your foaming cleanser and lather the cleanser by rubbing it between the palms of your hands.
Step 3: Wash Your Face
Massage the cleanser into your skin and let it soak up any oil and dirt from the skin. Don’t forget the stuff that got stuck on the sides of the nose and on the crease of the chin. Do it for as long as 60 seconds.
Step 4: Rinse
Rinse your face thoroughly with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry. Apply your toner, serum, and moisturizer.
Tips to Minimize Potential Dryness
If you want to use a foaming cleanser but are intimidated by potentially drying your skin, or if you already have a foaming cleanser but haven’t been able to adjust it to your skin’s needs, don’t worry. I’ve got some amazing tips and tricks that I’ve tried over the years which allowed me to keep using a foaming cleanser without drying or irritating my skin. I love the lather, whatchu gonna do? So here are the best ways to use a foaming cleanser to collect the benefits.
- Don’t use a foaming cleanser to remove makeup. If you’re wearing makeup, double cleanse. Use an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup. Rinse your face. And only then use your foaming cleanser.
- Use small amounts. There’s no reason to use a high amount of the product when you can do it with little amounts. A pea-sized amount or a pearl-sized amount of foaming cleanser is enough to wash your whole face.
- Reduce exposure time. If you don’t wear a lot of makeup and if your skin is prone to dryness, cut the cleansing time short. There’s no reason to massage your skin for three minutes with a foaming cleanser.
- Use more water. Using more water reduces the lathering action of the foaming cleanser. It dilutes the formula, so to speak. And you’ll see that using more water to lather up the cleanser makes the cleansing gentler.
- Use it once a day. You can always use your foaming cleanser once a day if you think it’ll dry your skin or irritate it. Try using your cleanser in your evening or morning routine.
- Try low foams. There are foaming cleansers and then there are low foaming cleansers. The latter is less lathering but also less irritating. If you have dry, sensitive, redness-prone skin, go for low-foaming, slow-lathering cleansers.