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Minimal, thorough, and effective. No wonder powder cleansers are gaining the recognition they deserve! While other types of cleansers, such as foaming cleansers and gel cleansers, offer a mainstream cleansing experience, powder cleansers offer a more versatile and personalized approach to skincare. If you’ve never used one before, you’re missing out because powder cleansers fit right into any skincare routine and offer unique benefits too. Keep reading to find everything you need to know about powder cleansers, their uses and benefits, and the best powder cleansers to get started.
What Is a Powder Cleanser?
A powder cleanser, also known as cleansing powder, is a type of face cleanser that comes in a dry, finely milled powder form. Powder cleanser is ‘activated’ with water and turns into a paste-like consistency and foams up as you massage it into the skin.
Powder cleansers usually contain natural ingredients such as enzymes or clays. And they offer nothing less than what any other main type of cleanser does. Just like any other type of cleanser, powder cleansers are also suitable for all skin types.
Benefits of Powder Cleansers
Powder cleansers are not gimmicky products. They offer some serious and unique benefits.
1. They’re highly customizable.
First of all, powder cleansers are more customizable than traditional liquid cleansers. You can make your cleansing step more potent simply by using less water and creating a thicker solution. You can also make your cleansing step gentler simply by using more water and kind of diluting the consistency. This is especially helpful if your skin is sensitive. The ability to control the water-to-powder ratio allows you to tailor the cleansing experience based on your skin’s needs.
2. They exfoliate.
Most powder cleansers double as exfoliating cleansers and help you achieve smooth, glowy skin. It’s because most of them contain mild exfoliants like rice bran and papaya or pineapple enzymes to remove dead skin cells. This gentle action allows you to enjoy daily exfoliation without irritation as enzymes are some of the gentlest exfoliators out there.
3. They work for all skin types.
Again, because powder cleansers are incredibly customizable, they are suitable for all skin types. Whether you have dry, sensitive, oily, or combination skin, there’s a powder cleanser that will work for your unique skin.
4. They’re more practical.
Other unique benefits of powder cleansers have to do with practicality. For example, powder cleansers are more travel-friendly and convenient for people on the go. You can pack them easily in any type of container as they’re practically spill-proof. Additionally, because of their dry consistency, powder cleansers have a longer shelf life than liquid cleansers.
Who Should Use Powder Cleansers?
As I said, powder cleansers are, or can be, suitable for all skin types. If you have sensitive skin and can’t tolerate chemical exfoliants, or face scrubs, you can cleanse with powder cleansers without causing irritation or redness as the exfoliants are gentle on the skin.
If you have dry skin, you can benefit from powder cleansers as they allow you to get rid of dead skin cells and flaky skin without further drying your skin.
And if you have oily or acne-prone skin, you’re going to love cleansing powders because they’re very minimal and they don’t infuse the skin with anything. This means there’s no creamy residue, which is perfect for drawing out impurities from congested skin.
Best Powder Cleansers
1. Dr. Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser
This was the first powder cleanser I’ve ever used and it set the bar really high! And trust me when I say that I experimented with it a great deal because I’ve seen this powder cleanser leaving my skin soft and velvety and I’ve seen it leaving my skin squeaky and too clean.
That’s how customizable the exfoliation is! This is an enzyme cleanser and these are not fruit enzymes. So the foaming enzyme cleanser is a bit more potent and is more suitable for people with oily, blemish-prone, and congested skin. But it’s amazing for keeping your face clean while addressing skin concerns like blackheads, acne, and congestion.
Key Ingredients: Enzymes, vitamin C
Size: 2.6 oz/75 gr
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free
2. Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant Exfoliator
This is another classic that is suitable for even the most sensitive skin. And I’m saying this as someone with rosacea. The cleanser packs papaya enzymes and rice bran extract to help slough off dead skin cells and promote smoother skin with every wash.
But the best part is that it contains salicylic acid to clear up clogged pores and calm acne. So overall, it feels like you’ve just got a hydra-facial after you wash your face. The anti-inflammatory formula also packs oatmeal and licorice extract to avoid irritation.
Key Ingredients: Papaya enzymes, salicylic acid
Size: 2.6 oz/74 gr
Good To Know: Vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free
3. Tatcha The Rice Polish Classic Foaming Enzyme Powder
This one makes your cleansing even more customizable as the powder comes in different forms for different skin types. This is the classic version that’s suitable for most skin types.
It lathers up beautifully and turns into this satisfying creamy form. It purifies the skin and gently exfoliates it with rice powder and papaya enzymes while caring for the skin with antioxidant-rich green tea. Plus, the packaging is convenient and prevents product waste.
Key Ingredients: Rice bran, papaya enzyme, green tea extract
Size: 2.1 oz/60 ml
Good To Know: Cruelty-free
4. DHC Face Wash Powder
While you may be more familiar with their Deep Cleansing Oil, this one deserves an equal amount of hype. The Japanese powder cleanser relies on corn starch for gentle exfoliation. It forms a very rich lather as you massage it into the skin.
And it’s got soothing lavender extract and licorice extract to care for the skin. Here’s the fun part. The cleansing powder also comes in a set accompanied by an oil cleanser. So you have everything you need to double cleanse to remove makeup, wash everything off, and maintain clear skin.
Key Ingredients: Corn starch, licorice extract
Size: 1.7 oz/50 gr
Good To Know: Fragrance-free
Related: Best Drugstore Cleansing Oils
5. Amorepacific Treatment Enzyme Peel Cleansing Powder
This cleansing powder is made with enzymes derived from green tea, which is also super soothing and calming for the skin. It’s powder-to-foam and it foams up and picks up any dirt, oil, and grime from the skin without overdrying it.
The balancing formula removes impurities and leaves the skin feeling silky soft. Plus, the luxurious bottle dispenses the perfect amount you need for each wash.
Key Ingredients: Green tea enzymes, allantoin
Size: 1.94 oz/55 gr
6. Clinique Fresh Pressed Renewing Powder Cleanser
This is a vitamin C cleanser in powder form to help you target uneven skin tone, acne marks, and dark spots. Unlike most other vitamin C cleansers, this one contains pure ascorbic acid, which is the most effective form when it comes to brightening skin.
The single-use packets also contain kaolin to absorb and minimize excess oil. The brightening powder face wash is also ideal for people with mature, aging skin as vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes the damaging effects of free radicals as well.
Key Ingredients: Ascorbic acid, clay
Size: 28 counts
7. Sephora Collection Super Glow Cleansing Powder
This is not a lathering cleanser but more like a gentle bubbling cleanser. And it’s one of the most affordable powder cleansers you can get your hands on.
Firstly, it’s formulated with rice starch to minimize oil and mattify skin. Secondly, it contains a gentle form of vitamin C to promote radiant skin. Lastly, it’s free of common irritants so any skin type can enjoy radiant, glowy skin.
Key Ingredients: Rice starch, vitamin C
Size: 0.8 oz/25 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free
So these are the best powder cleansers out there. It’s a bit pricey but Dr. Barbara Sturm’s formula is something I can swear by as someone in her late 30s with sensitive skin. It gives you the option to use it as a daily cleanser as well as a weekly powder exfoliator. So it’s worth the price. But if you haven’t found what you’re looking for here, keep reading to find out how to choose and how to use one.
How To Choose Powder Cleansers
Powder or not, your skin type is the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a face wash. So before anything else, make sure your powder cleanser is suitable for your skin type. Even though you can make it gentler by adding more water, there’s no harm in looking for that ‘suitable for’ label.
Choosing your powder cleanser based on your skin type will also ensure that the cleanser contains the right type of exfoliant for your skin type. For example, people with dry or sensitive skin would benefit more from a gentle powder cleanser made with enzymes whereas people with oily skin could use more active ingredients like salicylic acid to tackle blemishes.
Some powder cleansers offer extra skincare benefits by utilizing other ingredients. So if you have a prominent skincare concern that needs addressing, look for active ingredients. Try vitamin C for brightening, or green tea for calming inflammation. Additionally, go for SLS-free and fragrance-free powder cleansers if your skin is particularly sensitive.
How To Apply Powder Cleansers
Step 1: Pour the Powder
Take a small amount of the powder cleanser in the palm of your hand. Some cleansers dispense a certain amount for single use. If yours doesn’t, use a dime size for average cleansing. If you need more exfoliation, use more.
Step 2: Add Water
Activate the powder cleanser by adding a few drops of water to your palm and mixing the two. Add more until you have this creamy paste. Again, you can add more water if you want to make the formula gentler.
Step 3: Apply the Cleanser
Gently apply the paste to your face using your fingers and massage the cleansers into the skin using circular motions. Leave the cleanser on for about 30-60 seconds. Avoid the eye area as some powder cleansers may be too much for that delicate skin.
Step 4: Rinse Thoroughly
Rinse your face with lukewarm water and wash away the cleanser until there is no residue. That’s it! From here on, finish our skincare routine. Apply your toners, and serums, and lock moisture in with a moisturizer suitable for your skin type.
How Often To Use Powder Cleansers
Powder cleansers are usually used twice a day just like any other cleanser. However, if your powder cleanser is particularly potent or if you have sensitive skin, you might want to keep the frequency to a few times a week. After all, there’s a chance of overdoing it and over-exfoliating your skin. I can tell from my experience that when I over-used my cleansing powder, my skin became sensitive and dry and it broke out. It’s not fun. So start by using your cleansing powder a few times a week at first and slowly increase the frequency.