12 Gentle Foam Cleansers That Won't Leave Your Skin Feeling Stripped

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The best foam cleansers are hard to come by. Often, those bubbly, sudsy-type lathers will result in tightness, stripping your skin of its natural oils that keep it lubricated and supple. However, foam formulas are useful, especially to effectively wash away dirt, pollution, and makeup. So we found a happy medium. We researched the formulas that are gentle, moisturizing, and safe for sensitive skin types, all the while leaving your face fully refreshed and clean (and even helping to nix breakouts, blackheads, and discoloration). There cream-to-oil lathers, milky varieties, and fragrance-free options. We've curated all the foaming goodness your skin will ever need.

These are our favorite gentle foam cleansers and why we're taken with each one.

Best Overall: Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser

Caudalíe Instant Foaming Cleanser

Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Provides radiance

  • Purifying

  • Anti-bacterial

What We Don't Like
  • Not for sensitive skin

When I asked the other editors at Byrdie HQ for their favorite gentle foam cleanser, Caudalie's formula was the resounding favorite. The airy foam is soap-free, so it never strips your skin, all the while deeply purging dirt, impurities, makeup, and breakouts courtesy of its blend of grape-seed, sage, and chamomile extracts. The foam promises antioxidant protection, antibacterial properties, and anti-inflammatory benefits to combat sensitivity and redness.

Key Ingredients: Sage Extract, Chamomile Extract, Grape Water | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.69 or 5.07 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Budget: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Face Wash

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Wallet-friendly

  • Cleanses without needing to rinse

  • Removes makeup without rubbing

What We Don't Like
  • Very watery consistency

Garnier's micellar foaming cleanser works to capture and lift away dirt, oil, and makeup without any harsh rubbing or over-drying. It's gentle and fragrance-free, and it works in just one quick and easy step. Oh, and the $9 price tag isn't bad either.

Key Ingredients: Glycerin | Skin Type: All | Size: 6.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge: SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser

SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser
What We Like
  • Lathers on with a fine texture

  • Rich in vitamins and amino acids

  • Increases luminosity

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

If you're looking for a splurge, one that offers serious efficacy and helpful active ingredients, this is the one. SK-II's Facial Treatment Cleanser is gentle, velvety, and ultra-hydrating for your skin, as the wash transforms from a creamy lather to a bubbly foam to condition and soothe. The formula offers a concentrated amount of the brand's signature ingredient, Pitera, as it's rich in vitamins, organic acids, minerals, and amino acids meant to effectively remove dirt and impurities from your pores while providing nourishing effects on the rest of your skin.

Key Ingredients: Rose Oil, Willow Bark Extract | Skin Type: All | Size: 3.6 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Oily Skin: Zelens Z-Detox Foaming Cleanser

Zelens Z-Detox Foaming Cleanser
What We Like
  • Targets free radicals

  • Full of fruit enzymes and botanical extracts

  • Helps with cell renewal

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Recommended by our editorial director, Faith, the Zelens soap-free, oil-free foaming cleanser works to unclog your pores and gently exfoliate. Mild alpha hydroxy acids, fermented fruit enzymes, and botanical extracts help with cell renewal and turnover while keeping your skin supple and soft the whole way through.

Key Ingredients: Shiso Oil, Alpha Hydroxy Acids | Skin Type: All | Size: 5.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dry Skin: Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser

Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser
What We Like
  • Foams up good

  • Cleans makeup off well

  • Luxurious consistency

What We Don't Like
  • May cause redness for some

Korres's ultra-luxurious cleanser is made with Greek yogurt (an ingredient claimed to be used for centuries in Greece for its smoothing and strengthening properties). They created a formula that is rich in proteins, minerals, and vitamins. That way, it's able to gently cleanse while nourishing your skin too, without irritation. The cream wash turns into a cushiony foam once water is introduced, and after you massage it into your skin for a few seconds, your makeup will melt right off, along with dirt, debris, and any environmental stressors from the day.

Key Ingredients: Chlorella, Castor Oil | Skin Type: All | Size: 5.07 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Combination Skin: Lancôme Crème Radiance Clarifying Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

Lancôme Crème Radiance Clarifying Cream-to-Foam Cleanser
What We Like
  • Increases cell renewal

  • Cream-to-foam cleanser

  • Penetrates deep

What We Don't Like
  • May feel greasy

A truly pampering experience, this gentle cream-to-foam cleanser (brimming with white lotus and rose) penetrates every pore without leaving behind that terrible tight, dry feeling once you pat your face dry. It claims to increase cell renewal, leaving your skin feeling hydrated and soothed, and it smells like a dream.

Key Ingredients: Pineapple Fruit Extract | Skin Type: Normal to Combination | Size: 4.2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam

Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam
What We Like
  • Purifying

  • Easy to rinse off

  • Improves skin's elasticity

What We Don't Like
  • Smells bad to some

Made with amino acid-rich egg whites, Skinfood's pore-purifying foam promises not to strip away your skin's natural oils but will insgead help curb breakouts and blackheads in oily skin types.

Key Ingredients: Licorice Root Extract, Egg Whites | Skin Type: Oily to Sensitive | Size: 5.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Discoloration: Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

Courtesy of Verishop

What We Like
  • Brightening

  • Protective

  • Exfoliating

What We Don't Like
  • Drying to some

For those dealing with discoloration, Indie Lee's brightening cleanser is one that you'll find exceptionally helpful. It promises to remove dirt and excess oil, hydrate, exfoliate, and offer up a blend of strawberry seed oil, hydrolyzed wheat proteins, and tomato extracts meant to protect your skin from discoloration. In fact, leave it on for five to 10 minutes, and it'll work as an exfoliating mask as well.

Key Ingredients: Strawberry Seed Oil, Hydrolyzed Wheat Proteins, Tomato Extract | Skin Type: All | Size: 4.2 or 10.1 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best with Vitamin C: Belif Creamy Cleansing Foam Moist

Belif Creamy Cleansing Foam Moist
What We Like
  • Full of vitamin C

  • Detoxifies

  • Gentle

What We Don't Like
  • Leaves a waxy residue to some

This creamy cleanser is packed with vitamin C, a powerhouse ingredient with antioxidant properties proven to boost skin tone, among other things. Possibly more notable, though, is what this gentle formula doesn't have. It's made without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, synthetic fragrances, or dyes.

Key Ingredients: Soapberry, Sweet Flag | Skin Type: Normal to Dry | Size: 5.4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best with Hyaluronic Acid: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cleanser

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cloud Cream Cleanser

Courtesy of Ulta 

What We Like
  • Increases skin's hydration levels

  • Fragrance-free

  • Residue-free

What We Don't Like
  • Smell may be too strong to some

Applying this cleanser is basically like enveloping your whole face in one big fluffy cloud. Only it's a cloud filled with hyaluronic acid and sodium PCA meant to help improve the hydration levels in your skin while silk proteins and marshmallow root extract are meant to leave your face silkier, softer, and smoother than it's ever felt.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium PCA, Coconut Oil | Skin Type: Normal to Dry | Size: 4.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Glowing skin: Origins Three Part Harmony Foaming Cream-to-Oil Cleanser

Origins Three Part Harmony Foaming Cream-to-Oil Cleanser
What We Like
  • Promotes a vibrant glow

  • Leaves skin feeling clean

  • Replenishing

What We Don't Like
  • Non-lather unappealing to some

This one creates an ever-opulent cleansing experience, moving from a creamy milk consistency to an oil, then foaming up to leave your skin feeling clean and comfortable. Ingredients like tazetta lily bulb and myrtle are meant to help replenish your skin and reveal a dewy, glowing complexion once massaged away.

Key Ingredients: Tazetta Lily Bulb, Myrtle | Skin Type: Normal, Oily, Dry | Size: 5.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Stressed Skin: Pacifica Coconut Milk Cream to Foam Face Wash

Pacifica Coconut Milk Cream to Foam Face Wash
What We Like
  • Contains a skin superfood

  • Made from recyclable packaging

  • Foamy lather

  • Vegan

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't remove makeup well

Created for "especially stressed" skin, according to the brand, Pacifica's creamy, coconut-infused cleanser is bubbly and delightful, scented like summer, and helps to gently lift dirt, oil, and makeup from your skin each morning and night. 

Key Ingredients: Coconut Powder, Coconut Water | Skin Type: All | Size: 5.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What to Look For in a Gentle Foam Cleanser

Soap-Free

It might sound a little counter-intuitive to suggest cleansers that specifically don't have soap, since that's the main thing we know of as cleanser. But soap can irritate sensitive skin, and is far from the gentlest way to remove makeup and oils from your face. If you suffer from sensitive skin, it may be beneficial to opt for soap-free foam cleansers.

Soothing Ingredients

For those who need a gentle cleanser, soothing ingredients only increase the chances that the product will keep your skin happy. Ingredients such as aloe vera and ceramides can provide moisture and reduce irritation. Board certified dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, MD tells Byrdie that "aloe vera is a great added bonus to use in conjunction with your other calming products."

Amino Acids

The benefits of amino acids in skincare are manifold: they soothe skin, help moisturize, and act as antioxidants, just to name a few. Additionally, they're gentle enough for daily usage. Justine Kluk, MD, notes that they "promote cellular repair, hydrate the skin, and provide antioxidant protection," and Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care, says they "increase hydration, plump the skin, reduce inflammation and build collagen."

FAQ
  • What is a gentle cleansing foam?

    A gentle cleansing foam is a product you use to wash your face. It foams up, which gives it more volume. Gentle cleansing foams can be used to remove makeup, oil, and dirt from the surface of your face.

  • Is foaming cleanser good for sensitive skin?

    If you have sensitive skin, you'll want a more gentle foaming cleanser. (Many foam cleansers are not gentle, so that is an important distinction.) You can look specifically for products that note they're safe for sensitive skin on the label, or avoid cleansers with ingredients you know may irritate your skin.

  • Can I use foaming cleanser everyday?

    If you use a foaming cleanser that is gentle enough to cleanse your face without drying it, then it should be safe for daily use. You do want to wash your face on a regular, daily basis, regardless of what type of cleanser you use.

  • Why are foaming cleansers good?

    Foaming cleansers are great for removing hard to get off makeup, dirt, and oil from your skin. Their main downside is that they can be irritating or drying, which is why we have specifically curated a list of gentle cleansers that should not do either of those things.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual effects of alpha-hydroxy acids on the skinMolecules. 2018;23(4):863. doi:10.3390/molecules23040863

  2. Telang PS. Vitamin C in dermatologyIndian Dermatol Online J. 2013;4(2):143-146. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.110593

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