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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
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.
Best Budget: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser
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.
Best Splurge: SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser
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.
Best for Oily Skin: Zelens Z-Detox Foaming Cleanser
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.
Best for Dry Skin: Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser
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.
Best for Combination Skin: Lancôme Crème Radiance Clarifying Cream-to-Foam Cleanser
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.
Best for Discoloration: Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser
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.
Best with Vitamin C: Belif Creamy Cleansing Foam Moist
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.
Best with Hyaluronic Acid: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cleanser
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.
Best for Glowing skin: Origins Three Part Harmony Foaming Cream-to-Oil Cleanser
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.
Best for Stressed Skin: Pacifica Coconut Milk Cream to Foam Face Wash
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.
What to Look For in a Gentle Foam Cleanser
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.
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."
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."
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.