The Best 12 Foam Cleansers of 2022 That Won’t Dry Out Your Skin

Our best overall pick is Dr. Barbara Sturm Cleanser

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Byrdie / Danie Drankwalter

Foam cleansers have admittedly gotten somewhat of a bad rap these days, shunned as over-drying, stripping products that can do more harm than good for your skin. But that’s not necessarily the case. “Not all foaming cleansers are drying, and many over-the-counter options help remove impurities while also containing hydrating ingredients,” points out Rina Allawh, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group. 

Byrdie Reviewed & Approved

Our best overall pick is Dr. Barbara Sturm Cleanser, a soothing and hydrating foam that contains youth-boosting ingredients and removes makeup effectively. For a more affordable pick, consider CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, which has skin-supporting ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides and can be picked up in the drugstore.

Foams better penetrate the pores and help remove oil, debris, and dirt, as compared to gels or other formulas, says Allawh. For this reason, they’re often thought of as options for those with oily or acne-prone skin. But these days some foams can work for all skin types, giving you not only that oh-so enjoyable sensation of lathering up while you cleanse but also effectively cleansing without stripping your complexion.

We conducted hours of research on the best foam cleansers, evaluating them on hydrating ingredients, lather, and how they make the skin feel. Our team then combined these results with our research of fan-favorites dermatologist-recommended picks to create this list. 

Ahead, find the best foam cleansers for all skin types.

Best Overall: Dr. Barbara Sturm Cleanser

Dr. Barbara Sturm Cleanser

Sephora

What We Like
  • Gentle, yet effective

  • A little goes a long way

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

This sulfate-free formula is super gentle, and truly a choice for all skin types. It contains purslane, an antioxidant to reduce signs of aging, soothing aloe vera, and antioxidant vitamin E as well, all in a super luscious foam. And while it is pricey, one pump does take off even a full face of makeup, meaning one bottle lasts for quite a while.

Active Ingredients: Tensides | Size: 5.07 fl. Oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Overall, Runner-Up: Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser

4.8
Caudalie Vinoclean Gentle Foam Cleanser

Sephora

What We Like
  • Gentle, yet effective

  • Comes in 100% recycled bottle

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains fragrance

  • Not clean or cruelty-free

A perennial favorite among Byrdie editors, this airy option is also sulfate-free (it’s actually 97% naturally derived). Hydrating glycerin is one of the main ingredients, as is soothing chamomile extract, purifying sage water, and antioxidant-rich grape water. Happy reviewers rave about how effective and gentle it is.

Active Ingredients: Sodium cocoyl glutamate | Size: 5 fl. Oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Cleanser

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Face Wash

Ulta

What We Like
  • Very gentle

  • Affordable

  • Great for removing makeup

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviewers note that it has an unpleasant smell

Oil-, alcohol-, and fragrance-free, this combines the benefits of micellar water (super gentle, great for removing makeup), with the sensorial benefits of a foaming wash. The gel texture quickly foams off and rinses completely cleanly. The very wallet-friendly price is just the cherry on top.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin | Size: 13.52 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Redness: EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

Amazon

What We Like
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties

  • Big bottle

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains fragrance

  • Not clean or cruelty-free

“This foaming facial cleanser contains fine bubbles that better penetrate skin pores,” says Allawh. “It also contains bromelain, an enzyme from pineapple, which has helpful anti-inflammatory properties, making this ideal for those with red, irritated skin or acne-prone skin,” she says. It’s pH balanced as well, though it does contain fragrance, FYI.

Active Ingredients: Sodium cocoyl glycinate | Size: 7 fl. Oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Sensitive Skin: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

cerave foaming facial cleanser

Walmart

What We Like
  • Has many skin-soothing ingredients

  • Fragrance-free

  • Great for a variety of skin types

  • Comes in multiple sizes

What We Don’t Like
  • Not clean or cruelty-free

While it may be milky and creamy cleansers that are most often recommended for those with sensitive skin, Allawh says this is a good exception to the rule. Credit the use of hydrating, skin-supporting ingredients—niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides—which collectively provide moisture to dry or irritated skin, she points out. To that point, it’s great for all skin types (it’s non-comedogenic, too), and the affordable price and multiple sizes are a nice benefit as well.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, Ceramides | Size: 8 fl. oz.,12 fl. oz., 16 fl. Oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Oily Skin: Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser

Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser

Walgreens

What We Like
  • Brightens skin and helps keep pores clear

  • Affordable

What We Don’t Like
  • Not clean or cruelty-free

Pick up this option during your next drugstore visit. While foaming formulas are good for those with oily skin in general, this one is an especially good option since it contains salicylic acid to help keep pores clear of clogging oil. The salicylic acid, along with soybean protein also helps exfoliate dead skin cells that contribute to overall dullness, says Allawh, of another one of her choices. It’s a great option for anyone who wants an overall brighter complexion, she adds.

Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid | Size: 6 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Multi-Tasker: La Roche-Posay Lipikar Wash AP+ Foaming Moisturizing Wash

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Gentle Foaming Moisturizing Wash

Amazon

What We Like
  • Has the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance

  • Works on face and body

  • Dermatologist-tested

  • Large bottle

What We Don’t Like
  • Not clean or cruelty-free

Need further proof that a foaming cleanser can be gentle? This one is so mild that it touts the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance. It’s fragrance-, soap-, and paraben-free, and Allawh lauds it for containing hydrating ingredients such as shea butter and thermal spring water to both help reduce inflammation and hydrate dry, irritated skin. And perhaps best of all, it works equally well on both face and body.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter, thermal spring water | Size: 13.52 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

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

Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Foams very nicely

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains fragrance

  • Not clean or cruelty-free

Sure, the name may conjure up meringue vibes, but hear us out. Egg whites (technical term: albumen) are loaded with good-for-your-skin protein, and in this formula, they also help to reduce pore-clogging sebum and combat bacteria, too. And no, don’t worry, it doesn’t smell like eggs.

Active Ingredients: Albumen extract | Size: 5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Combination Skin: Lancôme Crème Radiance Gentle Cleansing Creamy-Foam

Lancôme Crème Radiance Clarifying Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

Ulta

Foaming cleansers can be a great option for combination skin types, offering the best of both worlds. This one in particular hits just the right balance, with reviewers noting how nice and clean it leaves their skin feeling, without ever veering into stripping territory. The floral scent is a nice addition, too.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin | Size: 13.52 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dry Skin: Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser

Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cleanser

Sephora

What We Like
  • Super hydrating

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains fragrance

Think you can’t use a foaming cleanser if you have dry skin? Think again. This one is a cream-to-foam, soap-free formula that does indeed contain very moisturizing Greek yogurt. That yogurt is also a good choice of skin-nourishing pre-and probiotics. Plus, even though it is rather rich, it still cleanses beautifully and rinses completely cleanly.

Active Ingredients: Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate | Size: 5.07 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Clean Formula: iNNBEAUTY PROJECT Foam Around Clarifying Daily Cleanser

iNNBEAUTY PROJECT Foam Around Clarifying Daily Cleanser

Credo Beauty

What We Like
  • Contains many active ingredients

  • Clean & cruelty-free

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

Check out this pick if you’re looking for a clean option. The foam is super light and cloud-like, but still contains plenty of powerful actives, namely a combination of exfoliating alpha and beta hydroxy acids, antioxidant-rich green coffee bean extract, and multi-tasking niacinamide, which helps moisturize as well as even out skin tone. The point is, that you get tons of benefits from each pump.

Active Ingredients: AHAs, BHAs | Size: 5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Scent: Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Clean Foaming Face Cleanser

Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Clean Foaming Face Cleanser

Sephora

What We Like
  • Smells amazing

  • Comes in multiple sizes

What We Don’t Like
  • Not for dry skin

The delightful, subtle calendula scent of this wash makes washing your face truly more akin to a spa experience. Not to mention that it comes entirely from the calendula extract, rather than synthetic fragrance. And calendula doesn’t only smell good, it’s also very soothing for your skin, a double win. The gel foams nicely and doesn’t leave behind any residue, though this is best reserved for normal, oily, or combo skin, rather than anyone who is very dry.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, calendula extract | Size: 2.5 fl. oz., 7.7 fl. Oz.,16.9 fl oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

Our top choice, Dr. Barbara Sturm Cleanser, has nourishing aloe vera and plenty of antioxidants, and effectively removes makeup. If you have acne-prone skin, consider  Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser, a gentle foaming drugstore pick with salicylic acid.

Meet the Expert

  • Rina Allawh, MD, FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in King of Prussia, PA who performs medical dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, and skin cancer treatment.
  • Marnie Nussbaum, MD is a board-certified dermatologist based in Manhattan, NY.
  • Joanna Vargas is a celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care.
  • Justine Kluk, MD is a consultant dermatologist based in the UK.

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 a 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 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, says they "increase hydration, plump the skin, reduce inflammation and build collagen."

FAQ
  • What is a gentle cleansing foam?

    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.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She recently discovered that there are great foam cleansers out there that will work for her easily-irritated skin; she uses many of the ones featured on this list as part of her daily routine.

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.
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