The best foam cleansers are hard to come by. Often, those bubbly, sudsy-type lathers will result in tightness, stripping your skin of the natural, healthy 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 are cream-to-oil lathers, milky varieties, and all the foaming goodness your skin will ever need. These are our favorite gentle foam cleansers and why we're taken with each one.
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. Together, the ingredients promise antioxidant protection, antibacterial properties, and anti-inflammatory benefits to combat sensitivity and redness.
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.
Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser
Korres's ultra-luxurious cleanser is made with Greek yogurt (an ingredient used for centuries in Greece for its smoothing and strengthening properties), which 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.
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 into every pore without leaving behind that terrible tight, dry feeling once you pat your face dry. It promises to increase cell renewal, leaving your skin feeling hydrated and soothed, and it smells like a dream.
Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam
Made with pore-purifying, amino acid-rich egg whites, Skinfood's foam is mild and won't strip away your skin's natural oils but will help curb breakouts and blackheads in oily skin types.
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Face Wash
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.
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 anti-aging and nourishing effects on the rest of your skin.
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.
Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser
For those dealing with hyperpigmentation, Indie Lee's brightening cleanser is one that you'll find exceptionally helpful. It removes dirt and excess oil, hydrates, exfoliates, and offers 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.
Laneige Moisturizing Foam Cleanser
Made with a mix of birch water and vitamin E, this cleanser creates a rich, creamy lather that leaves your skin feeling refreshed, refined, and hydrated every single time. It smoothes out rough patches, gently exfoliates, and never strips your skin of its healthy, natural oils.
Ole Henriksen The Clean Truth Foaming Cleanser
Ole Henriksen's iconic orange bottle, this time filled with a thick, frothy cleansing foam, is both antioxidant-rich and undoubtedly refreshing. It's formulated with African red tea extract and vitamin C to keep things bright, toned, supple, and soft.
Origins Three Part Harmony Foaming Cream-to-Oil Cleanser
This one creates an ever-opulent bathroom 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 promise to help replenish your skin and reveal a dewy, glowing complexion once massaged away.
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.
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 leave your face silkier, softer, and smoother than its ever felt.
Telang PS. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013;4(2):143-146. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.110593