Cetaphil's Gentle Foaming Cleanser Review

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Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Nicole Kliest/Design by Cristina Cianci

What We Like
  • Foaming texture that’s pleasant to apply

  • Rinses away easily

  • Hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic

  • Very affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Potentially drying for some skin types

  • May be too simple for those who want more active ingredients

This drugstore cleanser is effective at removing oil and makeup, and its foaming texture is easy to apply. Don’t expect any bells and whistles, though—it’s as straight-forward as they come.


Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Nicole Kliest/Design by Cristina Cianci

We purchased Cetaphil's Gentle Foaming Cleanser so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.

I’ve always been slightly averse to the idea of putting anything from a drugstore on my face. Not because I have a checking account that allows me to solely buy luxury products (I wish), but rather due to the obnoxiously sensitive nature of my skin. Sure, I’ll grab a body lotion or the occasional mascara from my local CVS, but when it comes to my complexion—hard pass. 

That’s why when I agreed to test out Cetaphil’s Gentle Foaming Cleanser, I was a tad anxious. Would it break me out in weird and unexpected places? Would it turn my skin red? Would irreparable damage be inflicted? In a word, no.

Ahead, find out how this beloved drugstore mainstay affected my finicky skin, and if I plan to permanently incorporate it into my skincare routine.

Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Best for: Balanced-combination skin types

Uses: Removing dirt, oil, and makeup

Star Rating: 4/5

Potential allergens: Cocamidopropyl betaine

Byrdie Clean?: Yes

Price: $9

About the brand: Cetaphil was founded in 1947 by a pharmacist in Texas. His first product was the gentle skin cleanser; the brand still uses the original formula today. It’s found in most drugstores and rings in at an affordable price point.

About My Skin: Sensitive, and prone to acne and mild rosacea 

As much as I cherish my daily skincare routine (so relaxing!), I still wish that I was one of those people who didn’t have to worry about their skin. A simple cleanse and moisturize situation if you will. Nay, I am constantly warding off at least one pimple at any given point in time and my mild rosacea leaves my complexion a pinkish-red hue more often than not. It could be much worse (I’m balanced-combination skin, after all)—but it is hard work. 

The Feel: Instant foaming

Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Nicole Kliest/Design by Cristina Cianci

The fragrance-free cleanser comes out of a pump in an easy-to-apply foaming texture. Even though I tend to opt for creamier textured cleansers, I’ve always been keen on foam because it’s easy to see that you’ve applied it all over your face. Lately, I’ve been starting with an oil-based cleanser and following it up with Cetaphil’s Gentle Foaming cleanser (would recommend).

The Ingredients: Skin conditioners and a vitamin complex

There are just 12 ingredients in Cetaphil’s Gentle Foaming cleanser. This simplistic approach is probably part of the reason dermatologists recommend it—it’s pared-down, effective, and the likelihood of negative interactions is low. Plus, the foaming version of Cetaphil’s Gentle cleanser portfolio is paraben-free. Here is a breakdown of the main ingredients:

  • Vitamin B5 (panthenol) and vitamin E acetate (tocopheryl acetate): These help moisturize the skin, while the latter serves as an antioxidant—though it’s not as impactful as pure vitamin E. 
  • Betaine: A sugar-beet-derived amino acid that has pretty solid moisturizing properties. 
  • Glycerin: Glycerin is a humectant, which helps to smooth and moisturize skin, keeping it dewy and plump. 

[The] simplistic approach is probably part of the reason dermatologists recommend it—it’s pared-down, effective, and the likelihood of negative interactions is low.

How to Apply: Work lather into damp skin

Cetaphil’s Gentle Foaming Cleanser can be used both morning and night. If your skin is dry, you could use it only at night to remove makeup, oil, and dirt. Wet your skin and then pump the product into your hand. Massage the foam into your skin, paying attention to those areas with more makeup or oily areas on your face. Rinse off thoroughly and follow up with your favorite serum or moisturizer. 

The Results: Clean skin with no dryness

Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser


It was pretty effortless to switch over to using Cetaphil’s Gentle Foaming cleanser. Because it’s dermatologist-tested and clinically proven to be gentle on sensitive skin, my face reacted in a neutral way—nothing bad happened, and nothing perceptibly good happened. I’d recommend it to anyone with balanced-combination skin who wants a cleanser that will gently remove oil, dirt, and makeup from the day. If you want exotic or buzzy ingredients, look elsewhere.

The Value: A steal

Less than $10 for a cleanser that will last you upward of three months is certainly worth it if you’re considering adding Cetaphil’s Foaming cleanser to your routine. 

What to Look For: Consider your skincare needs

When considering the best cleanser for your skin, it is important to consider your skin type, your skin concerns, and the other products you are using. Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser works well for all skin types. It is a great product to use with other serums or moisturizers that have active ingredients as it is a simple, gentle formula and shouldn’t interact with other products. 

If you have acne-prone skin or oily skin, you may want to consider a product that has salicylic acid to help clear up your skin. For those that have anti-aging concerns, cleansers that have exfoliating properties may be more beneficial to help improve texture and fine lines.

If your serums or other skincare products address these concerns, however, then this product would be a great basic cleanser to remove makeup, dirt, and oil so your skin is ready for your other products with active ingredients. 

Similar Product: More expensive options

There are plenty of foaming cleansers to choose from, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a drugstore version that’s garnered as much attention and praise from dermatologists as Cetaphil. If you want something else, you’ll be spending a bit more money.

Klairs Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser: A lightweight hydrating cleanser that uses an amino acid formula so your skin doesn’t dry out, Klairs Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser ($18) also includes hyaluronic acid, aloe leaf extract, and tea tree oil.

Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser: A great choice for those with sensitive skin, the Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser ($28) contains prebiotic and probiotic Greek yogurt, which helps to cleanse, hydrate, and nourish the skin. 

Final Verdict

This isn’t one of the most exciting cleansers I’ve tried in recent past... but maybe that’s the point. It’s not trying to be anything more than a gentle, effective cleanser that won’t fuss with your skin barrier and can play nicely with other products. I’ll be keeping it around.


  • Product Name Gentle Foaming Cleanser
  • Product Brand Cetaphil
  • Price $8.00
  • Full Ingredient List Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Coco-Glucoside, Betaine, Glycerin, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Sodium Benzoate, Polysorbate 20, Polyquaternium-10, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid

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