Reviewed: Fresh's Soy Face Cleanser Calmed Down My Perioral Dermatitis

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Fresh Soy Makeup Removing Face Wash

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser

Lisa Patulny/Design by Cristina Cianci

What We Like
  • Won't strip skin (pH-balanced)

  • Removes makeup (even mascara)

  • Soothes and softens as it cleanses

  • Free from artificial fragrances

  • Suitable for all (or most) skin types

What We Don't Like
  • Strong fragrance

  • Not the best value for a cleanser

  • Not Byrdie Clean

The Fresh Soy Face Cleanser has a cult following for a reason—it works. It whisks away grime and makeup without stripping or irritating sensitive skin. It even helped to calm down my perioral dermatitis.


Fresh Soy Makeup Removing Face Wash

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser

Lisa Patulny/Design by Cristina Cianci

We put Fresh's Soy Face Cleanser to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

As a career beauty editor, I’m probably more acquainted with cult skincare products than most. But over the years, a few have managed to escape my shower caddy (I’ve only got one face, after all). Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser was one such product. I was aware it had a dedicated following and I’d heard a great many things about it from sensitive-skinned colleagues, but had never tried it myself, probably due to the fact I thought it was intended for irritable skin (it is and it isn’t—the brand recommends it for all skin types).

Lately, my skin has changed dramatically. It used to be very resilient. In those heady days of never worrying whether a product would irritate my face, I was all about an active cleanser. Lactic, glycolic, and salicylic acids were my buzzwords of choice. But now? Not so much. As you’ll read below, I’m currently dealing with pregnancy-induced perioral dermatitis, and suddenly my face has become more temperamental than a sugar-fueled toddler.

When I requested a sample from Sephora Australia (I live in Sydney), I expressed that I was going through a very sensitive skin moment. The PR assured me that Fresh Soy Face Cleanser devotees really are onto something—“it just works”. The many (and I mean many) glowing reviews I read online further confirmed this, and I was convinced I had found my new go-to. So was this a case of skincare simpatico? Keep reading to learn my honest thoughts.

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser

Best for: All skin types.

Uses: Makeup removal and cleansing.

Potential allergens: No.

Active ingredients: Soy proteins, cucumber extract, rosewater.

Byrdie Clean? No; contains PEGs.

Price: $38

About the brand: Fresh is where potent natural ingredients and traditional methods meet modern skincare science. They’re all about creating a sensorial experience, which is why their textures and scents are second to none.

About My Skin: Currently acting up

My skin is usually pretty predictable—it’s as "normal" as skin can be. I don’t generally experience breakouts or dryness or anything too tricky. That said, during my current pregnancy, everything has changed. I’ve recently developed a sensitivity to heat and certain active ingredients (see: my beloved strong acids) which means I’ve been exploring a completely different category of skincare than what I would normally. I’ve also seen perioral dermatitis popping up around my nose, which happened during my last pregnancy too. Apparently, increased levels of estrogen can trigger the itchy rash to pop up during gestation.

Happily, Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser was a great product for me to review during this time–it’s one in a lineup of gentle face washes I’ve been trialing in an effort to a) keep my skin clean and b) bid adieu to my perioral dermatitis. During the review process, I used it morning and night, sometimes alongside an oil cleanser.

It leaves my skin feeling clean but not too clean, i.e. there’s no squeakiness.

The Feel: A lightly foaming gel

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser Texture

Lisa Patulny/Design by Cristina Cianci

The texture is everything you’d expect for a gel cleanser—it’s lightweight and feels refreshing to use. The only difference worth calling out is that it’s less frothy than what you might be used to. I put this down to the absence of harsh foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulfate. It definitely does bubble up, though! 

It leaves my skin feeling clean but not too clean, i.e. there’s no squeakiness (which is good, since BTW, a cleanser that gives your face a squeaky feel is often a sign you’ve stripped away your protective natural oils). I enjoy using it as part of a double cleansing routine, but it holds its own just fine. It’s pretty amazing that this face wash can be so gentle, yet fully remove mascara and makeup. 

The Results: Clean skin and less irritation

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser Results on Lisa Patulny

Lisa Patulny/Design by Cristina Cianci

I’m happy to say Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser delivered everything I needed it to. I knew the product held cult status—especially among sensitive skin types—but I was still slightly concerned it would bother my perioral dermatitis (mainly because it’s so new to me so I can never quite be sure what will make it angry). Good news: it didn’t. In fact, I started to see my angry, pimple-like rash improve over time with this gentle cleanser.

I’m sensitive to smell at the moment, so I found the scent (natural as it may be!) a tad strong. However, it is very calming and spa-like, resembling cucumber and rose petal-infused water. If you’re similarly averse to fragrance in skincare, know that it doesn’t stick around for long, so you certainly won’t keep smelling it all day. 

The Value: Good for what it offers

The Fresh Soy Face Cleanser is not the cheapest face wash on the market, however it is one of the best I’ve tried for sensitive skin. Where I live, most cleansers geared towards those with easily irritated complexions are utilitarian and not at all luxurious, but this product is the best of both worlds. I’d recommend it for most skin types—the brand says it’s suitable for all, but you might like a little extra nourishment if you’re chronically dry.

Similar Products: Nothing exactly like it, but you've got options

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser: An OG option for sensitive skin types, dermatologists recommend Cetaphil's cleanser ($12) because it’s extremely kind to reactive skin. It's not a clean brand, but it's a great value and does a good job at cleansing without irritating. Ideally, use this after removing makeup. Read Byrdie's full review here.

Drunk Elephant Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser: Similarly formulated with mild surfactants for a gentle lather, Drunk Elephant's cult-favorite face wash ($32) has been slightly less effective at removing a full beat in my experience, but it does have thousands of dedicated fans. It is also clean, pH-balanced, and suitable for all skin types.

Caudalie Vinoclean Gentle Cleansing Almond Milk: Also made to cleanse skin without drying, Caudalie's milky cleanser ($28) has a cult following for the science of its vegan formula, which combines the moisturizing properties of almond oil and polyphenols with soothing cornflower water for a clean and hydrated result. Experiences with makeup removal vary, but fans find it to work well on sensitive skin types, especially in drier months.

Final Verdict

I really enjoy that Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser delivers on the efficacy (and gentleness!) easily irritated skin types require without sacrificing the sensorial aspect of skincare. Because sometimes, it’s nice to have a little of both.


  • Product Name Soy Makeup Removing Face Wash
  • Product Brand Fresh
  • Price $38
  • Weight 5.1 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Aqua, coco-glucoside, glycerin, butylene glycol, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, xanthan gum, glycine soja (soybean) oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, borago officinalis seed oil, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, rosa damascena extract, rosa damascena flower water, centaurea cyanus flower extract, glycine soja )soybean) sterols, panax ginseng root extract, rosa damascena flower oil, malva sylvestris (mallow) flower extract, tocopherol, ascorbyl palmitate, PEG-120 methyl glucose dioleate, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, caprylyl glycol, polysorbate 20, caprylic/capric triglyceride, silica, benzoic acid, disodium EDTA, citric acid, behenyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, lecithin, pentylene glycol, hydrolyzed soy protein, caramel, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, phenoxyethanol.

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