18 Best Foaming Facial Cleansers for Oh-So-Smooth Skin
When it comes to my personal beauty beliefs, I live by a few rules: (1) there is no such thing as too much blush, (2) take beauty sleep seriously, and (3) most important, don’t ever skimp on your skincare routine. And when I’m talking about my skincare routine, I am most definitely the kind of person that has a million steps (even though it is *absolutely* unnecessary). Hey, no shame.
If you’re like me, hi, hello! And if you’re not, congrats on being practical. But regardless of where you fall on the skincare spectrum, I think it’s safe to say that we can all agree on one thing: everybody needs a great face wash. So in honor of great face washes, I’ve rounded up 18 of the best foaming facial cleansers on the market that break down oils and makeup gently yet effectively. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want smooth, clean skin?!
Meet the experts:
● Alexis Stephens: Board-certified dermatologist and founder of Parkland Dermatology in Coral Springs, Florida. She is trained in medical and cosmetic dermatology with expertise in skin of color.
● Stacy Chimento: Board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Bay Harbor Islands, Florida. She is trained in general medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology with expertise in acne, rosacea, body contouring, laser rejuvenation, and injectable aesthetic treatments.
● Annie Gonzalez: Board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, Florida. She specializes in general and cosmetic dermatology, and her many areas of expertise include skin disorders such as acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, alopecia, and skin cancers.
● Mona Gohara: Board-certified dermatologist in Hamden, Connecticut. She currently teaches at Yale and is the Vice President of the Women’s Dermatologic Society. Her areas of expertise include medical and surgical dermatology and skin of color.
How does a foaming facial cleanser work?
“Foaming cleansers remove sebum from the surface of the skin,” says Stephens. In order to actually “foam,” these face washes contain active agents called surfactants.
To get a little more science-y, the magic behind the bubbles and foam lies in the surfactants: the active foaming agent penetrates your skin’s surface. While doing so, the foaming particles are able to quickly lift dirt and debris out of your pores when water is added. All of the sebum that is “lifted” washes away, giving your skin that deep cleanse, explains Stephens.
Is a foaming cleanser good for your face?
Because the foaming agent deeply cleanses your skin, in many situations this type of cleanser can be drying, explains Gonzalez. Due to this, some formulations are typically better for those with oily and acne-prone skin, she says. However, someone who has combination (or even dry!) skin is not exempt from using a foaming face wash. In this case, the cleanser should (1) have a formula that’s intended to be hydrating or (2) be followed up with a good moisturizer.
In fact, “most foaming cleansers are gentle and non-irritating, so they can be used twice a day,” says Chimento. Even though foaming cleansers provide a deeper penetration, she explains that formulas with gentle ingredients will leave the skin feeling refreshed sans dry patches. If you focus on the right ingredients for your skin type, you can avoid any unnecessary irritation, and a foaming facial cleanser could be the next new staple in your skincare regimen.
How to choose the best foaming facial cleanser:
According to Gonzalez, you should look out for three key things to prevent your skin from feeling tight and stripped when choosing a foaming facial cleanser:
● Ceramides: Helping maintain skin structure and health, ceramides strengthen the skin’s barrier.
● Sulfate-free: Because of their nature to dry out the skin, sulfates can strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving you with irritation.
● Fragrance-free: A fragrance-free formula is a good option to avoid potential irritation.
And, of course, a cleanser with a mild formula is best for those with sensitive skin. Avoid ingredients like alcohol, which will strip the skin of its natural oils.
Know your skin type
“For oily and combination skin, reach for a foaming cleanser with active salicylic acid to help remove excess oil,” says Stephens. However, if you have drier or sensitive skin, “make sure there are other hydrating supportive ingredients to reduce the potential for irritation,” says Gohara (examples of these include: oils, squalane, glycerin, etc.).
As we have all come to know, everybody’s skin is unique and different. Paying attention to the ingredients—and knowing what your skin reacts to—is your best bet when it comes to finding the right cleanser for you.
The best foaming facial cleansers:
Since we broke down literally everything you may have been wondering about foaming facial cleansers, enough chit-chat, here are 18 of the best.
BEST OVERALL FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER
Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser
$15 AT SEPHORA
This is Chimento’s all-time favorite foaming face cleanser to recommend. Prebiotic- and probiotic-rich Greek yogurt is the key ingredient in this superfood
cleanser. Because of the creamy consistency and the hydrating seawater, this face wash is perfect for those with dry skin.
BEST DRUGSTORE FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER
Burt’s Bees Refreshing Foaming Cleanser
$9 AT AMAZON
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get good results. Burt’s Bees’ gentle formula washes away makeup, dirt, and oil while also keeping your skin’s hydration in check, thanks to the cucumber and mint, which are two incredibly nourishing ingredients.
BEST FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER FOR COMBINATION SKIN
CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser
$16 AT AMAZON
Gonzalez recommends CeraVe’s Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser for those with combination skin. If the name didn’t give it away, the wash starts as a cream, but once you lather it into the skin, it begins to create a foam-like consistency. With the addition of ceramides, amino acids, and hyaluronic acid, your skin will stay hydrated after use. Plus, it’s gentle enough to remove your eye makeup!
BEST FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER FOR OILY SKIN
Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser
$28 AT AMAZON
If you’re looking for a natural cleanser, give Caudalie’s foaming face wash a go. The formula is great for those with acne, yet it’s sulfate-free, so it won’t strip your skin. Plus, it’s packed with antioxidants, so you won’t feel dry like alternative acne face washes.
BEST SOOTHING FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER
Klairs Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser
$18 AT SOKO GLAM
Dry skin be gone with this face wash by Klairs! The amino acid-, hyaluronic acid-, aloe extract-rich formula keeps your skin fully moisturized while still giving you that deep clean. If you have acne, don’t be afraid—the added tea tree leaf oil will help to fight breakouts and soothe your inflamed skin.
BEST OIL FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER
Skinfix Barrier+ Foaming Oil Hydrating Cleanser
$30 AT SEPHORA
For those with fine lines, wrinkles, and redness, this Skinfix foaming oil cleanser is calling your name. Packed with a hydrating complex and aloe barbadensis leaf juice, your skin will be left feeling smooth as hell. Plus, it contains a seaweed hyaluronate blend that will plump your skin, providing intense hydration and a dewy-like glow.
BEST FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER, ACCORDING TO ME
Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam Hydrating Makeup Remover $38 AT SEPHORA
A personal favorite of mine, the Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam Hydrating Makeup Remover is my go-to foaming facial cleanser. The gel formula gently removes all my makeup from the day, and thanks to the chestnut shell extract, my skin is left feeling incredibly smooth and soft.
BEST FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER FOR DRY SKIN
Buttah Skin Cleanser
$15 AT ULTA BEAUTY
Gonzalez recommends Buttah’s cleanser for those suffering with dry skin. Packed with enriching essential oils, this wash will cleanse the skin while keeping its natural pH in check. Citric acid acts as a gentle exfoliant, while the coconut oil and lavender flower extract soothes and calms your skin.
BEST FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER FOR ACNE
The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser
$10 AT SEPHORA
A favorite of Stephens, this INKEY cleanser is lightly foaming, so it won’t make your skin feel tight or stripped. Plus, acne-busting ingredient salicylic acid works to soothe those struggling with breakouts. The best part? It’s 10 bucks.
BEST FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER FOR REMOVING MAKEUP
Fenty Beauty Total Cleans’r Makeup-Removing Cleanser
$25 AT FENTY BEAUTY
This vegan formula by Fenty Beauty will not only remove all your makeup, but it will leave your skin feeling super soft. Even the longest-lasting, waterproof makeup formulas don’t stand a chance with this bb.
BEST FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER FOR DISCOLORATION
Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser
NOW 25% OFF
$12 AT AMAZON
Over time, the Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser will help reduce discoloration due to the addition of glycolic acid, a natural exfoliator. So not only will your skin be more even, but it will also be left lookin’ bright and youthful.
P.S. Only use this face wash one to three times per week to avoid potential irritation.
BEST FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER LOVED BY EVERYONE
Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Clean Foaming Face Wash
$56 AT SEPHORA
Kiehl’s foaming face wash is one of the bestselling cleansers on the market, and for good reason. The calendula extract soothes even the most textured of skin, while the glycerin promotes intense hydration. Your skin will be left lookin’ and feelin’ ultra-smooth.
BEST FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER CONCENTRATE
Glossier Cleanser Concentrate
$20 AT GLOSSIER
I’m sure you’ve probably heard of Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser, but its lesser-known (dare I say potentially better?) cousin, the concentrate, is one of my favorite exfoliating foaming washes on the market. Ingredients like grape ferment, grape extract, lactic acid, and malic acid exfoliate wash away gunk to leave your skin less dull and more glowy!
BEST EXFOLIATING FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER
innisfree Pore Clearing Facial Foam with Volcanic Clusters
$12 AT SEPHORA
A personal favorite of Chimento’s for exfoliation, the innisfree Pore Clearing Facial Foam is packed with volcanic clusters that work to absorb excess sebum, while lactic acid exfoliates the skin and reduces the appearance of pores. Although it is exfoliating, the formula is actually quite gentle.
BEST GENTLE EXFOLIATING FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER
Tatcha The Deep Cleanse Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser
$38 AT SEPHORA
Natural fruit exfoliants like the Japanese luffa fruit deeply yet gently lift all that gunk out of your pores. Your skin will be left feeling totally smooth, without any dryness, thanks to fruit also being a natural conditioner. A two-for-one deal? I’ll take it.
BEST FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER FOR BRIGHT SKIN
iNNBEAUTY Project Foam Around Clarifying Daily Cleanser
$18 AT SEPHORA
So not only is this cute and colorful packaging total eye-candy, but the formula itself is a game-changer. Loaded with gentle exfoliators and salicylic acid, your pores will be cleared, and your skin will be lookin’ smooth as hell. If that wasn’t enough, the star ingredient, green coffee bean extract, will give you a healthy glow.
BEST OIL-FREE FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER
Farmacy Whipped Greens Oil-Free Foaming Cleanser
$28 AT SEPHORA
I’ve got a whole list of super ingredients for you. Ready? Ready. Moringa seed extract and water, papaya enzymes, and green clay work together to detox, purify, and exfoliate your skin. Then, sodium PCA adds moisture back in for a glowy and hydrated appearance and feel.
BEST SPLURGE FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER
La Mer The Cleansing FoamThere’s no denying that La Mer skincare products are literally magic…that is, if you wanna spend a little extra $$$. The uber-gentle formula is enriched with the brand’s “Miracle Broth,” a blend of sea ingredients—including the star of the show, giant sea kelp—that work to soothe and refresh even the dullest of skin.