Best Cleansing Foams

Updated July 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
200 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best cleansing foams

Washing your face before bed might delay your shut-eye, but you’ll regret skipping your nightly scrub. It helps to prevent breakouts by removing the day’s makeup, excess oil, and other gunk to keep it from clogging your pores at night. Over time, nightly washing prevents skin damage and wrinkles, too. Still not skipping to the sink? Maybe it’s time to lighten up your routine with a quality cleansing foam. 

Cleansing foam is a fluffy, frothy alternative to standard cream and gel cleansers. Foam cleansers are prized because of the way they deeply penetrate pores to remove dirt and oil in ways other formulas simply can’t. And they do it all while pampering your skin with a cloud of luxurious lather. 

Maybe you’ve heard that cleansing foam is too harsh and drying for your skin. Well, that’s old news. Older formulas contained ingredients now known to aggravate sensitive or dry skin. However, many modern foam cleaners boost their volume with natural ingredients or pumping action to give their formula that coveted loft. We’ve scouted out the best cleansing foams on the market.

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Cleansing foam is popular for its light, airy feel and deep-cleaning abilities.

Key considerations

Skip the sulfates 

Foaming cleansers have a reputation for ruthless oil removal. This sounds good in theory, but squeaky-clean skin isn’t ideal for everyone. Products that remove too much oil compromise your natural skin barrier, which keeps harmful substances out of your pores and locks moisture in. Products that strip too much oil can parch dry patches, trigger sensitive faces, and even spur overproduction of oil if your skin is naturally oily.    

Supercharged cleansing compounds known as sulfates are the culprit in most harsh cleansing foams. Sulfates are used in many shampoos and cleansers to create impressive lather. Over time, many consumers have learned that these products can wreak more havoc than the oils they eradicate.  

That’s not say every respectable cleansing foam must be sulfate-free. Most experts agree that sodium lauryl sulfate, one of the harshest on the market, should be avoided. But other sulfates are gentler, and many help teens and adults with oily, acne-prone skin. If you go this route, monitor your skin for signs of drying and irritation.

Some sulfate-free products achieve a foamy consistency using high-tech dispensers that froth and fluff the cleansing foam. Others use coconut-, plant leaf-, or amino-acid-based ingredients to create foaming action. The more sensitive your skin, the more carefully you should check the product labels.  

Skin type

Oily: Those with oily skin might tolerate products with sulfates, but some formulas may still irritate oily skin, which can exacerbate breakouts. Sulfate-free formulas with salicylic or glycolic acid may be lower-risk options. 

Normal: Skin classified as normal — experiencing few breakouts, dry patches, or rashes — may be able to handle formulas that are less fussy, too.

Sensitive: Customers with sensitive skin must avoid sulfates, alcohol, and preservatives known as parabens. Instead, opt for products that use natural ingredients made from botanical sources, seaweed, oats, aloe, or essential oils. Some natural ingredients like tea tree oil and witch hazel may still be too harsh for sensitive skin . 

Dry: If you have dry skin, you’ll need to avoid alcohol-laden formulas that can cause further dehydration. Instead, look for products that use hydrating oils to soften skin or emollients that trap moisture. Alternately, cleansing foam made with water-binding components can help infuse your skin with hydration. Formulas that include hyaluronic acid and ceramide lipids also help build your skin’s moisture barrier. 

Combination: Having a hard time determining your skin type? You may have combination skin, characterized by an oily nose, chin, and forehead with dry or sensitive skin elsewhere. If you have combination skin, avoid any cleansing foam that contains salicylic acid. It will do more harm to dry areas than it’s worth to fight the oil. Instead, look for gentle formulas that are both alcohol- and oil-free to avoid triggering either skin type. If your oily patches still need more work, consider targeting them separately. 

Some foam is dispensed as a cream that suds up in your hands or on contact with water.

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Features

If you’re investing effort and money in a cleansing foam, it makes sense to find one that pulls double duty. Cleansers that address specific skin concerns can make the most of your time and cash. 

Makeup removing: Formulas that are strong enough to remove makeup cut a step from your daily routine. Many basic cleansing foams can remove light makeup on their own. Foams specifically designed to remove makeup often use oils to displace mascara and foundation, though, so customers with oily skin may prefer to keep these steps separate.   

Noncomedogenic: These products are designed to keep pores clog-free, so if you’re acne-prone, look for formulas advertising this feature. Oil-free products featuring salicylic acid should also appear on your short list. 

Exfoliating: Cleansing foams that double as mild exfoliators achieve their goal through one of two methods. Mechanical exfoliants like sugar or sea salt gently remove dead skin and impurities through manual application and buffing. Other formulas use enzymes and skin-safe acids like glycolic, salicylic, and even fruit acids to dissolve unwanted gunk.  

Other factors

When narrowing down your choices, read labels closely for additional factors such as the following:

pH balanced: Look for pH balanced formulas that stay as close to neutral 7 as possible, since some cleansing foams can irritate skin by elevating its pH level. 

Fragrance-free: These formulas are a must for those with sensitive skin.

Antioxidants: If you’re starting to see crow’s feed, look for cleansing foams packed with vitamins and antioxidants that fight signs of aging. 

Soap-free: Products labeled as soap-free are generally free from sulfates.  

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DID YOU KNOW?
Formulas that strip too much oil from your skin can signal your body that it’s time to produce a whole lot more.
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Accessories

Skin moisture analyzer: New Spa Portable Skin Moisture Analyzer
Skincare can be a puzzle. This high-tech moisture analyzer eliminates the guesswork and gives you an accurate picture of your skin’s hydration level. In addition to skin scans, this tool can help you gauge how well your moisturizer is working, too.

Facial moisturizer: Creme de la Mer Moisturizing Cream
Following your nightly wash with a quality moisturizer is a no-brainer. This celebrity favorite works its magic using seaweed extract, and it works equally well for both normal and sensitive skin. 

Skin beauty supplement: Zint Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplement
Improve your skin from the inside out with this collagen protein supplement. Gentle on your stomach, Zint can easily be added to almost any drink, even cool liquids. This worry-free, non-GMO collagen is sourced from grass-fed cows. 

Cleansing foam prices

Inexpensive: You can find a cleansing foam that meets the needs of those with normal and oily skin for under $1 per ounce, but those with dry or sensitive skin will probably need to pay more. Products in this range may have sulfates, although most quality cleansers use milder formulas.

Mid-range: The middle tier runs $2 to $4 per ounce. You’ll find formulas packed with naturally hydrating ingredients as well as non-comedogenic products for acne-prone skin in this range. Most will be sulfate-free, too.

Expensive: The most expensive cleansing foams cost $5 or more per ounce. Products in this range will meet the needs of those with sensitive skin as well as other skin concerns. If you’re paying this much for a product, it should be made from natural, high-quality ingredients and contain no sulfates, parabens, or alcohol. 

The highest-priced cleansing foam might be extremely gentle, but it may not fully remove heavy makeup or sunscreen.

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Tips

  • Choose the right container for you. Most foaming cleansers are dispensed in pumps to help maximize the frothiness we all love. Products that come in tubes often dispense as a cream but whip up a lather in your hands. 
  • Test first. When trying a new cleanser, be sure to test it on a small patch of skin, such as the inside of your wrist, before slathering it all over your face.
  • Wash your whole face. Take care to wash from your jawline all the way to your hairline. Both of these facial outliers are places we touch frequently, and they tend to collect oil and dirt. 
  • Go gentle. When in doubt, opt for the gentler product. You can always purchase a more aggressive product later, but irritated skin takes time and effort to repair. 
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Wash any cleaning cloths or tools you use on a daily basis so you don’t reintroduce dirt and bacteria to your clean face.

FAQ

Q. How can I tell my skin type? 

A. Think about your skincare routine. If breakouts are uncommon, if changing products or weather doesn’t affect it, and you aren’t frequently moisturizing or removing oil, it’s most likely considered normal. On the other hand, if you frequently need to blot, if your makeup smudges, or if you have a perpetual glow, you have oily skin. Dry skin frequently flakes and itches. Sensitive skin often flushes or breaks into rashes easily and may burn or sting when using a new product or fragrance. If several of these sound familiar to you, there’s a good chance you have combination skin.  

Q. Do I use cleansing foam the same way as other cleansers? 

A. Wet your face with warm water before touching the bottle. Pump a squirt or two of cleansing foam into your hands, then gently rub the cleanser into your skin in a circular pattern. Don’t scrub too hard — it can aggravate skin and worsen acne. Always take extra time to rinse until all the cleanser and dirt are gone. Towel off your face with gentle pats, without rubbing. 

Q. How often should I wash my face? 

A. Most experts recommend washing every evening, regardless of skin type, to remove makeup, dirt, and oil that collect during the day. Those with combination or oily skin may need to wash in the morning as well. If you wake up with dry or flaky skin, pass on the morning wash. Avoid washing more than twice per day unless you’ve gone swimming in salt water or need to remove sweat, oil, and dirt after a workout.

 

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