This Common Misconception About Face Washing Could Keep You From the Cleanser of Your Dreams

Photo: Getty Images/jacoblund
Even though washing your face is of utmost importance in your skin-care routine, there's one type of cleanser that has gotten a bad rap. Foaming cleansers, the kind that give you that satisfying sudsy action as you cleanse, have been known to be drying. But, real talk: Are foam cleansers bad really?

The answer, skin fans, is "no." There's a common misconception that foam cleansers are too harsh for anyone without super-oily skin, and while back in the day that may have been true, in 2019 it's no longer the case. The age-old controversy with foaming cleansers stems from their use of sulfates, which some skin pros recommend avoiding because they can strip your skin of its natural oils and humectants. "Traditionally, sulfate-types of cleansers give the best foam, but they are harsh," says Ginger King, a cosmetic chemist. Sulfates are a type of surfactant, which is what makes a foaming cleanser actually foam, but "they change the skin's structure so that water can evaporate more easily," says Michelle Wong, cosmetic chemist and founder of LabMuffin.

We're living in an era of peak skin care, though, and innovations in product formulation mean that foaming cleansers no longer have to be the enemy. "New cleansers use sarcosinates, betaines, and amino-derived surfactants," says King. "They foam, but they don't foam like sulfates, and they deliver cleansing and conditioning properties." Newer foam cleansers also tend to have "foam stabilizers," which Wong says "don't strip the skin too much." Humectants and oils can also help reduce stripping, so look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid or aloe vera on your foam labels. Or keep scrolling to check our our fave non-drying cleansers that prove foam cleansers don't have to be bad.

One Love Organics Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser, $25

This one lives up to its name: it really is "easy" on your skin. The cleanser's combo of cold-pressed apple oil and vegetable glycerin maintain your skin's moisture as it foams up to cleanse.

Photo: One Love Organics

Olehenriksen The Clean Truth Foaming Cleanser, $30

Even those with dry or sensitive skin can use this cleanser without revealing a dried-out face. It's packed with antioxidants and vitamin C (so it brightens!), along with plant-based oils to work as a hydrating cleanse.

Photo: Olehenriksen

Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser, $26

If you love cream and foaming cleansers equally, this luxe one will suit your fancy. It's spiked with Greek yogurt, which delivers essential proteins to your skin, and soothing honeysuckle to give your complexion TLC as it suds up.

Photo: Korres

Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash, $10

Your face wash will feel like it's gone on a trip to the beach. As this cleanser bubbles up to cleanse away gunk in your pores, papaya extract, aloe vera, coconut water, and sea algae deliver nutrients to your skin, leaving it feeling so fresh.

Photo: Pacifica

La Roche Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Face Cleanser, $15

This drugstore staple brand makes a gentle foam cleanser that has racked up tons of rave reviews. Its skin barrier-friendly combo of niacinamide, ceramide, and glycerin work together to keep your skin soft and strong post-cleanse.

Photo: La Roche Posay

Controversial statement: You should not wash your face in the shower. Also, this is the best drugstore cleanser, according to a dermatologist (it only costs $1). 

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