My 3 Favorite Foaming Cleansers for When I Want That Squeaky-Clean Feeling

I wouldn’t use these every day, but for an extra-deep cleanse, these are my faves.
Publish date:
December 1, 2015
cleansers, face washes, neutrogena, sulfates, estee lauder, Kiehl's, Foaming Cleanser

The internet has taught me to avoid using foaming cleansers, but sometimes I just want that "squeaky clean" feeling. After using a long-wearing foundation, for example, a foaming cleanser leaves me satisfied that I’ve got it all off. To hell with the fact that I’ve scoured the whole top layer of my face off!

The issue with foaming cleansers is that they generally contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a mild irritant to most people’s skin; apparently it’s used in the lab to irritate the skin before they measure the soothing properties of other ingredients, if that tells you anything. Excessively foaming cleansers can also damage your acid mantle, alkalising your skin and making it a more hospitable environment for bacteria.

That being said, some people’s skin can handle SLS, no problem, and there’s no shortage of foaming cleansers that are SLS-free. Plus, if you’re using an acid toner after cleansing (and you should be), you’ll be rebalancing your skin before it turns into an alkalinic wasteland.

I wouldn’t use these foaming cleansers every day, and you should steer clear entirely if you’ve got dry skin. For a bit of sneaky squeaky cleanliness, though, these are my faves.

Estée Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foaming Cleanser, $25

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t endorse spending this much money on a cleanser, but like I said before, these aren’t ones I’m using every day, and they last long enough that I don’t find I’m shelling out another $25 every month or so.

My tube of Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foaming Cleanser actually comes from a gift with purchase, so I technically didn’t spend money on it at all.) It seems to pop up in almost all the Estée Lauder GWPs (as well as Rose Tea lipstick, which I have about six of), which is a great way to try it.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser, $19.50

The Kiehl’s cleanser is also SLS-free, and it gives a really nice soft foam—more creamy than frothy.

You’ll see that, like the Estée Lauder one, my tube isn’t the full size. Kiehl’s counters are notoriously generous with their sampling, and while they usually give away foil samples to every customer who stops by for a consultation, on one occasion they gave me this whole damn tube. For free. I guess it pays to be friendly!

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Moisturising Foaming Cleanser, $15.99 (NZD)

This cleanser was just launched recently in New Zealand, but I know we got the rest of the Hydro Boost range a few months before it was released in the USA, so hopefully it will be popping up stateside soon.

The bottle has a self-foaming pump, although I find I need one-and-a-half pumps to wash my whole face. Is it especially hydrating? No, but no cleanser can restore moisture to your skin. That’s what moisturiser’s for, silly! If you overlook that claim then it’s a decent, affordable cleanser.

The one foaming cleanser that I really want to try is CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser—I swear I see it recommended in the comments here a lot. I just wish we could get it here in New Zealand! I’ll trade all my favourite local brands for a bottle of this...

  • Do you have a favourite foaming cleanser?
  • Are you yay or nay on SLS?