Foaming cleansers are satisfying. Foaming cleansers can make your skin feel squeaky clean. Foaming cleansers can give oily skin types a welcome oil-free break. But… are they good for your skin? Or are foaming cleansers bad for your skin?
Should you be stripping oil from your skin?
Is squeaky clean a good thing?
Does more foam really mean your skin is more clean?
Are foaming cleansers like a Muller fruit yogurt… extremely yummy but also full of refined sugar?
If you currently use a foaming cleanser or are considering buying one, stop right now my friend and read this…
Are Foaming Cleansers Bad for Your Skin?
Foaming cleansers are cleansers on turbo charge. Cleansers are designed to take away from your skin. They mix up oil and water (something which doesn’t naturally happen) and wash it all off your face. Foundations which are oil based quickly wash away. Pollution impurities (aka particulate matter) which can age your skin if left on too long rinse away down your plug hole. Amounts of your skin’s own moisturising oil (sebum) dissolve away and leave you.
Cleansing is a delicate balance.
When you cleanse your skin, you want to remove make-up and sunscreen. Tick.
You want to remove harmful pollution particles. Tick.
You want to remove dirt, dust, mud, pollen and anything your skin grabs on to in your day. Tick.
You don’t want to remove your skin’s own moisturising factors i.e. ceramides, amino acids, cholesterol, fatty acids.
You don’t want to remove too much of your skin’s sebum.
…and you definitely don’t want to irritate, agitate and disturb your skin barrier. This leads to dehydration, dryness, sensitivity and ageing.
The Problem With Foaming Cleansers
My friend this is the problem with foaming cleansers. They cleanse skin too thoroughly. Foaming cleansers have high levels of very effective cleansing ingredients, usually sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES). The more foam a foaming cleansers makes, in general, the more harsh its overall formula.
Are Foaming Cleansers Good for Oily Skin?
When you have oily skin, it’s very tempting to do everything in your power to de-oil it. To use drying toners. To blitz it with high foam cleansers. To ban any moisturiser with even a hint of oils in it. All of these things fight against your skin’s normal, natural, healthy biology.
See, your skin is both water and oil based. But… it is almost exclusively oil based in its top few layers. Think of your skin like a chocolate frosted cupcake. On top you have a delicious fudge-chocolate whipped coating. Underneath you have a dreamy rich and salivating chocolate brownie cupcake. Your skin is like this cupcake. The frosted top is your skin’s oil layers and the brownie cupcake is your skin’s under layers.
Now… imagine how stale your cupcake will go without frosting.
Leave it a day, hell, even a few hours and quickly your delicious cupcake will be stale, dehydrated and a lot less yummy.
This is the same way your skin works. Your skin’s oily top layers keep water locked in. They also keep irritating pollution particles, bacteria, dirt, dust and debris from absorbing into your skin.
The problem with foaming cleansers is this: they remove your skin’s oily top layers. When you have an oily skin type, this might sound like skin heaven. However, know this, studies show oily skin types replenish themselves within a handful of hours. Oil is made inside of your skin’s pores and taking away amounts of oil from your skin’s surface, only activates your pores to push more oil up.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 9 October 2017
Foaming cleansers will make your oily skin type feel less oily… temporarily. However, foaming cleansers do not help rebalance your skin’s oily nature. For 1 or 2 hours of less oily feeling skin, you’re often left with irritation, dryness, sensitivity, redness and more. Instead non foaming cleansers for sensitive skin like this, this and this make great oily skincare alternatives.
Can Foaming Cleansers Cause Acne?
Having an oily skin type usually also means, pimples, spots and acne… and the rumor is, foaming cleansers cause acne. Is it true? Yes and no.
- Foaming cleansers usually cause irritation and irritation causes inflammation… and acne is a chronic inflammatory condition. More inflammation equals more obvious and reddened acne lesions
- Very effective cleansers aka foaming cleansers remove your skin’s probiotic balance…. your skin has good and bad bacteria and it’s an overgrowth of 1 kind of bacteria named Propionibacterium acnes which helps cause acne
- Acne is caused by dead skin and skin oil plugs inside of pores which cause acne bacteria to grow
- Acne is much more than just a skin condition, it also involves hormone balance which causes skin sebum levels to rise
Using a foaming cleanser is very unlikely to be the main cause you acne but if you already suffer with acne, a foaming cleanser will very likely worsen it.
Why Shouldn’t You Use Foaming Cleansers?
My friend, foaming cleansers are like low cocoa solids chocolate, they make you feel great at first, but leave you in a whirlwind of addiction side effects very quickly.
High and quick foaming cleansers can;
- Cause skin dehydration
- Upset your skin’s pH balance
- Cause dryness and irritation (even if on top your skin still looks oily)
- Cause redness and sensitivity
- Upset your skin’s probiotic balance
- Remove your skin’s natural moisturising factors i.e. ingredients which hold onto water
- Denature your skin proteins i.e. cause your skin barrier to malfunction
The bottom line: Foaming cleansers are too good at cleansing. Using a foaming cleanser daily is like bleach treating your whites pre-wash. It works, but it’s also extremely harsh.
Have you ever tried a high foaming cleanser? Which foaming cleanser were you considering? Do you have more questions? Come chat to me in the comments below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.