Feeling like creamy cleansers don't cleanse well enough? Here's how they work.


While the market offers numerous cleanser varieties, creamy formulations stand out due to their gentle and luxurious feel. Unlike many cleansers that can strip the skin's natural oils, creamy cleansers are designed to thoroughly cleanse while leaving the skin feeling moisturized, soft, and supple. However, creamy cleansers often leave out the one component that contributes to achieving that “squeaky clean” feeling after washing your face- soapy lather!

In this blog, we will explore the mechanisms behind how these creamy cleansers function and cleanse the skin, identify the specific skin types that can benefit most from their use, and provide guidance on seamlessly integrating them into an existing skincare routine to achieve a glowing, well-hydrated complexion.

Creamy Cleanser Fundamentals

For those dealing with dry or sensitive skin, creamy cleansers can be a godsend. Unlike foaming or gel cleansers designed to strip away the skin's natural oils to eliminate impurities, creamy cleansers take a more delicate approach. Their formulations allow them to effectively cleanse the skin while maintaining its optimal oil balance, making them the perfect solution for skin types that cannot tolerate the harshness of oil-stripping ingredients found in many other cleansers.

How Do Creamy Cleansers... Cleanse?

Creamy cleansers work very differently from foaming or watery cleansers. Creamy cleansers are amazing at binding to dirt and makeup particles thanks to their oil-based components. This allows for a gentle removal process that doesn't damage the skin's natural barrier. This oil-to-dirt bonding is crucial for dry skin types that need to retain as much natural sebum as possible.

Additionally, creamy cleansers often lean towards a basic pH level rather than an acidic one. This slight skew towards alkalinity helps in preventing the skin from becoming too dry, as overly acidic products can worsen dryness. However, it's essential to find a balance, as extremely basic products can disrupt the skin's natural pH balance too.

Ingredients To Look For In Creamy Cleansers

When searching for the perfect creamy cleanser, it's important to steer clear of harsh detergents and look for nourishing, hydrating ingredients. Alcohol-free formulas are less abrasive and more suited for dry, sensitive skin. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides are staples in these formulations, offering hydration and barrier repair alongside cleansing.

Who Can Benefit from Creamy Cleansers?

While creamy cleansers are great dry skin types, they're not ideal for oily skin. People with rough, dry skin need to repair their skin’s barrier with lipids, which most cleansers do not provide. That’s the unique benefit of creamy cleansers, that they clean your skin while simultaneously moisturizing it.

On the other side of the coin, these same hydrating properties means creamy cleansers can be comedogenic for those with oily or acne-prone skin. That’s why it's crucial to understand your skin before choosing your cleanser.

Benefits for Dry, Rough, and Sensitive Skin

If you have dry, rough, or sensitive skin, creamy cleansers might be your new best friend. They remove dirt and makeup without stripping it of moisture, providing a soothing and hydrating cleanse. Also, for those with a flaky or scaly texture, the gentle formula of creamy cleansers helps smooth out rough patches, making the skin feel soft and fresh. Unlike many other types of cleansers, some creamy cleansers don’t need to be washed off the face after use. That, of course, depends on the specific product you are using. Make sure to carefully read product instructions, because not all products work the same.

Best Selling Creamy Cleansers

SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleansing Cream

The SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleansing Cream is a mild yet effective skincare product designed for sensitive or post-procedure skin. This gentle cleanser uses mild cleansing agents to remove impurities without stripping the skin, while also hydrating and softening with emollients like squalane. It includes soothing botanical extracts such as chamomile and orange oil to calm and comfort the skin, making it suitable for daily use or after cosmetic procedures like chemical peels. The formula is free of harsh ingredients like sulfates and synthetic fragrances, making it ideal for those with sensitive skin or specific skincare concerns. Overall, this cleansing cream is praised for its ability to cleanse without causing irritation, leaving the skin feeling clean, hydrated, and nourished.

PCA Skin Creamy Cleanser

The PCA Skin Creamy Cleanser is a gentle and hydrating facial cleanser formulated to remove dirt, oil, and makeup without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. This creamy cleanser features a blend of nourishing ingredients such as aloe vera, rose hip seed oil, and amino acids to soothe and hydrate the skin while effectively cleansing. It is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and can be used daily as part of a skincare routine. The PCA Skin Creamy Cleanser is free from artificial dyes, synthetic fragrances, and harsh surfactants, making it a good choice for those looking for a mild yet effective cleanser that supports overall skin health and hydration.

Zerafite Soothing and Calming Creamy Cleanser

The Zerafite Soothing and Calming Creamy Cleanser, featuring Multi-Lamellar Emulsion (MLE) Technology, is an ideal daily cleanser tailored for dry and sensitive skin, with a focus on soothing, strengthening, and moisturizing. Formulated with coconut-derived cleansing agents, it gently foams to cleanse without stripping essential lipids from the skin. The patented MLE emulsion technology replenishes lost lipids, leaving the skin hydrated, soothed, and protected. This cleanser offers a dual-action formula by not only cleansing but also soothing, calming, and hydrating the skin. Despite its non-foaming nature, it produces a gentle lather, effortlessly dissolving dirt, makeup, and impurities. The rich, creamy texture ensures a luxurious cleansing experience, leaving the skin impeccably clean, soft, and luminous, making it a perfect choice for those seeking gentle yet effective skincare.

Creamy Cleanser Comedogenic Concerns

It's important to note that what makes creamy cleansers so beneficial for dry skin—their oil-rich formula—can also make them comedogenic for those with oily skin. If you have oily skin, it's essential to choose non-comedogenic options and always pay attention to how your skin reacts to new products. Even if you have oily skin, there are some creamy cleansers that might work for you as long as they are acne-safe. Creamy cleansers without heavy saturated fats or other comedogenic ingredients  should not bother oily skin types as long as the cleanser is washed off your face completely.

Creamy Cleansers: Not Just for Cleansing

Apart from their primary function of cleansing, creamy cleansers excel at keeping the skin hydrated. The soothing fatty acids, lipids, and other moisturizing ingredients in these cleansers means that some products serve dual-purposes as cleansers and moisturizers. Besides moisturizing and cleansing, creamy cleansers also often contain natural plant compounds with antioxidant capabilities. That being said, the contact time for most cream-based cleansers is fewer than 2 minutes, which means in many cases antioxidant compounds don’t have time to do their work on the skin. If you have a combination product that is a creamy cleanser/moisturizer, any antioxidants in the product should have time to work. Overall, cream-based cleansers are a robust product category with multiple functions that can upgrade a dry skin care routine immediately.


Creamy cleansers are a skincare blessing for those with dry, sensitive, or rough skin. Their unique formulation allows them to cleanse the skin gently while depositing oils and nutrients, ensuring the skin remains hydrated and nourished. Oily skin types should be cautious before using a creamy cleanser, and should wash off creamy oil based cleansers if the product packaging advises it. Remember, understanding your skin’s issues is crucial before incorporating any new product into your routine. When you look for products on Exclusive Beauty, you can filter products by what issues your skin has, and what types of products you prefer.

Creamy Cleansers: How They Work
Robert at Exclusive Beauty

The Author: Robert Baumann

Robert Baumann is a passionate advocate for science-backed skincare and wellness. With a lineage deeply rooted in dermatology as the son of renowned dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann, Robert brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his writing. Through his writing, he seamlessly combines his profound understanding of dermatology with the latest advancements in the industry. Robert strives to empower readers to make informed decisions about their skincare routines, guiding them on a journey where science meets beauty.

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