Shocked and worried about the appearance of fine lines? Or perhaps you're annoyed with how much scrubbing you need to do to get that water-proof mascara off? Stress no more - Korean facial cleansers are here to save the day! Not only do they remove makeup effectively, leaving your face clean and smooth, but they also have the power to do so much more for the skin. They can even prevent signs of aging.
Consider The Face Shop's Rice Water Bright Foaming Cleanser, which removes dead skin cells, hydrates, and soothes the skin all at the same time! We've picked out the best of the best Korean facial cleansers online and included a buying guide in case you're still unsure what this first step in the world-famous Korean skincare routine entails. Here's to great-looking skin!
Dr. Levy is a board certified dermatologist practicing in NYC and Westport, Connecticut. She has expertise in treating inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. She has an interest in skincare and takes a personalized approach to all of her patients.
We asked her to evaluate our buying guide below for accuracy, and she also contributed some extra tips and advice. You can also follow her on Instagram for more skincare tips!
Look no further for the bestselling Korean facial cleansers on Amazon and Sephora. We've got them all, from foam to oil cleansers, and included critical reviews from users.
*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Dr. Lauren Levy.
|Amount||5 fl. oz.|
|Best for||All skin types|
|Formulated with||Rice water, moringa oil, soapwort|
|Amount||6.09 fl. oz.|
|Best for||All skin types|
|Formulated with||Active botanicals, hot springs water, vitamin E and C|
|Highlights||Free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil and alcohol|
|Amount||1.92 fl. oz.|
|Best for||Oily, sensitive and combination skin types|
|Formulated with||Filtered snail mucus, plant based extracts|
|Amount||4.05 fl. oz.|
|Best for||Oily, dry, combination and normal skin types|
|Formulated with||Hydrogen Bio Water, dead sea salt and coconut water|
|Highlights||Hypoallergenic, free from parabens, sulfates and phthalates|
|Amount||5.41 fl. oz.|
|Best for||Oily, combination, and normal skin types|
|Formulated with||Chickweed extract, raspberry leaf extract, glycerin, oat kernel extract|
|Highlights||Free from sulfates, parabens, phthalates, guaranteed clean at Sephora|
|Amount||5.07 fl. oz.|
|Best for||Oily and combination skin types|
|Formulated with||Volcanic ash, camellia leaf extract, orchid extract|
|Highlights||Free of sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates and mineral oil|
|Amount||3.4 fl. oz.|
|Best for||All skin types|
|Formulated with||Amino acid cleansing formula, hyaluronic acid, ceramide 3 and tea tree oil|
|Highlights||Hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, vegan-friendly, free from parabens, ethanol, artificial coloring and fragrances|
|Amount||5.74 fl. oz.|
|Best for||Oily, normal and combination skin types|
|Formulated with||Lauric acid, glycerin, peppermint extract|
|Amount||5.07 fl. oz.|
|Best for||Oily, combination and normal skin|
|Formulated with||Egg extracts, albumin, hot spring water, tomato fruit extract|
|Amount||6.7 fl. oz.|
|Best for||All skin types|
|Formulated with||Soybean oil, hazel seed oil, grape seed oil, olive fruit oil|
|Highlights||Free from artificial ingredients|
The Face Shop
Rice Water Bright Foaming Cleanser
Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm
Snail Repairing Foam Cleanser
Dermaclear Micro Foam
Aqua Bomb Jelly Cleanser
Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam
Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser
Wonder Pore Deep Cleansing Foam
Egg White Perfect Pore Cleansing Foam
Pure Cleansing Oil
A Creamy, Cushiony Foam Cleanser With Rice
This Balm Facial Cleanser Dissolves Makeup
Protein-Packed Snail Mucus Formulated Into a Foam Cleanser
A Powerful Cream Face Cleanser That's Gentle on Skin
A Jelly-to-Foam Cleanser Bursting With Hydration
Gentle and Whisks Away Impurities
A Hypoallergenic Facial Cleanser for All Skin Types
Mint-Based to Remove Excess Oil
Egg Yolk and Albumin for Anti-Aging
A Cleansing Oil Enriched With Essential Nutrients
|Amount||5 fl. oz.||6.09 fl. oz.||1.92 fl. oz.||4.05 fl. oz.||5.41 fl. oz.||5.07 fl. oz.||3.4 fl. oz.||5.74 fl. oz.||5.07 fl. oz.||6.7 fl. oz.|
|Best for||All skin types||All skin types||Oily, sensitive and combination skin types||Oily, dry, combination and normal skin types||Oily, combination, and normal skin types||Oily and combination skin types||All skin types||Oily, normal and combination skin types||Oily, combination and normal skin||All skin types|
|Formulated with||Rice water, moringa oil, soapwort||Active botanicals, hot springs water, vitamin E and C||Filtered snail mucus, plant based extracts||Hydrogen Bio Water, dead sea salt and coconut water||Chickweed extract, raspberry leaf extract, glycerin, oat kernel extract||Volcanic ash, camellia leaf extract, orchid extract||Amino acid cleansing formula, hyaluronic acid, ceramide 3 and tea tree oil||Lauric acid, glycerin, peppermint extract||Egg extracts, albumin, hot spring water, tomato fruit extract||Soybean oil, hazel seed oil, grape seed oil, olive fruit oil|
|Highlights||Cruelty-free||Free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil and alcohol||Dermatologist tested||Hypoallergenic, free from parabens, sulfates and phthalates||Free from sulfates, parabens, phthalates, guaranteed clean at Sephora||Free of sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates and mineral oil||Hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, vegan-friendly, free from parabens, ethanol, artificial coloring and fragrances||Cruelty-free||Cruelty-free||Free from artificial ingredients|
Choosing skincare products is understandably an intimidating activity because the wrong product could lead to irritation. So, it's important to screen through the ingredient list to make sure that only the most beneficial ingredients touch our face to keep wrinkles, acne, pigmentation, and dryness at bay.
Before picking out a facial cleanser, let's first differentiate the different types so we can start on the right foot. Not all cleansers are formulated equally, nor do they work universally!
Gel cleansers are popular for their ability to provide a deep clean and decongest clogged pores, killing acne-causing bacteria along the way. You may have guessed that this type of cleanser is recommended for oily and combination skin due to its antiseptic properties. Plus, it can prevent breakouts and redness.
Gel cleansers are also great to use in humid or hot weather since they won't make your skin feel overwhelmed. They're usually water-based, which gives them a light consistency. On top of the deep cleaning and acne-fighting properties of gel cleansers, they're also equipped with soothing qualities to keep irritation and redness at bay.
Dry and sensitive skin often needs extra hydration, so a light consistency may not be your top priority. Consider cream cleansers instead, since they're thick and full of moisturizing ingredients.
On top of that, cream cleansers are gentle and won't strip away essential natural oil from dry and sensitive skin. You can also find cream cleansers in milk or lotion form. These cleansers work great during dry or cold weather by keeping your skin's natural barrier healthy.
Cream-based cleansers are really beneficial to those with dry skin or even those with acne who are on drying acne treatment.
They can easily be combined with AHAS (like a glycolic or salicylic wipe) because these cream-based cleansers will not dry out the skin. Instead, they will provide moisture. You should still use a moisturizer even if using a cream-based cleanser, though!
For an even more lightweight option for oily, acne-prone, or combination skin types, try foam cleansers. These start as a cream, gel, or powder and lather up to foam consistency. The foam gently, yet effectively, removes makeup and other impurities on the skin.
Foam cleansers are typically formulated without oils or emollients and leave the skin squeaky clean, although they might be too harsh for dry or sensitive skin types. For those who wish to try foam cleansers but are wary about any drying effects, you can look for ones with added moisturizers.
Foaming cleansers are great for oily skin or for right after working out where there may be a lot of sweat build-up, oil, and maybe even residual makeup.
Although foaming cleansers are traditionally known to dry out the skin, some are made with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and can be used in those with sensitive skin.
Do you prefer wearing a lot of makeup? Or, do you often have excess sebum and residue at the end of the day or in the morning? Perhaps a deep clean will provide you with the assurance that your face is genuinely grime-free! Try the facial cleansers mentioned below if you want a more powerful formula.
We do need our faces thoroughly cleansed if we want to get the best out of the toners and moisturizers we apply next, and oil cleansers are definitely essential for those looking for a deep clean. They work for all skin types, including oily skin, because they can remove pore-clogging debris and even the most stubborn makeup.
The main thing to remember with this cleanser is to follow it up with another wash, called a "double cleanse" (a crucial step in the Korean skincare routine), to completely remove any residue. A double cleanse also helps to make your skin feel fresher and avoid any oily sensations.
Double cleansing is a great skincare ritual to perform for clean and hydrated feeling skin. It is not necessary to do it every night, though. If double cleansing is something you feel works for you, it is fine to do every night, but I usually recommend double cleansing one to three times a week.
Oil-based cleansers can cause outbreaks of acne and periorificial dermatitis (a rosacea-like rash around the nose, mouth, and eyes), so be cautious if you are acne-prone.
Then we have clay cleansers that exfoliate. You can get these in a creamy, more natural form, powder, or scrub. These cleansers purify the skin by drawing out excess oil and debris. Exfoliation is also essential in removing dead skin cells, bringing you a new batch of baby-smooth skin that's ready for the next steps in your skincare routine.
Exfoliating cleansers have high absorbing power and are ideal for oily and combination skin types. Due to their potency, not all exfoliating cleansers can be applied daily, so it is advised to check how many times a week they can be used for a cleansing boost.
If you're busy and have those moments when you don't have the energy or time to do a full facial cleanse, try micellar water! This cleanser consists of tiny oil molecules suspended in soft water. These molecules attract dirt, makeup, and excess oils from your skin. Best of all, it can be used without rinsing.
Micellar water is ideal for dry and sensitive skin types due to its gentle and moisturizing properties.
Micellar water is my favorite way to remove makeup prior to using a cleanser. All skin types can tolerate micellar water, which makes it versatile. The micelle composition allows it to more effectively clean off dirt, oil, and even heavy makeup from the skin better than other products.
You do not have to use a cleansing wash after micellar water, but I recommend it for the best results. Micellar water is hydrating and will not dry out the skin and can be used in those with sensitive or acne-prone skin.
Additionally, this is a great product to keep in your gym bag to remove makeup prior to a workout and oil and sweat after a workout.
An essential consideration when it comes to choosing skincare is the ingredients. Of course, we want only the good stuff! Plus, the key components that our particular skin type needs to maintain a balanced pH and improve its appearance are essential.
Korean face cleansers are usually equipped with natural ingredients such as rice water, egg yolk, green tea, and other plant and fruit extracts. We know they're healthy when consumed, so they're likely to be beneficial for our skin too!
Specifically, rice water can lighten hyperpigmentation and fade age spots, while egg yolks are rich in fatty acids to keep your skin moisturized. Don't forget about green tea and fruit extracts! They're rich in antioxidants and can rejuvenate your skin.
You can also go for ingredients that occur naturally, such as volcanic ash, which is a great exfoliator and removes impurities without stripping natural oils.
Cleansers infused with vitamins, specifically C and E for skin, and minerals are also recommended to give your skin a boost of nutrients. These vitamins help the skin maintain its youthfulness, increase collagen production, and delay those wrinkles and fine lines as much as possible.
Some other ingredients that are often found in Korean cleansers include retinol, hyaluronic, salicylic acid, and ceramides. Retinol banishes wrinkles, hyaluronic acid hydrates dry skin, salicylic acid prevents acne, and ceramides lock in moisture. These are the good guys and help make a particular skincare product more effective!
Most facial cleansers nowadays are free from phthalates, sulfates, parabens, and fragrances, all of which may cause skin irritation and other health issues. While many of these ingredients aren't proven to be harmful to everyone, many people still prefer to avoid them, especially if they have sensitive skin.
Parabens are used to extend shelf life. Some studies suggest that they mimic estrogen and can disrupt hormonal balance. While the evidence is still inconclusive, many people feel better avoiding parabens just to be safe!
Meanwhile, phthalates increase the flexibility of plastics in cosmetics to help products stick to the skin. However, there are concerns that they may be endocrine disruptors. Many people also avoid fragrances, as they may trigger allergies or cause irritation on sensitive skin.
Korean skincare has also taken the move to be cruelty-free since 2018, so that's a plus for our conscience.
If you have eczema or sensitive skin, avoid fragrances as these are the most common cause of contact dermatitis and skin allergy. Many preservatives, like parabens, can also cause skin problems.
Avoid products with essential oils if you have eczema as these can often lead to outbreaks of eczema and contact dermatitis.
Dr. Levy also mentions, "Choose a cleanser that is right for your skin type and not one that is trending on social media. I have seen far too many young women who are acne-prone worsen for following the double cleanse/oil-based cleanser trend.
Also, you may want to have one or more types of cleansers around, as the condition of the skin changes depending on what other products are in your routine, and even the weather."
Since we're on the topic of skincare, why not add the following recommendations to your regime? You can start with our favorite green tea skincare products or try a refreshing face mist. And don't forget to finish with sunscreen to keep your skin protected!
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