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The 1 Best Foam Cleanser for Oily Skin—Dermatologist’s DIY Home Facial Hacks 

February 21, 2024

Did you know that the best foam cleanser for oily skin is one that actually shouldn’t dry out your skin? In this week’s tutorial I’m going to spill the beans on how to harmonize oily skin from the outside in. Download your complimentary worksheet here.

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    Top criteria for choosing the best foam cleanser for oily skin 

    • Foam texture 
    • Amino acid surfactant OR botanical emulsifier i.e. soy, honey, saponins (plant-derived soaps) 
    • Moisturising actives i.e. glycerin 
    • Low alkalinity 

    When it comes to my top criteria for choosing a face wash or foam cleanser for oily skin, it boils down to the following. Firstly, one with a foam texture is generally going to leave oily skin feeling cleaner, and is going to be more satisfying from an end-user perspective. However, we know that most surfactants that produce a foam tend to be highly alkaline, thus disrupting the general acidic pH of skin.

    For this reason, I recommend choosing a cleanser that is based on an amino acid surfactant OR a botanical emulsifier i.e. soy, honey, saponins (soap-like substance naturally found in plants). It is a bonus if moisturising actives i.e. glycerin can be included in the formulation, as it can repair the skin barrier. 

    The Science Behind 

    The Skincare Slide Show Skin Science Bite Sized

    Choosing the best foam cleanser for oily skin isn’t just a matter of the most expensive brand, it’s the formulation that counts. Many drugstore foam cleansers may be easy on the wallet, but the fact is they actually harm the skin barrier. 

    • At puberty onset hormones are secreted
    • Testosterone causes surge in oil gland activity 
    • Excess oil production when sebaceous glands fail to regulate 

    The science behind oily skin is fairly straightforward. Oil is actually a natural emollient which helps to strengthen and repair the skin barrier. The trouble is when there is an imbalance between oil secretion and the actual barrier needs of skin—the mismatch occurs when there is faulty signalling. At the onset of puberty, that’s when hormones are secreted.

    Specifically, it is testosterone that causes a surge in oil gland activity, this is beneficial in most cases, especially if one suffers from dry skin conditions such as eczema. Many eczema sufferers find their condition improving after puberty. However, the trouble with excess oil production is when sebaceous glands fail to regulate the amount secreted, hence worsening symptoms in those who are already acne-prone

    What causes oily skin? 

    What causes oily skin?

    To better understand how to choose the best foam cleanser for oily skin, we must first examine the root cause. 

    • Why? Largely genetic, can be caused by misuse of products I.e. astringent skincare 

    As to what causes oily skin, dermatologists generally consider it to be a largely genetic issue. However it is noteworthy that oily skin can also be caused by misuse of skincare products I.e. astringent skincare that contains alcohol, salicylic or alpha hydroxy acids. While many of these actives can be considered therapeutic, daily use of these ingredients in a face wash for instance can cause skin barrier damage. 

    Why treat oily skin?

    • Oily skin be embarrassing due to the high-shine appearance of the complexion 
    • Can be a symptom of acne vulgaris and induce comedone formation 
    • Can be uncomfortable i.e sticky sensation in humid climates 
    • Increase inflammation of skin, accelerates inflammaging 
    • Can cause makeup to wear off quickly
    Best Foam Cleanser for Oily Skin to Treat Oily Skin

    Choosing the best foam cleanser for oily skin must include a consideration of how effective the formula is for alleviating symptoms.

    In my opinion the symptoms of oily skin must always be treated appropriately. For one, symptoms can be highly embarrassing. The high-shine appearance of the complexion for instance isn’t merely a cosmetic concern, it can be inconvenient if it leads to makeup wearing off rapidly, besides being a thoroughly uncomfortable sensation. In addition, oily skin can be a symptom of acne vulgaris and can also induce comedone formation. Those living in humid climates will also find the sticky sensation quite disturbing. A lesser known fact is that excessively oily complexions are prone to increased skin inflammation, thus accelerating the inflammaging process.

    Terms to know

    • Hyperseborrhea
    • TEWL (Trans-Epidermal Water Loss) 
    • Sebaceous glands 
    • Paradoxical reactive hyperseborrhea
    Best Foam Cleanser for Oily Skin Prevents Hyperseborrhea

    The ideal foam cleanser for oily skin respects all the factors that make up the delicate skin micro-climate.

    Some important terms to know when discussing oily skin are the following. Hyperseborrhea refers to a state of excess oil production, and is often associated with acne. 

    TEWL which stands for Trans-Epidermal Water Loss is the normal evaporative process that occurs due to water loss via the skin barrier, one that is influenced by environmental factors.

    Sebaceous glands are the correct medical terminology for oil glands, the glands closely associated with your hair follicles which cover every inch of skin apart from your palms and soles. 

    Paradoxical reactive hyperseborrhea is the phenomenon of excess oil production that arises from the use of astringent skincare products such as harsh cleansers. When stripped of natural protective oils, the skin barrier feels dehydrated and sends signals to the oil glands, almost as a cry for help. This ultimately leads skin to compensate by producing even more oil. 

    FAQ How about foam cleansers for combination & dry skin types? 

    Those with dry skin will do well to avoid chemical surfactant based lathering face washes altogether, instead they should opt for gentle cleansers such as oil-emulsion type face washes. Those with combination skin can reduce the amount of cleanser used over the drier areas such as the cheeks if they find their skin getting dehydrated. The same rules for choosing a cleanser applies.  

    How about foam cleansers for combination and dry skin types?

    Wondering which is the best foam cleanser for oily skin? Dermatologists generally recommend cleansers which have low alkalinity, in order to minimize skin barrier damage.

    Combi/normal/oily skin: 

    When is a 2 step only skincare routine possible for daytime routine (skipping makeup removal)?

    We are used to hearing about the three-step skincare routine. Cleanse-Tone-Moisturise has been the classic mantra since the 90s—double cleansing became a thing in the last decade or so, though many skincare experts have long advocated the double-cleanse I.e. oil cleansing followed by foam cleansing. 

    So here’s how to skip the double cleansing step

    Even if you wear makeup, it is possible to technically skip the double cleanse. The hack here is to use a microfibre textile that can physically pick up the makeup particles as a way to “attract” the pigment, which results in makeup removal with water as a solvent alone. 

    Bonus cleansing tip with foam cleanser for oily skin types 

    The best way to use a foaming cleanser only for one-step cleansing is to pair it with a handheld pore vacuum or a sonic cleansing device. Here’s how you do it, first, apply a sufficient amount of cleanser on damp skin, forehead, nose and chin I.e. the T zone may require special attention for those with combination-oily skin. It is important to choose a dermatologist-recommended gentle cleanser with hydrating properties & antioxidants.

    I would generally avoid cleansers with AHAs and BHAs if you have any history of sensitivity, or live in a summer climate. An alternative is to use these only on a weekly basis, definitely not as a daily face wash. Using the device of your choice,  glide the pore vacuum/spatula  over the entire face, focusing on the oily parts of face with two passes instead of one, and skipping areas that feel dry/irritated

    Cleansing Devices with Foam Cleanser for Oily Skin

    It isn’t just about choosing the best foam cleanser for oily skin, the tip here is to correctly pair it with a cleansing device to make the process more efficient. 

    HOW TO PAIR CLEANSING DEVICES WITH YOUR FOAM CLEANSER

    There are 2 main types of sonic cleansing devices: the spatula style which is used in clinics offering the korean medifacial and the silicone brush head which is marketed mainly for home use. I would recommend the spatula style for the following reasons:

    • Hygiene and ease of use 
    • Less skin irritation on sensitive skin 
    • Choose dual function settings reverse blade models which allow
      • Cleansing 
      • Infusion 
    Sonic Cleanser

    The best practices when choosing cleansing devices for an efficient skincare routine include: the ideal formulation for a face wash or foam cleanser for oily skin, appropriate amounts that are used and also optimisation with cleansing devices.

    SilkPeel Microdermabrasion Home Facial Device

    KEY PRINCIPLE BEHIND FACIAL CLEANSING DEVICES 

    The most efficient way to compress the double cleansing ritual and in fact make the steps go further for you is to incorporate cleansing devices. Essentially, devices help to physically exfoliate dead skin cells at the same time cleansing skin. Additionally, the pairing of actives such as antioxidants in the cleanser can help regulate the skin microenvironment. Finally, devices using microdermabrasion or hydrodermabrasion technology enhances absorption of the actives via transdermal delivery. For optimal results, choose specifically formulated cleansers like the Miel Honey Cleanser.

    Dermatologist’s Top Tip #1: Best Foam Cleanser for Oily Skin  

    • Foaming cleanser only for one-step cleansing use with a handheld pore vacuum
      • Choose dermatologist-recommended gentle cleanser with hydrating properties & antioxidants
      • Apply appropriate amount of cleanser on damp skin 
      • Glide the pore vacuum over oily parts of face, skipping areas that feel dry/irritated
      • Choose dermatologist-recommended gentle cleanser with hydrating properties & antioxidants
      • Apply appropriate amount of cleanser on damp skin 
      • Glide the pore vacuum over oily parts of face, skipping areas that feel dry/irritated

    Dermatologist’s oily skin cleansing tips: how to freshen up quickly 

    Those with oily skin may wish to avoid blotting papers as this can further dehydrate the skin barrier and worsen paradoxical hyperseborrhea. Instead, facial mists can be used as an on-the-go, quick cleansing step throughout the day. Those with oily skin can also help to regulate their skin microenvironment with the antioxidants and barrier repair actives in hydrating facial mists.

    BONUS EXERCISE: CASE STUDY OF IDEAL CLEANSER TO USE WITH PORE VACUUM OR SONIC CLEANSING DEVICE 

    3-IN-1 CLEANSING + ANTIOXIDANT + HYDRATING BENEFITS

    Honey Cleanser Foam Cleanser for Oily Skin

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