Editor’s Picks: 16 of the Best Cream Cleansers for When Your Skin Is Feeling Dry or Sensitive

A gentle way to wash.
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Best cream cleanser

If you've got dry skin, sensitive skin, or skin that always feels tight after cleansing, then you may want to switch to a cream cleanser.

Also known as cleansing cream, this type of formula is both gentler and more hydrating than other kinds of face wash, like foams and gels. 

That's because these cleansers have a creamy texture, which produces only a mild lather (or no lather at all). Not only do they clean the skin without throwing off its pH or stripping its protective barrier, but they also deposit moisturizing ingredients.

But not all cream cleansers are made equal! Here's what I look for, plus the best products I've found to date.

What to Look for in a Cream Cleanser 

When choosing a cream cleanser, scan the ingredients list for the following:

  • Sulfate-free: Sulfates are harsh detergents that can irritate your skin. Instead, choose cleansers with gentle surfactants, such as sodium cocoyl isethionate or cocamidopropyl betaine, or no surfactants at all.
  • Silicone-free: Silicones can leave behind a film on your skin surface, which can trap debris and congest your pores. 
  • Mineral oil-free: Petroleum derivatives can also coat you skin in an occlusive barrier. 
  • Hydrators: Rather than silicones and mineral oil, look for skin-friendly emollients and humectants such as squalane, glycerin, coconut oil, fatty alcohols and shea butter.
  • Low-PUFA: Oils with a polyunsaturated fatty acid profile are highly volatile and quick to oxidize (go rancid). Ideally, use cleansers with stable oils or that don't have PUFAs in the first five ingredients. 
  • Low-fragrance: Although fragrance won't be as irritating in a cleanser compared to a leave-on product (like moisturizer), it's still best to limit wherever possible. 

Note: Some cream cleansers rinse clean with just water, while others require more careful removal. So make sure to check out my cleansing cream tutorial for tips on how to use them the right way!

The Best Cream Cleansers of 2021

Blume Daydreamer

Blume Daydreamer

Blume Daydreamer

  • Details: Blume Daydreamer goes on like a creamy lotion, and since it doesn't lather, you might assume that it's not really cleaning. But you'd be wrong—it does a great job of removing dirt, oil and makeup while leaving your skin calm and hydrated. 
  • Key ingredients: Olive oil, coconut oil, glycerin, chamomile.
  • Best for: All skin.

First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser

First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser

First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser

  • Details: First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser was the first cream cleanser I fell in love with, and it's still one of the best. It has a whipped texture that turns extra-creamy in contact with water, and yet it's easily rinsed off. This one is suitable for every skin type, from dry to oily to sensitive, and it's also fragrance-free. See my full review here.
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, aloe, allantoin.
  • Best for: All skin.

Kinship Naked Papaya Gentle Enzyme Face Cleanser

Kinship Naked Papaya Gentle Enzyme Face Cleanser

Kinship Naked Papaya Gentle Enzyme Face Cleanser

  • Details: Kinship Naked Papaya Gentle Enzyme Face Cleanser looks, feels and smells like a creamy, tropical fruit smoothie. It cleans with natural surfactants in a hydrating base, and is spiked with fruit enzymes to gently exfoliate and brighten. Like all the brand's products, it also contains a probiotic complex to support your skin's microbiome.
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, aloe, sunflower seed oil, papaya enzymes.
  • Best for: All skin.

Tatcha The Rice Wash

Tatcha The Rice Wash

Tatcha The Rice Wash

  • Details: Tatcha The Rice Wash takes inspiration from the centuries-old "rice washing" ritual, in which Japanese women cleansed using the milky water leftover from cooking rice. As such, this formula combines rice powder with a blend of humectants  for a luxe, creamy cleanse. The tiny particles make it ever-so-slightly exfoliating as it produces a soft lather, and then rinses clean.
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, rice powder, algae, green tea, hyaluronic acid.
  • Best for: Normal to dry skin.

Dr Roebuck’s Noosa Nourishing Creme Cleanser

Dr Roebuck's Noosa Nourishing Creme Cleanser

Dr Roebuck's Noosa Nourishing Creme Cleanser

  • Details: Dr Roebuck's Noosa Nourishing Creme Cleanser is one of the most hydrating cream cleansers, with a lotion texture, but it's not at all greasy. In fact, and any skin type can use it. It's made with mostly natural ingredients, and is free of fragrance except for a little bergamot oil. Best of all, it rinses clean with just water.
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, jojoba oil, macadamia oil, shea butter.
  • Best for: All skin, especially dry and sensitive skin.

Omorovicza Moor Cream Cleanser

Omorovicza Moor Cream Cleanser

Omorovicza Moor Cream Cleanser

  • Details: Omorovicza Moor Cream Cleanser is made with the brand's signature thermal water and Moor mud from Hungary, both of which are rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium. That makes this cleanser calming, purifying and hydrating. Going on, it feels like a creamy, minty mud mask, and when you rinse it off, skin feels super soft and fresh.
  • Key ingredients: Hungarian thermal water, Moor mud, cocoa butter, zinc.
  • Best for: Normal skin.

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

  • Details: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser is the most affordable cleanser on my list. Out of the tube, it starts out as a cream, but when you rub it between your palms for 10 to 30 seconds, it actually transforms into an oil. This effectively traps makeup and debris—but it needs to go on dry, not wet skin. Rinse it off with water and then follow up with toner to be sure all residue is removed.
  • Key ingredients: Squalane, glycerin, vitamin E.
  • Best for: All skin except sensitive.

Versed Keep the Peace Acne-Calming Cream Cleanser

Versed Keep the Peace Acne-Calming Cream Cleanser

Versed Keep the Peace Acne-Calming Cream Cleanser

  • Details: Versed Keep the Peace Acne-Calming Cream Cleanser takes a gentle approach to breakouts. Unlike most acne cleansers, which strip away natural oils, it calms and moisturizes with blue tansy and fatty acids. It also has 1.5% salicylic acid to help deep-clean blocked pores.
  • Key ingredients: Salicylic acid, stearic acid, rosewater, glycerin, blue tansy oil.
  • Best for: Acne-prone skin.

Pai Middlemist Seven

Pai Middlemist Seven

Pai Middlemist Seven

  • Details: Pai Middlemist Seven is one of the mildest cleansers, perfect for sensitive skin and eczema sufferers. It is completely free of detergents, and instead is high in an array of natural oils. So you'll want to use a warm, wet cloth to throughly remove it—and it just so happens to come with one. The muslin side is for gentle exfoliation, and the other side is a soft terry flannel.
  • Key ingredients: Camellia oil, castor oil, sweet almond oil, glycerin, shea butter.
  • Best for: Dry and sensitive skin.

Naturally Serious Major Moisture Gentle Cream Cleanser

Naturally Serious Major Moisture Gentle Cream Cleanser

Naturally Serious Major Moisture Gentle Cream Cleanser

  • Details: Naturally Serious Major Moisture Gentle Cream Cleanser is formulated with "no B.A.D. ingredients"—meaning the brand doesn't use anything banned, ambiguous or debatable. So you'll find a coconut-based surfactant in here, along with fatty acids, plant extracts and probiotics. Impressively, it removes even waterproof makeup without drying or irritating you skin.
  • Key ingredients: Stearic acid, glycerin, coconut oil, squalane.
  • Best for: All skin.

Peet Rivko Gentle Cleanser

Peet Rivko Gentle Cleanser

Peet Rivko Gentle Cleanser

  • Details: Peet Rivko Gentle Cleanser is geared at sensitive skin, but all skin types would benefit from this ultra-mild and creamy cleanser. It is completely fragrance-free, so there are no synthetic perfumes or even essential oils in here to irritate you skin. It also has a short and clean ingredients list, which includes all-natural surfactants and skin-soothers. 
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, panthenol, allantoin, aloe..
  • Best for: All skin, especially sensitive.

SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser

SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser

SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser

  • Details: SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser was formulated to be suitable for "post-procedure" skin—so, you can safely use it after laser treatments, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, IPL or injectables. The star ingredient is 3% allantoin to soften, soothe and hydrate. But despite its gentleness, it is still capable of removing stubborn long-wear makeup.
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, propanediol, allantoin.
  • Best for: All skin.

Arcona Four O’Clock Flower Gentle Cleansing Cream

Arcona Four O'Clock Flower Gentle Cleansing Cream

Arcona Four O'Clock Flower Gentle Cleansing Cream

  • Details: Arcona Four O'Clock Flower Gentle Cleansing Cream is named for the Mirabilis jalapa (a.k.a. the "four o'clock flower"), which has soothing and calming properties. As such, it is ideal for reactive skin, as well as all other skin types. Besides the flower extract, which takes down redness, it has clay to draw out impurities, and hyaluronic acid and seaweed to deliver hydration.
  • Key ingredients: Kaolin clay, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, seaweed, chamomile, green tea.
  • Best for: All skin, especially sensitive.

Honua Hawaiian Skincare Pa‘akai Cleansing Cream

Honua Hawaiian Skincare Pa'akai Cleansing Cream

Honua Hawaiian Skincare Pa'akai Cleansing Cream

  • Details: Honua Hawaiian Skincare Pa'akai Cleansing Cream is all-natural and packed with tropical ingredients sourced from Hawaiian farms, such as hibiscus (which gives it its pink hue.) It cleans well, is suitable for all skin, and can even be left on for 15 minutes as a mask.
  • Key ingredients: Algae, hibiscus, Hawaiian sea salt, lavender, chamomile.
  • Best for: All skin.

Acure Seriously Soothing Cleansing Cream

Acure Seriously Soothing Cleansing Cream

Acure Seriously Soothing Cleansing Cream

  • Details: Acure Seriously Soothing Cleansing Cream is a budget-minded option with a lotion texture and sensitive skin-friendly ingredients. They include the gentlest surfactants, plus calming plant extracts and hydrating emollients. Despite how creamy it is, this one rinses off easily with just water.
  • Key ingredients: Coconut oil, glycerin, chamomile, calendula.
  • Best for: Sensitive skin.

MV Skintherapy Gentle Cream Cleanser

MV Skintherapy Gentle Cream Cleanser

MV Skintherapy Gentle Cream Cleanser

  • Details: MV Skintherapy Gentle Cream Cleanser feels so good, you almost want to leave it on as moisturizer (but please don't!). Since it's all-natural and oil-based, it is nourishing and gentle for dry and sensitive skin, but also lightweight enough for oilier folks. I recommend removing it with a warm, wet cloth.
  • Key ingredients: Camellia oil, glycerin, olive oil, coconut oil, vitamin E.
  • Best for: All skin, especially sensitive.

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