What is a cream cleanser, and how do you use it?

For all of you out there suffering from excessively dry or irritated skin, finding a facial cleanser that doesn't make the problem of dry skin worse can be quite the challenge. In my previous post, I briefly mentioned a type of facial cleanser that is best suited for those suffering from dry skin. Drum roll please .... say hello to the cream cleanser! In case you missed it, CLICK HERE to find out all about facial cleansers.  If you're like most people, you don't hear about cream cleansers much because they don't really garner too much attention. My goal for this post is to answer the question " what is a cream cleanser?", who is best suited for this type of product, and how to use it most effectively.

Cream Cleanser ... the background story.

The truth about cream cleansers, is that the name is a bit of a misnomer in that the job of a cleansing cream isn't really to clean your skin. The primary purpose of a cream cleanser is actually to remove makeup, which for many, is only the first step in washing your face. That's why it is no surprise that most formulas are packed with oils and moisturizing ingredients that lift away and remove makeup products, but have limited to no surfactants to dissolve sebum.

Beware Of The Pitfalls

As mentioned above, because cream cleansers have limited to no surfactants to dissolve sebum, you should be warned that dirt and oils can be left behind. For those suffering from dry skin, this may not be that big of a deal, however, for those with normal to more oily skin, the dirt and oil left behind serves only to clog pores and create potential breakouts and irritation.

Not only does some oils and dirt get left behind, but cream cleansers tend to leave a residue behind on your skin despite rinsing with water afterwards.

Since cream cleansers are primarily designed to remove makeup, they may contain several other ingredients that might not necessarily be beneficial or safe to leave on your skin for hours at a time. For example, there might be silicones, mineral oil, and aging polyunsaturated oils to name a few. These ingredients, like residual dirt and sebum, can clog your pores and exacerbate acne.

Since a facial cleanser is typically the first part of a multi-step skin regimen, the last thing you would want to do is use a cleanser that could potentially PREVENT other products in your regimen from being properly absorbed (ie serums, moisturizers, etc). However, many argue that cream cleansers do, in fact, cause other skin products used after application to be less effective.

What Is A Cream Cleanser?

Dry Skin Types Benefit Most ... When Using Cream Cleansers Correctly

The idea that the moisturizing ingredients in a cream cleanser will stay on your skin for longer periods of time to help nourish is typically best suited for those with dry or sensitive skin. However, some might argue that for those individuals, wouldn't using an actual moisturizer on your skin instead of a cream cleanser be preferable? Some might say yes, of course, moisturizers are preferable, but when used correctly, cream cleansers can be effective in keeping skin hydrated. Here are some useful tips when considering using a cream cleanser:

  1. Apply the cream cleanser to DRY skin and massage it around for a few moments. Do not wet your skin first.
  2. Wet your fingertips with water and continue massaging the product onto your skin. This will emulsify it, allowing for an easier removal.
  3. Now rinse with water --> by this time, most of your makeup should have been removed.
  4. Clean your skin. Even if you were not wearing makeup to begin with, you STILL need to remove the cleanser residue.

The following are some options you can try for Step 4 above:

  • Use a second cleanser: Try to ensure that you choose a gentle, sulfate-free formula.
  • Use the cream cleanser twice: If you feel like you'd rather not by a second cleanser, consider using the cream cleanser twice. The second application should allow for a more thorough cleansing than one application alone. Even still, you should still get the residue off with a cloth or toner.
  • Use a cloth: Immerse a soft cloth in warm water and drape it over your face for a few moments before gently wiping away the cleanser. The texturizing action from the cloth will take off the cleanser and give you mild exfoliation (killing two birds with one stone so to speak).

Final Thoughts

When looking at the overall picture, it would appear as though cream cleansers are geared more towards women looking for an adjunct product to remove makeup before using a more traditional facial cleanser for a more thorough cleaning.  For those of you out there suffering from dry skin, a trial run with a cream cleanser should definitely be a consideration because cream cleansers are gentler than traditional soaps or regular face wash products.

Let’s Stay in Touch

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at the following address: kent@theclearskinsolution.com. If you found this post particularly interesting or you feel you learning something valuable that a friend or family member could benefit from, please share the knowledge on one of your social media outlets using one of the share buttons below or hovering in the left side bar.  All post shares are very much appreciated.



Hi everyone! I want to thank you for visiting The Clear Skin Solution. I'm currently a resident physician in Texas who just so happens to be very interested in skin care, nutrition, and overall wellness/healthy living. It is my hope that you will learn something from my website. I am very dedicated to providing you with relevant, accurate information so that you will be better equipped to make better informed, healthier decisions. Please feel free to contact me though my website email or social media outlets.

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6 thoughts on “What is a cream cleanser, and how do you use it?”

  1. Hi Kent,
    I enjoyed your article on cream cleanser. Although I would not benefit from it. I have very oily skin. I have a few close friends who have very dry skin. I also found you article on hot showers interesting and the effects It can have on your skin. I look forward to coming back to your site for more information.


    1. Hi Monica! Thanks for checking out my post. Maybe your friends might benefit from giving a cream cleanser a try? I’m glad you found my other post interesting. It definitely seems like most people I know like to take steaming hot showers. This is why I made the post, in hopes of educating the public about the potential harms it can cause for your skin. Definitely check back often, I have plenty of additional material on the way. Best regards. 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing about cream cleansers. I have heard about them but was not sure if I should use them.

    After reading this I don’t think it is something for me. I have oily skin, and I don’t get dry skin.

    This was a really helpful post! This will definitely help others! Thanks

    1. Hi Christina! Thanks for checking out my post. I’m glad it helped clear some things up for you regarding cream cleansers. If you have oily skin, it sounds like more standard facial cleansers are better suited for you skin. If you haven’t already, you should take a look at the facial cleansing gel that I use and have been very happy with for 10 years now at https://theclearskinsolution.c…. If you have any other questions or comments, please let me know. Best regards.

  3. Hi
    Nice article on cream cleansers. I am in that majority that thought this stuff was for cleaning and not makeup removal. Of course, that would be why I never used the stuff personally. Is there a difference between the facial cleanser in another of your articles and the cream cleanser? The facial cleanser sounds like something I would be interested in, as I do sometimes get the dreaded zit every once in a while.

    1. Hi Jason! Yes, navigating through the world of skin care products can be very complicated and time-consuming. When looking at a facial cleanser versus a cream cleanser, a cream cleanser is technically a subtype of a facial cleanser. Although having the word “cleanser” in the name is somewhat of a misnomer because a cream cleanser doesn’t really have the same type of “cleansing” properties as a regular facial cleanser would have. By that, I mean a regular facial cleanser is significantly more effective at removing dirt and excess oils that accumulate over the course of the day than a cream cleanser is. Using a standard facial cleanser twice a day (once in the morning and before bed) usually does the trick for most people. If you haven’t already and are curious, you should check out the facial cleansing gel that I use and have been extremely happy with for several years now at https://theclearskinsolution.c…. Please let me know if you have any other questions, I would be glad to answer them. 

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