Our Picks for the Best Powder Cleansers

To some, powder cleansers may seem like an extra step: mixing it with water (or into wet hands) until you create a foamy lather and then applying it to your skin. But, there are several key benefits. First, you get cleansing and exfoliation in one step (and the exfoliation is generally gentle enough to use every day). Second, they are generally free of preservatives and have a more stable shelf-life because they don’t contain any water. And lastly, you can adjust the amount of water you mix with the powder to create the perfect consistency you prefer, whether that’s more of a paste with a little more exfoliating power, or more of a creamy foam.

If you like to double-cleanse, a powder cleanser would be the second step of the two (an oil or balm cleanser would be a great first step to help dissolve makeup). These six powder cleansers are gentle, yet effective. Some work better for dry skin; others suit oily types. No matter which one you choose, you’ll be left with softer, cleaner skin.


Peach & Lily Glass Skin Face Polisher ($48)

Brand founder Alicia Yoon (she’s also an aesthetician) is all about the glass skin effect, and this micro-exfoliator can help us achieve that. The powder base is made of CrystalRice (a mix of microcrystalline cellulose, rice bran and corn starch), and when that’s mixed with fruit extracts (apple, papaya, grape and plum), it’s a winning combo in the exfoliating department. It’s just enough to get that soft, clear skin (it also contains salicylic acid) without any irritation.

In the brand’s testing, 96 percent of users (using it three times a week, or every day) said it was the best exfoliating product they’d ever tried.


Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore-Minimizing & Polishing Powder Cleanser ($38)

This formula is a great option for those with oily skin (even if it’s also sensitive or acne-prone) because the key ingredient of Amazonian white clay helps sop up excess oil and make pores look smaller. Other notable ingredients include tartaric acid (an AHA) and micro-crystalline cellulose grains, which smooth rough spots and give the skin a refreshed look and feel.

In a four-week clinical study with 98 participants, 90.9 percent of users agreed their skin was smoother and more polished after one week. The cleanser also immediately reduced oil and shine by 96 percent.


Tatcha The Rice Polish: Classic ($68)

Inspired by Japanese beauty rituals, Tatcha founder Vicky Tsai created this non-abrasive exfoliator, made with finely ground rice bran, papaya enzymes and Hadasei-3, the brand’s trio of fermented Japanese superfoods: green tea, rice and algae. The cleanser is ideal for combination or dry skin types who want effective cleansing (it turns into a creamy foam when mixed into a lather), but without stripping away natural moisture or compromising the skin barrier.

In a clinical study, 100 percent of users immediately showed improvement in skin texture, radiance, softness and the appearance of pores after using the polish. In a bio-instrumentation study, 100 percent of users showed improvement in hydration.


Honest Beauty Skin Sweep Exfoliating Cleanser ($22)

Brand founder Jessica Alba says this is her “go-to cleanser” when she’s “traveling or spending a lot of time outdoors.” How come? It gently gets rid of all the grime and environmental pollutants that builds up on the skin throughout the day. It’s also only 1.4 ounces, so it’s very TSA-friendly, and it’s fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin.

The brand’s salt-based Sea Concentrate provides the exfoliating action while infusing the skin with beneficial minerals; kaolin clay purifies. In a clinical study, 96.9 percent of participants reported a refined look of their skin texture after two weeks of use; 92.2 percent said the cleanser revealed their skin’s youthful radiance.


Dr. Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser ($75)

This vitamin C–infused, powder-to-foam cleanser has become a cult-favorite over the years, and it’s beloved by celebrities including Victoria Beckham and Oprah. Dr. Sturm recommends it for those with oily and combination skin, though anyone can benefit, even sensitive types. A blend of enzymes (lipase and subtilisin) break down dead skin cells and clear large pores to make skin look smooth and healthy.

If you need a little extra help in the excess oil department, you can use it every day; otherwise, two to three times a week is sufficient to see results (and feel the difference).


Humanrace Skincare Rice Powder Cleanser ($36)

Not only do we love the packaging—leave it to founder Pharrell Williams to bring us bright colors and aesthetically pleasing vibes—but the formula is noteworthy too. Detoxifying kaolin clay (51 percent) makes up the base, but it’s balanced by hydrating snow mushroom (often referred to as “nature’s hyaluronic acid”), so skin stays happy. (If you’re a Pharrell fan, you’ll see what I did there.)

In an effort to be more sustainable, the product is also refillable, so you can keep the green lid and base, but replace the inner container housing the powder.

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