• Shelli

Face Cleansers: Gel, Foam or Oil?

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

With so many different face cleansers out there, I wanted to review three types of cleansers – gel, foam and oil – and give my opinion of which type of cleanser I liked the most. The three cleansers I tried are: Dr. Brandt Clean BioticTM pH-balanced Yogurt Cleanser with Chlorophyll (3.5 oz., $35), EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser (7 oz, $27.50) and Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil (5.1 oz, $48). Dr. Brandt Clean Biotic pH-balanced Yogurt Cleanser with Chlorophyll is a gel cleanser that is infused with nourishing antioxidants and green tea to help alleviate free radical damage, dehydration, oiliness and redness while maintaining pH balance. It reduces irritation and hydrates the skin and is ideal for all skin types. EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser is an oil-free, sensitivity-free formula loosens makeup, oil and other impurities on the skin and in the pores. EltaMD Foaming Cleanser is also safe for all skin types. Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil is a 2-in-1 makeup remover and cleanser made of camellia oil that melts away impurities and waterproof makeup. Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil is ideal for all skin types and for those concerned about dryness and anti-aging.

Most likely you already have experience using a gel or foam cleanser because it is the most common formulation for face washes. The problem with most gel or foam cleansers is that as surfactants, they work by stripping the skin of its moisture, which in turn may make acne worse because the skin compensates for this lost moisture by overproducing oil. Fortunately, there are a lot of gel and foam cleansers currently on the market include various plant proteins and antioxidants to prevent the dry chalky skin caused by traditional gel or foam face washes. For example, the Dr. Brandt Yogurt Cleanser uses chlorophyll to soothe the skin to reduce surface redness and irritation; Biotic Balancing Complex to help the skin maintain its balance of naturally occurring flora for an optimal topical environmental barrier and; hyaluronic acid, a humectant that helps skin attract and retain moisture. Similarly, EltaMD Foaming Cleanser uses bromelian, a pineapple-derived enzyme, and an amino acid blend to help reduce inflammation and its pH-balanced formula gently cleanses the skin without irritating or drying the skin.

On the other hand, using an oil cleanser is probably a new experience for most people since most of us have been taught that the secret to clear skin is to rid your skin of oil, not to add it to your face. But for those who adhere to the 10-step K-beauty regimen, an oil cleanser is an important first step because it helps remove excess sebum, clean out clogged pores and remove oil-based gunk such as makeup and sunscreen on your face. Oil based cleansers have other benefits as well. For example, a small study (only 28 participants so the replicability of this study is questionable) found that using an oil cleanser was good for dry, mature skin. According to this article, those with dry skin should look for cleansers with avocado, jojoba or sunflower oil and those with normal or sensitive skin should stick to cleansers with oils such as rosemary or camellia seed oil (like the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil). And although the study above found that cleansing gels containing little oil were ideal for oily and acne prone skin, I want to make the case that those with acne-prone skin can also benefit from oil cleansers. However, this source claims that cleansers with grapeseed, pumpkin seed and sunflower are better for oily or acne-prone skin because they are lighter and more likely to work with these skin types. The bottom line with using an oil cleanser though is that regardless of your skin type, there is an oil cleanser for you.

About the Brand

Dr. Brandt is an eponymous created skincare brand, founded by Dr. Brandt, a former cancer researcher, who specialized in the research and treatment of leukemia. He would later enter the field of cosmetic dermatology where he helped in the discovery and use of natural antioxidants to fight free radical damage. Dr. Brandt was among the first to incorporate green tea into skincare and among the first to launch at-home treatments that mimic in-office procedures, including microdermabrasion and laser peels. Dr. Brandt skincare is committed to create products that help pave the way for healthy aging and produce long lasting results at home.

EltaMD Skincare is a skincare brand known primarily for wound healing and sun protection products that are widely used and recommend by doctors and other medical professionals in the healthcare industry. EltaMD applies its experience to create innovative products that help restore, protect and maintain healthy skin.

Tatcha was started by Victoria Tsai, who left the corporate world and travelled the East in search of “a more evolved, holistic approach to beauty”. In Kyoto, Victoria learned classical Japanese beauty secrets that took the “less is more” approach to skincare. Working with scientists in Japan and the U.S., Tatcha skincare products are based on the foundation of Hadasei-3TM, a combination of three anti-aging superfoods from the Japanese diet: green tea, rice and algae, which help maintain a health-looking, youthful radiance. Every ingredient in Tatcha products is carefully selected and minimally manipulated in order to ensure maximum effectiveness.


Dr. Brandt Clean BioticTM Yogurt Cleanser with Chlorophyll

  • Maintain a healthy pH balance

  • Help the skin maintain its balance of natural flora

  • Help strengthen the skin's barrier

EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

  • Micro-massaging bubbles infuse more oxygen to the surface of your skin with every wash

  • Removes damaging pollutants resulting in a 48% reduction in skin damage caused by pollutants

  • Prevents recurrence of skin damage resulting in a 36% reduction in skin damage when exposed to pollutants in the future

Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil

  • Leaves skin balanced, nourished and moisturized

  • Fine lines and wrinkles

  • Dullness and uneven texture

How to Use

Dr. Brandt Clean BioticTM Yogurt Cleanser with Chlorophyll

  • Apply on dry or damp skin and gently massage into skin. Rinse clean. Can be used in the morning and night.

EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

  • Gently massage a moderate amount of cleanser to damp skin in a circular motion. Allow 30 seconds for the cleanser to foam.  Once the cleanser has foamed, rinse off well with lukewarm water. If cleanser does not foam after 30 seconds, rinse and repeat to ensure thorough cleansing. Gently pat skin dry with a soft towel.

Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil

  • Begin with dry hands and a dry face. Apply 1-2 pumps into the palm of your hand. Massage into skin in circular motions. Rinse with warm water. The oil will emulsify into a milk, melting away makeup and impurities effortlessly. Safe for use around the eye area. Can be used morning and night. You can watch a video of how to apply the cleansing oil here.


Dr. Brandt Clean BioticTM Yogurt Cleanser with Chlorophyll

  • Water/Aqua/Eau, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Coco-Glucoside, Decyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Glycol Distearate, Acrylates/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Copolymer, Methyl Glucose Caprate/Caprylate/Oleate, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxide, Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Methylisothiazolinone, Dehydroacetic Acid, Citric Acid, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Inulin, Yogurt Powder, Lactic Acid, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex.

EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

  • Purified Water, Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate, Acrylates Copolymer, Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids, Methyl Perfluoroisobutyl Ether, Magnesium Silicate, Methyl Perfluorobutyl Ether, Bromelain, Dimethicone Copolyol, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Isononyl Isononanoate, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Sodium Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide, Capryloyl Glycine, Undecylenoyl Glycine, Sodium Bisulfite, Fragrance.

Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil

  • Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Polyglyceryl-10 Dioleate, Polyglyceryl-2 Sesquicaprylate, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Algae Extract, Water, Glyceryl Behenate/Eicosadioate, Glycerin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance (Natural), Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol.

My Take

I received the Dr. Brandt Clean Biotic pH-balanced Yogurt Cleanser with Chlorophyll in my May box from BeautyFIX (check out my review of BeautyFIX here) and I purchased the EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser and Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil after reading positive reviews at the Dermstore and Sephora, respectively. All three cleansers – Dr. Brandt Yogurt Cleanser, EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser and the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil – are great products, but the differences among them are what makes it easy to choose the right cleanser to suit your skincare needs. Of the three cleansers, I find the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil packing the most aesthetically pleasing. The cleansing oil has a slight yellow tint with a liquid formula and comes in a mother of pearl colored bottle with a covered pump dispenser that adheres to the principles of Japanese minimalist design, meaning the bottle is simple, functional and uncluttered with text and multiple logos. The Dr. Brandt Yogurt Cleanser has a light green color with a springy gel/jelly texture and comes in a white squeeze bottle with a green cap. And, the EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser comes in a white bottle with a pump top dispenser and has a creamy white texture.

None of the three cleansers are harsh on the skin but the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil is gentle enough to use with your eyes open so that you look in the mirror as the cleansing oil removes all your waterproof mascara and eyeliner. Also, because the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil was the first cleansing oil I have ever used, it took a little while to get used to the fact that you need to apply the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil to a dry face with dry hands. I also had to get used to the fact that the cleansing oil didn’t sud or foam, it simply turns into a milky white emulsion when you wash it off. The Dr. Brandt Yogurt Cleanser does not foam or sud either, but it has a soothing gel texture that also feels great as you massage into the skin. I used the Dr. Brandt Yogurt Cleanser on both dry and damp skin and I have a slight preference for using it on my damp skin because I think the water helps to spread the gel more evenly on my face and I end up using less of the product. The first time I used the EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser, I used two pumps to my wet/damp face and my face looked like it had applied shaving cream, so believe me when I say this stuff really foams. The next time, I used only one pump of the foaming cleanser and although it was still foamy, it was a lot easier to wash off.

The Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil performed the best when I was trying to remove makeup, although sometimes I needed 2-3 pumps to remove really stubborn waterproof mascara and eye shadow applied over eye primer. The second-best cleanser at removing makeup was the Dr. Brandt Yogurt Cleanser, although it wasn’t able to remove the really stubborn eye makeup. I find that it removes more eye makeup when applied to wet skin versus when I used it on dry skin. Finally, on the few occasions I used 2-3 pumps of the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil and I felt that water alone did not remove all the oil cleanser from my face, I used the EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser afterward to get rid of any residue.

I was worried that a cleansing oil would make my face feel greasy after using it but that was not my experience with the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil. Instead, my skin felt more moisturized and it allowed me to skip the makeup remover step in my evening routine, so that means one less product to buy and use. And the Tatcha Cleansing Oil silenced my fear that an oil cleanser would cause my skin to break out and instead, my skin felt healthier and brighter after using the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil. Also, I liked that neither the Dr. Brandt nor the EltaMD cleansers left my face feeling dry and tight like other gel and foam cleansers. And although all three cleansers lasted a long time, for instance, the Dr. Brandt Yogurt Cleanser lasted over a month despite being only 3.5 ounces, EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser is a great value for money because it costs less than the Dr. Brandt Yogurt Cleanser and is twice as big, at 7 ounces.

I didn’t like a couple things about about the EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser . The first is that it was not able to remove stubborn eye makeup, which is important to me, because eye makeup is the only makeup I use nowadays due to being a faithful mask wearer. The other thing I didn't like about the EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser is that I had to wipe off hardened residue from the pump spout before each use. With the Dr. Brandt Facial Cleanser, I disliked that it only comes in the one size and, if you calculate the cost per ounce, the Dr. Brandt is actually more expensive than the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil (5.1 ounces). Relatedly, despite its lower cost per ounce in comparison to the Dr. Brant Yogurt Cleanser, my main critique of the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil (5.1-ounce bottle) is that it is the most expensive of the three cleansers, in absolute numbers.

Overall, when I compared the gel, foam and oil cleansers, I find that the oil cleanser was my favorite. I really like that the Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil is multipurpose, moisturizing and non-irritating. Although, I also liked the Dr. Brandt Yogurt Cleanser, I don’t feel strongly enough about it to say that I would consider buying it again, especially given its cost per ounce. In contrast, I would purchase the EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser again because it is a great non-drying, non-irritating cleanser that lasts a really long time and has a great price.

15 views0 comments

About Me

Hi! I'm Shelli, a travel enthusiast, avid reader and prolific reviewer of everything from books to skincare.  Read more...


Join My Mailing List

© 2023 by Going Places. Proudly created with Wix.com

  • White Facebook Icon