Washing your face at the end of a day can be really relaxing and rewarding, some ‘me’ time you could say. Depending on your needs and concerns, what you require from a cleanser can vary. For example, if you have oily, acne-prone skin, then you’re probably going to want a cleanser catered to that.
If you know anything about K-Beauty then you’ll know that clear, porcelain skin is all the rage. What’s probably the most important part of this? Ensuring you have a great cleanser.
There are a ton of different textures, from foaming cleansers to thick, syrupy liquids, each will provide a different benefit for your skin. Koreans definitely know what is what when it comes to skincare, so why not take a page from their book and try out one of the best Korean face washes?
Sounds good? Scroll through to learn more!
Best Korean Cleansers Reviewed
1. The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Facial Foaming Cleanser
The Face Shop caters to, well, your face. They’re an extremely popular brand among Asians. With nearly 5,000 reviews, this rice-water infused foaming cleanser is clearly well-loved.
Rice water has been used for centuries in Korea, known for its ability to brighten and smooth the skin. The additional ingredients of Vitamins A, B, E, minerals, and ceramides all combine together to create a denser foam.
These ingredients also improve moisture retention and hydration levels. Ceramides protect against environmental irritants, pollution, dryness, and irritation.
Basically, the Face Shop has you covered, whether you’ve got oily acne-prone skin or flaky dry skin. Do you have sensitive skin? Don’t worry, there aren’t any sulfates, SLS, or SLES to cause further irritation.
After gently massaging it into your skin, close your eyes, and enjoy the deep penetration. This rich foam can be used as a single cleanse, double cleanse, or anything in between.
2. Etude House Soon Jung Whip Cleanser
Etude House is a South-Korean skincare titan. Their Soon Jung Whip Cleanser is a gentle bubbling face wash great for all skin types. Free of 10 harmful ingredients, such as mineral oils, silicone, and parabens, wash your face with confidence.
Specifically formulated to care for damaged and sensitive skin, this face wash contains Panthenol, which protects the skin barrier and maintains a consistent level of moisture. It also contains Madecassoside, a compound extracted from the herb Centella Asiatica, that remedies scaly and red skin, and reduces itchiness of dry patches.
Etude House’s foam cleanser is also Cruelty-Free, Fragrance-Free and Paraben-Free. Each time you use this, you’re not only cleaning your skin but providing it with an extra boost to your skin’s natural defenses.
An added bonus? Since this product has a low pH, it gently increases cell turnover. It’s time to defend and protect your skin with this Korean foam cleanser.
3. Papa Recipe Bombee Honey Moisture Cleansing Foam
Papa Recipe’s cleanser leaves skin feeling sweet as honey with their Bombee Honey Moisture Cleansing Foam. Although honey is taking the main stage here, it’s not the only star of this show. Centella Asiatica extract, an herb known for its soothing properties.
The additional ingredient, Royal Jelly, encourages skin healing and is an anti-inflammatory agent. These three ingredients form a sweet trifecta like no other.
The ingredients combine to create a dense foam that penetrates deep into your pores for a thorough clean you can feel. For best use, gently massage it into your skin and rinse away with warm water.
The triple-threat action of the three main ingredients keeps your skin moisturized, so it won’t feel dry, crackly, or stripped of oils. In essence – no tightness, gentle on the skin, but still provides a deep cleanse, aka the perfect combination for anyone with sensitive skin. You don’t want to pass up on this sweet face wash.
4. Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm
Banila Co is a hit in K-beauty, and with over a thousand reviews, this cleansing balm is a great example of why! This is their hit product. It is formulated with powerful ingredients to melt away makeup and grease.
Excellent for all skin types and concerns, there are no parabens, sulfates, mineral oils, alcohol, or a slew of other bad-for-you ingredients. This balm turns into a lovely smooth texture when applied to your face, and deeply clean into your pores without excess drying or stripping.
We’ve talked about what’s not in this cleanser, but what is in it? Active botanicals work together with vitamins C and E to not only provide you with a fresh, deep clean, but you’ll also get a beautiful, healthy complexion with each use!
The added vitamins help keep your face hydrated by not affecting your skin’s natural moisture balance. For best use, gently massage onto dry skin, then add some warm water onto your fingertips and give it a round of massage. Rinse away, and voila! A fresh-faced “you” is ready for anything.
5. Innisfree Green Tea Foam Cleanser
If you’ve read about K-Beauty companies before, then there’s a 100% chance you’ve come across Innisfree before. They are giants in the skincare and beauty world out east, and for great reason. They have a dedicated fanbase who loves their products.
Their Green Tea Foam Cleanser is definitely no exception! Made with USDA-certified organic ingredients, Innisfree grows its own Green Tea on Jeju Island in South Korea, specifically for this foaming cleanser.
Fun fact: this green tea is actually different than the green tea you drink. It’s uniquely formulated for the skin to maximize its ability to hydrate and moisturize the skin.
Your face will be beyond hydrated after a gentle cleanse with this Korean foaming cleanser. The gentle bubbling will penetrate deep into your pores for a soft, clean feel.
This gentle foaming cleanser is safe enough to use twice a day. For best results, lather in your hands. Then massage gently into your damp face before rinsing it and put any dirt and impurities away.
6. Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
If ensuring your skin is perfectly balanced throughout the day, then this gel cleanser is a must-have. Ingredients like Tea Tree Oil and Styrax Japonicus extract combine together to really help rid your skin of blemishes, acne, and other impurities.
The gel consistency is soothing and easy to apply, and leaves your skin with a more refined texture – it’s even gentle enough to use twice a day.
The low pH keeps it balanced with your skin’s natural pH levels, so you can get rid of extra sebum and impurities without irritating or causing unwanted dryness in your skin.
The cherry on top? There are no parabens or artificial fragrances, and it is formulated with 100% vegan ingredients and without harming animals! Simply gently massage a small amount on your damp face, and rinse away for a balanced day.
7. Nooni Snowflake Whipping Cleanser
Haven’t heard of Nooni? They’re a lesser-known Korean skincare company known for their simple approach to skincare, but don’t let that scare you away! Think of them as a sort of a hidden gem. Their snowflake whipping cleanser is nothing to scoff at!
It’s a gentle foaming cleanser that will rid your face of makeup, dirt, and other unwanted impurities at the end of the day. It’s also gentle enough to use up to twice a day, making this the perfect cleanser.
Not only does this cleanser effectively clean out your pores, but it has the added floral extracts of Rose, White Flower Complex (including flowers like Lotus, Jasmine, and Lily), and Iris Versicolor.
These three florals each provide their own benefits to the skin, including intense hydration, brightening, and evening of skin tone. This is a simple, no-frills cleanser that won’t strip your skin from a simple, no-frills skincare company.
8. SRB Stabilized Rice Bran Enzyme Powder Wash
Rice is an extremely versatile grain, used in a variety of ways in Asia. Aside from food, rice is a wildly popular ingredient for skincare. Anti-inflammation, reduction of pore size, and healing qualities are just a few of the benefits of rice in skincare.
In addition, this cleanser also acts as a gentle exfoliator to remove any dry, patchy skin you may have. Not only helpful for dry skin, but the product is also hypoallergenic making it suitable for our sensitive-skinned friends!
Don’t be afraid to use this product just because SRB is a lesser-known Korean brand. This cleanser is a bit of a hidden gem! With a pH-balanced formula, this is a mild cleanser that is suitable for daily use.
The versatility of this face wash is evident and depends on how you use it. Apply on dry skin and gently massage for exfoliation, or lather with water for a twice-cleanse if heavier makeup is your thing! Not only is rice versatile, but this cleanser is too.
9. I Dew Care Namaste Kitten Clarifying Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Cleanser
This may come off a little more controversial because of the addition of cannabis oil, but cannabis oil is well known for its ability to hydrate and nourish the skin, virtually like no other!
Despite being named after this controversy-causing ingredient, there are other extracts like Heart Leaf and Maritime Pine Bark which not only aid in hydrating the skin but also help to clarify and calm any irritation you may have.
Additionally, this fittingly green-colored cleanser is vegan, gluten- and cruelty-free, lending to their ~hippy~ vibes.
Use this Korean cannabis cleanser solo, or as the first step in a double cleanse – makeup will easily melt and wash away. Bonus? It’s super gentle, making it great for people with sensitive skin, and good for use twice a day.
Simply squeeze a small amount of the green cream into your wet hands, lather it (it lathers white), and massage into your wet face and neck. Simply rinse away the cleanser and any makeup or impurities with lukewarm water.
10. Mizon Snail Repairing Foam Cleanser
We’ve definitely talked about the lesser-known benefits of Snail Mucin, and we’ll continue to talk about them because they’re so amazing but not well-known.
Snail extract in general is excellent for repairing and maintaining the skin’s natural moisture barrier – basically, it helps to keep your skin hydrated with the potential for anti-aging benefits too! Mizon has really taken advantage of this not-so-secret ingredient and uses it frequently in their skincare.
Additionally, there’s Centella Asiatica and Peptides which soothe and improve the appearance of wrinkles, respectively.
This is definitely a soft, gentle cleanser, but don’t let that think it’s soft against impurities! A powerful foaming cleanser, the bubbles work hard to rid your skin of excess sebum, dead skin cells in addition to makeup and other unwanted impurities.
What makes this cleanser ‘soft’ is how your skin will feel after washing – no stripping, dryness, or irritation! For best use, lather in hands and massage into your skin in a circular motion before rinsing with lukewarm water. Follow with your skincare routine, and voila! Fresh-faced to take on the day.
Ingredients to Look Out For
There’s a plethora of ingredients that are commonly used in Korean skincare that we don’t use in America, many making an appearance in more than one of the fantastic cleaners on this list.
Snail Mucin isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of skincare, but it should be. It is comprised of hyaluronic and glycolic acids; this is an excellent ingredient for your skin’s moisture. It helps strengthen and support your skin’s natural moisture barrier, meaning your skin will lose less moisture, something that occurs naturally with aging.
Cannabis Oil, also known as CBD oil or cannabidiol, is one of two components of marijuana. Don’t worry, you won’t get high – this is non-intoxicating (unlike THC). This type of plant oil has anti-inflammatory and calming benefits, making it a great choice for those with acne-prone, or sensitive skin. It’s also loaded with antioxidants, which are great for reducing the signs of aging!
Clear, glowing, natural skin is coveted globally and seemingly mastered by the Koreans. So, why not turn to them when it comes to skincare, and more specifically face wash. There’s a ton of options out there, regardless of your skin type or concerns. Vegan or gluten-free? You’ve got at least a couple of options for you too! Prefer to try a Korean foam cleanser over gel – totally covered.
What makes the variety so great is the unique combination of ingredients that are not common at all in American, or Western, skincare. While ingredients like vitamins A, C, and E are frequently used globally, you’ll be hard-pressed to find snail mucin or rice water outside of Asia, despite their unrivaled benefits for the skin.
We get it, trying something new can be a bit scary, but we promise there’s a Korean face wash for you. Regardless of your skin concerns, there is definitely something on this list for you. Don’t fear, clear skin is headed your way!
Sheryll is a lifestyle editor with over 7 years of experience in beauty. She is obsessed with Korean skincare, and she mostly covers the Beauty and Skincare space at Skin Seas.