While certainly not new, powder cleansers are having a big moment right now — and for good reasons. To wit: To say they’re tried-and-true is a bit of an understatement, since most borrow from historic beauty practices, however, the newest versions are far from antiquated. In fact, most are incredibly sophisticated, upgraded with everything from botanical ingredients to enzymes to simple (and quite foolproof) ingredients like baking soda. What’s even better? They can be found at nearly every price point.
So, why powders? It’s simple: They gently exfoliate your skin as they cleanse, travel well in both carry-ons and gym bags, and make for a pretty rad customizable experience. And while they may look different from one another, don’t be surprised that they contain a lot of the same players — rice bran, oat, adzuki bean, and seeds—all naturally derived ingredients that provide a bit of texture without overly harsh grit.
A lot of the powder cleansers you’ll see coming up are inspired by ancient Japanese beauty rituals involving rice bran, an antioxidant powerhouse credited with giving geishas their flawless complexions. Many formulas also help to brighten, hydrate, and smooth.
Dr. Dendy Engelman, dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, recommends using powder cleansers at night, post–makeup removal, as a deep cleanse to remove any extra impurities. “The particles in dry powder allow for more exfoliation than liquid cleansers,” she explains. “Because of this, they are best suited for combination or oily skin.” That’s not to say that those with normal or sensitive skin can’t partake in a powder cleanse — just find one that’s formulated for your skin type. (Fret not, our slides ahead will help with this!)
The cool thing about powder cleansers is that they’re customizable depending on how much water you mix in — less water makes a stronger scrub and more water allows for gentler exfoliation. You can even cut with another liquid cleanser if you prefer. Those with dry skin can try mixing with an oil cleanser for a nourishing, gentle scrub. There is one caveat, however: If you have skin that’s very reactive or suffering from rosacea or eczema, Dr. Engelman suggests sticking to a gentle liquid cleanser.
Click through to find the powder cleanser in your budget that can give your complexion the geisha treatment.