Battle of the Self-Foaming Cleansers

Although my routine is category based, where I place more emphasis on product function over brand name or type, I realised there are certain products that I always gravitate to. I’ve associated effects I want with the products themselves. In some cases this is fine as they are easy to acquire, in other cases, they are really expensive or difficult to source regularly. Because of that, I need to find dupes for these products.

I should specify that when I say dupe, I don’t mean exact copy, but one that can dupe the same sense of usefulness, excitement and #SKINCARETAINMENT that I had for the original product.


In this post, I’m trying to dupe: Hada Labo Foaming Cleanser and if you’ve read my review of the whole Hada Labo line, you’ll know that I’m a huge, huge fan! It’s actually funny that I have such strong feelings for this cleanser, or that I even embarked on this journey of finding a dupe, because if I’m totally honest, cleansers bore me. That’s right, I said it! Even though I think that cleansers are arguably the most important part of a routine (start with a good foundation and build up), they bore me.

As I test cleansers for a shorter period of time, (seven days) this post encompases all the  foaming cleansers that I’ve tried and tested to find a dupe. Other undupeable reviews will be single product reviews as my testing schedule is a lot longer (twenty-eight days) for other products.

Purchasing Metric

When buying a new cleanser, I look for three things.

  • pH 5.5 (when mixed with water).
    My skin prefers low pH cleansers, so I’m aiming for products that are between pH5 and pH6 when mixed with my water which is pH7. As I can’t test before I buy, I’m going by product claims or self reporting by others.
  • Simple ingredient list.
    I don’t need my cleanser to change my life, I just need it to clean well.

Evaluation Metric

There are four metrics by which I will be judging each cleanser, and each evaluation metric is worth five points.

  • Effective cleanser.
    For me that means clean without making my skin feel tight. I use a foaming cleanser primarily as a second step cleanser, but at times I use it as a standalone so the cleanser has to be effective all on its own.
  • Transportable packaging.
    Hada Labo is definitely a stay in the bathroom cleanser. Although mine came with a plastic stopper which means you can carry it around without it I’m lost. I’ve gotten around this by decanting, but it would be nice to just grab it and go if needs be.
  • Easy to acquire.
    While I love Asian Beauty I struggle to believe that there isn’t a single cleanser in Europe that works just as well! Buying Hada Labo means ordering internationally and while I have a reliable seller, that resource isn’t going to be forever. I’d like something that could be a local alternative.
  • Reasonable Price.
    Hada Labo is really cheap, so I’d like something that’s similarly low priced.



With those purchasing metrics in mind, I bought three cleansers, Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, Boots Simply Sensitive Foaming Cleansing Wash and Avene Cleansing Foam and over the period of a few months, I tested each in isolation twice a day for a minimum of seven days.

Cerave Hydrating Cleanser


Purified Water, Glycerin, Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol, Polyoxyl 40 Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 20, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Disodium EDTA, Phytosphingosine, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum

Price & Size
$3.50 for 3 FL oz / 87ml  (full size $8.59 for 12 oz )

The sample is a good size bottle, but the flip lid makes it awkward to pour things out because of the consistency of the product. A pump like the full size would be so much better, but as it’s travel size, I get why it isn’t.

I bought this when I was in the US on vacation a few months ago. Not because I was particularly excited about it, but because it was so widely acclaimed. I I had absolutely zero expectations for this and if I’m honest I expected this to be the worst of the bunch but I’m happy to say that it is a totally acceptable cleanser, I kind of wish i had more. If I lived in the US, I would feel absolutely comfortable buying this on a regular basis, as I don’t and it is expensive on Amazon UK I won’t be repurchasing. 

Evaluation Metric  
Effective Cleanser 4/5
Transportable packaging 4/5
Easy to acquire 1/5
Reasonable Price 4/5
Final Score 13/20

Boots Simply Sensitive Foaming Cleansing Wash

There is no picture because I hated it so much I got rid of it before I though to take a picture. Whoops spoilers.


Here is the pH test at least!

Aqua (Water), Cocamidopropyl betaine, Sodium chloride, Sodium cocoamphoacetate, Glycerin, Sodium citrate, PEG-120 methyl glucose dioleate, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Sodium benzoate, Citric acid, Propylene glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Aloe barbadensis leaf extract, Tocopherol

Price & Size
£1.79 for 100ml (full price £2.69)

I hate this cleanser, I hate it with a burning of a thousand suns. The 2/5 I gave for being an effective cleanser was out of pity as I guess, sure it made sure my skin wasn’t dirty, but at what cost? I actually had the highest of hopes for this one as it was so highly recommended, but using it was an awful experience from start to finish and I couldn’t wait for the seven days to be over. The foam was really weak and when it made contact with my skin made it feel tight and itchy. My overall skin texture just plummeted the week I used this and only recovered when I stopped. BOO!

Because I’m a genius, I only tested it after I stopped using it (bah!) with my water it tested at around pH 7, which may be the reason why I don’t like it. Oh well! It’s only redeeming qualities were the price and availability. Unfortunately at the time of writing Boots has discontinued this cleanser, which is a shame because although I hated it with all that I am, it was amazing for others and I know they’re struggling with replacements.

Effective Cleanser 2/5
Transportable packaging 5/5
Easy to acquire 0/5
Reasonable Price 5/5
Final Score 12/20

Avene Cleansing Foam


Avene Thermal Spring Water (Avene Aqua). Water (Aqua). Sodium Cocoamphoacetate. Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate. Lactic Acid. Citric Acid. Disodium Edta. Fragrance (Parfum). Glutamic Acid. Propylene Glycol. Sodium Benzoate. Sodium Chloride

Price & Size
£12.50 for 100ml

I’m a big fan of Avene’s Thermal Water Spray. When I was working as a waitress, it was the best thing for cooling down my skin and keeping it hydrated during my busy shifts. I had initially scoffed at the idea of ‘special water’, but as someone who lives in a hard water area, I can’t deny the impact water hardness can have on skin.

I love this cleanser. I love it so much! I’m actually a little overwhelmed by how much I enjoy using it! I actually had never heard of this cleanser, there are only ever one or two on the shelf at a time in my local Boots, hidden away. It was recommended to me by Avene_UK&IE’s Instagram account when talking about a totally unrelated product. Whoever mans that account should be given a raise because they were on the money!

Like the Hada Labo, the foam is a little firm and doesn’t melt right away, it cleans well, contains no trigger ingredients and has a perfect pH 5.5 (with my pH 7 water). Unfortunately, while it is much easier to acquire (yay Boots, yay points!), it is more expensive than the Hada Labo. Still, for a cleanser off the shelf, it is OK priced. I’ve given full marks to the packaging, but during this experiment I realised that I much prefer the Hada Labo packaging! The flat pump makes it much easier to dispense the product with one hand, as it means less cleansing oil gets everywhere when I’m double cleansing. Still, I’m a big fan of this tube packaging and I feel more comfortable transporting this from A to B.

Effective Cleanser 4/5
Transportable packaging 5/5
Easy to acquire 4/5
Reasonable Price 3/5
Final Score 16/20


Avene Cleansing Foam!


With the Cerave right behind and the Boots’ sobbing somewhere at the starting line with nothing but a participation sticker to show for this experience, the Avene Foaming Cleanser is the winner!

If the Avene was a little bit cheaper, and/or had refill pouches I would switch to it full time, it was an absolute joy to use. Something I haven’t mentioned, (but is awesome) is that the Hada Labo Foaming Cleanser has refill pouches that are a little smaller and slightly cheaper so you’re not constantly buying bottles. That makes it shipping friendly, which brings the costs down even lower.

For now, I will stick with Hada Labo Foaming Cleanser purely for financial reasons. Still, this was a good exercise because now I know that although I like it, it isn’t the only one that works well. The Avene works for me in almost exactly the same way, which is actually a little comforting! I think I’m going to use the two interchangeably based on what is most convenient for me, wahey! I duped my undupeable, huzzah!

Verdict: DUPED

18 Comments Add yours

  1. madikita says:

    Great post. Might try the avene

    Liked by 1 person

    1. adoredee says:

      Thank you! If you do, I hope you like it as much as I do!


  2. Rosemary says:

    Oh gosh I do love the Avene thermal water mist – now I have to try that cleanser!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. adoredee says:

      Yes! The mist is really a winner. I remember thinking how great could it be, but man it really does a great job of cooling your skin down, or between routine steps when you need a kick of hydration. I highly recommend the cleanser, it really is fun to use!


  3. Abigail says:

    Are there other Korean Foaming cleansers you’ve tried? I’m interested in starting to double cleanse, but the only foaming cleansers I’ve ever liked have been from Asian beauty suppliers (most of the US ones I’ve tried foam up TOO much for my taste).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. adoredee says:

      Hi there! No, there aren’t. The UK has really weaksauce importing rules, so our allowances are really low, which makes me anxious to buy a lot. As a result, I don’t order cleansers as they can be quiet bulky and leak. Samples though! I’ve tried the Missha Super Aqua Oxygen Micro Visible Deep Cleanser and I really liked it, but it broke me out because of the SLS (sobs).

      Like I said, cleansers bore me so once I found my favourite (the Hada Labo) I just stuck with it. It took my usual supplier going on vacation for me to think about finding an alternate!

      I’m not a big fan of tons of foam either. I have a foaming net, and I’m so uninspired to use it often. I like bubbles only in the bath!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yay! I’m working on a self-foaming cleanser battle, too (different cleansers, thankfully, so I’m not duping your post). The Avene sounds so lovely. 😍 I basically want the laziest form of cleansers. –Angela

    Liked by 1 person

    1. adoredee says:

      Ooh! I’m looking forward to that! The Avene is suuuper lovely, and I totally agree with you. I really don’t want anything fancy from my cleansers either. Is it easy to use, doesn’t break me out? Great, sign me up!


  5. Sophie says:

    Ooh where do you buy your Hada Labo? I got mine off Amazon (talk about mark ups) and would love to find a better source!
    Though I am also now tempted to shop in my local boots for the Avene and give it a whirl.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. adoredee says:

      There’s a lady on Reddit that I order from, she’s super nice. I found her on ABexchange 🙂


      1. Sophie says:

        Ooh I think I need to look more into ABExchange!
        Agree with you on the weak sauce importing rules, grrr


  6. Aga says:


    I Tried this avenep cleanser and it worked great with my skin too!
    As for Japanese foam cleansers I really like Panna Pompa Face soap. This Hada Labo is still on my list to try.


    1. adoredee says:

      I’m glad you like the Avene as much as I did! I’ll have to give that a try at some point!


      1. Aga says:

        Panna Pompa is super delicate! Their cleansing water is also great! Cleans well most of Japanese mascaras.


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