Vanicream Is Not Disappearing Lotion

DID YOU KNOW Amazon has a sample program? You probably already knew that. Have you tried it? BECAUSE I HAVE.

Not the big Beauty Sample Box I got a while back. That one was pretty okay, mostly because I knew I’d be able to happily use the credit on some random Acure thing. No, now they’ve got individual samples, with the same “get a credit for purchase amount, apply to later purchase of full-size item.” The good news : you don’t have to use the credit toward a full-size of the exact item you sampled — it can be applied toward ANY item in the same category. The bad news : predictably, items and even brands are fairly limited. The “facial skin care” category only has twenty items (and it’s the largest category in the Beauty & Grooming division), and only stuff from Vanicream, Jan Marini, Vichy, Garnier, Elizabeth Arden, and a couple brands I’ve never heard of. (However, the number of products you can use your credit for is much higher — same brands as the samples, but 423 products instead of 20!) This kind of program is ideal for me — far better than blind or even “curated” [scoff] subscription boxes, and something I’m much more likely to gamble on — so here’s hoping they expand their offerings.

ANYWAY. For a whopping two bucks, I got three teeny little tubes (.2oz each, so .6oz total) of Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser, which is billed as “for sensitive skin.” The full-size bottle retails for a similarly whopping $8.99 for 8oz (which is pretty damn cheap). It’s also available at Target for the same price, and usually at drugstores too. I’ve never actually seen this in a drugstore, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there — it just means that the bottle design is something my brain translates as “this is a product for diaper rash or possibly shingles or fading your liver spots” and so my eyeballs just slide right off of it.


Honestly? Because I gravitate toward things that are Fancy, or things that look Fun, or (ideally) both. The Vanicream packaging pretty much screams “I use this because I have a weird rash.” It looks decidedly no-frills, and kinda medicinal. Which, that’s fine! But it’s not fun.

Howeverrrr, I really wanted to try the Amazon Samples dealio, and really this was the only thing that sounded compelling to me (other than possibly the Vichy Pureté Thermale gel cleanser, which I also might try at some point). But my skin was being pissy at the time as usual, so I figured the gentler and more nondescript, the better.

It sez, “I’m boring as crap, but I won’t aggravate your eczema.”


Not very many things! This stuff has the shortest ingredients list of a cleanser I’ve maybe ever seen :

INGREDIENTS : purified water, glycerin, coco glucoside, sodium cocoyl glycinate, acrylates copolymer, caprylyl glycol, mica, sodium chloride, 1,2-hexanediol, titanium dioxide, sodium hydroxide, disodium EDTA

Yay, glycerin, as per usual. Coco glucoside is a super-gentle surfactant, and I’m reading that it is a non-ionic surfactant, and then I started reading about ionic, non-ionic, and anionic surfactants, went down a deeeeeeeeeeep rabbit hole of stuff I don’t really understand, discovered that “zwitterionic” is in fact an actual word, and then I gave up so let’s move on. Sodium cocoyl glycinate is an amino-acid-based surfactant, also super gentle, and also derived from coconut stuff. Acrylates copolymer is one of those “this stuff is in everything” ingredients — it can function as a film-forming agent, as part of an adhesive, or as a suspension agent (to keep your other ingredients mixed together smoothly without stuff sinking out). Caprylyl glycol is a humectant moisturizer that also has some anti-microbial properties so it functions partly as a chill preservative too. Mica is ~pearly rocks~ and is in much of your eyeshadow etc, titanium dioxide ditto (both are probably here primarily to lend a bit of opacity and thickness). Sodium hydroxide is lye, commonly used in soap-making, and I honestly don’t know why the salt is in there but okay, there’s salt. 1,2-hexanediol is a humectant that also serves as a binder for other ingredients, and disodium EDTA is another “it’s in evvvverything” — it’s used primarily to adjust texture/viscosity.


It’s mostly clear with a bit of pearly white sheen (thanks, mica and titanium dioxide! and the acrylates copolymer for keeping you in suspension!). I’d call the texture “medium-bodied” — it’s not the thickest I’ve ever used, but it’s certainly not watery. In fact, in the blorp-on-hand macro shot below, I dumped a bit of it on and went to take a photo and oh damnit then wandered around the house for five minutes hunting for my little clip-on macro lens (which was inexplicably on the back-corner living room end table next to the rattlesnake, idk why) — and in that time, the blorp not only didn’t run off my hand, it BARELY expanded. So if you abhor thin watery cleansers? Not here! Also, if you’re scent-sensitive? There’s no added fragrance, and this stuff barely smells like anything at all.

Ooo look at that sheen. Let’s have another one :


It does just fine! Honestly I half expected this stuff to fall into the “so gentle it’s actually non-functional” category, but NOPE. It lathers nicely but not aggressively, and it feels like it cleans pretty thoroughly and well, and even takes off a full face o’ slap including my usual long-wear eyeliners and such! If I’m wearing a hardcore strongly-pigmented eyeshadow that’s prone to staining or leaving dregs behind? Yeah, there might be a tiny trace of it left. But otherwise, this stuff seems very effective, and it doesn’t take a ton of product (like a large green pea or small chick pea amount is sufficient) to work well. I’ve been using it on and off for a week or so now, and it definitely hasn’t caused any breakouts or other skin grief. Woo!

THE VERDICT : Amazon Samples is GOOD! Vanicream Gentle Cleanser is also GOOD! In fact I’ve already ordered the full-size bottle … but I’m gonna dump it into an empty Thank You Farmer gel cleanser pump bottle because I prefer things to be pretty (and also because the TYF bottle dispenses the perfect amount and fits well in my shower). DO YOU NEED IT? If you need a pretty effective yet extremely gentle cleanser, if you have easily-aggravated skin (unless it’s aggravated by coconut-derived products), I’d say yes, this is totally worth trying. I feel like it might also be good for the second step after an oil cleanse? DO NOT GET THIS IF : you don’t like boring-looking things and/or can’t be bothered to decant it, or maybe if you wear heaaaaaavy makeup and/or a lot of super hard-to-remove products and want a cleanser that’ll take it ALL 100% off in one step.

Tried it? Gonna? Tell meeeeee.