There are a lot of reasons you might want to try a cleansing balm in place of harsher makeup removers like makeup wipes (which aren’t great for the environment to begin with) or less thorough formulas such as micellar water. For starters, there’s the change of season. As temperatures fluctuate, it gets harder to keep your skin hydrated. “A balm is an effective option to remove dirt and oil without overly drying the skin,” says New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. Having flaky, parched skin, no matter the season is another key motivator to switch up your beauty products.
The same philosophy applies to cleansing oils but the choice of formula ultimately comes down to your personal preferences. In fact, most cleansing balms emulsify into an oil as you massage them into your skin and add water. Cleansing balms “are a great first step for removing makeup [and sunscreen] before using a traditional cleanser to clean the pores out effectively,” explains board-certified dermatologist Arash Akhavan, MD, of the Dermatology and Laser Group in New York City. “Sometimes, for extremely dry skin such as with people suffering from eczema, a balm cleanser used alone may help prevent excessive drying for the patient.”
Application-wise, Mona Gohara, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, previously recommended massaging cleansing balms “three times around the face with gentle pressure.” The process has a lot of relaxation-inducing potential and, at the very least, is a welcome departure from the vigorous scrubbing of years past. After a thorough massage, splash on some warm or cool (never hot) water or wet a clean linen cloth to gently wipe away the product. (Some balms are even sold with a complimentary muslin cloth — looking at you, Augustinus Bader.) Then, follow up with a water-based face wash, and you’ll notice just how much cleanser and revived your skin looks.
Whether you are looking for an affordable pick that rings in at just $10 or you are looking to splurge on your skin-care routine this year (because you’re worth it), we’ve laid out all of the best makeup-removing cleansing balms for you. Consider your cleansing routine upgraded.
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