For a revitalized, luminous complexion all year round, turn to the superior cleansing balms. Unlike typical cleansers, these plush concoctions bestow an undeniable, vibrant refreshment to your skin, mirroring the effects of, perhaps, a refreshing morning walk in a dew-kissed meadow or a high-end spa treatment. Owing to their integral inclusion of emollients, they’re relatively more hydrating than traditional cleansers (important for those with dry skin) and won’t accentuate dry patches or emphasize uneven skin texture.
These balms don’t discriminate between seasons or climates. You may apply them liberally across the contours of your face, allowing their melting consistency to envelop your skin in its comforting embrace, and then gently blur any abrupt edges.
Whether they come in tubs or tubes, the application remains simple and effective: Massage the balm straight onto the skin and blend using circular motions, or employ a soft, damp cloth for a more thorough cleanse. Regardless of your approach, it’s challenging to err, especially given that most cleansing balms are forgiving and adaptable to your needs. And if you feel you’ve been a bit heavy-handed, a swift swipe with a clean, wet cloth can balance the equilibrium.
Wondering which cleansing balms have earned our praise? Read on to discover our top picks, including an impressive and wallet-friendly option that rose to fame due to its efficacy and an innovative balm boasting unique attributes that sets it apart.
1. Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm
If you’re looking for a cleansing balm that dissolves dirt, makeup, and gritty oils, this is it.
Glow Recipe’s Papaya Cleansing Balm is a balm that turns into an oil when you massage it on your skin—and it’s perfect for all skin types. It’s formulated with papaya extract to actively smooth your skin and soothe irritation; blueberry extract provides antioxidants to help fight free radical damage and brighten skin.
This gentle product is perfect for people who have dry skin or are prone to irritation from harsh cleansers. The texture melts into your skin as soon as you rub it on your face, so there’s no friction that could cause irritation. The scent is light and fresh, too!
According to testers, “It removes even the most stubborn waterproof makeup and all-physical sunscreens with ease, goes on smoothly with no tugging at the skin, emulsifies wonderfully, smells great, and leaves no filmy residue when rinsing off.”
2. Keys Soulcare Nourishing Cleansing Balm + Makeup Remover
When you’re feeling a little too tired to face the world, Keys Soulcare’s Nourishing Cleansing Balm is here for you.
This balm uses bamboo charcoal to gently remove makeup and impurities from your skin while also locking in moisture. It also contains shea butter, manuka honey, and a blend of seed oils to nourish your skin and bring comfort, clarity, and balance.
And did we mention that it smells amazing? The scent of sage and oat milk will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on whatever comes your way.
“I apply it at night and leave it on during my sleep. The next morning I’m glowing after my face wash. Really happy about this product line Ms. Keys,” wrote one reviewer.
3. Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm
Versed’s Cleansing Balm is a gem of a product.
It’s made with naturally antibacterial eucalyptus and clove leaf oil, which means it’s perfect for people with acne or other skin conditions that need extra hydration, as well as those who want to keep their skin looking fresh and glowy.
The balm works by softening into a light, gentle milk that rinses clean with no oily residue. You can use it on your entire face—and even your body—to achieve smooth, soft skin that’s also hydrated and healthy.
It comes in a 2-ounce jar that costs just $18—far less than most other cleansing balms—so you can stock up without breaking the bank.
4. Innisfree Pore Clearing Cleansing Balm
Innisfree’s Pore Clearing Cleansing Balm is one of the most effective products for taking off makeup and getting your skin squeaky clean.
It’s infused with pulverized volcanic clusters, which help it go deep into the skin to draw out impurities while gently melting away makeup. The product is a balm to oil formula once it touches skin, so you get all of the benefits of both worlds.
This cleanser removes all oil-based impurities and makeup, but it’s also great at targeting solutions for congested pores—even when you don’t have any on your face!
It takes a little bit of product to cover your whole face, so don’t worry about wasting this stuff. A little goes a long way!
“This cleansing balm is the perfect amount for my skin. It cleanses it very well especially when I have heavier makeup on,” explained one tester.
5. Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
We’ve tried a lot of cleansing balms, but Then I Met You’s Living Balm is one of our new favorites. It’s the perfect balance of moisturizing and cleansing.
Filled with antioxidants and essential fatty acids, this cleanser melts away oil-based impurities such as sunscreen and makeup while leaving your skin feeling hydrated. While it’s not cheap, the scent is worth it! The hints of rosemary and grapefruit create a sensorial experience that is sure to leave you craving more.
The olive oil in the formula has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits, while persimmon extract works to prevent premature aging and photo damage. Grape seed oil nourishes the skin while gently removing dirt and excess sebum from your pores—something I’ve never seen a product do so quickly before!
6. ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
Cleanse your face with this cleansing balm from ELEMIS and you’ll be sure to have a soft and glowy complexion.
The formula is free of mineral oil, so you can be confident that it won’t clog your pores. It also includes 9 essential oils in its unique blend, including lavender, chamomile, and eucalyptus.
This cleanser melts away makeup and daily pollutants while infusing rose and mimosa waxes with elderberry and starflower oils to create a beautiful complexion. The scent of this product is fresh and invigorating—thanks to the several skin-loving ingredients!
7. EADEM Dew Dream Hydrating Cleansing Balm
EADEM’s Drew Dream Cleansing Balm is a dream come true for anyone who wants to feel like a baby.
This product is formulated with tiger grass, which smooths and cares for damaged skin, and allantoin, which hydrates and supports skin health and cell turnover. It also contains Kalahari melon and moringa to unclog pores—and mop up excess sebum.
This cleanser not only removes all traces of makeup, SPF, and other gunk from your face, but it also leaves your skin feeling hydrated and baby soft. The jelly-to-oil-to-milk formula will glide over your face without pulling or tugging at the delicate skin around your eyes or mouth.
As one reviewer raved, “I have only been using this for a couple days, but I love it. It makes you feel like you’re at the spa… The scent is amazing.”
8. Milk Makeup Hydro Ungrip Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm
Milk Makeup’s Hydro Ungrip Cleansing Balm is a new take on the classic cleansing oil.
This product is designed to leave your skin clean and soft, without drying it out or leaving a greasy residue. It’s made with blue agave extract, soybean oil, and sunflower oil for a smooth application that melts away stubborn makeup, SPF, and dirt.
It surprisingly works great for all skin types and especially good for around sensitive areas like your eyes. Hyaluronic acid and aloe vera help hydrate and soothe the delicate skin around your eyes while gently removing any impurities that may have accumulated there throughout the day.
You can also pair this product with other cleansers like a foaming face wash or water-based formulas if you prefer an extra deep cleanse!
9. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover
If you’re looking for a cleanser that melts away even the most stubborn waterproof makeup and SPF, this cleansing balm from IT Cosmetics is the one for you.
When massaged into skin, it transforms into a nourishing oil that melts away all traces of makeup. And this balm doesn’t just get rid of your makeup—it also works to brighten skin over time, so you can see results instantly and over time.
This product contains vitamin C and rosehip oil, which help to visibly brighten your skin and leave it feeling hydrated for up to 24 hours. It’s really amazing how moisturized my skin feels after using this product!
10. Neutrogena Makeup Remover Melting Balm
Neutrogena’s Melting Balm is a lightweight, non-greasy formula that works to cleanse your skin of dirt, oil, grime, impurities and bacteria. The balm transforms into an oil as soon as you apply it to your face and neck, allowing it to break down makeup and grime in just one step.
The balm has a silky texture that leaves your skin feeling soft and conditioned—not stripped or tight like other cleansers can do. It’s formulated with vitamin E to help promote healthy skin cells and prevent free radical damage while also giving you that luxurious feeling you’re looking for in a cleansing product.
It’s dermatologist tested and affordable—making it the perfect addition to any beauty routine!
What to Look for in Cleansing Balms
Formula and Ingredients
When looking at cleansing balms, a deep dive into the formula and ingredients list can tell you a lot. Look for nourishing and skin-friendly components like essential oils, vitamins, and antioxidants, which not only cleanse but also replenish the skin. Avoid harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances that can potentially cause irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Texture and Consistency
The texture of the cleansing balm matters. The balm should have a thick, creamy consistency that effortlessly melts onto your skin. As you massage it, the balm should transform into a silky oil that effectively dissolves makeup, dirt, and excess sebum without stripping the skin of its natural oils.
A significant factor to consider is how well the balm rinses off. The perfect cleansing balm should emulsify upon contact with water, turning into a milky consistency that washes off cleanly without leaving a greasy residue. This ensures that your pores are thoroughly cleaned without any leftover product.
Packaging and Application
Packaging and application methods can significantly affect your skincare routine. Look for a cleansing balm that comes in a hygienic, easy-to-use container, preferably with a spatula for application to avoid contaminating the product with your fingers. A wide-mouthed jar is also preferable for ease of access until the last bit.
Sensitivity and Skin Compatibility
Lastly, remember to consider your skin type and any sensitivities you may have. If you’re prone to breakouts, opt for non-comedogenic balms that won’t clog pores. Those with sensitive skin should go for fragrance-free and hypoallergenic options. Always patch test any new product before incorporating it fully into your routine to ensure it doesn’t cause irritation.