These Decadent Cleansing Balms Feel Like Sherbet & Melt Makeup Like Magic


When it comes to makeup removers, nothing does the job quite as well as a cleansing balm. These amped-up oil cleansers eliminate the need for tugging and scrubbing at your face, thanks to the way they dissolve makeup upon contact with your skin (the reason being that, most makeup is oil-based — and oil clings to oil). As for what the best cleansing balms all have in common? Noncomedogenic formulas, definitely (which means they won't clog your pores), and though they will make your skin feel soft, they shouldn't leave your face feeling overly greasy.

While you can certainly use cleansing balms on their own, they're most commonly used as the first step in the double-cleansing method. Double-cleansing, which entails washing your face first with an oil-based cleanser, followed by a water-based cleanser, is basically a more effective method of cleansing your skin. The oil cleanser breaks down makeup and oil-based skin care products (like sunscreen), while the water-based cleanser rinses off any leftover residue. If you tend to wear multiple layers of skin care products and base makeup on a daily basis, or if you live in a city with a lot of pollution, you should probably be double-cleansing.

With that in mind, scroll on to find your perfect cleansing balm match.

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The Affordable One

This best-selling cleansing balm dissolves makeup — including stubborn, waterproof mascara — using a blend of rich emollients, like olive oil and shea butter, while community-trade English chamomile soothes and softens skin. The formula is vegan, it comes in a long-lasting, 2.7-ounce tub, and it has legions of fans everywhere from Instagram to Reddit singing its praises. "It melts off the toughest mascara and a full beat in seconds without stripping your skin or leaving a film of dirt behind," reported one Amazon reviewer.


The Mid-Range One

The first ingredient in this REN Purity Cleansing Balm is sweet almond oil, so you know you're in for a decadent treat. Other key ingredients include soothing chamomile, nourishing shea butter, and lovely-smelling rose flower extract. It's the only cleansing balm on this list that's packaged in a tube, which may be a selling point for some. It's also cruelty-free, vegan, and made with clean, naturally derived ingredients that you can feel good about putting on your skin.


The Pore-Unclogging One

If you have oily skin, you need to be a bit pickier with your cleansing balm — but luckily, this new launch from Korean brand Hanskin checks all the right boxes. In this formula, jojoba oil, argan oil, and peppermint oil work together to dissolve makeup and maintain healthy moisture levels; meanwhile, the BHA salicylic acid removes blackhead-causing sebum from deep in your pores. Not only will this cleansing balm make skin healthier and softer, but it should also help keep breakouts at bay.


The One You'd Find In A Spa

Treat your skin to this spa-like balm from luxury beauty brand Elemis. One of their most popular products, the Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm removes makeup, oil, and pollutants from skin using a blend of botanical- and marine-derived ingredients, including elderberry, starflower, and Mediterranean algae. What's more, this cleanser doubles as a face mask; Just leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing off, and revel at how soft your skin feels. Its invigorating herbal scent makes it particularly well-suited to at-home facials, and it comes with its own (reusable) cleansing cloth, which is fluffy and soft. Plus, though it's the most expensive option on the list, it comes with the most product (3.4 ounces).

Hot tip: The cult-favorite cleansing balm is now available with a rose scent, as well.


The One With Manuka Honey

I couldn't finish this article without including this Naturopathica cleansing balm, as I'm a bit obsessed with anything that contains Manuka honey. Manuka honey, which comes from New Zealand and has natural antibacterial properties, is one of the best ingredients you could put on your skin, period. Making the product even more worth its $60+ price tag, it also contains skin-strengthening probiotics, nourishing royal jelly peptides, and decadent mango seed butter. This is one rich, luxurious cleanser that will leave your skin looking and feel better than it ever has before.

Studies referenced:

Antibacterial activity of Manuka honey and its components: An overview. Matthew Johnston, Michael McBride, Divakar Dahiya, Richard Owusu-Apenten, and Poonam Singh Nigam -