The best cleansing balms that melt makeup off like a dream
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I remember the exact moment I became obsessed with cleansing balms. Five years ago, I was battling hormonal acne. Desperate, I tried all kinds of products to address my unhappy skin, but nothing worked. Then, a light in the darkness: A beauty director friend recommended a cleansing balm. She told me that cleansing balms are less drying and create an overall more calming cleansing experience — perfect for my oily, acne-prone skin. Since they’re formulated with oils and other nourishing emollients, they cleanse skin without your face feeling like it’s being pulled back.
To go with the cleansing balm, the beauty director handed me a muslin cloth. She instructed me not to wash off the cleanser, but to instead wet the cloth with hot water and place it over my face (in the manner of spa facialists), and to take a deep breath before removing it.
Since that day, my evening skin care routine has forever changed. Even after a late night out with friends, I’ll take the time to do my two-minute cleansing ritual. Nothing satisfies me more than sloughing off makeup, sunscreen and other buildup with a soothing at-home spalike treatment.
Now that I’m a few years into my devotion, I can tell you that there are a few things that make a cleansing balm truly stand out. Texture and the ease of breaking down makeup are non-negotiable. Also, the whole process has to give you joy — from scooping out the product to how lovely it feels against your skin. For this test drive, I put each cleansing balm to the same test: I applied my most stubborn pencil eyeliners and evaluated how fast and easy the balm melted it away.
Scroll down to see which six products made my cut for the best cleansing balms.
Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm, $46, sephora.ca SHOP HERE
The winner: Farmacy
The cost: $46
The claim: Melts away stubborn makeup, SPF, dirt and oil and leaves skin hydrated with zero residue.
The review: First things first: I’m thankful for the little spoon that’s included in the packaging. I always feel a touch queasy when the product doesn’t come with one and I have to resort to using my fingers. I’m able to use a dime-sized amount of product to clean my entire face — a great sign. The scooping process is as smooth as scooping a pint of ice cream you let sit out on the kitchen counter for five minutes of defrosting. As I work the sorbet-like balm — which smells like lime gelato — into my skin, it turns into a silky oil texture without feeling greasy. The sunflower and ginger root oils melt my waterproof eye pencil with ease, while the turmeric and moringa extract helps remove sunscreen residue and other impurities. The balm leaves my skin feeling clean — and refreshingly zesty.
Eve Lom Cleanser, $105, nordstrom.ca. SHOP HERE
The worth-every-penny cleansing balm: Eve Lom
The cost: $105
The claim: It cleanses, decongests and removes makeup without stripping the skin.
The review: That story earlier about my first cleansing balm encounter? It was with the famed British beauty brand, Eve Lom. Since then, I’ve bought the product multiple times, but it had been a couple years. I tried it again for this story to see if it still stacks up, and boy, does it.
Featuring four aromatic oils, including Egyptian chamomile oil to soften and soothe, clove oil for clarity, eucalyptus oil to decongest and hops oil to tone, this cult cleanser is a bit gritty at first, which helps gently exfoliate your skin. As I slowly massaged it into my skin, it turned into a lovely balmy texture. A major bonus: This cleansing balm comes with a full-sized muslin face cloth, the perfect sidekick to elevate a mundane cleansing experience to a spa-worthy one. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the heftier price tag, I would boldly deem this as the best cleansing balm ever.