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Best Cleansing Balms

Clare Holden
Written by Clare Holden

Cleansing balms have officially taken over from standard face washes and milk cleansers, quickly becoming the go-to way to remove makeup and clean your face. But what exactly makes them so special and universally loved? Dermatologist Dr. Anna Chacon explains, “Cleansing balms are specially formulated to remove makeup, dirt and oil without stripping the skin of its natural oils. They are excellent for all skin types, especially dry and sensitive skin, as they hydrate while they cleanse”.

Their dual ability to moisturize while removing any product and impurities is key to why they are so unanimously adored. In fact, most users declare they could never return to traditional cleansers. Instead of scrubbing the skin free of makeup, they gently melt into the face and dissolve products and build up, leaving skin softer, smoother and brighter.

If you are looking to elevate your skincare routine and boost its radiance in the process, keep reading to discover our carefully selected picks for every skin type, budget and complexion.

20 Best Cleansing Balms on the Market

  • Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

    Best Overall: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

  • The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

    Best for Dry Skin: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

  • Current State Sunflower and Oat Melting Cleansing Balm

    Best for Acne Prone Skin: Current State Sunflower and Oat Melting Cleansing Balm

  • IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

    Best for Oily Skin: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

  • Charlotte Tilbury Multi Miracle Glow

    Best for Combination Skin: Charlotte Tilbury Multi Miracle Glow

  • Physicians Formula The Perfect Matcha 3-in-1 Melting Cleansing Balm

    Best for Sensitive Skin: Physicians Formula The Perfect Matcha 3-in-1 Melting Cleansing Balm

  • Best Drugstore: e.l.f. Skin Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

    Best Drugstore: e.l.f. Skin Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

  • Eve Lom Cleansing Balm

    Best Splurge Worthy: Eve Lom Cleansing Balm

  • Ranavat Lotus Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

    Best for Skin Healing: Ranavat Lotus Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

  • Cerave Hydrating Cleansing Balm

    Best Dermatologist Favorite: Cerave Hydrating Cleansing Balm

  • Eadem Dew Dream- Hydrating Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

    Best for a Dewy Complexion: Eadem Dew Dream- Hydrating Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

  • Bliss Mighty Biome Pre/Post Biotics + Barrier Aid Deep Cleansing Balm

    Best for Deep Cleansing: Bliss Mighty Biome Pre/Post Biotics + Barrier Aid Deep Cleansing Balm

  • Most Popular: Banila Co Original Cleansing Balm

    Most Popular: Banila Co Original Cleansing Balm

  • Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm

    Best for Mature Skin: Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm

  • Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

    Best with Collagen: Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

  • Amazon

    Best for Heavy Makeup Removal: Heimish All Clean Balm

  • Best on Amazon: Albolene Cleansing Balm

    Best on Amazon: Albolene Cleansing Balm

  • Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm

    Best at Sephora: Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm

  • True Botanicals Calm Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm

    Best for Redness : True Botanicals Calm Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm

  • Paula’s Choice Omega Complex Cleansing Balm, Double Cleanse Face Wash & Daily Makeup Remover, Suitable for Dry & Sensitive Skin, Mineral Oil-Free, Paraben-Free & Fragrance-Free, 3.5 Fl Oz

    Paula’s Choice Omega Complex Cleansing Balm, Double Cleanse Face Wash & Daily Makeup Remover, Suitable for Dry & Sensitive Skin, Mineral Oil-Free, Paraben-Free & Fragrance-Free, 3.5 Fl Oz

Finding the Best Cleansing Balm: A Buyer's Guide

Cleansing balms have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional cleansers due to their luxurious feel on the skin and their ability to lock in moisture. Unlike face washes which tend to have a lot of harsh chemical ingredients, cleansing balms are packed full of nutrient dense natural oils which are gentle on the skin and leave it feeling soft and plump.

Because they also need to be massaged in slowly, the skin is stimulated and circulation improved which promotes a healthier looking complexion. Cleansing balms work wonders for all skin types, as they are less irritating — meaning you can depend on them to work even if you are suffering a breakout or from severe dryness.

Compiled after combing through and testing a variety of offerings from luxury to drugstore brands and everything in between, along with investigating their key ingredients, this guide will take you through all you need to know before investing in a cleansing balm.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cleansing Balm

Consistency

Depending on the key ingredients in the cleansing balm, the consistency can vary between a harder wax type product to a more liquid oil formula. Some will become more milky as they are massaged into skin, and others may lather slighter. Either way, cleansing balms almost always have a silky feeling once applied, therefore providing a more elevated experience than traditional cleansers.

Brand

Almost all major skincare brands have come out with a cleansing balm due to their rise in popularity recently. While this offers limitless options, if you are having trouble deciding which is for you, the list above has selected the best option for every skin concern and budget.

Skin Type

If you have oily skin, look out for butter-based cleansing balms — especially those with mango butter — as they provide creamy hydration without overloading your skin with more oil. Anyone with sensitive skin should opt for a fragrance-free option, and those with combination skin are generally safe to try the majority of options.

Packaging

Cleansing balms mostly come in pots or occasionally squeezable tubes. Pots with a spatula make for a more hygienic application, and if the pot is aluminum, it can be recycled over and over. Tubes are ideal for anyone who cleanses in the shower, as they are easy to dispense — and there is no fear of losing all your product if you drop it.

Use

Cleansing balms are generally used at night to remove makeup, sunscreen and any dirt or impurities picked up throughout the day. They can also be used first thing in the morning or before you want to do a face mask, as they create a clean base for the mask to work effectively.

What are the Different Types of Cleansing Balm?

Vitamin Infused 

Many cleansing balms have vitamins as their key ingredients, since they provide numerous benefits to skin. Look out for any balms containing vitamin E and C, as these provide hydration and leave the complexion looking brighter.

Anti-Aging 

The loss of collagen and squalane in our skin is one of the main reasons why skin starts to look older. Choosing a cleansing balm with either (or both) of these ingredients will help plump up your skin and support hydration, therefore leading to a younger-looking complexion.

AHAs

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids, more commonly known as AHAs, are water-soluble acids derived from fruits and plants. They act as an exfoliant and clear away dead skin cells to even out the skin surface and promote skin renewal. Using a cleansing balm with these will ensure your skin never clogs up or looks dull.

1

Best Overall: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Long lasting
  • Thousands of positive reviews
  • Lightweight feel

Cons

  • Not everyone may like the scent
  • Some people may prefer tube packaging
  • Slightly more expensive

An instant hit with shoppers of all skin types and complexions. Once you’ve removed your makeup with this cleansing balm from Farmacy, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it. Unlike other balms that can be heavy and thick, Farmacy has worked miracles in creating this balm to feel so light and leave no residue.

Sunflower and ginger root oils work together to gently melt away makeup, sunscreen and mascara — while the papaya extract evens out skin texture to achieve a more youthful looking glow. A little bit goes a long way with this product, so it will last you a long time. It is even available in a jumbo size so you never run out, and a mini travel size so you can take it with you everywhere you go.

2

Best for Dry Skin: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Extra hydrating

Cons

  • Sells out quickly
  • Some people may prefer a jar
  • No scent

Standard makeup removers can tend to strip your skin of its natural oils, but there is no fear of that with this extra moisturizing cleanser from The Ordinary. Packed full of hydrating ingredients, it gently but effectively gets rid of any trace of products and dirt from your skin without drying it out.

Lipophilic esters boost your skin's smoothness, while the plant derived squalane supports your skin barrier and replenishes plumpness. If you wear makeup everyday or live in a polluted area, this cleanser is ideal for daily use and the carefully created formula is also non-comedogenic and soap-free — meaning it works flawlessly on sensitive skin.

3

Best for Acne Prone Skin: Current State Sunflower and Oat Melting Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Plant based oil formula
  • Contains powerful hydrators
  • Gentle on skin

Cons

  • Fewer reviews
  • Some people may not like the tube packaging
  • Not so widely available

Current State approaches skincare the same way as nutrition, creating products to help you get your skin health to its optimum. If you are looking to put your skin on a healthy diet, then this cleanser with its delicate balm to milk consistency is just what you need.

It works by using skin-nourishing fatty acids to gently break down the makeup on your face, while the oat extract soothes and calms your skin to avoid redness. Vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid then replenish moisture and balance the skin barrier to leave you with a natural glow.

4

Best for Oily Skin: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Triple action
  • Anti-aging
  • Alcohol free

Cons

  • Some people may not like the scent
  • Smaller container
  • Not everyone may like the packaging

You will fall instantly in love with the silky-smooth texture of this cleansing balm from It Cosmetics. It can be used either at night to remove products worn throughout the day and give skin a deep clean, or in the morning to brighten your face before you apply your makeup.

To radiate, hydrate and protect are the three goals of this balm, and it delivers each objective through specifically selected ingredients for each purpose. Vitamin C evens out the skin surface and ceramide works on improving the skin barrier, while rosehip oil hydrates and nourishes. Cleansing your face never felt so good!

5

Best for Combination Skin: Charlotte Tilbury Multi Miracle Glow

Pros

  • Multi-purpose product
  • Luxury ingredients
  • Suitable for all ages

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive
  • Not everyone may like the fragrance
  • Fewer reviews

This balm is for the moments when you look in the mirror and feel like your skin is screaming for help. It provides an instant remedy thanks to its supercharged ingredients and breakthrough approach. Not only does it clean skin, but it also works as a face mask and combats the signs of aging.

Wake up with dewy skin and a renewed complexion by massaging this into your face at night. Unique ingredients such as frangipani flower and antioxidant sea buckthorn seed oil soothe and stimulate skin, while nutrient dense vitamins help to purify the complexion.

6

Best for Sensitive Skin: Physicians Formula The Perfect Matcha 3-in-1 Melting Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Suitable for sensitive skin

Cons

  • Some people may prefer a stronger scented product
  • Slightly thicker consistency
  • Not everyone like jar packaging (although it does come with a spatula)

Melt away impurities with this delicious cleansing balm from sensitive skin experts Physicians Formula. The go-to brand for anyone who suffers breakouts from regular cosmetics companies, this cleanser is another winner from them. You won’t believe how easily your makeup comes away with this gentle balm.

The antioxidant rich formula contains matcha green tea, bamboo shoot and lotus extract to reduce any type of irritation or inflammation, and ensures your skin is cleaned thoroughly to avoid clogged pores. It is also hypoallergenic and dermatologically tested.

7

Best Drugstore: e.l.f. Skin Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Cruelty free

Cons

  • Simple packaging
  • Not everyone like a jar container
  • Lightly fragranced

This cleansing balm from e.l.f quickly worked its way into thousands of skincare lovers' nightly routine as soon as it was released due to its effective ability to clean away makeup and leave skin silky and soft. Combined with the $11 price tag, the majority of its fans went on to become repeat customers.

This proves that high-end skincare doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Whether you are still unsure about switching to a cleansing balm or tend to go through products quite quickly, this is the perfect balm to add to your bathroom shelf to benefit your skin without making a huge dent in your wallet.

8

Best Splurge Worthy: Eve Lom Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Luxury experience
  • Iconic product
  • Removes waterproof makeup

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive
  • Not as widely available
  • May need to be used twice a day for deeply congested skin

While cleansing balms have seen a boom in popularity recently, the original and, in many people's opinion, still the best, is this balm from Eve Lom. Long before anyone else was making them, facialist Eve Lom created her now legendary method of removing makeup 30 years ago.

Once you have tried this product, everything else feels like a step down. It still has that luxury feeling and remains unrivaled in its ability to revitalize your skin and melt away dirt, product and impurities. If you are looking to treat yourself, invest in this cleanser and within one week, your skin will thank you.

9

Best for Skin Healing: Ranavat Lotus Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Healing properties
  • Non clogging formula
  • Nourishing ingredients

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive
  • Not everyone may want a scented product
  • Some people may prefer tube packaging

Turn your nightly skincare routine into an immersive and sensory experience with this luxury cleansing balm from Ranavat. Nothing will set you up for a good night's sleep like this entrancing blue tansy and jasmine-infused balm to deeply clean your skin while its calm scent aids relaxation.

Nourishing mango butter dissolves makeup, while the purifying lotus extract acts as a powerful antioxidant to renew skin and have you waking up with a smoother and more refined complexion. If you are looking for a balm to improve your skin’s radiance, this is the one for you.

10

Best Dermatologist Favorite: Cerave Hydrating Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Great price
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Non comedogenic

Cons

  • Simple packaging
  • Some people may prefer a scent product
  • Might not work with very oily skin

Three essential ceramides and plant-based jojoba oil all come together in this dermatologist-approved balm to simultaneously cleanse skin while also adding moisture. Formulated to be free from common irritants such as fragrance, alcohol and parabens, this balm is one of the most popular on the market.

Shoppers rave about how it leaves skin clean and soft without ever feeling greasy. Easy to use, the fact that it is soap free is another reason why it is a hit with customers. Unlike other face cleansers, this balm has the ability to completely wipe away dirt, makeup and impurities without upsetting the skin barrier and leaving skin tight. Instead, your complexion feels smooth, refreshed and hydrated.

11

Best for a Dewy Complexion: Eadem Dew Dream- Hydrating Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Cruelty free
  • Nourishing ingredients
  • Suitable for all skin types

Cons

  • Sells out quickly
  • Some people may not like the tube packaging
  • Fewer reviews

If you have been trying to achieve that elusive dewy glow with makeup, it’s time to put down the foundation brush and get to the source of the problem. Investing in the right skincare is the real way to leave your skin looking radiant — therefore enabling your makeup to look its best.

This balm from Eadem uses a unique formula of ancient remedy tiger grass to rebuild damaged skin from deep beneath the surface, and kalahari melon to boost skin health and hydrate — while allantoin reduces redness and aids new skin cell growth. Whether you prefer a bare-faced natural look or a fully contoured makeup application, this balm makes your skin the perfect base to work on.

12

Best for Deep Cleansing: Bliss Mighty Biome Pre/Post Biotics + Barrier Aid Deep Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Cruelty free
  • Multi functional
  • Protects from free radicals

Cons

  • Not yet widely available
  • Not everyone may like the mild scent
  • Fewer reviews

This cleansing balm has it all — rarely can a product deliver such a multitude of benefits to skin with just one application. It effortlessly melts away makeup and dirt, while the specialist prebiotic beta glucan attracts water to the surface and delivers good bacteria to the skin’s microdome.

Cell renewal is stimulated and the skin barrier reinforced with postbiotic lactococcus ferment lysate. Then a powerhouse combination of beta carotene, ceramide NP and squalane luminate and smooth the skin. The packaging is also an infinitely recyclable aluminum jar to minimize environmental impact.

13

Most Popular: Banila Co Original Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Thousands of rave reviews
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Offers gentle exfoliation

Cons

  • Sells out quickly due to popularity
  • Some people may prefer a tube dispenser
  • Has no fragrance

One of these cleansing balms is sold every three seconds in Korea, and it quickly became a K-Beauty crossover star rising up Amazon’s bestseller list. Always on the cutting edge of skincare, Banila Co formulated this balm with acerola to both cleanse and reinvigorate the skin at the same time.

Only a tiny amount of product is needed to thoroughly cleanse the face. Vitamins E and C finish the job of skin perfecting by delivering protection, nourishment and hydration to leave the complexion looking radiant.

14

Best for Mature Skin: Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Lightweight formula
  • Leaves skin feeling soft
  • Alcohol Free

Cons

  • Fewer reviews
  • Doesn’t come with a spatula
  • Plastic packaging

Cleansing balms are one of the best ways for mature skin to maintain its glow. As we age, our skin loses its moisture and tends to dry out far quicker. Whether you wear makeup or not, cleaning your face every night is essential — and as this balm uses safflower seed oil to dissolve any product or pollution from the day, it helps keep the plumpness to the face.

The natural emollient linoleic acid is also included to ensure skin is left feeling soft, smooth and nourished. The silky balm never feels greasy and gently removes the effects of air congestion to help you achieve younger and healthier looking skin.

15

Best with Collagen: Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Triple texture technique
  • Mineral Oil free
  • 5 star reviews

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive
  • Some may prefer tube packaging
  • Sometimes sells out

This buttery-soft balm transforms into three different textures to both clean and nourish your skin. Formulated with nine unique essential oils, the scent will transform your nightly skincare routine — making it feel like a trip to a luxury spa.

The blend of lavender, chamomile and eucalyptus scents invigorate the senses, while the skin is cleansed and pumped full of Elemis’ especially designed collagen. This is a must-have product for anyone who takes their skincare seriously or is looking to elevate their current cleansing routine.

16

Best for Heavy Makeup Removal: Heimish All Clean Balm

Pros

  • Cleanses even the heaviest of products
  • Affordable
  • Targets blackheads

Cons

  • Not everyone may like to citrus scent
  • Not so widely available
  • Some may prefer tube packaging

Hardcore skincare fans can’t get enough of this All Clean Balm from Heimish. There is no double cleanse necessary when using this balm due to its incredible ability to lift makeup and provide a deep, intense clear-out in one go.

Not only will it remove heavy makeup, it also penetrates the pores to get rid of any built-up residue and tackles blackheads. Ten types of herb oil combine with fresh mandarin oil to reinvigorate skin visibly to improve your complexion immediately.

17

Best on Amazon: Albolene Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Thousands of happy customers
  • Affordable
  • Fragrance free

Cons

  • Simple packaging
  • Some people may prefer a scented product

If you prefer to keep your skincare routine simple and are looking for a product that does exactly what it says it will without any glitzy marketing buzzwords, then you will love Albonlene’s Cleansing Balm.

Formulated without any irritating ingredients, it cleanses skin gently yet effectively with just a small amount of product needed. A 12 oz pot comes in at under $10 and has five-star reviews from almost 16,000 shoppers on Amazon. This is the perfect all-around cleansing balm!

18

Best at Sephora: Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm

Pros

  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Targets dullness
  • Protects against environmental stressors

Cons

  • Not everyone may like the fruity scent
  • Slightly thicker consistency at first
  • Doesn’t come with a spatula

Regarded as the secret to achieving baby-soft skin, this cleanser starts off by using Papaya Enzymes to remove dead skin cells and leave the top layer of skin smooth and even. Potent antioxidant blueberry extracts calm redness and irritation while also tackling free radical damage.

Vitamins A, C and E team up with oleic and linoleic acid to deliver copious amounts of hydration to the skin and leave the complexion looking instantly replenished and revitalized. This dreamy balm to milky oil formula is just the health kick your skin has been craving.

19

Best for Redness : True Botanicals Calm Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm

If washing your face always seems to result in aggravating your skin’s redness, then switching to this balm, which was especially designed to calm and cool skin, will finally enable you to take care of your complexion properly and prevent further irritation.

This nutrient dense balm removes product and environmental build-up, while also delivering antioxidant rich ingredients to cool and soothe the face. Tired and dull skin is brought back to life with the dream duo of lactic and azelaic acid, to leave your skin bright, fresh and glowing.

20

Paula’s Choice Omega Complex Cleansing Balm, Double Cleanse Face Wash & Daily Makeup Remover, Suitable for Dry & Sensitive Skin, Mineral Oil-Free, Paraben-Free & Fragrance-Free, 3.5 Fl Oz

Pros

  • Packed with Omegas
  • Gently enough for everyday use
  • Suitable for all skin types

Cons

  • Double cleansing may be needed for waterproof mascara
  • Some people may prefer a more scented product
  • Slightly more expensive

If you are a morning bird or prefer to do your skincare routine in the shower, keeping one of these cleansing balms from Paula’s Choice on hand will mean you will always give your skin the best start to the day.

Think of it like a supercharged wake up call for your skin, it delivers an instant dose meadowfoam seed oil which is composed of long chain omega 9 fatty acids to soften and hydrate skin while the velvety smooth texture cleanses away impurities.

People Also Ask

  • Q: How much should you spend on a cleansing balm?

    A:Cleansing balms feel like an at-home mini facial, so even if you buy the most expensive offering on the market, it probably still works out cheaper than a trip to a facialist. There are also incredible drugstore options available packed full of healthy ingredients to benefit your skin. Whether you decide to splurge or opt for a more affordable option, balms are a great addition to any skincare routine.

  • Q: What other products should I use with my cleansing balm?

    A:Cleansing balms work well on their own due to their moisturizing properties. If you have oily skin, you may want to give a light spritz of a toner once you have rinsed, and if you have dry skin, applying a moisturizing after will give your skin a double dose of hydration.

  • Q: How long does cleansing balm last?

    A:This will obviously depend on how often you use it, but a little bit goes a long way with most cleansing balms — so if you use your balm sparingly, you should have it for a few of months at least.

Why trust Us

At Us Weekly, we aim to inform readers to make smart purchasing decisions, saving you both time and money. Our editors are obsessed with finding products in a variety of categories from fashion and beauty, to home and fitness.

We try various products, so we can recommend our favorites, and we also summarize feedback and data from other customers. Data, like product reviews and ratings, helps us recommend the best product choices for individual price points and needs.

On top of that, we highlight unique product features for special use cases, ingredients preferences, and more. We strive to make sure you are discovering new products that can make your life easier, while keeping you up to date with the best product choices for types of items you already know and love.

Clare Holden

By Clare Holden

Beauty and style writer Clare has been a fan of makeup and fashion ever since she was a child. While studying for her degree in Journalism and Communications, Clare worked part-time on cosmetic counters. After graduating she went back and trained as a makeup artist after falling in love with beauty and skincare. She now splits her time between writing about all things makeup and running her own womenswear brand White Night.
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