Cleansing and makeup removal are likely the most tedious steps in your skincare routine—but find a great cleansing balm, and suddenly you’ll trade several minutes of harsh scrubbing for just a moment of gentle cleansing. Yep, you heard that right—you can combine two steps in one (kind of), to painlessly remove a day’s worth of makeup and grime. While most skin types will still want to go in with your usual face wash after using a cleansing balm, these formulas make the entire getting unready process so much easier.
But just like other skincare products, not all cleansing balms are the same. So to help you discover which one is best for you, we put dozens of popular formulas to the test and evaluated them based on consistency, oiliness, hydration, cleansing ability, and appearance. And ahead, we’re sharing the formulas that our testers rated the highest.
HOW WE TESTED & REVIEWED
Each tester used one cleansing balm at home over a period of two weeks. After reading the manufacturer's instructions, they used the products as directed to remove makeup, SPF, and dirt at the end of the day. They gently massaged it across their skin, wetting their fingertips to emulsify the formulas and effectively remove makeup where applicable. For the purpose of this test, they did not follow up with another cleanser as part of a double cleansing routine, although this is often recommended. After using their cleansing balm, each tester evaluated and rated it based on consistency, oiliness, hydration, cleansing ability, and appearance, and those that scored highest appear on this list.
OUR BEST SPLURGE PICK: DIVINE ORIGIN™ Cleansing Balm
Most true cleansing balms are just that—balms with somewhat solid consistencies. But think of this one as a middle ground between a traditional balm and a cleansing oil. It has a rich, oily texture that works to break down makeup while hydrating and soothing the skin. The formula contains West African botanical seed oils as well as flower essences to calm and support the skin barrier while offering makeup removal and moisturizing benefits. It also comes in a bottle with a pump, making it ideal for those who prefer not to stick their fingers into their skincare products.
Byrdie's tester adored this product, saying, “I could go much longer without a moisturizer compared to other cleansing products that make your skin dry after you use them. In addition to not stripping her skin of essential moisture, it effectively removed her face makeup, was easy to apply, and came in mess-free packaging."
- written by ALYSSA KAPLAN