7 Best Cleansing Balms for Squeaky-Clean Makeup Removal
These magical cleansing balms are an essential addition to your skincare routine.
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Whether you begin each day with makeup tricks that make you look younger or you prefer to keep things simple with sunscreen and your natural glow, washing your face at the end of the day can be a pain. Literally! Even the best face washes, scrubs and micellar water may leave traces of your favorite waterproof mascara and foundation, or that powder sunscreen you reapply throughout the day. And who wants to start their skincare routine with harsh rubbing that causes redness and irritation? Well here’s some good news: a cleansing balm removes an entire day’s worth of makeup, sunscreen and grime without scrubbing.
Cleansing balms are rich oil-based cleansers that you massage into dry skin. As you work the balm into your skin, it emulsifies into an oil that dissolves makeup, dirt and excess oils. After you’ve massaged in the balm, gently splash your face with warm water. This helps the balm morph into a gentle cleanser revealing a clean, happy and hydrated complexion.
Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
We’ve been using this cult-favorite cleansing balm for almost two years now, and the buzz around it is more than warranted. Just a little bit of this creamy balm goes a long way, and it dissolves makeup almost instantly. In fact, it cleans so well that there’s no need to follow up with a regular cleanser!
Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm boasts a host of different hydrating oils. Elderberry oil, which has high levels of fatty acids and other micronutrients, promotes skin health; while starflower oil helps to maintain skin metabolism. This luxurious balm also contains a unique blend of nine essential oils including lavender, chamomile and eucalyptus, which makes you feel like you’re at the spa every time you open the jar.
- Melts away makeup almost instantly
- Leaves skin feeling soft and hydrated
- Mineral oil-free
- Three-in-one formula serves as a makeup remover, cleanser and nourishing face mask
- Larger size comes with a cleansing cloth for easy and gentle removal
- Has a strong scent: If you’re sensitive to smells, opt for Elemis Naked Cleansing Balm instead
Juno & Co. Clean 10 Cleansing Balm
Have you ever attempted to read the ingredients on some of your skincare products? It can be overwhelming to say the least! That’s why we—along with thousands of TikTokers—love this viral Juno & Co. cleansing balm, which only has 10 clean ingredients.
Not only does this cleansing balm remove everything from sunscreen to makeup to eyelash glue, but it features Japanese Pearl Barley to nourish, hydrate, smooth and brighten skin. It also contains Vitamin E, which works to protect your skin and help reduce signs of aging. Speaking of aging, here are six anti-aging creams that really work!
- Quickly and easily removes makeup, sunscreen and grime
- Has only 10 clean ingredients
- Thicker consistency than some other brands
Augustinus Bader Cleansing Balm
Feeling generous? Treat your skin to Augustinus Bader’s luxe cleansing balm. This balm contains a nourishing avocado-olive fruit oil complex to stimulate your skin’s natural defenses. It minimizes the effects of external aggressors such as air pollution and harmful UV rays, and helps prevent signs of aging. It also includes coconut oil to enhance skin elasticity and promote collagen production, and squalane to attract and retain moisture. Vitamin E further conditions, hydrates and protects your skin.
This splurge-worthy cleansing balm is also powered by Augustinus Bader’s patented TFC8 technology, which supports your skin’s natural renewal process. Looking for another way to help your skin as it rests and repairs itself? Adding one of these night creams boosts hydration and stimulates cell renewal.
- Ingredients moisturize, protect and condition the skin
- Formula encourages the renewal of skin cells
- Includes a muslin cloth, which gently exfoliates skin
Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm
Korean beauty products are famous for delivering flawless skin, and this affordable cleansing balm is a fan-favorite. In South Korea, one jar is sold every three seconds! So what makes Banila Co’s Clean it Zero so popular? It’s formulated for all skin types with active botanicals, hot springs water, plus Vitamin E and Vitamin C to give you a healthy, glowing complexion.
More than 8,000 satisfied Amazon customers give this balm five-stars for its gentle, non-irritating formula, light scent and—most importantly—effectiveness. Use the included spatula to scoop out the sherbet-textured product, massage it onto dry skin, then add water to emulsify and watch as the oil dissolves makeup and grime.
- Formulated for use on all skin types
- Very subtle fragrance
- Doesn’t strip skin of its natural moisture
- Suggested to follow with face wash if you have acne-prone skin
Best for sensitive skin
Paula’s Choice Complex Cleansing Balm
This silky cleansing balm gently cleans, softens, conditions and nourishes skin. A concentrated blend of coconut-derived fatty acids plus omega-rich jojoba and meadowfoam seed oil melts away makeup and moisturizes skin without leaving it greasy. The naturally emollient ingredients and nutrient-packed formula serves up a lush, soothing consistency that easily washes off with water.
Use this balm by itself, or as the first step in a double-cleansing routine. For an even deeper clean, Paula’s Choice recommends massaging a small amount onto wet or dry skin and letting it sit for 60 seconds before rinsing off. While it’s formulated for all skin types, this balm’s creamy texture and fragrance-free formula is especially ideal for sensitive skin. And before you check out, be sure to add Paula’s Choice fan-favorite exfoliator to your cart. You won’t regret it!
- Has a rich, nourishing texture that’s ideal for sensitive skin
- Comes in a convenient squeeze bottle as opposed to a jar
- Can be used alone or as part of a double-cleanse routine
- Smooth, creamy consistency
- Some users find the screw-on cap inconvenient
Best for oily and acne-prone skin
Drunk Elephant Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
We’ve tried countless products that claim to be clean, non-irritating and unscented, but are often disappointed and left with stinging eyes and odd odors. But Drunk Elephant’s Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser actually delivers on its promises. This cleanser is loaded with moisturizing ingredients but completely free from essential oils, silicones, fragrances, PEGs and other irritants that may clog pores and cause breakouts.
Key ingredients include baobab seed oil, which dissolves makeup while softening and moisturizing skin; as well as a unique blend of non-fragrant fruit extracts that soothe and hydrate. Additionally, antioxidant and omega-rich virgin marula oil works to nourish and rejuvenate, while a blend of lightweight African oils protects and restores elasticity. Follow up with one of these moisturizers for oily skin.
- Free from essential oils, silicones, fragrances and other irritants that may clog pores
- Can be mixed with the brand’s Bamboo Booster and used as an exfoliant
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Removes water-resistant makeup
- Should not use the included Bamboo Booster if you’re using retinol
Best for dry skin
Sunday Riley Blue Moon Cleansing Balm
Sunday Riley’s tinted cleansing balm is as pretty as it is effective. But don’t let the blue hue fool you! This sugar-based cleansing balm quickly transforms into a milky cleanser and rinses off clear. Cocoa butter, moringa butter and mimosa flower wax moisturize and protect skin, while blue tansy and German chamomile soothe redness and irritation.
The oil-infused formula gently washes away daily dirt and even removes stubborn waterproof makeup. Since this balm is so hydrating, feel free to use it in your skincare routine for dry skin as both a cleanser and a hydrating face mask. But be forewarned—the fresh, tangerine scent is so delightful, you may not want to rinse it off after 20 minutes!
- Jam packed with moisturizing ingredients
- Gentle enough to use around your eyes
- Can be used as a hydrating face mask
What to Look for When Buying Cleansing Balm
Most cleansing balms start off as a soft solid, emulsify into an oil when massaged into your skin and turn into a milky cleanser once you add water. They’re also generally suitable for all skin types. You’ll find that some balms are formulated to be used as a makeup remover, daily cleanser and weekly face mask all in one, while others work best as a makeup remover to be followed by your regular face wash.
You’ll also come across balms that are lightly or heavily fragranced as well as unscented, and all at varying price points. Ultimately, when it comes to choosing the best cleansing balm, it really boils down to your budget, skin-type and personal preferences.
How We Chose the Best Cleansing Balms
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
How do you use cleansing balm?
With a cleansing balm, a little tends to go a long way. Start by gently massaging a small amount into dry skin. You’ll see the balm transform into a cleansing oil and then a milky consistency while it dissolves your makeup.
Once you’ve finished, rinse away with warm water or a clean, wet cloth. From here, you can follow up with your regular face wash (this is called double-cleansing) if you want, or simply apply the rest of your skincare products.
Are cleansing balms oil-based?
Yes. The oils in the balm are what dissolve makeup, grime and excess oils on your skin to provide a deep clean.
Can you use cleansing balm without makeup?
Cleansing balms remove more than just makeup! They are effective at removing sunscreen, skincare products, excess oils, dirt and overall gunk that builds up on your face throughout the day.
Who should avoid cleansing balms?
Cleansing balms are a gentle and effective way to clean your skin, and are generally suitable for all skin types.