From your basic lip variety to everything-under-the-sun BB creams, balms aren’t exactly the new kid on the block in the beauty breakthrough department. But one popular contender, cleansing balms, are giving the basic balm a second wind by showing up on beauty shelves everywhere—and saving your skin in the process. Not convinced? Here are our top picks for cleansing balms for every skin type.
How they work: Typically smooth in texture, most balms have an oil-based formulation (think of them as sort of a facial oil that needs a prep step). These oils help clean and latch on to dirt, which makes them particularly effective at removing makeup. “They are also particularly effective at clearing congested pores,” Rothschild says.
How to use them: Most manufacturers will recommend scooping out a dollop into clean, dry hands, rubbing your hands together to warm the balm, and then massaging it directly into the skin. Some balms also come with a muslin cloth to up the exfoliation and make removal of makeup (and any other dirt and grime) a little easier.
Best for: Skin that’s supersensitive to artificial fragrance
Big on boosting hydration and brightening, Beauty Counter Countertime Nourishing Cleansing Balm is a completely oil-based cleanser that has one of the cleanest, most natural floral scents we’ve ever smelled. The secret: The blend only uses oils like apricot kernel, cranberry and raspberry seed, jasmine and rose to deliver a ton of nourishing properties to skin that needs softening.
Best for: An aromatherapeutic experience
Balm Balm Frankincense Deep Cleaning Balm would be good enough on its own still in the jar (the essential oil as aromatherapeutic properties that literally help you breathe better if you take some deep inhalations) but the organic oil and wax-based balm also feeds your skin with some serious beauty benefits by improving circulation, which, in turn, helps give that radiant look.
Best for: Skin that looks slack
Cleansers that “lift” often leave many skin-care skeptics wondering how (and if at all) they will work; can you really seen any real results from a product that washes away with water almost on contact? Enter Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm, a botanical-based cleanser that, when paired with a special muslin cloth, exfoliates dull and dehydrated skin types while purifying pores (think of it as a mask you leave on only for a few seconds). The result: That smooth and clean feeling—and skin that somehow looks more supple.
Best for: Clogged pores
Counting calcium and magnesium-rich mud as the two key complexion revitalizers, Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm has a unique black formula that goes to work to deliver essential minerals to the skin, while doing a deep clean in your pores.
Best for: Hard-to-remove makeup
Su-Man Purifying Cleansing Gel-Oil’s unique combo of gel-meets-water removes even the most stubborn of makeup through its hard-hitting mix of refreshing wintergreen, soothing rose hip oil and dragon’s blood extract, a healing antioxidant that helps regenerate skin while it heals it.
Best for: Dull skin that lacks that “glow”
Perfect for fans of rose-scented products, RMK Cleansing Balm delivers a full-on aromatherapeutic experience thanks to the soft floral scent. The trio of grapeseed, jojoba and avocado oil make it supermoisturizing and give that lit-from-within radiance after just one wash.
Best for: Sensitive skin that’s in need of exfoliation
Fans of Elemental Herbology’s naturally nourishing Purify & Soothe Facial Cleansing Balm will be even more fanatical for the newly repackaged version—it contains the same effective antioxidant- and botanical-based cleanser but this time with a polish-away everything muslin cloth that ups the ante without adding on any irritation or redness.
Best for: Anyone who wants the look of smaller pores
Suitable for any skin type, Suti Organic Facial legitimately natural mix of apricot kernel, sunflower, shea butter and avocado purifies skin while giving it a little bit of a “wake-up” thanks to its zesty scent. Skin is left totally cleansed and anyone who is concerned about the look of their pores will see a difference in their appearance, thanks to healing calendula.
Best for: Dry or dehydrated skin types
Skin-softening beeswax and calming rose geranium are the two power players behind ESPA’s luxurious Nourishing Cleansing Balm. It’s safe for even sensitive skin to use, but effective enough that even the driest of skin will see benefits in the form of a silky-smooth complexion.
Best for: Smooth skin
Created 25 years ago, Eve Lom’s iconic Cleanser is still one of the most powerful—and pioneering—cleansing balms on the market. This mega-multitasker not only cleanses, but also tones, exfoliates, decongests and removes all traces of makeup in the process through a carefully selected ingredient lineup of skin-softening Egyptian chamomile oil, softening cocoa butter, clarifying clove and toning hops oil.
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