When I look back at the various products I’ve used to remove my makeup over the years, there’s definitely been a large change. In high school, I remember using a washcloth and water (I guess I wasn’t wearing much makeup then since that will take off almost nothing), and then moved onto the Neutrogena Oil-Free Makeup Remover once I started wearing mascara and eyeliner. Then I fell victim to makeup wipes during college (easy to use, but generally terrible on your skin), and now have graduated to cleansing balms and oils.
So what exactly is a cleansing balm? It’s a — you guessed it — balm consistency that removes makeup with a little light massaging into the skin. Some women double-cleanse, using this balm first and then following up with a more traditional cleanser, while others can use this alone. (I personally can get away with just using a cleansing balm if it’s a light makeup day, and then double cleanse on heavier makeup days).
I’ve found that cleansing balms work best because they are very gentle (compared to products that require rubbing, particularly around the eyes) and a little bit can go a long way.
My Favorite Cleansing Balms, Ranked
Here are my top four cleansing balms I’ve tried over the past few years, saving my #1 pick for last. There are a few I’ve had my eye on trying (including the raved-about Banila Co Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm and the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm), but I truly love the Farmacy one so much I’m not sure it’s worth trying others at this point.
Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm – This was one of the first cleansing balms I tried, mainly because I received a mini jar of it with a Sephora order. It gets the job done and smells fairly neutral (which is huge to me — I hate products that are too strongly scented or smell perfume-y). Clinique products are always very gentle on my skin, so that was an added bonus, too.
Drunk Elephant Slaai™ Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser – The reason I ranked this cleanser 3rd overall is that it did leave my skin a little greasy/waxy compared to the others. It did, however, remove every trace of makeup, and contains a bunch of multi-purpose ingredients that the other balms didn’t (for example, it contains a mix of moisturizing and lightweight oils (like marula seed oil) that protects and nurtures the skin.
Pond’s Cold Cream Cleansing Balm – This Pond’s cleansing balm is a modern take on their traditional, loved cold cream. I found that a tiny bit of this goes a long way — which, paired with the drugstore price point, makes it the most budget-friendly buy on the list. If you can’t commit to spending $30+ on a cleansing balm, this would be my top choice. However…
The Winner: Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm – Everyone has raved about this cleansing balm, but I guffawed at the price point. But the truth is — it’s worth every penny. The texture is amazing and soft, it removes all traces of makeup, and the smell is amazing (it smells fruity but in a subtle way). The best part is that it comes with a little applicator, so you don’t have to reach in to get the balm every time with your grubby hands. I’ve been using this for 3+ months and I’ve barely made a dent in the container, so a little bit really does go a long way.