January 30, 2023

If there’s only one beauty lesson that everyone should know, it’s that you should always remove your makeup. Leaving makeup on or even *shudders* sleeping in it can cause a whole host of skin problems, from breakouts and dryness to inflammation and irritation. Not properly cleansing your face to remove makeup is a situation you really don’t want to find yourself in.

And I’m not talking a quick pass with a face wipe or micellar water, either. Makeup should be properly removed with deep-cleansing formulas. But honestly, I get it. Taking off your makeup every night with a proper cleanser feels like a lot of effort, and it can be all too easy to slip into bed with the promise to yourself that you’ll totally do a mask in the morning, right? The truth is taking makeup off after a long, hard day seems like such a chore because it’s a really boring, time-consuming thing to do. Luckily, the humble cleansing balm is here to save your face.

Best cleansing balms: @amaka.hamelijnk

While I absolutely love a cleansing balm (I use one every single night to remove my makeup and haven’t touched a face wipe in years), it is worth highlighting that, just like all beauty products, balms aren’t for everyone. 

“Some skin types (oily and acne-prone in particular) may find a balm cleanser too rich and sticky for their skins needs, and this can result in congestion and leftover, unwanted residue,” warns Bolder. If you find that your cleansing balm is causing unusual congestion, try adding in a second cleanse using a gel, cream or foaming cleanser that will help remove any excess oil or residue that could be causing breakouts.

Shop the Best Cleansing Balms

1. The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter

Best Cleansing Balms: The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter
The Body Shop
Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter
£11

This rather uninspiring tin actually houses my desert-island beauty formula. I can never be without a tub of this stuff. It melts away makeup and grime in no time at all, smells divine and leaves skin feeling the best it can. It’s the absolute perfect product for sensitive skin. And have you seen that price?

2. Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

Best Cleansing Balms: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm
Clinique
Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm
£28
£22

If you worry about cleansing balms being full of potentially irritating essential oils, here’s one for you. This simple but oh-so-effective balm is a go-to for makeup removal. This lightweight, non-fragranced balm gets to work in a matter of seconds.

3. Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

Best Cleansing Balms: Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
Elemis
Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
£44

Quite possibly one of the most well-loved cleansing balms around, this rich formula from Elemis is one of the best introductions to cleansing balms there is. Not only does it feel and smell amazing, but it’s also full of Padina pavonica, a particularly powerful skin-firming algae.

4. De Mamiel Restorative Cleansing Balm

Best Cleansing Balms: De Mamiel Restorative Cleansing Balm
De Mamiel
Restorative Cleansing Balm
£50

If luxurious skincare if your thing, listen up. This super-rich balm is jam-packed with nourishing (and amazing-smelling) oils. Besides the fact it leaves skin feeling beyond soft and supple, the blend of aromas makes for the most uplifting of regimes.

5. Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm

Best Cleansing Balms: Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm
Emma Hardie
Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm
£47

Along with Elemis Pro-Collagen, this cleansing balm is one of the most well-loved out there, having won multiple awards. Not only does it smell absolutely divine (and I mean it), but it also seems to calm, hydrate, smooth and plump all in one. It’s like beauty wizardry.

6. Willowberry Nutrient Boost Cleansing Balm

Best Cleansing Balms: Willowberry Nutrient Boost Cleansing Balm
Willowberry
Nutrient Boost Cleansing Balm
£30

You might not have heard of this one before, but that’s not to say it’s not an absolute winner. It’s loved by celebrity facialists (and myself) because of its ability to not only melt away dirt and makeup wonderfully but also leave the skin totally calm and properly plumped. I like to think of it as a spa in a jar.

7. Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm

Best Cleansing Balms: Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm
Omorovicza
Thermal Cleansing Balm
£59

Unlike other balms, this clever stuff actually helps to decongest and purify. Formulated with Hungarian moor mud and different clays, it actually works to clear congested pores while strengthening the skin barrier at the same time. I swear by this if I have a special event that I want to be looking my glowiest for.

8. Eve Lom

Best Cleansing Balms: Eve Lom Cleanser
Eve Lom
Cleanser
£60

What’s fabulous about this balm in particular is the fact it promises to work for almost every skin type. And while I suggest it’s never a great idea to reach for a balm if you have sore, acneic skin, I know a huge number of people with varying skin types who swear by this balm. It’s a little expensive, sure, but the luxe formula makes it the ultimate treat for your skin.

9. & Other Stories Cleansing Balm

& Other Stories Cleansing Balm
& Other Stories
Cleansing Balm
£27

For £27, this cleansing balm is seriously impressive and rivals some of the others double its price. Once you start massaging it into the skin, it turns into a super-nourishing oil that helps to break down makeup and dirt. As soon as you add water, the oil turns into a skin-soothing milk, leaving skin looking plump and glowing as soon as you wipe it off.

10. Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser

Best Cleansing Balms: Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
Drunk Elephant
Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
£29

With the majority of cleansing balms containing a hefty number of essential oils to give them that luxury, spa-like edge, Drunk Elephant believes essential oils are troublesome for the skin and therefore formulate without them. In fact, the brand also formulates without potentially drying alcohols, silcones, fragrances/dyes and SLS. This cleansing balm is no less effective for it, though, dissolving makeup and dirt with ease while leaving skin baby-soft. For a deeper cleanse, it also comes with a Bamboo Booster, which acts as a physical exfoliant.

11. Pixi Double Cleanse

Best Cleansing Balms: Pixi Double Cleanse
Pixi
Double Cleanse
£24

While most experts do advise a double cleanse, especially when using a cleansing balm, in order to give skin a truly deep clean, unless we have a constant reminder, it can be tough to find the motivation. This nifty cleanser, however, houses both a non-irritating balm and a cream cleanser to use afterwards.

12. Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel

Best Cleansing Balms: Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel
Oskia
Renaissance Cleansing Gel
£37

This stuff might not be labelled as a balm, but it’s about as close to a cleansing balm as you can get without actually being one. Dispensed as a super-thick, balm-like gel, it melts into a silky oil when massaged in and works to rid skin of makeup and impurities. On top of that, it also uses enzymes and vitamins to slough away dead skin cells for next-level radiance.

13. Wildsmith Skin Active Repair Nourishing Cleansing Balm

Wildsmith Skin Active Repair Nourishing Cleansing Balm
Wildsmith Skin
Active Repair Nourishing Cleansing Balm
£75

I know this stuff is very expensive, but trust me when I say this luxury brand knows a thing or two about feel-good skincare. This balm sits somewhere between a jelly and balm texture, meaning it massages into skin effortlessly with maximum slip. It contains a concoction of oils, butters and waxes to leave skin almost impossibly soft.

14. Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
Then I Met You
Living Cleansing Balm
£37

This stuff is rich. It contains a bunch of antioxidants to really leave skin glowing. The texture is thick, meaning it requires a bit of elbow grease to work in (this really helps get blood flowing and helps to plump), but it’s sumptuous and totally beautiful. You could probably use it on your eyes to help remove mascara, but I prefer to go for something a little gentler.

15. Youth to the People Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm

Youth to the People Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm
Youth to the People
Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm
£31

This is a cleansing balm you can most definitely use on your eyes. It doesn’t have a scent, but that doesn’t make it any less luxurious to use. With prickly pear and hyaluronic acid to soften, hydrate and plump skin, it’s an absolute dream to use.

Next up, I speak to dermatologists every day—these are the products they always recommend.