Of all the practices that make my little beauty editor heart skip a beat, cleansing my face tops the list. Years of regularly falling asleep with my makeup on in my early twenties (so cringe, I know!) have lead to my near-obsession with thoroughly removing every stitch of gunk and goo from my skin at night, and for me, that means double cleansing is my go-to method. Only, I don't always reach for the traditional first step, oil cleansers. I often reach for cleansing balms instead. I know some of you might be clutching your pearls right now, so allow me to explain.
Straight oils are great for many skincare purposes, but the truth is they can be a bit messy, and portion control can be problematic. Cleansing balms are an excellent alternative since they deliver makeup-melting oils in a solidified form that break down everything from mascara to sunscreen with ease. The balm that changed my life forever is Farmacy's Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm ($34). It uses sunflower and gingerroot oils along with turmeric and moringa extracts to dismantle anything and everything lingering on my face and papaya enzymes to naturally exfoliate my pores. It's a dream to use. I just warm up a small scoop on dry skin before adding a little water to activate a luxe, milky lather.
Although this particular balm rinses away without leaving any residue behind, I still follow up with my beloved IS Clinical Cleansing Complex ($44), which is the perfect second step. Since I committed to this double-cleanse combo, my skin has remained smooth, glowy, and free of congestion. It's a match made in heaven.
So are you ready to commit to that balm life? I hope so! To get you started, I've rounded up the best cleansing balms out there for your double-cleansing needs. And since I'm a rigid completionist, I've also included the water-based cleansers perfect for rounding out your face-washing routine. Happy scrolling!
Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm
Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm
Take the Day Off is among the first cleansing balms I'd ever heard of, and I discovered it well before I started making a career of testing beauty products. (That means it's been around forever.) It's got thousands of five-star ratings on Sephora, with reviewers touting its ability to break down even a full beat. While super effective, this one doesn't rinse away as easily as some others, so you should definitely plan on having a slippery, water-based cleanser on deck to round out your cleansing ritual.
Evolve Organic Beauty Gentle Cleansing Melt
Pond's Makeup Remover Cleansing Balm
The OG Pond's Cold Cream Cleanser ($5) has been a long-standing (literally decades-long) vanity staple for many due to its ultrathick consistency and makeup-removing prowess. But for those whose skin becomes overwhelmed by cream cleansers, this balm might be a better option.
Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
K-beauty stans will tell you that this balm is one of the best. That's why it keeps selling out! The hero ingredient is fatty acid–rich sea buckthorn oil, which not only softens and protects the skin but also gives this special balm its vibrant yellow hue. You'll also recognize brightening persimmon extract and nourishing vitamin E on the ingredient label.
Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm
The growing popularity of the extended skincare routines brought to the forefront by the K-beauty boom has a lot to do with the reason double cleansing is now so widely accepted stateside. This balm by Glow Recipe is just another representation of the brand's commitment to elevating the skincare experience from a chore to a luxury. As the name suggests, it's got papaya-seed enzymes and oil to resurface and hydrate the skin, along with blueberry extract for added environmental protection.
One Love Organics Botanical B Cleansing Oil Solid
This cleaner-than-clean Oil Solid exists in a firm state but gradually melts down into balm, then an oil, then a milky froth as it's warmed into the skin and mixed with water. It's lightweight and nongreasy despite being packed with sunflower and pumpkin oils.
Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm
If you're a fan of Hungarian beauty brand Omorovicza, you may have anticipated that the hero ingredient Hungarian moor mud—which is laced through all its formulations—would be included here. The calcium- and magnesium-rich ingredient detoxifies the skin, while sweet almond oil nourishes. Plus, it smells absolutely divine, thanks to orange blossom.
Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
Elemis is known for its spa-day essentials, and this cleansing balm is the perfect option for a luxe day of pampering. It's got rose and mimosa waxes infused with nourishing elderberry, starflower, and supercharged oils to grip makeup and debris. Anti-aging superhero algae is also in the mix, so you know the benefits extend well past cleansing time.
Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm
This botanical-forward formula brings together moringa-seed extract, wild sea fennel, and vitamin E to balance, purify, and rejuvenate the skin. I give this bonus points for the cleansing cloth that comes with it so you can be sure to remove every last bit of the stuff gently.