True or False: Cleansing Balms Are One of the Best Things You Can Use for Acne


(Image credit: @aysha.sow)

I'm sure by now you've heard quite a bit of conflicting information about using face oils and cleansing balms on acne-prone skin. While some experts say it can be beneficial, others report that it's a big no-no. With all the inconsistencies floating around, it's easy to spiral into a fit of confusion.

Let me help eliminate some of the inner turmoil by first stressing that everyone's skin is unique. If you're prone to breakouts, it's possible that certain products or environmental stressors trigger flare-ups for you. That's why double cleansing with a balm before using a regularly scheduled facial cleanser may work well for some but not others with particular sensitivities. It really depends on your skin's unique makeup and how it reacts to certain ingredients. Set yourself up for success and do a bit of a self-evaluation first before fully diving into double cleansing every night.


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To get a clearer picture, I asked board-certified dermatologist Azadeh Shirazi if cleansing balms are truly a blessing or a curse for acne-prone skin. Overall, her take may surprise you.

"Daily double cleansing once at the end of the day is beneficial because it's a more thorough way of removing a buildup of residue that can clog pores and lead to worse acne," she shares. "Cleansing balms are typically oil-based and effective at removing dirt, makeup, and debris at the end of the day. This can be beneficial for acne-prone skin when using a balm that aids in skin hydration. Look for noncomedogenic products formulated to remove impurities."


(Image credit: @sasha.mei)

The word noncomedogenic is key here. This means that the product is formulated without pore-clogging ingredients that tend to trap dirt and sebum. A few highly comedogenic ingredients that Shirazi recommends avoiding are coconut oil, isopropyl myristate, lanolin, and algae extract. "Lanolin is a waxy, oily substance that helps retain moisture but can worsen acne and clog pores," she says. "Look for cleansing balms with almond, argan, grape seed, and castor oil [instead]. You'll also want to avoid ones with alcohol and salt, which can dry and irritate the skin."

To sum up, cleansing balms are a great alternative to makeup wipes and provide extra hydration for the skin, as long as you choose the right one for you. Those with acne-prone skin and ingredient sensitivities will want to read the label carefully before selecting one to add to their routine. To give you a head start on your search, I've rounded up the best cleansing balms for acne-prone skin below.

Shop the Best Cleansing Balms for Acne-Prone Skin

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This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Shawna Hudson
Associate Beauty Editor

Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.