In search of a gentle yet effective cleanser? Try using Korean cleansing oil or balm! Usually, Korean cleansing products are formulated with gentle surfactants that can drive away impurities without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. They're further infused with various nourishing ingredients to slow down the aging process and keep your skin healthy and vibrant. That's why we researched the best of the best to recommend to you!
One of the Korean cleansing products that is currently raved about is Heimish's All Clean Balm. It harnesses the power of natural ingredients such as coconut extract and citrus herb oil to help remove makeup and daily grime while brightening your overall complexion. We picked this as our top choice, and if you want to see our other favs, keep scrolling down! We also put together a buying guide to give you useful tips for choosing the right Korean cleansing oil or balm for your skin.
Dr. Levy is a board certified dermatologist practicing in NYC and Westport, Connecticut. She has expertise in treating inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. She has an interest in skincare and takes a personalized approach to all of her patients.
mybest US' editing team consists of experienced members who have backgrounds in writing, editing, translation, and more. We are dedicated to researching what makes a product or service the best to users in the US in order to create top-quality articles. From skincare, to kitchen appliances, and to DIY supplies, our mission is to find the best ones for you.
The expert oversees the Buying Guide only, and does not determine the products and services featured.
Table of Contents
Now that we've shown you our favorite Korean cleansing oils and balms, let's proceed to some tips that can help you figure out which one is the most suitable for you. You'll have to consider the effectiveness of the ingredients, and of course, decide if you want a balm or an oil.
Cleansing balms and oils are both great choices to help you remove makeup and impurities while keeping your skin moisturized. Technically, their main difference is the texture, with oil being liquid and balm being solid. To find out which one works for your skin, check out this section!
Let's talk about what cleansing oils can do! Some people assume that they will make the skin feel greasy. But on the contrary, these products can attract and draw out all the impurities, excess oil, and dead skin cells that congest your pores without taking away the natural moisture of your skin.
Also, Korean cleansing oils are often formulated with botanical oils like grapeseed oil, black bean oil, and sesame oil, which can rinse off easily without leaving behind any greasy residue. Hence, they're great for virtually all skin types, even oily and acne-prone skin.
However, working with oil can be messy, as you'll have to deal with some dripping. If you tend to wear heavy and waterproof makeup, balms are a better option as well.
Nonetheless, cleansing oils are very convenient to use since they often come in pump bottles. You can just dispense a certain amount of product without exposing it directly to heat and air, so don't worry about your cleansing oil getting spoiled or losing its effectiveness over time.
And to apply cleansing oil correctly, simply apply a small amount to your wet skin and massage for a minute or so. Afterward, rinse thoroughly and dry your skin with a soft towel.
Oils can penetrate the skin well. This means that they are effective at removing dirt, oil, and sebum from the pores. Be sure to rinse the cleansing balm thoroughly off your skin, to prevent outbreaks of milia, whiteheads, and blackheads. If you are acne-prone, reserve use of oil cleansers and balms for a few times a week.
When comparing cleansing balms and oils, you'll notice that they are formulated with somewhat similar ingredients.
The major difference that distinguishes those two is obviously the consistency. While oils are liquid, cleansing balms are crafted with polyethylene and waxes to get that solid and sherbet-like texture that can easily melt once getting in touch with your skin.
If you have dry or combination skin, balms are definitely a great choice. They can effectively remove dirt, impurities, and even the toughest makeup layers without drying your skin out thanks to their rich consistency and high oil content.
Still, compared to cleansing oils, balms can be a teeny bit more taxing to use. On a lazy day when you don't really want to spend too much time cleansing your face, the thought of opening a jar, scooping out some product, and massaging it onto your face doesn't sound that nice.
Some balms might also ask you to use a damp cloth to remove the product and dirt. Regardless, for those who travel frequently, cleansing balms are the way to go. Due to their solid texture, balms won't spill and are a mess-free option.
The main function of cleansing oils and balms is, of course, cleansing your face. So you'll want to make sure that your product contains all the effective cleansing agents that can slough away impurities and even makeup.
Usually, Korean products harness the power of naturally-derived surfactants such as ethylhexyl palmitate, cetyl ethylhexanoate, and caprylic triglyceride. They are gentle on the skin but extremely tough on daily grime and even stubborn makeup like waterproof mascara.
When screening the ingredient list of Korean cleansing balms and oils, you'll find that many contain fruit enzymes that have powerful exfoliating properties and can drive away dead skin cells and excess oil to unclog your pores. Some of the most popular fruit enzymes include papaya, lime, and strawberry.
The majority of Korean products will also integrate various oils with strong cleansing powers such as apricot oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and safflower oil.
These can deliver needed nourishment to leave your skin feeling soft and moisturized. Most are packed with fatty acids that can help strengthen the skin's protective barrier and improve its texture for a younger-looking appearance.
Fermented grains are also frequently found in Korean cleansing products. The fermentation process releases lactic acid, a gentle exfoliating agent. With antibacterial properties, it can treat and prevent bacterial skin infections. Black sugar is another ingredient you don't want to miss. It can remove debris to brighten your skin.
Many cleansers can be harsh on the skin and strip the skin of natural oils, which we need to maintain the skin barrier and health. The benefit of Korean cleansers is that they are effective at removing impurities while keeping the skin hydrated. If you have a history of rosacea, avoid plant-based and fruit-based ingredients as these can sometimes exacerbate these conditions.
Many Korean cleansing balms and oils are formulated with nourishing ingredients including antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins to support the health of your skin and solve some particular skin issues. So consider your skin condition and choose ingredients that can improve it.
In this section, we'll introduce various ingredients that are widely used in Korean cosmetics and can help solve certain skin problems.
All cleansing oils and balms are formulated with oil ingredients, so they will provide you with a certain level of hydration.
But for those with dehydrated skin, you'll want something that can prevent moisture loss. Moringa oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil, and grapeseed oil are some commonly found ingredients in Korean products that can do wonders for dry skin.
They are ultra-hydrating ingredients that work well even in desert climates or harsh winter weather. In addition, all of them contain strong anti-aging properties to help deliver a youthful glow to your skin and prevent skin blemishes.
Oil cleansers are the way to go for dry skin. They can be hydrating since they aid in repairing the skin barrier. If you are acne-prone, stay away from coconut oil as this ingredient can trigger acne outbreaks, whiteheads, and blackheads.
Cleansing oils and balms can work wonders for oily and acne-prone skin since they help remove dead skin cells and sweep away excess oil. However, some products might be infused with heavy ingredients like coconut oil which is incredibly nourishing to your skin but might end up clogging your pores and causing breakouts.
So you should go for products labeled as non-comedogenic since they are formulated without any pore-clogging ingredients that might block your pores. You might also want to choose ingredients that can help regulate sebum secretion and shrink your enlarged pores such as moringa seed oil, black bean oil, and so on.
Pretty much all Korean cleansing balms and oils are infused with antioxidants to help brighten your complexion and slow down the aging process. After all, Korean beauty products are well-known for their effective formulas that can delay the signs of aging, aren't they?
So what are some of the common antioxidants in Korean products? The answers are vitamins A, B3, C, and E. They can fight off free radical damage and promote collagen synthesis to give you silky-smooth and plump skin. You might already be familiar with those vitamins since they are quite common in American beauty products.
But have you ever heard of resveratrol? It's found in red wine, grape skin, and berries, and can stimulate the production of antioxidants in the skin. It can also regulate melanin production and prevent hyperpigmentation.
If you have hyperpigmentation, look for a balm with vitamin C as this can help fade dark marks on the skin as well as prevent further darkening since it helps prevent UV damage from the sun. Niacinamide is a great ingredient to look for if you have red and inflamed skin or red marks left over from acne lesions.
If you have sensitive skin, you won't want to use anything that is harsh and can trigger an allergic reaction. Fortunately, most Korean cleansing oils and balms have a gentle formula with various natural ingredients that are less likely to irritate your skin.
But still, you should still take caution with potential irritants such as fragrance, parabens, and mineral oils. Most people are fine with them, but in some cases, they can cause redness, rashes, and itching to those with highly sensitive skin.
Also, ingredients with soothing and anti-inflammatory properties can do wonders for sensitive skin. Rose extract, chamomile extract, tea tree oil, and lavender oil are a few ingredients well-loved by the K-beauty community as they can calm irritation and even treat skin blemishes.
But anyway, if you have sensitive skin, the safest choice is to do a patch test before actually applying the product to your skin.
Plant-based products can sometimes make skin redness worse, especially if you have rosacea. It may lead to a burning and stinging sensation on the skin. Skip plant-based products if your skin is easily irritated. The benefit of using these ingredients in an oil balm form is that they tend to be less irritating because the oil base is very soothing and hydrating
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All Clean Balm
Hypoallergenic Cleansing Balm With Shea Butter, Citrus Herb Oil, and Coconut Extract
Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil
Black Bean Oil to Calm the Skin and Regulate Oil Secretion
Then I Met You
Living Cleansing Balm
Sea Buckthorn to Promote Cell Regeneration
Forest Garden Chamomile Cleansing Oil
Chamomile Extract to Gently Remove Makeup and Deliver Antioxidant Benefits
Black Sugar Perfect Cleansing Oil
Black Sugar Removes Skin Debris While Moisturizing the Skin
Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Revitalizing
Gentle Formula With Resveratrol to Slow Down the Aging Process
Moringa Cleansing Balm
Sherbet-Like Texture That Melts Seamlessly
Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil
Effective Cleansing Oil That Packs a Punch of Hydration
Wonder Apricot Deep Cleansing
Apricot Seed Oil to Naturally Drive Away Impurities and Makeup
Beauty of Joseon
Radiance Cleansing Balm
Korean Herbal Ingredients to Nourish the Skin
Struggling with a dull-looking complexion and skin blemishes? This cleansing balm from Heimish can do the trick! In fact, the proprietary formula can effectively remove makeup layers while improving the appearance of your skin.
Infused with citrus herb oil, it can fade dark spots and brighten your complexion. The addition of white flower complex also helps clarify your skin tone and make your wrinkles and fine lines much less visible. Meanwhile, shea butter and coconut extract soften and keep your skin moisturized for a while.
After using this product, some reviewers experienced skin irritation such as rashes and itching. So you might want to screen the ingredient list to make sure that there is nothing that you're allergic to.
Meanwhile, various reviewers were infatuated with this cleansing balm, mentioning that it effectively wiped off their makeup layers without blocking their pores and triggering acne breakouts. The consistency was another plus point, as it melted the moment it got in contact with the skin and was easy to spread.
Looking for a cleansing product that can shrink your pores and remove the excess oil on your skin? This cleansing oil can surely fit the bill. It boasts a proprietary blend of black bean oil, black sesame oil, and black currant seed oil to rinse away impurities and makeup layers.
Those ingredients are also effective in regulating oil secretion and will leave your pores completely clean and detoxified. Besides, they're jam-packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to soothe skin irritation and rejuvenate your skin condition.
Some reviewers said it was hard to rinse it off. Meanwhile, many were amazed at the cleansing ability of this product and further added that their pores looked noticeably smaller. After using the product, their skin was soft to the touch and didn't feel greasy at all.
Others also loved the pump bottle that made it easy and mess-free to dispense just the right amount of product. Besides, the oil didn't feel too heavy, so many people used this product as the preliminary step in their double-cleansing routine.
This cleansing balm is formulated with natural ingredients with effective cleansing power such as olive fruit oil, grapeseed oil, and rosemary leaf oil, thus is suitable for even sensitive skin. This product also touts sea buckthorn which can deeply hydrate your skin, prevent acne, and promote cell regeneration.
Meanwhile, persimmon extract is chock-full of vitamin C which can help reduce inflammation and enhance the strength of your skin's protective barrier. What's more, this product is infused with vitamin E, so it'll provide you with tons of antioxidant benefits and slow down the aging process.
A few reviewers noted that the product had a medicinal scent that might be off-putting. The texture was a bit gooey and greasy for some.
On another note, this product wowed many reviewers with its cleansing properties. It was able to melt away all kinds of makeup, including waterproof ones, and rinsed clean. Importantly, it didn't trigger skin irritations for most and got approval even from those with sensitive skin. Their skin also looked and felt supple after the application.
Formulated with chamomile extract and jojoba oil, this cleansing oil can gently melt away makeup and impurities to bring you a radiant complexion. Moreover, chamomile extract contains powerful anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, so it is incredibly soothing on the skin and can calm irritation.
The combination of macadamia seed oil and safflower oil also packs a punch of antioxidants to neutralize the effects of free radicals and rejuvenate your skin's overall condition.
Some users weren't that crazy about this cleansing oil as it made their skin feel a bit greasy afterward. So if you have oily skin, you might be better off with some products that have a mattifying effect. Still, there were many points about this product that people were completely smitten with.
It emulsified quickly, rinsed well, and effectively removed makeup layers without causing breakouts or skin irritation. Many also noticed a major improvement in their skin condition, saying it turned from dry and rough to silky-smooth. Others further noted that just one or two pumps were enough for the whole face.
This cleansing oil harnesses the power of natural exfoliants such as papaya, apple, orange, and lemon fruit extracts to keep impurities at bay while not irritating your skin. The product also features black sugar, a great ingredient that can slough away debris to reveal radiant skin.
Black sugar is also a natural humectant that can boost your skin's moisture level and enhance its elasticity. You'll also be delighted to know that this cleansing oil is infused with rice wine which can facilitate collagen synthesis and prevent wrinkles, fine lines, and other blemishes.
Some reviewers weren't really content with the watery consistency. A few others also mentioned that this product contained fragrance ingredients that might not be suitable for those with fragrance sensitivity. Nonetheless, this cleansing oil was a huge hit for many reviewers.
It's loaded with moisturizers and delivered long-lasting hydration to the skin without making it feel extra greasy. Various buyers also vouched for the cleansing capacity of this product, commenting that it helped wash away makeup products that they put on their faces, even mascara and eyeliner.
What sets this cleansing balm apart from other counterparts is the gentle formula that is safe for basically all skin types. You'll find no traces of chemical preservatives, emollients, and antiseptics that might trigger allergic reactions like mineral oil or butylated hydroxytoluene.
Instead, they're replaced with skin-friendly ingredients like vitamin E acetate and phenoxyethanol, a preservative naturally derived from green tea. The combination of resveratrol, olive oil, and grape root extract also helps shield your skin from free radical damage and slow down the aging process, giving you bright and healthy skin.
Some reviewers complained that the seal of the product sold on Amazon was broken, so you might want to be a little careful. We've included a link to the official website for you.
On the other hand, the majority of buyers were obsessed with the cleansing ability of this product, mentioning that it effectively melted away makeup without irritating their skin or causing breakouts. Others also commented that after using the product, their face looked much clearer and silkier. Plus, a little went a long way.
This cleansing balm has a creamy texture that melts instantly once getting into contact with your skin. Importantly, it can cleanse your skin of makeup and impurities without stripping off the natural moisture.
Specifically, it's infused with birch juice sap, iris extract, and moringa extract to keep the skin moisturized. Those ingredients can also strengthen the skin's barrier.
Some reviewers were disappointed that this cleansing balm broke them out. Some others mentioned that the product had a minty scent derived from moringa extract which might be strong for those with fragrance sensitivity.
Meanwhile, many others were hooked on how well this product took off their stubborn makeup and cleared impurities. Plus, it rinsed off perfectly and didn't leave behind any greasy residue. The moisturizing properties of this product were pretty impressive as well! Various buyers found it worked like a charm during the harsh, dry winter.
Frustrated with how regular cleansing products strip off the natural moisture of the skin? This cleansing oil from Etude House can help with your concerns. It boasts a combination of coconut oil, apricot kernel oil, and grapeseed oil to naturally wipe away skin debris and remove makeup layers.
Those nourishing ingredients are packed with moisturizing and antioxidant properties to keep your skin healthy. And don't worry about residue! This formula reacts very well to water and can rinse off easily.
Most reviewers appreciated the gentle formula that emulsified and cleansed well without causing any allergic reactions. But a few noted that this product wasn't able to take off mascara or eyeliner fully. Some also noted that the product didn't come with the pump as pictured.
Nonetheless, various buyers still highly recommended this product for the moisturizing effects. They noticed that their skin felt soft to the touch, even during the drying weather of winter.
One of the secret ingredients behind this cleansing oil is apricot seed oil which can exfoliate dead skin cells and impurities that might clog your pores and get rid of any makeup layers. In addition, it's loaded with vitamins C and E to visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, bringing back the radiance of your skin.
Meanwhile, nourishing seed oils including pomegranate, jojoba, macadamia, and meadowfoam work together to moisturize and soften your skin. All of them are also jam-packed with antioxidants to shield the skin from the damages of sun rays and pollution.
Many buyers loved using this product for double-cleansing. It melted their makeup and impurities away while not being irritating to their skin. However, some did note that this product might not be able to take off waterproof makeup and might be more suitable for lightweight ones.
Still, most reviewers concurred that this cleansing oil was incredibly nourishing to the skin. The texture was easy to work with as well: not too thick nor too thin. Importantly, it didn't feel greasy and quickly went off with water.
This cleansing balm features a combination of Korean herbal ingredients that have long been used in medicine such as rice water and fermented grains. They are effective in preventing moisture loss and brightening your complexion.
Another skin-loving ingredient in this product is chrysanthemum extract which contains a high level of vitamins A and B to minimize skin irritation and reduce the signs of aging. In addition, this cleansing balm touts lavender extract to treat redness and prevent acne.
Some reviewers were not happy that the product contains fragrance, so if you are sensitive, take note.
According to various buyers, this product can help remove impurities while softening and moisturizing the skin. They also loved the feel of the balm on their skin and further added that it didn't leave any greasiness. Emulsification was satisfying as well. Others also noticed that the product helped smooth away their breakouts.
In addition to reviewing and commenting on our buying guide, Dr. Levy also took the time to answer some commonly asked questions about cleansers.
Dr. Levy says, "Oil cleansing or double cleansing has become a popular way to wash your face over the past several years. First, apply an oil-based cleanser or balm to your face. Then you wash it off with either a cloth or your hands.
After using the oil-based cleanser, you should use a cream-based or gel-based cleanser, which completes the double cleansing method. After the double cleansing, you can use your other skincare products. If your skin is dry, you can skip the second wash and just use the oil balm or cleanser."
"Oil cleansing is good for dry skin and combination skin," Dr. Levy explains. "However, if your skin leans towards the oilier side or you are acne-prone, skip oil cleansing daily. You may only want to oil cleanse anywhere from one to three times a week.
You may also choose to use an oil cleansing balm for days where you are wearing heavy makeup or after workouts when there tends to be a buildup of sweat and sebum."
If you are going to follow the Korean skincare routine, you'll need more than just a cleansing oil or balm. For many, there are a whopping 10 steps in total! Check out our buying guides for the latest Korean beauty products to add to your skincare regime.
No. 1: Heimish | All Clean Balm
No. 2: Dear, Klairs | Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil
No. 3: Then I Met You | Living Cleansing Balm
No. 4: Nature Republic | Forest Garden Chamomile Cleansing Oil
No. 5: Skinfood | Black Sugar Perfect Cleansing Oil
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