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10 Best Cleansing Balms in 2022 (Dermatologist-Reviewed)

Tired of common cleansing products that dry out your skin? A good cleansing balm can help you get rid of daily makeup and grime buildup and provide your skin with much-needed moisture or act as the vital first step in your double-cleansing routine. However, not all cleansing balms are effective! Many may contain oils without strong surfactants. 


Make sure to pick out a cleansing balm that can provide strong cleansing power. If you're confused about which product to buy or just want to learn more, keep reading! Our 10 best cleansing balms and buying guide, reviewed by a board certified dermatologist, will give you some tips in choosing the right product. Check out our favorite, Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm by Elemis. It's great for all skin types and can even work for anti-aging care.

Last updated 2023/06/07
Dr. Lauren Levy
Expert
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

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.

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Table of Contents

What Do Cleansing Balms Do?

What Do Cleansing Balms Do?

Cleansing balms have a high oil content. They help remove dirt, impurities, and excess sebum for clean, glowing skin. Unlike other abrasive cleansing products that might be overly drying, cleansing balms are moisturizing and can enhance your skin's protective barrier. 


Although cleansing balms and oils seem to have similar ingredients, they are completely different in consistency! Oils are liquid and can feel a bit heavy, especially for those with oily skin. However, cleansing balms are formulated with waxes and polyethylene. They tend to be more lightweight and creamy or buttery in texture


If you're traveling, cleansing balms can be a great option since they don't leak and are unlikely to cause a mess

How to Choose a Cleansing Balm - Buying Guide

When choosing a cleansing balm, consider factors such as the cleansing power, consistency, and ingredients. Take a look at our buying guide for more details! 

① Choose a Product With Effective Cleansing Ingredients

Choose a Product With Effective Cleansing Ingredients

Many cleansing balms are infused with oils that can nourish our skin. However, they may not contain surfactants that can melt away tough waterproof makeup or remove impurities. Keep in mind that without those active cleansing ingredients, the oils in the balm might block your pores and cause breakouts. 


One of the most effective ingredients is mineral oil, but it might cause mild irritation to those with sensitive skin. Instead, look for ingredients like ethylhexyl palmitate, caprylic capric triglyceride, or cetyl ethylhexanoate. These all have strong cleansing potential that can remove the toughest makeup and still be gentle.

② Match Your Cleansing Balm to Your Skin Type

There are various ingredients in cleansing balms that can improve your skin. However, some ingredients might not be suitable for your particular skin type. So take caution and try to pick a product that can support the condition of your skin! 

Find Pore-Clearing Ingredients for Oily Skin

Find Pore-Clearing Ingredients for Oily Skin

Many people assume that using a balm for oily skin will just worsen the condition, but that's not always true! Cleansing balms break down any dirt, makeup, and grime from the day and lift the excess oil or sebum from your pores, all while keeping your skin hydrated. 


Many who are concerned about their oily skin think they should go for a harsh face cleanser, but this can strip away too much of your skin's natural moisture. A better choice is to switch to a cleansing balm to keep sebum in check, and then follow up with a water-based cleanser.


However, some balms do feel greasy on the skin. So if you're not a fan of a dewy look, pick a product with a fast-absorbing, sherbet-like consistency. You can also look for ingredients that can unclog pores like eucalyptus oil, or those that help shrink your pores like moringa seed oil.

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified DermatologistDr. Lauren Levy

If you have oily skin, follow up your double-cleanse with a water gel-based cleanser. This will help remove any residual oil from the cleansing balm. Additionally, do not double-cleanse every day. Instead, reserve double-cleansing for after using heavy makeup. You can also use the cleansing balm two to three times a week instead of nightly as your skin allows.

For Sensitive Skin, Choose Soothers and Avoid Potential Irritants

For Sensitive Skin, Choose Soothers and Avoid Potential Irritants

If you knowingly have sensitive skin, you should choose a product with soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients such as aloe vera, rose extract, or chamomile oil. These ingredients calm irritation while protecting your skin barrier from the damaging effects of free radicals.


Sensitive skin is fickle and can be easily irritated, so you should do a patch test before actually applying anything to your skin. Phthalates, fragrances, and alcohols can be irritating to sensitive skin, so you'll want to proceed with caution if you decide to use products with these ingredients. 


Many cleansing balms are formulated with plant-based extracts and essential oils. However, those ingredients are not necessarily safer. If applied in a high concentration, certain essential oils can cause irritation to the skin so it is best to perform a patch test if you have sensitive skin. 


However, for any rinse-off products, you shouldn't need to worry too much as long as you do not leave the product on for a prolonged period of time. Most cleansing balms are made to wash off, but do be aware of these essential oil ingredients moving forward.

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified DermatologistDr. Lauren Levy

If you have a history of eczema, contact dermatitis, or rosacea, avoid essential oils in your cleansing balm. These are common causes of contact dermatitis and skin irritation. Also, avoid fragrance and preservatives as these can exacerbate these conditions.

Try Plant Oil- and Butter-Based Ingredients for Dry Skin

Try Plant Oil- and Butter-Based Ingredients for Dry Skin

Besides their effective cleansing power, cleansing balms are well-known for their moisturizing effects. They are formulated with a high concentration of oil and butter-based ingredients. Still, not all balms are created equally. 


If you are looking for ultra-hydrating effects for your dry skin, especially during the winter, then seek ingredients that help retain moisture or increase moisture levels, such as hyaluronic acid, sunflower oil, or avocado oil.


Sunflower oil helps your skin to retain water, and avocado oil contains ingredients like potassium and lecithin that will nourish your skin. Apart from their moisturizing properties, they help prevent inflammation and can heal the barrier of your dry skin. 

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified DermatologistDr. Lauren Levy

Cleansing balms are great for those with dry skin because they can act like an occlusive and help keep moisture in the skin. The problem is that more water is needed to remove the cleansing balm, and the second cleanse in the double-cleanse process can further dry out the skin by impairing the skin barrier. 


For a double-cleanse with dry skin, choose a cream-based second wash. Make sure you are following up cleansing with a hydrating cream-based moisturizer. Look for one with ceramides!

10 Best Cleansing Balms

Here's a list of the 10 cleansing balms we like best from the choices highly recommended by reviewers. We made our choices based on the points listed in the buying guide below, as well as reviewer comments when available.
Products
Image
Click to purchase
Points
1

Elemis

Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm 1枚目

Best Balm Recommended by a Dermatologist

2

Clinique

Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm

Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm  1枚目

Best Lightweight Cleansing Balm

3

Heimish

All Clean Balm

Heimish All Clean Balm 1枚目

Best Cleansing Balm That Protects Skin Against Drying

4

Banila Co

Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying

Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying 1枚目

Best for Calming and Soothing Redness

5

IT Cosmetics

Bye Bye Makeup

IT Cosmetics  Bye Bye Makeup 1枚目

Best Skin-Softening Balm for Aging or Dry Skin

6

Farmacy

Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm 1枚目

Best for Brightening Your Skin and Smoothing Bumps

7

Physicians Formula

The Perfect Matcha

Physicians Formula  The Perfect Matcha 1枚目

Best Balm for Makeup Removal and Improved Cell Turnover

8

Neutrogena

Cleansing Balm

Neutrogena Cleansing Balm 1枚目

Best for Travel and Makeup Removal On the Go

9

Youth to the People

Alpha to Omega+ Sherbet Cleanser

Youth to the People Alpha to Omega+ Sherbet Cleanser 1枚目

Best for Cleansing and Fighting Breakouts

10

JUNO

Rose Makeup Cleansing Balm

JUNO Rose Makeup Cleansing Balm 1枚目

Best for Oily Skin, With Few Ingredients

Product details
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No.1

ElemisPro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

$44.80

Best Balm Recommended by a Dermatologist

Pros:

  • Independent user trials yielded 90 percent plus positive results
  • Sea algae can provide numerous benefits for skin, such as anti-aging and tightening
  • Essential oils and botanical extracts offer antioxidants
  • Silica abrades and removes makeup and dirt
  • Recommended by Dr. Levy

Cons:

  • Despite the name, it doesn't contain collagen

This cleansing balm is formulated with a large number of botanicals, including elderberry and starflower, to offer a range of antioxidants and vitamins. The product is also infused with Padina pavonica, which is an anti-aging algae that supplies your skin with nutrients for a healthy, radiant complexion. 


Some reviewers said it smelled strong due to the essential oils, but many reviewers loved that it didn't dry them out. Dr. Levy says, "It leaves the skin feeling clean and soft. It does have a strong fragrance and essential oils, so I recommend avoiding it if you have a history of contact dermatitis."

No.2

CliniqueTake the Day Off Cleansing Balm

$25.20

Best Lightweight Cleansing Balm

Pros:

  • Light texture won't weigh down oily skin
  • Reviewers say they didn't need to scrub, even with sunscreen or waterproof makeup
  • Users found it doesn't leave skin stripped and dry

Cons:

  • Some Amazon buyers received allegedly used or questionable products

This gentle cleansing balm is lightweight in texture and melts immediately into a silky oil once in contact with your skin. It's formulated with ethylhexyl palmitate and safflower oil to help remove your makeup effectively while supplying your skin with moisture. 


Some reviewers found the balm a bit too oily and difficult to wash. Meanwhile, others loved that the product melted away all of their makeup, including waterproof products, without irritating their sensitive skin. Others noted that the product did not have a discernible scent either.

No.3

Best Cleansing Balm That Protects Skin Against Drying

Pros:

  • Gentle fatty acid and glycerin cleanser, PEG-20 glyceryl triisostearate
  • Many fruit and botanical extracts for vitamins and antioxidants
  • Shea butter and other emollients lock in the skin's moisture

Cons:

  • It's listed as hypoallergenic, but some users mentioned breakouts and irritation, so do a patch test

This cleansing balm can moisturize, soothe, and soften your skin while also removing any dirt or impurities. It's formulated with shea butter, citrus and herb oils, and coconut extract to nourish your skin. 


Some reviewers had issues with the balm irritating their eyes. On the other hand, many reviewers complimented how the product was gentle. The balm melted immediately when in contact with their skin and spread out smoothly.  

No.4

Banila CoClean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying

$21.76

Best for Calming and Soothing Redness

Pros:

  • Sherbet-like consistency isn't too heavy
  • Botanical extracts like hollyhock, angelica, licorice root, and aloe work to calm inflammation and irritation
  • Free from synthetic fragrances

Cons:

  • The soothing ingredients are somewhat countered by alcohol and fragrance in the formula; we recommend doing a patch test

This cleansing balm is made with a blend of active ingredients to help effectively remove impurities while maintaining your skin's natural moisture. The addition of soothing ingredients like licorice root, aloe, and chamomile should make it a good choice for those with inflammation or conditions like rosacea.


Some reviewers complained that the consistency was a bit too thick and greasy. On the other hand, many reviewers liked that the product effectively removed makeup without irritating their skin or clogging pores. Others also said that the product delivered long-lasting moisture and softened their skin significantly.  

No.5

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup

$34.95

Best Skin-Softening Balm for Aging or Dry Skin

Pros:

  • Glycerin, shea butter, ceramides, oils, and hyaluronic acid make for a powerful formula to combat dry skin
  • Aloe, licorice, and oatmeal calm inflammation and irritation
  • Collagen and retinyl palmitate address wrinkles

Cons:

  • The skin-calming ingredients don't quite balance out the large number of potential irritants; those with sensitive skin may want to stay away
  • Some Amazon reviewers doubted the authenticity of the product they got

Developed with the help of plastic surgeons, this cleansing balm is gentle on your skin and can remove all traces of makeup, including waterproof mascara. Furthermore, it's formulated with an anti-aging, skin-softening serum concentrate to help counteract the effects of free radicals, giving you radiant, healthy-looking skin! 


There are quite a few potentially irritating ingredients, and reviewers do mention that. But many say it worked fine for them and commented that the balm melted the minute it touched their faces. Others also said that it cleans incredibly well, and it goes a long way.

No.6

FarmacyGreen Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm

$34.00

Best for Brightening Your Skin and Smoothing Bumps

Pros:

  • Echinacea and papaya can reduce the appearance of wrinkles
  • Moringa, ginger root, and sunflower oils are effective emollients
  • Turmeric may brighten your complexion

Cons:

  • Citrus oils including orange peel and bergamot can cause skin irritation

This vegan cleansing balm is infused with ginger root oil, which can lead to smoother skin. Turmeric also enhances your skin, making it more radiant. It even contains papaya enzymes, a natural exfoliant that can effectively smooth bumps, clean your pores, control acne, and reduce wrinkles. 


Some reviewers complained that it left their eyes burning. Meanwhile, many were impressed that it could remove even waterproof mascara, and their skin felt soft, hydrated, and silky smooth afterward. 

No.7

Physicians Formula The Perfect Matcha

$10.99

Best Balm for Makeup Removal and Improved Cell Turnover

Pros:

  • Green tea, bamboo shoot water, and lotus root offer antioxidants
  • Lactic acid for gentle exfoliation
  • Hypoallergenic formula for sensitive skin

Cons:

  • Reviewers say it smells strongly

This cleansing balm contains a blend of the antioxidant-rich ingredients green tea, bamboo shoot, and lotus extract, which can neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals and slow down the aging process of your skin. 


A few reviewers noted that the product has a strong smell. On the other hand, reviewers were impressed that the balm removed waterproof makeup while keeping their skin moisturized at the same time. 

No.8

NeutrogenaCleansing Balm

$8.99

Best for Travel and Makeup Removal On the Go

Pros:

  • Travel-friendly size fits in your bag easily
  • Camellia, soy, rice bran, and coconut oils are powerful moisture-locking ingredients
  • Vitamin E for anti-aging care

Cons:

  • Reviewers say it can be hard to rinse off without a follow-up product

This little container is perfect for when you're on a trip or need to remove makeup at the gym. With gentle cleansers and oils like rice bran and coconut, it won't strip away too much but will leave your skin soft.


Some reviewers found it tough to rinse off. Others point out that if you follow it with micellar water or a foaming cleanser, you shouldn't have any problem. They love how it keeps their skin hydrated and works to remove makeup fast.

No.9

Youth to the PeopleAlpha to Omega+ Sherbet Cleanser

$34.00

Best for Cleansing and Fighting Breakouts

Pros:

  • Goji, maqui and acai berries for antioxidants
  • Hyaluronic acid is a skin-friendly humectant for added moisture
  • Prickly pear oil hydrates and can prevent skin damage
  • Turmeric can give your skin a glow

Cons:

  • Reviewers wished it came with a spatula for application
  • Some said it was too waxy and hard to use

This balm is packed with botanical extracts, including red algae, neem oil, moringa, and basil. Prickly pear is a highlight; it has antibacterial and antioxidant properties that make it good for those with acne.


A few reviewers didn't like the consistency, but most said that even though it goes on thick, it's easy to remove, and left their skin soft and glowing.

No.10

JUNORose Makeup Cleansing Balm

$14.99

Best for Oily Skin, With Few Ingredients

Pros:

  • Job's Tears, also known as adlay or Chinese pearl barley, may have skin-lightening properties
  • Short list of ingredients, with gentle cleansers, vitamin E, and emollients

Cons:

  • Orange peel oil may irritate sensitive skin

JUNO decided to keep it simple, with only 10 ingredients in its balm formula. Among them, they point out coix lacryma-jobi ma-yuen seed extract, or Job's Tears (although mistakenly listed as pearl barley.) This offers antioxidants and inhibits the production of melanin.


Some reviewers thought it was waxy and left them a bit dry. But many actually appreciated how it wasn't as greasy as other balms. Those with oily skin particularly love it.

Tips for Using a Cleansing Balm

A cleansing balm helps remove impurities and makeup effectively. If it's applied incorrectly, it might not be as effective. Check out our tips to learn how to appropriately use a cleansing balm! 

Apply an Appropriate Amount With Dry Hands

Apply an Appropriate Amount With Dry Hands

When applying your cleansing balm, make sure to use it with clean, dry hands. The moisture from wet hands might not blend well with the oil ingredients of the balm. Warm the balm up between the tips of your fingers and emulsify it a little before applying to your dry face. 


You should spend a little bit of time using your fingers to gently massage in circular motions. Start from your T-zone, which is known to be the oiliest area on your face, and move towards drier areas, such as your cheeks.


Massage the cleansing balm into your skin for around 30 seconds to two minutes, depending on how much makeup you wear. If you have eye makeup on, lightly massage around those areas with extra care so as not to get any product in them.  

Rinse Clean and Use a Soft Towel to Wipe Away the Day

Rinse Clean and Use a Soft Towel to Wipe Away the Day

After massaging your face, rinse your face thoroughly to ensure that no residue is left behind. Cleansing balms are a bit tougher to remove than other cleansers, so you should dampen a soft towel and gently wipe your face to remove it completely. Try not to scrub the product off your skin since it might cause irritation. 


For some products, the residue can act as a moisturizer, so it's okay to not completely wipe those balms away! To finish up, use a dry towel to remove any remaining water before using a water-based cleanser or applying other skincare products, like a moisturizer, serum, or night cream. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Still not quite sure about what a cleansing balm does or what it's good for? Dr. Levy is here to ask some commonly asked questions!

What is double-cleansing?

"Double-cleansing is when you wash your face with two different types of cleansers, one after each other," says Dr. Levy. "An oil-based cleanser is usually done first, followed by a water-based cleanser. 


The benefit of double-cleansing is that the first oil-based cleanser will remove makeup, dirt, sebum, and oil, while the second cleanser will help hydrate the skin or exfoliate. You do not have to double-cleanse with every face wash, and it should only be done once a day at most. If you have dry skin, you can double-cleanse one to three times a week and should save it for when you may have extra product on your face like makeup. 


It's very effective at removing dirt and oil from your skin, but the benefit of the process depends on your second cleanser, as this one can be tailored for your skin needs - hydration, exfoliation, or even acne. If you have acne-prone skin, I recommend being careful with the oil cleanser as it can trigger acne outbreaks. Make sure you're using an acne wash for your second cleanser!"

Do cleansing balms clog pores?

Dr. Levy says, "Many cleansing balms are oil-based and can clog pores if you are acne-prone. On the other hand, cleansing balms are very effective at removing oil, dirt, and makeup, which is beneficial in preventing acne outbreaks. 


If you want to double-cleanse but may be prone to acne, use an acne wash or salicylic-based product for your second wash to help treat and prevent clogged pores."

More Ways to Remove Your Makeup Safely

If you're not up to using a cleansing balm every day, try alternating with some other reliable makeup removers. We've even tested out some of them in our Tokyo office!

Amazon's Best Selling Facial Cleansers

Not sure a cleansing balm is right for you? Take a look at what Amazon buyers like for removing makeup and washing your face.

Top 5 Cleansing Balms

No. 1ElemisPro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

No. 2CliniqueTake the Day Off Cleansing Balm

No. 3HeimishAll Clean Balm

No. 4Banila CoClean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying

No. 5IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup

View Full Ranking

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