The 13 Best Cleansing Balms of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

The Juno & Co. Skin Clean 10 Cleansing Balm erases every trace of makeup and leaves skin soft and supple.

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Cleansing Balms

InStyle / Jaclyn Mastropasqua

If your regular makeup routine includes liquid eyeliner, waterproof mascara, and a full-coverage foundation that promises to last all day, we’d bet that you’ve felt challenged to remove it at least once in your life. On one hand, that’s great, because it means that you’ve finally found products that live up to their all-day claims; on the other, it’s not so great, because it might prompt you to rub and scrub your complexion to smithereens in hopes of getting it clean.

Before ditching your tried-and-true makeup, though, consider switching up your skincare routine to include a cleansing balm. After all, these cleansers are top-tier when it comes to removing long-lasting makeup.

We tested 30 of the most popular cleansing balms on the market to determine which are actually worth adding to your #shelfie. To narrow down the pool, InStyle testers incorporated each cleansing balm into their routine for two weeks and ranked every product from 1 to 5 in five key categories: consistency, oiliness, hydration, cleansing ability, and appearance. In doing so, we were able to suss out the not-so-stellar formulas to deliver readers the 13 best cleansing balms. At the top of the list is the Juno & Co. Skin Clean 10 Cleansing Balm, which is beloved for its affordable price and impressive makeup-removing capabilities.

Best Overall

Juno & Co. Clean 10 Cleansing Balm

5
 JUNO & Co. Clean 10 Cleansing Balm 10 Ingredients Makeup Remover

Amazon

What We Love: It begins as a firm consistency that transforms into a creamy balm capable of removing even the heaviest makeup.

What We Don’t Love: The packaging isn’t the most durable and can crack easily if dropped.

You may not have heard of Juno & Co. before, but its impressive Skin Clean 10 Cleansing Balm continues to be a bestseller on Amazon, and it greatly impressed our testers thanks to its simple-yet-effective formula that features just 10 ingredients, including nourishing and brightening pearl barley and anti-aging vitamin E.

Like most cleansing balms, it starts with a firm consistency and, once rubbed between fingers, transforms into a more massageable texture. “As soon as I start rubbing it into my skin, it practically melts away and starts removing my makeup,” marvels one tester. “This balm effortlessly dissolves my makeup, even after I've baked and caked my face. I usually prefer to double cleanse; however, this is effective enough to be used alone.”

Beyond its ease of use, our tester also says that this cleansing balm is incredibly hydrating. “This cleanser has been fantastic for me because it thoroughly cleans without drying out my skin — my complexion actually feels more moisturized and supple after using it,” she shares.

The only potential downside of the balm is that, because the packaging isn’t the highest quality, you have to be careful not to drop or over-twist it while putting the lid back on because it can crack pretty easily.

Price at time of publish: $15 (originally $20)

Key Ingredients: Pearl barley and vitamin E | Size: 3 oz. | Scented: No

Best Budget

innisfree Pore Clearing Volcanic Cleansing Balm

4.4
innisfree Pore Clearing Volcanic Cleansing Balm

Sephora

What We Love: It’s made with Jeju volcanic clusters, which absorb excess sebum.

What We Don’t Love: It initially feels clumpy.

Formulated specifically with oily skin in mind, Innisfree Pore Clearing Volcanic Cleansing Balm works well to slough away pore-clogging makeup, dirt, and bacteria to reveal a clean complexion beneath. “This is amazing at removing my makeup,” our tester says.

The makeup-removing capability wasn’t her favorite thing about the product, though. “Even though this product is technically for oily skin, I have very dry skin and after fully removing the cleansing balm, my face felt really hydrated without leftover or excess grease from the product,” she reveals.

The only downside is that it’s a clumpier cleansing balm (it’s infused with Jeju Volcanic Clusters to absorb excess oil), but overall, the results and price can’t be beaten.

Price at time of publish: $10

Key Ingredients: Jeju volcanic clusters and mineral oil | Size: 1.05 oz. | Scented: Yes

Best Splurge

Eve Lom Original Balm Cleanser

4.4
Cleanser EVE LOM

Nordstrom

What We Love: Made with luxury ingredients (like Egyptian chamomile oil and eucalyptus oil), it turns your cleansing routine into a calming experience.

What We Don’t Love: It’s on the chunkier side, which is uncomfortable while removing eye makeup.

If you’re looking to elevate your cleansing routine, the Eve Lom Cleanser is as luxe as it gets. Made with difficult-to-source ingredients — including Egyptian chamomile oil and eucalyptus oil — it instantly hydrates and softens the skin while effortlessly removing makeup. That said, our tester points out that it has a chunkier consistency than any cleansing balm she’s tried, which she admits is uncomfortable while removing eye makeup.

That doesn’t deter her from recommending it though. “This balm leaves my skin feeling hydrated after cleansing — no tightness or dryness at all; my skin feels soft rather than stripped,” she shares.

Something that sets this cleansing balm apart — besides its much heftier price tag — is the fact that it comes with muslin cloth for light exfoliation during cleansing. While some people seem to love it (including our tester), others choose to avoid it. As such, it’s not entirely necessary to enjoy the product.

Price at time of publish: $80

Key Ingredients: Egyptian chamomile oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil, and hops oil | Size: 3.3 oz. | Scented: Yes

Best Drugstore

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Melting Balm

4.3
Neutrogena Makeup Remover Melting Balm

Amazon

What We Love: It has a unique texture that leaves skin feeling hydrated.

What We Don’t Love: It may cause breakouts on sensitive skin.

Thousands of Amazon shoppers agree: Neutrogena Makeup Remover Melting Balm is a must. Unlike most cleansing balms, this product has a lotion-like consistency (it’s not a hard surface that must be scraped to turn into balm). The silky-smooth texture allows it to sink effortlessly into the skin, which is a blessing for our tester who struggles to find hydrating products that work well with her oily skin.

“This product helped me with my oily skin, which is interesting to me because [I wouldn’t expect to] fight oily skin with a slightly oily feeling product,” she says. “After cleansing, my skin felt so smooth and soft. Usually, it feels tight after washing it with my normal cleanser, but with this, there was no tightness — just soft, supple skin,” she marvels.

The one downside for our tester is that it caused her to break out. “I have really sensitive skin that is prone to breakouts with new products,” she admits, pointing out that it’s not necessarily an issue with the product itself. That said, it’s formulated with coconut oil, which tends to be a pore-clogging culprit.

Price at time of publish: $11

Key Ingredients: Carnauba wax, coconut oil, and vitamin E | Size: 2 oz. | Scented: No

Best Multitasking

ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

4.8
Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm ELEMIS

Nordstrom

What We Love: It emulsifies into an oil before transforming into a cleansing milk that rids skin of makeup almost instantly.

What We Don’t Love: It can feel too oily for those with oily skin.

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm has earned hundreds of five-star reviews for its transformative formula that starts out as a balm before emulsifying into an oil and eventually a cleansing milk. The popular cleansing balm is formulated with rose and mimosa waxes, as well as elderberry, starflower, and optimega oils. Additionally, it’s infused with nine essential oils including lavender, chamomile, and eucalyptus to treat and nourish skin during the cleansing process.

“I was surprised by how smooth my skin felt after using this cleansing balm — usually I feel a little dry [post-cleansing],” says our tester, noting how it seamlessly washes away waterproof makeup and sunscreen alike. “I think it's due to the abundance of oils in the formula.”

One thing to note, though, is that because it’s infused with so many essential oils, it does feel a bit oily. Our tester has oily, acne-prone skin and enjoyed using it, albeit sparingly. She thinks it's best suited for those with normal to dry skin.

Price at time of publish: $66

Key Ingredients: Rose and mimosa waxes, lavender, chamomile, and eucalyptus | Size: 3.5 oz. | Scented: Yes

Best Exfoliating

True Botanicals Calm Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm

4.5
Calm Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm TRUE BOTANICALS

Nordstrom

What We Love: It’s made with lactic and azelaic acids to gently exfoliate even the most sensitive complexions.

What We Don’t Love: It has a strong natural smell.

With gentle lactic and azelaic acids and naturally exfoliating ginger and turmeric at the helm of this formula, this transformative balm works well to slough away dead skin cells as well as built-up makeup and oil to reveal silky smooth skin beneath.

Where some cleansing balms feel dense in the jar, our tester found that this balm has more of a whipped texture that melts into her skin. “My skin felt hydrated and was much smoother to the touch after using this,” she admits. That said, she says it feels very oily, which made her dock points off the product. Regardless, she says the balm was easy to spread across her face, and worked well to remove her makeup, all without causing any redness in the process.

While this cleansing balm is free of synthetic fragrances, it’s naturally scented with ginger root, mandarin, and neroli oils, so expect a fresh, albeit strong, scent when you twist this skincare savior open.

Price at time of publish: $48

Key Ingredients: Lactic acid, azelaic acid, turmeric, mango butter, and ginger root | Size: 3.4 oz. | Scented: Yes

Best for Dry Skin

Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm

4.4
Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm

Amazon

What We Love: It’s made with minimal ingredients and is incredibly hydrating.

What We Don’t Love: This product is quite dense at first, so you’ll need to spend some time massaging it between your hands before using.

We love a minimalist formula that’s built to deliver squeaky-clean, ultra-hydrated skin — and that’s exactly what Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm does. Chock full of ingredients that are known for their moisturizing capabilities (like vitamin E, jojoba oil, and avocado oil, just to name a few), it works wonders for parched skin.

While it takes some time to soften the dense formula, the extra elbow grease is worth it for the results. “I regularly used a hydrating cleanser before I tested this balm, and I was shocked by how hydrated my skin felt with this,” says our tester. “I was not expecting a difference in this aspect at all, but I could absolutely tell that my skin was softer, brighter, [and more moisturized].”

When massaged into the skin “it practically becomes invisible,” our tester adds. What is visible, though, is a slightly greasy after-effect. “It leaves behind a slightly oily feeling, even after you wash it off,” she admits. But she’s quick to note that because it’s a hydrating formula the residue eventually sinks into the skin.

Price at time of publish: $18

Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, jojoba oil, avocado oil, eucalyptus oil, and clove leaf oil | Size: 2.3 oz. | Scented: Yes

Best for Oily Skin

Erborian Centella Solid Cleansing Balm

4.8
Centella Solid Cleansing Balm erborian brand:erborian

Revolve

What We Love: The texture is incredibly smooth and leaves skin feeling clean and hydrated, never dry.

What We Don’t Love: It’s infused with artificial fragrance, so it could be potentially irritating for those with sensitive skin.

Erborian Centella Solid Cleansing Balm is formulated with soothing Centella asiatica, softening sweet almond oil (which is rich in vitamin E), and hydrating shea butter. While it might not sound like the most oily-skin-friendly formula, our tester says that it performs similarly to a typical foaming cleanser.

“It removed some oiliness but did not strip my skin or make it feel dry and taut,” she assures us. In fact, she says that it works so well that she feels it performs perfectly on its own, ridding the need for a double cleanse. “My skin looks and feels great after using this,” she marvels. “I feel like I've done no damage to my skin since I barely even needed to scrub.” One thing she points out, though, is that it does have a faint floral scent. So, sensitive-nosed skincare lovers, beware.

Price at time of publish: $45

Key Ingredients: Centella asiatica, sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, beeswax, sweet almond oil, and shea butter | Size: 2.8 oz. | Scented: Yes

Best for Sensitive Skin

Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Cleansing Balm

4.6
Paula's Choice Omega Complex Cleansing Balm

Dermstore

What We Love: It’s unscented, comes in a tube for extra convenient use, and leaves skin feeling clean as can be.

What We Don’t Love: While it cleanses pretty effectively, it’s still best used in a double cleanse scenario.

Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Cleansing Balm is a step above for a few reasons: For starters, it comes in a squeeze tube, which makes it more convenient than most of the other cleansing balms on this list. Additionally, it’s fragrance-free, so it’s very gentle, making it great for all skin types, but especially those that are more sensitive/reactive.

From a consistency stance, our tester says that the balm is silky, with a hint of graininess. “I wasn't expecting that, but really appreciated it,” she admits. “It left me feeling cleaner and really helped to get both makeup and sunscreen off my face.'' Another aspect of the consistency that surprised her was the fact that it wasn’t super oily, which is a common feature of cleansing balms. “It didn't leave any kind of residue on my face,” she says.

Despite not leaving any type of oily residue in its wake, our tester says that the cleansing balm made her skin feel hydrated without feeling stripped. She was most impressed by how effective it was, though. “I was shocked by how easily this balm took off a full face of makeup,” she shares. “I just used a normal dime-sized amount for my whole face and it spread easily and evenly, and removed every last bit of makeup and sunscreen.”

Ever since testing it, she’s been using it every day as a new go-to (though, she prefers to use it with another cleanser because she prefers a double cleanse to ensure her skin is as clean as possible). Need we say more?

Price at time of publish: $29

Key Ingredients: Omegas 3 and 6, jojoba oil, and meadowfoam seed oil | Size: 3.5 oz. | Scented: No

Best for All Skin Types

Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

4.3
 Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

Amazon

What We Love: This balm melts into a serum-like consistency that removes makeup of all kinds.

What We Don’t Love: It feels a bit chunky at first.

Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm has over 183,000 likes and according to our tester, she understands why. “I'm not a fan of oil balms, however, this balm really bonded well to the product on my face and managed to cleanse everything — from thick foundation to my most pigmented red lip,” she shares. “While chunky at first, it melts to a manageable serum within a few seconds, and only a small dollop was needed to cleanse my whole face.”

To see just how well it works, our tester followed up with micellar water and found no further traces of makeup — it’s that effective.

Price at time of publish: $36

Key Ingredients: Safflower seed oil | Size: 3.8 oz. | Scented: No

Best for Makeup Removal

Keys Soulcare Nourishing Cleansing Balm

4.9
NOURISHING CLEANSING BALM + MAKEUP REMOVER

Keys Soulcare

What We Love: It’s silky smooth and requires zero harsh rubbing to remove makeup.

What We Don’t Love: It has a faint scent that might not be pleasing to all.

Leave it to Alicia Keys to know what it takes for a cleansing balm to really deliver. Her Keys Soulcare Nourishing Cleansing Balm is a fan favorite for its silky-smooth consistency that instantly melts away makeup without any harsh rubbing or tugging.

Where many cleansing balms begin firm, this one is creamy from the get-go, which our tester adores. “I was really impressed with how soft this felt on my fingers and face,” she says. “I felt like it was the perfect balance of oil and balm and was very effective at removing sunscreen and makeup — even waterproof. Rub-proof graphic eyeliner didn't stand a chance against this cleansing balm.”

The best part? It’s super hydrating, too. “I have dry skin — like, DRY, dry skin,” our tester says. “I haven't tried many cleansers that don't leave me feeling stripped (yes, even cleansing balms), but this one left me feeling soft with some of the most minimal drying that I've ever experienced. I'm a huge fan.”

One thing to note is that the charcoal and shea butter-based balm is infused with natural-but-noticeable oat milk and sage scent profile, with hints of bergamot, pink pepper, and cedarwood. While downright delightful, it may be too fragrant for some.

Price at time of publish: $30

Key Ingredients: Charcoal, shea butter, sunflower seed oil, and macadamia seed oil | Size: 2.8 oz. | Scented: Yes

Best Brightening

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm

4.6
Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover

It Cosmetics

What We Love: Infused with vitamin C and rosehip oil, it works to brighten skin over time.

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t leave skin feeling very hydrated.

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm is infused with brightening vitamin C and rosehip oil to not only cleanse the complexion, but boost it, too. So beyond removing makeup like a dream, it also minimizes dullness so you look glowy after each use.

Like many cleansing balms, it feels firm in the pot, but beautifully melts on contact with skin. “The melting point of this balm was really good — I didn't need to rub vigorously for it to soften,” says our tester. Once melted into skin, she says it works extremely well at removing her makeup, as well as the multiple layers of sunscreen she swears by on a daily basis.

“I wear a lot of sunscreen and usually do a double cleanse to make sure everything is gone, but this balm cleanses my skin with zero effort — as soon as it touches my face, all traces of product melts away,” she says. Her only recorded downside was that it didn’t leave her skin feeling super hydrated post-use. That said, she’s quick to note that her skin didn’t feel particularly dry either. Rather, it offers a neutral cleanse.

Price at time of publish: $42

Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, rosehip oil, ceramides, and shea butter | Size: 4 oz. | Scented: Yes

Best for Double Cleansing

Wander Beauty B.O.M. Voyage Cleansing Balm

4.4
Wander Beauty B.O.M. Voyage Cleansing Balm

Dermstore

What We Love: It feels like petroleum jelly, which makes it easy to rub in.

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t fully remove waterproof makeup.

If you love the ritual of a double cleanse and want to add a cleansing balm to your routine, look no further than the Wander Beauty B.O.M Voyage Cleansing Balm. Designed with a texture similar to petroleum jelly, the balm emulsifies effortlessly into skin to remove all non-waterproof makeup and sunscreen. “The texture makes it easier to rub around the eyes, but it didn’t remove my waterproof mascara,” admits our tester. Though she wasn’t able to double cleanse during the test, she thinks this product would be the perfect first step to any cleansing routine because it left her skin feeling extremely soft. “This would work great as part of a team of products, but individually, I think you could find better out there.”

Effectiveness aside, this cleansing balm comes in a tube, which makes it convenient for daily use as well as during travel. You don’t need a little spatula to scoop it out — just squeeze and go.

Price at time of publish: $34

Key Ingredients: Pear fruit extract, jojoba seed oil, and evening primrose oil | Size: 3.38 oz. | Scented: Yes

Other Options You Might Like

Pond's Cold Cream Cleansing Balm

Pond’s Cold Cream Cleansing Balm is pretty much the OG cleansing balm. It’s marketed as a makeup cleanser that intensely moisturizes skin and our tester agrees that it meets the mark in that category. While it works well to remove makeup (including heavy eye makeup), our tester was surprised by just how greasy it feels. That said, the extra-oily texture makes it easy to massage into skin, and it does eventually sink in and remove all traces of makeup.

Farmacy Green Clean Meltaway Cleansing Balm

With over 394,000 likes at Sephora, Farmacy Green Clean Meltaway Cleansing Balm is an undeniable cult favorite. It’s formulated with exfoliating sunflower and ginger root oils, as well as papaya enzymes to slough away built-up debris, making it especially great for oily, acne-prone skin types. That said, our tester was less than impressed: She found that the balm was more chalky than oily (despite being a slick balm in the pot) and felt clumpy during use. Additionally, she found that it wasn’t the most effective at removing a full face of makeup, as she had to follow up with micellar water during both of her tests.

Though our tester didn’t have the best experience, we felt it was important to mention it because many of our editors swear by this balm and think it’s still a stellar option.

Banila Co. Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm

The Banila Co. Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm is beloved for its creamy consistency that melts instantly into skin, ease of use, and effective performance. Plus, the packaging is simple but cute. As popular as the cleansing balm is among shoppers and editors, though, our tester found that while it’s incredibly effective at removing makeup, it feels a bit drying. As such, it might not be the greatest choice for those with dry skin. Other than that, though, she loved it.

Our Testing Process

To start, we spent about a week researching the top-rated cleansing balms on the market. After homing in on online ratings, we sent 30 top-rated cleansing balms out to freelance testers to incorporate into their routine for two weeks. Each tester cleansed with the balm daily so they could analyze the performance and write down their insights during the process. In doing so, our testers rated every balm on a scale of 1 to 5 in five key categories: consistency, oiliness, hydration, cleansing ability, and skin’s overall appearance. Once the data was collected, we were able to narrow down the original pool of products to the 13 best cleansing balms.

What to Keep in Mind

Ingredients

The reason cleansing balms work so well for all skin types is that they're formulated with lipophilic oils. “That means they are attracted to other oils and can dissolve them,” explains Karen Hammerman, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Garden City, New York. As effective as these oils are at ridding the skin of excess sebum, Dr. Hammerman says that there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when shopping for a high-quality cleansing balm.

“Ingredients such as coconut oil, almond oil, vitamin E, coconut milk, and shea butter deliver high doses of hydration,” she says. “Sea buckthorn, olive oil, and grapeseed oil provide antioxidants and nourishing fatty acids.” Furthermore, she says that persimmon extract helps to reduce hyperpigmentation, while eucalyptus oil, sunflower oil, ginger root oil, and papaya promote exfoliation and help unclog pores. Additionally, she says that chamomile oil is softening and smoothing, while hops oil, moringa seed oil, and wild sea fennel work well for toning.

Tacking onto this, Joie Tavernise, an NYC-based skin expert and medical esthetician who is the founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare, says that cleansing balms formulated with hyaluronic acid, peptides, and ceramides are especially beneficial, as they not only remove oil, dirt, and makeup, but they nourish skin to restore a plump, dewy complexion, too.

That said, there are a few ingredients to steer clear of, too — primarily depending on your skin type. “If you have oily or acne-prone skin, look for non-comedogenic products,” Tavernise says, noting to avoid coconut oil, lanolin, algae extract, and isopropyl myristate — which she says are great for dry skin but can clog pores and worsen breakouts on oily complexions. “If you have sensitive skin, avoid any balms with ingredients that can dry out and irritate the skin like alcohol and salt.”

Scent

Even the most natural scents can cause irritation if they’re not truly natural, or if they’re the byproduct of ultra-strong essential oils. With that in mind, consider your complexion and how it reacts before opting for a product that has a notable scent. Generally speaking, no scent is the best scent. On our list, Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Cleansing Balm, Neutrogena Makeup Remover Melting Balm, and Juno & Co. Skin Clean 10 Cleansing Balm are unscented.

Makeup

While cleansing balms do in fact cleanse, not all of them are as effective at removing makeup. If you like to wear bold makeup looks or regularly use waterproof formulas, you’ll want to find a cleansing balm that will go above and beyond to disintegrate every last trace. Truth be told, for the most glam looks Keys Soulcare Nourishing Cleansing Balm is impeccable at melting away even the most stubborn mascara and eyeliner. On the other hand, if you wear minimal makeup, just about any cleansing balm formula will do the trick to leave your skin feeling refreshed.

Your Questions, Answered

How do you use cleansing balm?

While you probably apply regular face wash to damp or wet skin, cleansing balm is best applied to dry skin so that it can get the most grip possible. For best results, Dr. Hammerman says to use a quarter-sized amount. When dislodging it from the jar, use the included spatula (if your balm comes with one) or the back of your nail to keep the product as sanitary as possible. Then, rub the cleansing balm between your fingers and massage it into your skin for about 30 seconds.

“The balm will transform into an oil that helps remove dirt, oil, and makeup,” Dr. Hammerman says. At that point, you can add lukewarm water to emulsify the oil and fully rinse the product (and all the debris with it) away. Once you’ve finished washing your face, pat dry with a towel (ideally one that’s microfiber, as they’re the most gentle).

Can you use cleansing balm on your eyes?

Yes! That’s one of the biggest perks of cleansing balm. “A cleansing balm will not irritate your eyes like a traditional soap,” Dr. Hammerman explains. In fact, since cleansing balms are made with oils designed to lift away other oils, dirt, and debris, they actually tend to be the most effective on the most stubborn makeup. “With the formulation, it can be more effective at removing waterproof sunscreen, and waterproof and heavy-duty makeup than a traditional cleanser,” board-certified dermatologist ​​Jenny Liu, MD, adds. Just be sure to fully rinse away the balm post-use to avoid any potential irritation from lingering oils, Tavernise says.

Can you use a cleansing balm when you're not wearing makeup?

Absolutely! Just because cleansing balm works especially well to remove makeup doesn’t mean it can’t be used as an effective cleanser on bare skin. According to ​​Dr. Liu, cleansing balms offer a gentle solution for removing sunscreen, oil, dirt, and any other lingering debris, too — all without over-drying the skin, like so many classic gel and cream cleansers do.

You don’t have to use them for just cleansing, either. “I love applying a balm to dry skin and leaving it on for 20 minutes as a mask to give my dry skin a little TLC,” Tavernise says.

Are cleansing balms better for those with dry or oily skin?

Cleansing balms are great for all skin types. “They are excellent for anyone with redness and/or sensitive skin because they calm and soothe,” Tavernise says. “Cleansing balms are also good for those with oily skin who sometimes tend to dry out their skin with harsh products to attempt to clear the acne.”

On that note, Tavernise assures us that it’s a common misconception that ultra-hydrating, oil-based cleansing balms will wreak havoc on oily skin. “Oily skin actually needs oil in order to be healthy; if you strip it too much your body produces more oil to counteract this and can lead to even more breakouts,” she explains. In that way, she says that cleansing balms are a great choice, especially in the colder months, because they help balance oil production while simultaneously clearing away built-up oil, dirt, and makeup.

That’s not to say that cleansing balms aren’t beneficial for dry skin, too, though. “Since cleansing balms are rich in nourishing oils, they are especially great for dry skin, and you do not have to worry about them drying out or stripping the skin,” Dr. Hammerman says.

Why Shop With Us

InStyle beauty writer Rebecca Norris has been honing her beauty knowledge for nearly 10 years. She forever has her finger on the pulse of the trendiest and most innovative products and formulas, which allows her to sort through the many, many launches that inundate the beauty market. For this particular story, she spoke with two board-certified dermatologists (Dr. Karen Hammerman and Dr. Jenny Liu); NYC-based skin expert and medical esthetician, Joie Tavernise; and over a dozen other InStyle testers for everything there is to know about cleansing balms. With their help, she was able to rank 13 of the most popular cleansing balms based on how each rated on a standardized scale, considering everything from texture and scent to ease of use and performance.

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