Well, I should clarify that not all cleansing balms are created equally. I have some cleansing balms that are the BOMB and I have some that have totally bombed. My first experience with a cleansing balm was the Organic Pharmacy Carrot Butter Cleanser. I purchased it several years ago, on a whim, from Ayla Beauty. I had no idea what to expect. I opened the jar and it was a beautiful orange color and when I went to scoop some out, it was solid. Solid? I should probably read the directions, because I wasn’t sure what I had just purchased. A solid cleanser? This was unchartered territory for me. So after reading the instructions on how to use this butter cleanser, I applied it and thought, “this is just weird… why is this such a cult favorite?” How is this thick, oily stuff going to clean my face? So, I rinsed it off and thought I would chalk it up to a learning experience. It had removed all my makeup and my skin felt clean, so that was some consolation. About an hour later, I was sitting on my bed reading a magazine and I touched my face. I have been told that I touch my face a lot when I am thinking. Anyway, I touched my face and was like whaaat? My skin felt so soft. What is going on? THE BUTTER CLEANSER! So, from that night on, I understood what a cleansing balm was and how it worked. A great cleansing balm will clean off all of the dirt, grime, sunscreen and makeup you have on your skin, but leave it feeling extremely well hydrated and nourished.
Fast forward a few years and there are a multitude of cleansing balms on the market. Cleansing oils and balms are all the rage! So what is a cleansing balm? Balms are thick, sometimes solid, cleansers. They are too thick to work with a pump dispenser or pour, so they come in jars or squeeze tubes. They are usually waterless and consist of various oils, and can either be mud-based or contain beeswax. They work best when applied to dry skin. They remove your day to day dirt as well as your makeup. Gone are the days when your skin has to feel squeaky clean to actually BE clean. These balms will give you the cleanliness you crave, while still maintaining the moisture balance you need.
What should you want in your cleansing balm? First we have to know what we don’t want and so we will look at a cult favorite that has some ingredients known to cause health and skin problems.
The Eve Lom Cleanser– This is a very popular cleanser praised by many celebrities. If you look at the first ingredient on the label, you will see that it is Paraffinum Liquidum, or liquid petroleum jelly. The second ingredient is PEG-30 Lanolin, a polyethylene glycol derivative of lanolin. So, for about $80 you are getting a product that is made primarily of vaseline and a wax excreted by wool-bearing animals with a few essential oils added for good measure. Can I get a collective EWWW! It has several other ingredients that have been shown to cause health problems and you can click on the link if you want to see all of them, or click here to find out the potentially harmful effects of these ingredients. Of course they advertise it as sulfate- and phthalates-free and focus on the oils they use, while not mentioning the harmful phenoxyethanol, BHT or petroleum products used in the cleanser. Retails for $80. BOMBED
Now I will tell you about some balm cleansers that have nothing but good things in them. Because of the healthy ingredients in these balms, they are safe to use around your eyes and most of them will remove all of your eye makeup with very gentle massaging. Some of them work great for me and some will be passed on to my kids. They get all the products that don’t work for me. My youngest daughter is turning into a product junkie like her momma!
What do I want in a cleansing balm? I want it to smell good, remove all of my makeup, and leave my skin feeling clean, but not stripped of moisture. That isn’t too much to ask, is it? Another important quality I want is to be able to remove it with just water. I know using a cloth helps with the cleansing aspect, but I want to be able to apply my balm, massage it into my skin, and have it wash away clean with water. Sometimes I use a cloth, but I don’t want to HAVE to use one to get everything off. It makes me feel like the cleanser isn’t enough and, therefore, why am I paying all that money? I want you to know my expectations before you read my opinions.
Mahalo Skin Care, The Unveil – This is a new discovery for me and the oils and butters used in this cleanser are pure magic. It is a thick cleanser that melts into your skin and does exactly what I want it to. It takes off any makeup I have on, washes away clean with water, and makes my skin feel clean and well hydrated. It provides gentle chemical exfoliation with fruit enzymes, and contains matcha green tea, which gives it a pretty green color and reduces the effects of sun damage and reduces inflammation. It is full of rich antioxidants, fatty acids, moisturizers, anti-inflammatories, and exfoliators derived from natural sources like Papaya, Fragonia, Willow, Avocado, Macadamia, and Sunflower Oil. It has a light scent of Lemon, Ginger, and Cocoa. The first ingredient is Almond Oil with an in-house phytonutrient infusion (itemized out on the list) and the second ingredient is Avocado Butter. Continue down on the list and you will only find clean, organic, local or wild harvested ingredients. An added bonus is to inhale the aroma of the essential oils in this balm to help ease stress and tension. Retails for $70. THE BOMB
100% Pure Blood Orange Cleansing Balm – I went out of my way on vacation to purchase this product. I had heard about its launch and was very excited to try it. It is made primarily of organic Avocado, Coconut, and Olive Oils. It is more of a solid balm and has a very faint orange scent. Sadly, this one is going to my daughters. I know that it is a totally safe and well-made product with quality ingredients, but it just doesn’t work for me. It feels like vaseline on my skin and it takes several passes with a cloth to get it off. When I add water to it while I am massaging it into my skin, it doesn’t emulsify at all. I don’t feel like it is breaking down or removing anything. I need to use the cloth to get all of my makeup off as well and end up feeling like I need to use another cleanser. Retails for $38. BOMBED
Okoko Cosmétiques Sublime Balm – This is a multipurpose balm, that can be used as a moisturizer or cleansing balm. I wrote an entire post on this product that you can read here. To give you the highlights, this balm truly is SUBLIME. As a cleanser, it melts right into your skin, cleans away any makeup or dirt, rinses clean with water, and leaves your skin so soft. Along with that, it smells amazing (chocolate) and the color is gorgeous! Retails for $65. THE BOMB
The Organic Pharmacy Carrot Butter – As I said earlier, this was my introduction to cleansing balms. Once I got over the shock of what a balm actually is, I developed a love for them. This one is made with Jojoba, Coconut, and Carrot Oil, along with Shea and Cocoa Butters. Chamomile and Lavender help reduce inflammation and Sunflower Seed Oil repairs the skin. Carrot seed oil help with cell regeneration. It is also a powerful antibacterial and anti fungal agent. It removes all makeup, sunscreen, and dirt, yet leaves my face super soft and hydrated. Inhaling the scent of the essential oils in this balm can help relax you while you cleanse. Retails for $74. THE BOMB
There are many green beauty cleansing balms on the market today. If you have tried one of them, I would love to hear about your experience!