The golden rule of makeup is to take it off before bed. Though it may feel like a rather annoying practice, it can be enhanced by the best cleansing balm.
“A cleansing balm is an oil-based cleanser that has more of a solid consistency,” says triple board-certified dermatologist Dr. Mamina Turegano. “The oils in cleansing balms not only help with breaking down makeup, but also with cleaning away dirt, sunscreen, and other products from the day.” She continues that because the balm is formulated with not only oils but nourishing emollients and waxes, they are able to cleanse the skin without leaving it dry—across all skin types (yes, even oily skin!).
As a reminder though, removing makeup before bed offers a chance to eliminate buildup of any kind of product, chemicals, dirt, grime or oil that can damage skin, as Turegano puts it. In fact, she’s admittedly a fan of a good double cleanse for removal—often opting for a cleansing balm as her first step on dry skin.
“First massage [the balm] in your palms, and then massage it on your face for 30-60 seconds,” she explains, then rinse. “I would then follow this with a cream-based cleanser (if you have dry skin) or a gel-based cleanser (if you have normal to oily skin).” From there, she might reach for a silicone cleansing brush to aid impurity removal, followed by a curated nighttime skin-care routine: think of a hydrating toner or serum, then retinoid and moisturizer.
And with that, you’re left with skin that’s not only incredibly clean, but not stripped of its natural balancing oils—the best formulas even enhance skin softness, minimize the look of pores, or brighten skin over time. Ready to try one for yourself? Below, 14 of the best cleansing balms to consider.
True Botanicals Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm
Whether you’re removing makeup or double cleansing, the True Botanicals cleansing balm combines nourishers (yucca extract, turmeric, and mango butter) with exfoliators (lactic and azelaic acid) for a covetable multi-tasking formula suitable for sensitive skin and pregnancy-safe regimens.
Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Cleansing Balm
The Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Cleansing Balm is a top pick of Turegano because it’s housed in a convenient tube—considering most formulas are jarred.“It also does an amazing job at removing makeup. I would follow this with a regular gentle cleanser.”
Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm
A sensitive skin-care salve, Naturopathica’s cleansing balm is infused with manuka honey, probiotics, and sweet almond oil for long-lasting hydration and skin barrier restorative benefits.
Youth To The People Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm
Infused with hyaluronic acid as well as a blend of maqui, acai, goji, and prickly pear seed oils, Youth To The People’s cleansing balm works like a dream to quickly dissolve unwanted buildup on the skin.
Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm
If you haven’t tried Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, you’re truly missing out. A classic formula for a reason, this is known to melt even the most longwear makeup away—from that pigmented eyeliner to layers of sunscreen.
Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm
Even the most budge-proof makeup is no match for Farmacy’s Green Clean balm—a cleanser formulated with turmeric, moringa extract, papaya enzymes, as well as sunflower and ginger root oils to melt away residue for hydrated, smooth skin.
Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
A cleansing balm that also boasts exfoliating properties? Yes please. Not only can Drunk Elephant’s cleanser remove oil and makeup, but can gently wipe away dead skin through its featured bamboo and charcoal powder.
Belief Aqua Bomb Cleansing Balm
Belief knows a thing about hydration, as shown through its acclaimed Aqua Bomb moisturizer. Here though, its cleansing balm brings together lotus flower, marshmallow root, and lady’s mantle to leave skin more radiant after one use.
Juno & Co. Clean 10 Cleansing Balm
As the name suggests, yes—Juno & Co’s cleansing balm only features ten ingredients. Powered by Japanese pearl barley, expect this balm to transform from solid to a milky cleanser that washes away impurities without stripping your skin’s natural oils.
Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
Then I Met You’s cleansing balm that has a light, yet fragrant scent and creamy texture. The fact that it’s infused with restorative antioxidants and fatty acids is an added bonus.
Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
Featuring a blend of brown algae, elderberry, and starflower oils, the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm is effective at dissolving makeup, but works to soften, tone, and restore elasticity in skin. Basically, a thoughtful addition to any maturing beauty regimen.
Augustinus Bader The Cleansing Balm
Those who are fans of Augustinus Bader’s rich moisturizer should consider incorporating its cleansing balm too, as it’s powdered by the same high-powered amino acid complex, TFC8. And so, you can expect this to deeply nourish the skin while removing makeup and buildup.
It Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover
“This is another makeup removing cleansing balm that I love,” says Turegano. “It comes in a jar, but the consistency of the balm is comparable to a light fluffy cloud, which makes it enjoyable to use.”
Oak Essentials Cleansing Balm
The cleansing balm from Jenni Kayne’s Oak Essentials line helps remove dirt and oil through a soft, nourishing formula made of safflower seed oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, and Vitamin E. It is gentle on the skin, locks in moisture, and feels refreshing with every cleanse. It will be your secret to a spa-like ritual every time you use it.