best-cleansing-balms: woman washing face

Cleansing Balms Are the Triple-Threat Product Your Skin Needs—Here Are 9 Best

Say goodbye to makeup and impurities, and hello to soft, dewy skin. 
By Loni Venti
March 23, 2021
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Cleansing balms are a skincare MVP. They do the work of three or more products (think: makeup remover, face wash, and moisturizer), can be used as part of a double cleanse, and leave your skin seriously soft. But with so many cleansing balms on the market, it can feel overwhelming to try and find one that's right for you. To simplify the search, we tried, tested, and rounded up nine formulas that stood out from all the rest. From a decadent $10 option to a maskne solution to a dewy skin fix, read on for our top cleansing balm picks.

cleansing-balm-John Masters Organics Cleansing Balm with Kokum Butter and Sea Buckthorn

Best for very dry skin: John Masters Organics Cleansing Balm with Kokum Butter and Sea Buckthorn


Whether your skin is thirsty from spending extra time indoors (with moisture-sucking heaters) or you just have naturally dry skin, this formula is the tall drink of hydration you need. It’s packed with oils—like rice bran oil, coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower seed oil, and jojoba—so you know your parched skin is about to soak up some TLC. And it doesn’t just pile on hydration, it also helps you maintain and boost your skin’s current moisture levels with ingredients like sea buckthorn oil and kokum seed butter.

cleansing-balm-Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm & Makeup Remover

Best glow getter: Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm & Makeup Remover


Aside from smelling like the vacation we all desperately need right now, this unique balm is like a mini facial. You massage the dry formula into your skin with dry hands for 30 seconds. Next, add some water to emulsify the product and massage for another 30 seconds. You can either rinse, or reach for your favorite face wash (apply, get foamy, then rinse it all away) for a double cleanse. Papaya enzymes gently exfoliate to improve tone, texture, and radiance, while a cocktail of vitamins, oils, and extracts leaves your skin glowing. 

cleansing-balm-neutrogena makeup remover melting balm

Best late night solution: Neutrogena Makeup Remover Melting Balm


Full disclosure: I stash this in my nightstand along with a washcloth (makeup-removing wipes will do too) for evenings when I literally just cannot get to the sink for a full splash-and-repeat routine. The vitamin E-infused balm breaks down makeup and impurities, leaves skin super soft, and can be wiped-away with a towel or cloth. No water needed! 

cleansing-balm-Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

Best for waterproof makeup: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm 


There’s a reason this balm is in every makeup artist’s kit: It’s the most effective and skin-friendly way to remove layers of makeup—including waterproof mascara. The solid formula quickly melts into a silky oil once you start massaging it into your skin. Makeup and dirt dissolve almost instantly. When you rinse it away, your complexion will feel so hydrated and healthy, you might not even need moisturizer.

cleansing-balm-Peace Out Blemish Balm Cleanser

Best for breakout-prone skin: Peace Out Blemish Balm Cleanser 


Experiencing maskne or hormonal zits? Look no further. Thanks to physical (biodegradable cellulose beads) and chemical (salicylic acid) exfoliants, this skin-clearing balm refines texture, treats pimples, reduces the appearance of pores, and nourishes your skin with a blend of vitamins. And don’t worry, it’s gentle enough to use every day without causing dryness.

cleansing-balm-Chantecaille Rose De Mai Cleansing Balm

Best for a luxurious cleansing experience: Chantecaille Rose De Mai Cleansing Balm


Everything about this balm, from the mirrored rose-gold jar to the perfectly-subtle rose scent, feels like the face-cleansing version of staying at a 5-star hotel. Sure, it’s a serious splurge. But it will last you a while (a little goes a long way) and more importantly, your pampered pores will surely thank you for it. With antioxidant-rich tamanu oils, soothing and hydrating raspberry stem cell extracts, plant-based phytic acid (which gently exfoliates), and a hyaluronic acid blend (to boost moisture), your skin will look refreshed, quenched, and dewy. 

cleansing-balm-Yes To Coconut Ultra Hydrating Coconut Oil Cleansing Balm

Best budget option: Yes To Coconut Ultra Hydrating Coconut Oil Cleansing Balm 


Affordable? Check. Makeup-melting? Check. Skin-quenching? Check. Built-in sponge and sponge storage? Check. Check. There’s so much to love about this balm, from it’s subtle coconut scent to the fun and effective application tool, that we’d happily buy if it were double or triple the price. But luckily, it's not. 

cleansing-balm-Augustinus Bader The Cleansing Balm

Most gentle but effective formula: Augustinus Bader The Cleansing Balm 


Some aspects of this balm are definitely delicate. It’s fragrance-free, irritant and allergen-free, and designed not to disturb the skin’s barrier. But it’s still packed with powerhouse ingredients like TFC8 complex (which uses amino acids, vitamins, and synthesized molecules to stimulate the skin's renewal process), avocado-olive fruit oil complex (to wake up your skin’s natural defenses and minimize the effects of external aggressors), vitamin E to defend against free radicals and moisturize, and plant-based squalane to prevent moisture loss. 

cleansing-balm-Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

Best for softening fine lines and wrinkles: Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm


This lavish balm melts away makeup, clears up dirt, and leaves skin looking plumper, smoother, and well-rested. It’s packed with anti-aging superstars like Padina Pavonica, a unique Mediterranean algae that helps support skin’s structure, and elderberry oil, which contains high levels of essential fatty acids and other micronutrients (super essential for healthy, happy skin). We also love that it comes with a chic cleansing cloth.