For skin that starts to freak out once The Big Freeze begins, balm cleansers truly have it all. Thick and unctuous, they come in a solid form that liquifies once applied to the face. They’re then removed (as all cleansers should be, in my opinion) with a hot cloth, leaving skin not only clean, but soft, smooth, and nourished. They’re economical, mess-free, travel-friendly, and exceptionally thorough - ideal for a second cleanse. In fact, (unless you have a very oily complexion), I’d highly recommend switching your cleanser to a balm this winter - your skin will reap the benefits…
Because of their oil content, balms won’t strip natural oils from the skin. Instead, they’ll actually help to restore balance - whether it’s by boosting a dry complexion, or latching onto excess sebum and wicking it away from oilier skin types.
Balm cleansers are all-in-one superheroes - I like to think of them as a four-step facial in one product. They cleanse, exfoliate, tone, and (most importantly, in the winter months) hydrate. Whereas most gel and foaming cleansers will strip moisture from skin (it’s an unfortunate side effect of suds and foam), because balms are rich in oils, they’ll actually add moisture back in. You’ll notice your skin feels soft and nourished, even after removal.
My favourite thing about a balm is that the emollient texture provides the perfect slip for face massage. Applied in gentle sweeping and circular motions that draw from the centre to the edge of the face - this action will help to drain toxins, reduce puffiness, and stimulate circulation in the process.
It almost goes with saying that when it comes to makeup removal, balms are probably the most fast-acting and hardworking cleansers you can find. Even the thickest foundation and stubborn waterproof mascaras don't stand a chance and will melt off in seconds - plus the action of rinsing off with a hot cloth provides a gentle exfoliation that ensures all residue is lifted from skin.
How to use
Typically balms have thick and slightly grainy textures that melt into oil on contact with skin. They also emulsify with water, so the best way to use them is to apply to slightly damp skin. They’re great makeup removers, but I remove the bulk of my makeup with micellar water and cotton pads first, then go in with the balm as a second cleanse. I spend a few minutes massaging it in before rinsing off with a warm, damp flannel. I have sensitive eyes but find that as long as I rinse well, most balms don’t cause me any irritation - in fact they’re exceptionally good at lifting stubborn eyeliner and mascara.
I remember way back when I first started blogging, this was one of those uber-hyped products (alongside Aesop’s Parsley Seed Mask and PIXI Glow Tonic) that everyone owned. Back then I was still in my ‘oil is sin’ skincare phase, so it wasn’t something that appealed to me, but fast forward seven years and I’ve finally jumped on the (long departed) bandwagon and can confess I’m obsessed.
I’ve used this religiously every winter for years and it remains my mission to convert others to the cause. It’s a joy to use (so much so that I do find myself spending twice as long massaging it in as I do with regular cleansers), it removes every trace of makeup, and it leaves skin feeling smooth and soft (without the greasy residue that a lot of cleansing balms leave in their wake). Oh, and it smells absolutely beautiful.