17 cleansing balms that easily dissolve stubborn make-up and water-resistant SPF

Cleansing balms are a firm favourite across Stylist’s beauty team. Here are our favourite ones on the market.

Be honest: how long do you spend on your cleansing routine?

Throughout the day, our skin is exposed to multiple daily stressors, such as pollution and free radical damage. Add to that the dirt and sweat that builds up over the course of the day, bacteria from touching our faces, SPF and make-up (suddenly feel the urge to wash your face?); it’s fair to say that cleansing is one of the most important steps in any skincare routine.

As well as cleansing your skin to get rid of grime, a good cleansing regime will also provide you with a good base for the rest of your skincare products to work even harder. Because what’s the point in applying retinol if your face hasn’t been cleansed properly?

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Best cleansing oils for all skin types: the soothing formulas that remove make-up, sebum and dirt

Across the Stylist team, we’ve tried countless types of cleansers, from foams and creams to milks and gels. While your preference can differ depending on your skin type and personal preference, there’s one type we all unanimously love: a nourishing cleansing balm.

These solid-to-oil formulas are highly effective at breaking down even the most stubborn of make-up formulas. Plus, their slippery textures are perfect to aid a nightly facial massage – which is handy, as dermatologists stress you should take at least one minute to really clean your face per cleansing session. Not to mention that fact that we should all double cleanse at night.

Thankfully, cleansing balms only continue to grow in popularity, meaning there’s a wide range of clever formulas. Here, we round up the options that leave skin clean but not stripped, nourished but not greasy and feeling incredibly soft (just don’t touch it after).

  • Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm

    A booming K-beauty brand from South Korea, Glow Recipe has released multiple products that have gone on to become viral winners. 

    This tangerine-coloured cleansing balm is packed with active ingredients like vitamin A, vitamin C, papaya seed oil, enzymes and extract to increase the suppleness, softness and brightness of the skin. It’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin and people who wear contact lessons. They really did think of everything.

    Shop Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm at Cult Beauty, £29

    buy now

  • UpCircle Cleansing Face Balm with Apricot Powder

    An award-winning cleansing balm, UpCircle created it as an ideal first cleanse, meaning you use it to remove sweat, make-up, SPF and environmental pollution from your skin. 

    Finely ground almond powder helps to repair and refine the skin’s appearance and texture while sea buckthorn oil, blue tansy and blackcurrant seed soothe, calm and moisturise. 

    Shop UpCircle Cleansing Face Balm with Apricot Powder, £18.99

    buy now

  • Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

    One of skincare expert Caroline Hirons’ favourite products, this vitamin E and fatty acid-rich formula works to improve the healthy functioning of the skin barrier, lift away particles of pollution and make-up and mitigate damage caused by free radicals in the environment. 

    Shop Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm at Cult Beauty, £37

    buy now

  • AlphaH Melting Moment Cleansing Balm

    An Australian-made cleansing balm that helps with dryness, dehydration, oil regulation and excess shine, Alpha H has blended Australian wild orange leaf extract, sandalwood seed oil and grapeseed oil to thoroughly cleanse the skin without compromising the health of the skin barrier.

    Shop AlphaH Melting Moment Cleansing Balm, £34.95

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  • Youth To The People Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm

    With a heavy emphasis on superfoods and the benefits they can provide when used in skincare, Youth To The People created a whipped velvet-textured cleansing balm enriched with hydrating and plumping hyaluronic acid, as well as soothing, reparative prickly pear extract. 

    Shop Youth to the People Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm at Cult Beauty, £31

    buy now

  • Cultured Biomecare Biome One Cleansing Balm

    One of the most important elements of healthy skin, the general health of your microbiome is just as important as the functioning of the skin barrier. Fortunately, Cultured Biomecare caters for that. 

    A liquid cleansing balm, it helps to fortify and strengthen – mitigating the effects of pollutants and irritants (like dust) – as well as rejuvenate tired and stressed-out skin. 

    Shop Cultured Biomecare Biome One Cleansing Balm at Cult Beauty, £32

    buy now

  • Revolution Skincare x Sali Hughes Butterclean Makeup Meltdown Cleansing Balm

    Part of the collaboration between beauty editor Sali Hughes and Revolution Skincare, this cleansing balm is praised for not leaving eyes cloudy or skin-tight, instead, it promotes supple, hydrated skin, melting away even the most stubborn of make-up. 

    Shop Revolution Skincare x Sali Hughes Butterclean Makeup Meltdown Cleansing Balm, £15

    buy now

  • Augustinus Bader The Cleansing Balm

    The instantly identifiable luxury skincare brand that’s scattered across the bathroom shelves and bedroom side tables of celebrities and the great and good, Augustinus Bader’s cleansing balm is a buttery, restorative option to dissolve make-up and condition skin. 

    An avocado-olive fruit oil complex, squalane and vitamin E nourish and soften, while the patented signature TFC8 Complex helps to renew and revive the skin. 

    Shop Augustinus Bader The Cleansing Balm at Cult Beauty, £58

    buy now

  • Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

    A cult product and a firm favourite across the Stylist beauty team, Clinique’s Take The Day Off Balm does just that. Scoop a 10p-sized amount into your hands and massage it over dry skin. The balm will sweep away make-up, as well as dirt, oil and SPF.

    Shop Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm at Lookfantastic, £25

    buy now

  • Elemis Pro-Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm

    Elemis’ Pro-Collagen cleanser has long been a favourite of beauty aficionados, but when it released a rose-scented version, it took the beloved product to a whole new level. While the Shea butter and sweet almond oil formula work just as well at removing impurities, the gorgeous scent leaves you feeling refreshed and relaxed.

    Shop Elemis Pro-Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm at Lookfantastic, £44

    buy now

  • Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser

    Free of essential oils, silicones and fragrance, this cleanser can be used around the eye area, too. It contains antioxidant-rich fruit extracts that activate on the skin once it comes into contact with water. Rinse away the milky formula and you’ll be left with clean, glowy skin.

    Shop Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser at Cult Beauty, £29

    buy now

  • The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm

    Where to start with this cleanser? It contains colloidal oatmeal and ceramides to soothe and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier. Meanwhile, oat kernel oil works as an antioxidant to fight against damaging environmental factors. Massage a small amount to dampened skin and watch your make-up melt away. Once it’s washed off, your skin will feel smooth and supple.

    Shop The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm at Feelunique, £9.89

    buy now

  • Beauty Pie Plantastic Apricot Butter Cleansing Balm

    Cold-pressed rosehip seed oil, apricot butter and vitamin E make this cleanser a pot of pure skin nourishment. Ideal for those with drier skin types, it breaks down any signs of make-up and gets rid of dirt with minimal effort.

    Shop Beauty Pie Plantastic Apricot Butter Cleansing Balm at Beauty Pie, £14.03 for members, £50 for non-members

    buy now

  • Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm

    A facial in a tub, this Emma Hardie cleanser has a thick formula that decongests skin and leaves it feeling plumper. It also contains orange, neroli, mandarin, jasmine and rose essential oils that work to calm the senses while you massage your face. Dreamy.

    Shop Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm with Professional Cleansing Cloth, £47

    buy now

  • Eve Lom Cleanser

    Another spa-like formula, Eve Lom’s offering contains four aromatic plant oils (clove, eucalyptus, hops and Egyptian chamomile) to cleanse without drying or stripping your skin.

    Shop Eve Lom Cleansing Balm at Lookfantastic, £48

    buy now

  • Farmacy Green Clean Make-up Meltaway Cleansing Balm

    Is your skin feeling dry or stressed out? Give this cleansing balm a try. It contains moringa tree extract to neutralise dirt and pollutants, while a blend of lime, bergamot and orange essential oils leave you and your skin feeling revived.

    Shop Farmacy Green Clean Make-up Meltaway Cleansing Balm, £32

    buy now

  • Wishful Clean Genie Cleansing Balm

    A great option for your first double cleanse, this cleansing butter contains green tea extract to diminish impurities, while malachite stone works as an antioxidant and shields skin against pollutants. Plus, the formula truly does feel buttery on the skin but doesn’t leave it feeling greasy.

    Shop Wishful Clean Genie Cleansing Balm at Feelunique, £31

    buy now

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