It wasn’t long ago that you couldn’t find any selection of cleansing balms in the drugstore. I remember searching Amazon and only finding a few brands that I’ve since come to love. (Hello Heimish!) But it seems like every day there is a new affordable cleansing balm hitting the market.
While there are some incredible luxury cleansing balms available, today I’d like to shine the spotlight on drugstore brands. These budget-friendly brands have created some products that often rival and outperform their expensive luxury counterparts. So if you are looking for the best drugstore cleansing balm, continue reading for some fantastic options.
MARCH 2021 UPDATE: I continue to test drugstore cleansing balms as brands continue to release new balm cleansers at the drugstore. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for more details on Good Molecules, InstaNatural (an Amazon buy), and e.l.f. drugstore cleansing balms.
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How Do Cleansing Balms Work?
Cleansing balms typically start out as a solid waxy substance, but once they are applied to the skin, they melt and turn into an oil. Once water is added, they emulsify and get to work. They are made to dissolve stubborn face and eye makeup and prep your skin for a second cleanse or the next step in your skincare routine.
While some cleansing balms excel at dissolving eye makeup in a few seconds flat, others treat your skin with their luxurious oils and scents. Here are a few that are readily available from your local drugstore, mass retailer, or Amazon:
The first thing you notice about Heimish All Clean Balm Cleansing Balm is the packaging. It has a flip-top lid so you can store the plastic spatula inside on top of the inner lid. Those pesky spatulas can be very bothersome, but necessary if you don’t want to stick your fingers in the cleansing balm jars.
The ingredients are the real stars in this Korean cleansing balm. Ingredients include: shea butter, coconut fruit extract, lime fruit extract, jasmine extract, daffodil flower extract, rose extract, orange peel oil, lavender oil, grapefruit peel oil, eucalyptus globulus leaf oil, tea tree leaf oil, and bergamot fruit oil.
With such a long list of fragrant essential oils, this could go one way or the other. For me, it works. The scent is relaxing and herbal, like a day at the spa.
The balm turns from a solid to oil to milk with the addition of water. It melts similar to other Korean sherbet cleansers and leaves no trace of oiliness on the skin and easily removes stubborn makeup, dirt, oil, and other impurities. It is my favorite of all the cleansing balms I’ve tried, both drugstore and high-end. Perfection.
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I read that one of these jars is sold every 3.1 seconds. I’m thrilled to see that it is now available in CVS stores in the US. Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm – Original is the original K-Beauty cleansing balm that so many other cleansing balms aspire to be.
This cleansing balm dissolves on the skin into oil and makes quick work of a face full of makeup and rinses away leaving your skin balanced and never feeling tight. Like most of the other cleansing balms, it has a light fragrance. This is a great formulation and I can see why one is sold every 3.1 seconds.
Pond’s Cold Cream Cleansing Balm & Makeup Remover Balm appears to be modeled after some of the popular Korean cleansing balms in regard to its consistency and texture. It comes out of the jar as a white fluffy wax but it dissolves when it comes in contact with skin and works well at removing tough eye makeup.
It should be noted that it is formulated with mineral oil, which doesn’t bother me but may be an issue for some. There is a fragrance that may affect those who are sensitive to scent, although the scent is light. Overall, this is an effective drugstore cleansing balm available at a very reasonable price.
Boots No 7 Radiant Results Nourishing Cleansing Balm is made with No7’s Tri-Vit Complex + Grapeseed Oil. This scented balm has a thick and almost waxy appearance.
This balm does an ok job of removing makeup but tends to leave a residual layer of oil on your skin. This is not an issue for me since I always double cleanse and follow this first step with another round of non-oil based cleansing, but I would give it higher marks if it rinsed off completely. This is probably the drugstore cleansing balm that I like the least.
Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm comes from the same team responsible for Target’s Who What Wear fashion and accessory line. This brand is a clean alternative skincare line, vegan, and cruelty-free. Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm comes in a cute pink jar and it’s a little smaller (2.3 oz) than some of the other cleansing balms I have tried (3.88 oz).
Some of the oils in this formula include eucalyptus leaf oil, clove leaf oil, jojoba seed oil, avocado oil, apricot kernel oil, sclerocarya birrea (marula) seed oil and sesame seed oil. The scent of the eucalyptus leaf oil and especially the clove leaf oil is very strong. Clove oil always seems to dominate whatever formula it is in.
Some may love this fragrance, but it smells quite medicinal to me. The formula melts on the skin and does a great job of removing makeup and eye makeup. After using the entire jar, the scent has grown on me. I love that the clean formula rinses cleanly and really goes to work on dirt and oil.
Related Post: Versed Clean Drugstore Skincare Review
Physicians Formula The Perfect Matcha 3-in-1 Melting Cleansing Balm’s 3-in-1 formula is made with matcha green tea, bamboo shoot, and lotus extract. The title really describes the product to a tee since it immediately dissolves upon application and melts makeup with its soothing green colored formula. The scent is pleasant and clean.
Other notable ingredients include mandarin orange peel oil and lactic acid. The only issue that I have with this product is the size. It is 1.4 oz which seems too small for the price. Some other balms are almost 3x the size and only a few dollars more. Otherwise, the is one of my favorite drugstore formulas.
Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil Balm contains antioxidant green tea and is formulated with 100% natural origin ingredients. It transforms from an oil to a balm to remove dirt, oil, dead skin cells, and other impurities from the skin without stripping the skin.
The first two things that I noticed about this cleansing balm is the color and the scent. It is a green color and has a pleasant herbal scent, perhaps reminiscent of green tea. It is a solid balm but is soft and not difficult to scoop from the tub.
This Burt’s Bees cleansing balm melts onto the skin and removes makeup easily leaving skin feeling clean and hydrated. I find myself reaching for this due to the fresh green scent. After finishing the entire jar, I wish it would rinse more cleanly, as I feel a slight residual layer of the balm on my skin after cleansing.
Related Post: Good Molecules Skincare Review
Neutrogena Maker Remover Melting Balm is a fragrance-free cleansing balm that transforms from a solid balm to oil. It is formulated with vitamin E to dissolve makeup. Like other cleansing balms, it is removed with a damp washcloth to reveal clean nourished skin.
This makeup remover balm easily transforms into oil when applied to your face. It removes makeup well and doesn’t leave much of a residue like other cleansing balms, but leaves your face clean and fresh.
The issue that I have with this makeup remover balm is the size. It is only 2 oz, so compared to some of the other balms that I tested, it is nearly half the size. I think this is the ideal size for travel, but for daily use, it would go quickly. I purchased it for $9.99, so at nearly $5/oz, I will continue to use other makeup remover balms that are just as effective but less expensive.
Derma E Essentials Universal Cleansing Balm transforms into a lightweight cleansing milk to remove makeup, dirt, and oil without leaving the skin feeling dry and dehydrated. It contains rosehip oil to brighten and moisturize the skin.
It also includes camellia oil, which is filled with antioxidant-rich phytonutrients, vitamin A and E. Cocoa and shea butters soothe, soften and improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture. Citrus essential oils tone and balance the skin.
I was glad to see that this cleansing balm includes a small white spatula to scoop out the balm so that you don’t need to use your fingers. The scent is lightly citrusy and not too strong. The balm is soft enough to easily extract from the jar and cleanses leaving the skin moisturized and supple. As with most other cleansing balms, I make sure to follow up with a second non-oil based cleanse to remove any remaining oils.
The instructions note that there are other uses for this balm besides a facial cleanser. You can use it from head to toe as an all-over cleanser, or as a shaving cream. You can also combine it with clay or exfoliants to create a mask. Plus it can be used on the scalp for dryness. Although the 3.5 oz jar is not the smallest I’ve seen, I am only using this cleanser on my face since I think I would use it up too quickly if I were to use it on my body.
The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm is formulated with 3% oat kernel oil to protect the skin’s barrier and reduce blackheads and 1% colloidal oatmeal to reduce redness and minimize irritation.
This cleansing balm is not solid at room temperature so you squeeze the tube to extract the balm which can get a bit messy. It is a thick and rich balm that is well suited for a first cleanse to remove makeup. I definitely need to do a second oil-free cleanse to remove the light layer of residue left after rinsing off this balm.
Since my skin is combination/oily, this balm is not my favorite, but dry skin types may really appreciate the rich formula. This may also be ideal during the cold weather months when the skin is parched and extra dry.
Palmer’s Coconut Monoi Cleansing Balm removes dirt and makeup with coconut, monoi, and sweet almond oils. It also contains shea butter, cocoa butter, and vitamin E. It is formulated with ethically and sustainably sourced Fair Trade Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Coconut oil balances the skin’s moisture levels, monoi oil hydrates the skin and sweet almond oil soothes the skin.
This cleansing balm is formulated to remove dirt, makeup, and other impurities while keeping the skin hydrated. Due to the coconut oil-based formula, removing stubborn eye makeup even is a breeze. This balm cleanser is free of parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, sulfates, and dyes.
This balm cleanser removes makeup easily. Makeup really does melt right off your face thanks to the rich coconut-based cleansing balm. With so many natural ingredients it is somewhat surprising to see that there is added fragrance. The scent is a pleasant mix between floral monoi and coconut oil.
The one drawback for me is the size. It’s only 2.25 oz, so if you use this on a daily basis to remove your makeup, it won’t last long. The price makes up for it though, as it is one of the least expensive cleansing balms that I tried. If you are on a budget, this balm cleanser may be worth a try.
Milani Green Goddess Makeup Melter Cleansing Balm with Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil is formulated with nourishing cannabis sativa seed oil. Derived from hemp, cannabis sativa seed oil will moisturize and calm the skin. It doesn’t contain any CBD or psychoactive THC compounds, but it does have antioxidant properties that will provide anti-inflammatory benefits and protection from environmental aggressors.
The cleansing balm also contains shea butter and squalane for additional moisture and to soothe the skin. It has a custom fragrance blend of bergamot, vetiver, and verbena oils.
The balm turns into a silky oil as soon as it is applied to your skin. When water is added, it turns into a milky wash that easily removes makeup without leaving any greasy residue. Made in Japan, this cleansing balm is 100% vegan and like the rest of Milani’s products, is never tested on animals.
The first thing that I noticed about the light green cleansing balm is the size of the container. Why is it so small? It is only 1.59 oz. It turns out that the size is my only complaint because this cleansing balm has a smooth elegant texture, is effective at removing makeup, and smells divine.
The scent reminds me of my favorite spa. I love opening the lid just to get a whiff! Now all they need to do is double the size (without doubling the price) and this might be better than my current favorite cleansing balm.
New: Drugstore Cleansing Balms Tested in 2021
Good Molecules Instant Cleansing Balm is formulated with sea buckthorn oil, camellia oil, and shea butter to dissolve, makeup, dirt from clogged pores, sunscreen, environmental pollutants, and other impurities. This is a fragrance-free cleansing balm that is gentle on the skin and leaves skin soft and smooth, never dry or feeling stripped.
This cleansing balm even removes waterproof makeup and mascara. It doesn’t leave a weird film on your skin either. This is a great choice for those with sensitive skin since there are very few cleansing balms out there that are unscented.
InstaNatural Rose Makeup Cleansing Balm combines rose and Manuka honey to remove waterproof makeup, dirt, and excess oil. This cleansing balm is also formulated with coconut oil and a variety of plant extracts, including antioxidant Rosemary leaf extract and anti-inflammatory Centella Asiatica.
This cleansing balm feels a little more grainy in texture upon application, but easily emulsifies with water and turns into a milky wash. It has a light and refreshing rose scent.
It feels a little richer than other cleansing balms and leaves skin soft and moisturized and supports the skin barrier. It also soothes irritation and redness. This would be a great option for dry skin that needs a little extra hydration and moisture.
e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm is formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the skin, ceramides (Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, and Ceramide 1) to build the skin’s natural moisture barrier and peptides Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (known together as Matrixyl 3000), to rejuvenate the skin.
The solid balm melts into a silk oil when applied to the skin. Once water is added it becomes milky and easily dissolves makeup, dirt, oil and other impurities.
This cleansing balm feels like a luxury cleansing balm in texture and works just as well as others 2x, 3x or more its price. The one drawback is that it comes in a small 2 oz jar, so it may not last as long as other drugstore cleansing balms.
Please note that this elf cleansing balm has a light fragrance. It would work well as step 1 of a double cleanse, followed by e.l.f.’s foaming gel cleanser Holy Hydration! Daily Cleanser.
Related Post: The Best e.l.f. Skincare Products
Final Thoughts on Drugstore Cleansing Balms
Well, there you have it. An introduction to the fantastic affordable cleansing balms that can now be found in drugstores in the US. I’m sure more cleansing balms will be making their way to mass retailers’ shelves as this product type continues to be popular for removing makeup and cleansing your skin, especially as the double cleanse continues in popularity.
As for the new cleansing balms that I tried in 2020-2021, I like them all, but Heimish All Clean Balm Cleansing Balm still holds the #1 spot for me!
Do you have any drugstore cleansing balm favorites that I should try? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading, and until next time…