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.
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Best Drugstore Cleansing Balms
Here are some of the best drugstore cleansing balms by skin type/skin concern:
- Best Drugstore Cleansing Balm Overall: Heimish All Clean Balm
- Best Drugstore Cleansing Balm for Dry Skin: Cerave Makeup Removing Cleanser Balm
- Best Drugstore Cleansing Balm for Oily Skin: Clean It Zero Pore Clarifying Cleansing Balm
- Best Drugstore Cleansing Balm for Sensitive Skin: The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm
- Best Drugstore Cleansing Balm for Aging Skin: e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm
I continue to test drugstore cleansing balms and update this post 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), e.l.f., and CeraVe drugstore cleansing balms.
Here are my thoughts on some of the best drugstore cleansing balms that are readily available from your local drugstore, mass retailer, or online:
1. Heimish All Clean Balm Cleansing Balm
The first thing I noticed 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 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.
Heimish All Clean Balm is my favorite of all the cleansing balms I’ve tried, both drugstore and high-end. Perfection.
With such a long list of fragrant essential oils, this could go one way or another. 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, leaves no trace of oiliness on the skin, and easily removes stubborn makeup, dirt, oil, and other impurities.
Related Post: Heimish All Clean Balm and Foams Review
2. Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm
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 skincare line, vegan, and cruelty-free.
Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm comes in a cute pink jar, and is 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.
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 really 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
3. Physicians Formula The Perfect Matcha 3-in-1 Melting Cleansing Balm
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 name 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. 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.
4. Neutrogena Makeup Remover Melting Balm
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.
5. Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm
Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm is the original K-Beauty cleansing balm that so many other cleansing balms aspire to be.
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.
It contains botanicals, vitamin E, and vitamin C to nourish the skin.
This cleansing balm dissolves on the skin into oil and makes quick work of a face full of makeup, and rinses away easily, leaving your skin balanced and never feeling tight.
Like most of the other cleansing balms in this post, it has a light fragrance.
This is a great formulation, and I can see why one is sold every 3.1 seconds.
Due to the popularity of the Original formula, there are now additional formulas:
- Pore Clarifying: Contains 85% Tea tree leaf extract to clear and tighten pores. Ideal for oily and acne-prone skin.
- Nourishing: Contains ginseng berry, royal jelly, and the highest oil concentration of all Clean It Zero Cleansing Balms for hydration and moisture. Ideal for dry skin.
- Purifying: Contains 7 natural stress-relieving herbs to calm irritation. Ideal for sensitive skin.
- Revitalizing: Contains the most antioxidants to fight environmental aggressors. Ideal for stressed aging skin.
6. Derma E Essentials Universal Cleansing Balm
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 is formulated with rosehip oil to brighten and moisturize the skin. Rosehip oil contains antioxidants that protect the skin from environmental stress and inflammation.
It also contains camellia oil, which is filled with antioxidant-rich phytonutrients, vitamin A and E.
Cocoa and shea butters soothe and soften the skin, 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.
7. The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm
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, making it ideal for sensitive skin.
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.
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.
Related Post: The Inkey List: Budget-Friendly Anti-Aging Skincare Review
8. Palmer’s Coconut Monoi Cleansing Balm
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.
Since it’s only 2.25 oz, 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.
9. Milani Green Goddess Makeup Melter Cleansing Balm
Milani Green Goddess Makeup Melter Cleansing Balm is formulated with nourishing cannabis sativa seed oil.
Derived from hemp, cannabis sativa seed oil moisturizes and calms 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.
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.
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 drugstore cleansing balm.
10. Good Molecules Instant Cleansing Balm
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 mascara and makeup. It doesn’t leave a weird film on your skin either.
This is a great choice for those with sensitive skin since there aren’t many cleansing balms out there that are unscented.
11. InstaNatural Rose Makeup Cleansing Balm
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.
12. e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm
E.l.f. Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting 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: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser: Drugstore Alternatives
13. Cerave Makeup Removing Cleanser Balm
CeraVe has finally come out with a cleansing balm! Designed to offer the effectiveness of a cleansing balm and the comfort of a cleansing cream, Cerave Makeup Removing Cleanser Balm removes long-wear makeup, dirt, oil, and debris while leaving your skin soft and hydrated.
Like other CeraVe products, this CeraVe cleansing balm is formulated with three essential ceramides (Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, and Ceramide EOP) to support a healthy skin barrier and replenish dry skin.
Plant-based jojoba oil is a lightweight wax ester that is similar in structure to the natural oils our skin produces and helps lock in moisture.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect the skin from free radicals and environmental aggressors.
The solid texture melts into your skin and rinses off cleanly without any residue or leaving your skin feeling greasy.
This makeup cleansing balm is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores. It’s suitable for all skin types, even dry, oily, and even sensitive skin types.
It’s also allergy-tested, soap-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, and alcohol-free.
The only drawback is that the jar is SMALL at only 1.3 oz. Directions say to use a pearl-sized amount, but I find that I need to use more than that to fully remove my makeup.
14. Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil Balm
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
15. Pond’s Cold Cream Cleansing Balm & Makeup Remover Balm
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.
Related Post: Drugstore Anti-Aging Essentials For Your Skincare Routine
16. Boots No 7 Radiant Results Nourishing Cleansing Balm
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 a good 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 keep this in mind if you are using this as your only cleanser, especially if you have oily skin.
If you have dry skin, on the other hand, this might provide the nourishment and moisture that your dry skin craves.
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 formulated to dissolve stubborn face and eye makeup and prep your skin for the second cleanse in your double cleansing routine 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.
Cleansing balms are ideal if you have dry skin and need nourishment from the oils in the formula.
You may even like to use a cleansing balm as the first step of a double cleanse if you have oily or acne prone skin, since your second cleanse (water-based formula) should remove any residual oil from your skin.
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 continue to try, I like most of them, 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!
Read Next: Tatcha Cleansing Oil: Drugstore Alternatives
Friday 9th of September 2022
I love a balm cleanser too, sadly when I looked a lot of these up, they're unavailable in the UK. Luckily the Elf one is so I'm going to try this one first. thanks for the recommendations :)
Sunday 18th of August 2019
Great post! I love the Clean It Zero and All Clean Balm. Haven't tried the other ones.
Monday 19th of August 2019
Thank you so much Jen! Can't resist a good cleansing balm. Clean It Zero and All Clean Balm are two of my favorites.