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5 of the best cleansing balms

Discover our pick of the very best cleansing balms that dissolve make-up, cut through sunscreen and eliminate dirt, dead skin and more

During the day our skin is subject to the onslaught of dirt, debris, and pollution, on top of makeup, sun protection, and for some, excess oils. This makes our nightly cleanse incredibly important, as removal of all of the above is needed to keep pores clear, preventing breakouts and even premature ageing. But when it comes to what kind of cleanser to pick, one that thoroughly removes sunscreen and makeup is a must.

Why? because free radicals ‘stick’ to them during the day, giving the skin more to do at night – think fighting their effects on top of its general nightly repair duties. Over time it’s all this free radical exposure that leads to the breakdown of collagen, the stuff that keeps our skin smooth and firm.

Cleansing balms are the workhorses of cleansers; solid and oil-based, they melt on contact with the skin and turn milky with water, breaking down makeup and sunscreen while sending dirt and dead skin cells packing down the sink. Formulated with oils, waxes and emollients, despite the misconceptions (namely that oily, acne prone skin types can’t use them), there is a perfect balm for everyone, and these are some of our favourites…

The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm

Formulated with nourishing oat kernel oil, this balm dissolves makeup and sunscreen with ease. And thanks to the humble oats' anti-inflammatory properties it’s a winner for sensitive skin types.

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm 

A mix of sea buckthorn, olive and grapeseed oil pack this balm with a major antioxidant punch to counteract the free radicals the skin is exposed to. It removes makeup and more, and elevates the experience by way of sensorial notes of rosemary, persimmon and grapefruit.

Eve Lom Original Balm Cleanser

This hero balm is loved the world over (despite its unusual smell) thanks to its 5-in-1 status. It cleanses, hydrates, tones, removes makeup, and exfoliates when used with the muslin cloth it’s sold with. It’s also as versatile when it comes to the skin types it suits. Egyptian chamomile and cocoa butter soothe and nourish sensitive and dry skin; anti-inflammatory hops oil quells inflammatory skin conditions, while eucalyptus and clove oils combat blemishes.

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Cleansing Balm

Designed with stressed skin in mind, this balm enriched with coconut-derived fatty acids plus omega-rich jojoba and meadowfoam seed oil cleanses the skin without disturbing its all-important barrier. Unlike most balms this one comes in a tube for ease of use, but just like all our other favourites it melts on first contact with the skin, and leaves skin soft and supple on rinsing.

111skin NAC Y2 Restorative Cleansing Balm

This turns balms on their head as this one has a gel-like base, despite it containing lots of sunflower seed and soybean oil. It’s designed to suit even the most sensitive of skins and at the heart of the formula is the brands' unique NAC Y2 complex, made from three antioxidant-boosting ingredients to promote and facilitate collagen and elastin production, as well as nixing the damage of environmental aggressors. Plus a combination of three Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) that act as a gentle exfoliant, removing the top layer of dead skin cells and rosemary hydrolat, an antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps to soothe and calm irritation, reduce redness and hydrate.

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