If you’ve never experienced the joys of a cleansing balm, I can resolutely inform you that you’re missing out. They require a little more elbow grease than their cream and gel counterparts thanks to their richer texture, but they feel ever-so-luxurious, and would always be my first pick to cut through makeup, sunscreen, and all the debris of the day. Quite simply, I cannot be without. I’ve tried more than a fair few in my time, but have whittled things down to the following edit of current favourites that I suggest you try, whether you’re a cleansing balm veteran or category debutant.

The Ultra Purifier – Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm

Brimming with the famed Hungarian Moor Mud they use throughout their range, Omorovicza’s Thermal Cleansing Balm is ideal for a quick deep cleanse if you don’t have time to do a thorough mask, or for problematic skins that enjoy some purifying on a daily basis. While this balm does help clear excess oil, it’s not stripping in the least, thanks to the inclusion of softening sweet almond oil.

This is a gorgeously luxurious formula that belies its affordable price point. It works a treat for both your first and second cleanse, although I’d feel more comfortable using it as my makeup remover than the pricier options where I’d feel they were wasted on dirty skin, as well as the fact that it’s excellent at destroying all traces of makeup. But it’s nice to know it can double up at both stages of your double cleanse too – making it a good option to bring while travelling.

The High Luxury Option – Elemis Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm

The first time I used this product, I actually gasped – the texture is, without hyperbole, divine, and unlike any cleanser I’ve used before or since. It’s a silky, buttery balm that bounces to the touch, the sort of texture that makes it ideal for a thorough facial massage. It’s rich in oils that provide essential fatty acids to the skin, leaving the complexion soft and nourished. This would be my pick as part of an indulgent Sunday night pampering routine, or when you – and your skin – need an instant pick-me-up. It’s a pricey pick, but, as with all balms, a little certainly goes a long way, and a pot of this will last you longer than you might first expect.

The Fragrance-Free Favourite – Dermalogica PreCleanse Balm

I personally don’t have an issue with fragrance in skincare, but I appreciate that many do. But despite my proclivity for gorgeously scented products, Dermalogica’s fragrance-free PreCleanse Balm will always have a spot in my skincare arsenal. As the name suggests, it’s designed for the initial step of your double evening cleanse but I think it works beautifully as a morning cleanser too. It’s gentle but thorough, and, unlike the vast majority of balms that come housed in a pot, you get a handy squeezy tube which I know many prefer.

Eve Lom is credited as having brought cleansing balms into the public consciousness, introducing her then-novel product into a market dominated by old-fashioned cold creams in the 1980s. And, decades later, it’s still a standout of the category, with legions of devotees worldwide. It starts as a slippery balm and quickly transforms into a milk that cuts through grime and makeup seamlessly. Its formula is based in rich botanicals, like clove and eucalyptus oils, making it an obvious choice for drier skins. It comes paired with the brand’s signature muslin cloth, although I personally prefer to use an old-fashioned flannel as I find it retains heat better and makes for a superior cleanse.

I can see this cleanser – which is part of Ren’s suite of rosa centifolia cleansers, each infused with heavenly rose oil – pleasing almost everybody. It does its job excellently, and occupies a mid-point in a category that tends to skew expensive. It has a very faint rose scent that I wouldn’t imagine anyone finding offensive, which I actually think is very pretty. It’s fuss-free and a joy to use.

Darphin’s Cleansing Balm makes for a luxurious treat – crafted with a heady cocktail of essential oils like ylang ylang, rosewood, and sage, its aromatherapeutic fragrance and indulgent buttery texture make it easy to pretend you’re in a gorgeous spa somewhere, even while just going through the motions of your evening skincare routine mid-week.

If you’re after an option free of fragrance, essential oils, and silicones, then this would be my suggestion (for full disclosure, the supposed ‘greenness’ of a product is not part of the criteria I employ to judge a product, but I recognise that it matters to many). This is as beautifully indulgent as you’d expect from Drunk Elephant, and is a versatile, hard-working product, with the butter moniker very aptly describing its divinely soft texture. A favourite feature is the dinky little spoon it comes with for carving out the ideal amount of product – it snaps satisfyingly onto the magnetic lid so it never goes astray.

Story by Tess de Vivie de Régie. Holding shot from Instagram @tinakunakey

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