If you’re like me, you apply primer under your foundation and finish your routine with a few spritzes of setting spray. In-between, you use long-lasting products like Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation, Stila Stay All Day Bronzer and Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in Place High Cover Concealer. The end result? Makeup that doesn’t budge for hours but can really be a pain to remove when you want to.
Enter the makeup melting balm.
Though they aren’t new, makeup melting balms are definitely experiencing a surge in popularity. Clinique’s Take the Day off Balm has been around for years, and Pond’s Cold Cream--which works in much the same way-- has been a medicine cabinet staple for much longer (my grandmother used it, and my mother does too.) Cold cream, by the way, is an emulsion of water and fats like beeswax that dates back 2,000; it’s thought to have been invented by Galen, a physician in ancient Greece.
But whether you are considering reaching for that trusty jar of Pond’s or one of the newer, more indulgent products on the market, you may be asking yourself the same question I am: do I really need to use this, or is my cleanser good enough? I turned to beauty expert and makeup artist Alexis Arenas of The Beauty Expert Group to see what melting balms can do for you.
“Cleansing balms are a familiar friend to people who have drier or sensitive skin, but they are definitely best buddies with those of us who wear long wearing makeup--especially some of these new mascara formulations that are difficult to remove,” she says. From her experience, people tend to fall into one of two camps: those who think a cleanser needs to foam to really work, and others who are okay with rubbing a cream onto cheeks, chin and forehead and wiping it off.
Arenas says, “If you can get on the no-foam wagon I would definitely try a balm--not only will you get beautifully clean skin, but balms are now made chock full of exciting and therapeutic ingredients that work long after the product has been removed.”
Okay, that all sounds lovely. I mean, who doesn’t want luxuriously silky smooth skin? But adding oils to my skin that may hang around after I tissue them off sounds like something I should restrict to the cooler months, right? Not so, Arenas declares. Anyone except those with acne-prone skin can benefit from the balms--oily skin can actually be a symptom that your skin is dehydrated.
If you do go the balm route, it should replace any other cleanser you are using--foaming or otherwise. Work it into your skin until it liquifies, then remove it with a muslin cloth, tissue or towel to whisk away dirt, dead skin cells and impurities. (And fans of makeup wipes will have an easier transition, as a balm’s wipe-away process is pretty similar yet yields way more benefits.)
Ready to start slathering? Here are some makeup melting balms to try:
IT Cosmetics Bye By Makeup 3-in-1 Cleansing Balm ($38): Formulated as a cleanser, makeup remover and anti-aging serum and developed with plastic surgeons, this is a sulfate-free formula with deep-cleansing extracts and botanicals. Arenas swears by products from this company. “IT Cosmetics can do no wrong in my book, they keep coming out with excellent products that work and this is no exception.”
Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm ($29): Lightweight and fast-working, this balm transforms from a solid until an oil when you apply it. “A classic--this is fab for anyone with allergies or sensitive skin, [as it’s] fragrance free and works!”
Pixi Nourishing Cleansing Balm ($20): Rich and luxurious, this product deep cleans and nourishes with sweet almond oil, shea butter and vitamin E. “Delicious smelling and a fraction of the cost of other balms--you get the best of both worlds: a luxurious treat, and kind on your wallet!”
Darphin Aromatic Cleansing Balm ($45): Marula oil, sage, ylang ylang and rosewood essential oils give this balm a luxurious fragrance and work to entrap impurities, nourish and relieve tightness. “Oh my gosh, Darphin makes the most fabulous stuff--I love how this smells and works.”
Urban Decay Meltdown Makeup Remover ($24): This balm from the edgy makeup company has sea fan extract to combat inflammation, beta carotene and gatuline in-tense revitalize collagen production, and raspberry seed, kukui nut and oat oils moisturize.
Palmer’s Coconut Oil Cleansing Balm ($7.95): Ethically- and sustainably-sourced coconut oil and Tahitian monoi oil are infused with tiare flower petals. “This [is] a silky smooth ride for your makeup off your face--awesome price point and a great product!