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Beauty Wars: Do Cleansing Balms Actually Do the Job?

We put five cleansing balms to the test, in the thick humidity and heat of the tropics no less. Should you make the switch?

Cleansing balms are polarising. If you’re one for double-cleansing routines, chances are, you might’ve dabbled in them. To the unacquainted, here’s the low down. An oil-based cleanser is typically the first step of any double-cleansing routine and cleansing balms are essentially that. They are the buttery formulas that melt on your skin and as you massage it in break down the layers of makeup and dirt built up throughout the day. The best ones get all the makeup out with ease, even the stubborn waterproof stuff without stripping the skin of moisture.

Double duty agents, cleansing balms come in handy when the temperatures dip outside or if your skin type falls on the dry end of the spectrum. But that’s not to say that if you live in the tropics, cleansing balms are entirely off the counter for you. It might take your skin some adjusting but you’d be surprised at the difference a moisturising balm makes. We’ve put five to the test in the thick of heat and humidity of the tropics and here’s how they fared.

Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm

We here at Team Kulala are no strangers to Glow Recipe. We’ve tried and tested an extensive lineup from the range – our impartial opinions here. While some faired better than the others, we didn’t find anything particularly life-changing…until now. The cult K-beauty brand’s Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm takes the cake as its most impressive product offering by far. We would go a step further to decalre this as our favourite cleansing balm of the moment. It left our skin feeling baby soft and moisturised. You might argue that most cleansing balms have the same effect but trust us when we say Glow Recipe’s formula takes it to a whole new level. It also did a really stellar job of removing all traces of makeup, even the stubborn waterproof stuff. Plus, the natural enzyme’s in papaya act as a gentle exfoliating agent that clears up your complexion. While most cleansing balms are the first step in our double-cleansing process, we don’t necessarily feel the need to follow up with a second here. If the Korean glass skin is what your skincare dreams are made of, you’d be a step closer to living it with Glow Recipe’s Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm.

Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

If you were to look at the ingredients list of Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, it’s a very straightforward formula with only nine ingredients.  That’s not to say it’s a member of the clean beauty category but with a simple formula, you know exactly what you’re getting. It’s a no-frills, scent-free cleansing balm that does the job. The balm, when massaged onto the skin, melts into an oil that quite literally takes the day off your face. With this one, you don’t have to worry about that irksome, filmy residue that some cleansing balms tend to leave behind even after you’ve spent way longer than you should trying to rinse all the product off your skin. Did it do a decent job at getting rid of our makeup? Yes. Does it do anything else for the skin? No really.

Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm

After all we’ve read about it prior and the fact that it’s a clean beauty offering, we were ready to be Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm converts. When applied, it melted from a balm into oil and eventually a milky lather that gave off a fresh, lime scent. As much as we wanted to fall in love with this cleansing balm, it, unfortunately, wasn’t the fairytale ending we were expecting. It was a real deal-breaker given that the balm didn’t do very much to remove our eye makeup off. We were left with panda eyes that we eventually scrubbed off with a second cleanser. A real pity though, save your coins on this one.


Starskin Orglamic Celery Juice Healthy Hybrid Cleansing Balm

Coined a hybrid cleanser, Starskin’s Orglamic Celery Juice Healthy Hybrid Cleansing Balm is a formula that’s meant to cleanse but with the added benefits of skincare. With a base of celery juice and sunflower seed oil, the balm also boasts added ingredients like tea tree and rosehip oil. In theory, it’s supposed to keep your skin moisturised and supple but the formula ended up being far too oily for our liking. While it did do a decent job at removing the makeup, we couldn’t ignore the residue that basically left us feeling like we had to wash our fash again, maybe twice over. On to the next!

Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser

As its name suggests, this isn’t your regular cleansing balm. It’s a butter cleanser. What this means is that the formula is heavier than that of the usual suspects. Just as its name suggests, it does melt onto the skin like butter disintegrating traces of makeup from your day. If you suffer from oily skin or live in a part of the world where it’s sunny all year round, this super nourishing formula might be a tad too heavy for your skin. There’s a possibility it might break you out. However, if you’re on the opposite camp and your skin is crying out loud for hydration, we’d say this just might be your match.

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