As a beauty editor, I've tried my fair share of face cleansers over the years, from makeup wipes to micellar water. Some tugged at my skin (the former) and others didn't quite remove all my mascara (the latter), but I've finally come to find my preferred option: a nourishing cleansing balm, known for melting away makeup without leaving skin feeling stripped or dry.
My first introduction to cleansing balms was as part of a K-Beauty "double cleansing" routine, which involves using an oil-based cleanser (i.e., a cleansing balm) to remove makeup and SPF, then a lathering cleanser and water to remove dirt and sweat. However, I found myself forgetting to (or rather, being too lazy to) follow through with the second step — which is, you know, the whole point. Ever since, I've been on a mission to find my ideal cleansing balm that can do it all in one go.
It was serendipitous, then, when the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm came across my radar. The best-selling skin-care innovation from the London-based beauty brand transforms into three different textures over the course of your cleanse for the most effective wash: a skin-soothing balm, a makeup-melting oil, and a hydrating cleansing milk. It sounded like the perfect cleanser to streamline my routine, so I gave it a go.
After a night out sitting under heat lamps nursing Hot Toddies with a friend (you know, the new Friday night), it was time to put the cleansing balm to the test, and see if it could remove my full face of makeup. I warmed up a pea-sized amount of the lush balm in my hands and massaged into my skin. Working in circular motions around my eye area, I could feel the solid balm transform into a slippery oil as it melted away my liquid liner and waterproof mascara. Next, I splashed some water onto my face and the oil transformed into its final form, a thin cleansing milk.
After patting my face dry, my skin felt noticeably smooth and supple (thanks to hydrating renewing rose and mimosa waxes) — and not tight like a normal cleanser, which would have caused me to panic and run to apply my moisturizer. Most impressively, there wasn't a trace of mascara left behind, and the soothing scent of lavender and eucalyptus lingered on my skin.
Over the next few days, I continued using the cleansing balm whether or not I wore any makeup (since it also breaks down SPF, which is a non-negotiable step in my everyday routine). I've even used it as a 10-minute hydrating mask to give my skin an extra boost of moisture. With the brand-new glow I've been waking up with, it's safe to say this cleansing balm has earned a permanent spot on my top shelf.