I didn't always consider skincare to be the most crucial part of my beauty regimen. On the contrary, just three years ago, I could barely be bothered to run a makeup remover wipe over my face on most evenings. My complexion—which has always been relatively acne-free—was perfectly passable, and at 22, I frankly didn't care either way. I now know that in actuality, I simply hadn't experienced what it meant to have great skin. But then a luscious, sweet-smelling balm made its way onto my desk and swiftly changed all that.
The product, of course, was Eve Lom's cult-fave Cleanser ($80). I had heard the hype, and soon enough, what started as a passing curiosity evolved into a full-fledged addiction. But while the formula itself was the perfect solution for my hopelessly dehydrated skin, the most remarkable element actually involved the muslin cloth it was packaged with. The box came with instructions on a multi-step process involving steaming and massaging the balm into my face before wiping it all away. I wasn't just (finally) using a proper cleanser—for the first time, I was engaging in the ritual of skincare. And I was hooked.
It was the first step on the road to my current, fairly nuanced approach to my skin. I take a lot of care in selecting the right products and ingredients for my skin type, and—would you believe it?—I'm particularly obsessive with cleansing every morning and night. And though I've experimented with many different formulations, I've found that most cleansers dry out my skin or leave it with that awful "tight" feeling—save for balms and creams.
So while I always go back to my beloved Eve Lom, I have come across some other really great, (almost) comparable cleansing balms in my travels. Before diving into exactly what those formulas are, I will say that the first step of getting the cleansing balm regimen right is to invest in some muslin cloths—don't skip it. The routine is simple and truly worth it:
- Slather on your cleansing balm.
- Soak your muslin cloth in hot water, and then hold it over your face for a few seconds.
- Remove the muslin cloth from your face, and begin to lather and massage the cleansing balm with your fingers. (The moisture from the steam will help it lather.)
- Run the muslin cloth under hot water again, and hold it over your face for a few seconds.
- Repeat steps three and four, and this time, gently wipe away any residual cleansing balm with the muslin cloth.
The cloth doubles as a facial steamer and a gentle exfoliant, and it really does make a world of difference. While many cleansing balms are packaged with cloths, you can also purchase them in bulk on Amazon.
As for the cleansing balms to use with the cloths, keep scrolling to see some of the best ones I've tried.
1. Eve Lom Cleanser
The aromatic, painstakingly crafted blend of botanical oils is what makes this formula so special—it gets deep into pores and removes every last bit of grime while also leaving the skin feeling incredibly hydrated. It's truly the best of both worlds and worth the hype, especially for those of us with dry skin.
2. Darphin Aromatic Cleansing Balm
I find the scent of rose to be very cloying more often than not, but Darphin does it well with this luscious (and prettily packaged) balm. The texture is thicker than that of Eve Lom, almost like a salve—just add water to make it milky-smooth.
3. De Mamiel Restorative Cleansing Balm
Whether it's due to the sleek black packaging or the heady floral scent, I feel very French whenever I use this incredibly luxurious balm.
4. One Love Organics Skin Savior Multi-Tasking Wonder Balm
What can't this beauty balm do? Thanks to its incredible versatility as both a heavy-duty moisturizer and superior eye makeup remover—not to mention its ridiculously addictive tropical scent—it has taken up permanent residence in my vanity for years.
With balms that are multipurpose, buying a travel sized version and storing it in your handbag is a great way to keep your skin hydrated throughout the day.
5. True Botanicals Clear Nourishing Cleanser
Though its texture more closely approaches a thick cream than a balm, this lovely cleanser does the same kind of work: It efficiently sloughs off dirt and dead skin cells, all without ever stripping your skin of its natural moisture.
6. Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Miracle Cleanser
Another option for those who prefer luscious creams to heavy balms, this product really is miraculous, from its heavenly eucalyptus-laced scent to its skin-brightening capabilities. (The secret? Probiotics.)
7. Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
Reserve this heavily concentrated option for your driest days—in my experience, it's a great antidote for dull, hungover skin.
8. Grown Alchemist Hydra-Restore Cream Cleanser
Because my skin is so prone to dryness, I'll often forego a full-fledged cleansing in the morning in favor of a quick rinse with micellar water or toner. This creamy formula also makes for a great gentle option.
9. Sunday Riley Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm
With its infusion of blue tansy and chamomile, the gorgeous balm is your secret weapon to calm and soothe the day's stresses away—at a surface level and beyond.