We put Then I Met You’s Living Cleansing Balm to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Does it stand the test of time? Keep reading to find out if our editor is still using this balm about a year after trying the product for the first time.
There are few products I gush about to everyone in my immediate vicinity, and Then I Met You’s Living Cleansing Balm is one of them. This balm’s buttery, addictive texture makes it enjoyable to use, it feels like a warm hug for your face, and it cleanses your skin without leaving it feeling greasy—or worse, with that too-tight feeling. In short: I might never use another cleansing balm again (strong words from a cleanser-obsessed beauty editor). Read on for my honest review.
Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
STAR RATING: 4.8/5
BEST FOR: All skin types
USES: Removing makeup and cleansing your face
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Sea buckthorn oil, persimmon extract, vitamin E
BYRDIE CLEAN: No. Contains PEGs.
ABOUT THE BRAND: Then I Met You is a skincare brand by Charlotte Cho, who also founded Soko Glam, the online marketplace for Korean beauty products.
About My Skin: Combination with some stubborn breakouts
My skin type is combination, with pores and dark spots being my main concerns. I had acne as a teenager, but my skin has been smooth… at least, up until recently. For whatever reason, over the past few months, my skin gifted me with perpetual random-but-stubborn breakouts. As a result, I’ve been using a lot more clarifying, acne-focused skincare products than usual.
However, I’m a firm believer in not putting sulfates on my face, so I still choose to use hydrating, gentle cleansers, even if the rest of my products are more skin-refining and breakout-focused. I like cleansers that are overachievers in the sense that they’ll remove my makeup completely and cleanse my skin without making it feel dry or tight. I’ll double-cleanse some nights if I’m feeling ambitious, but usually I like one cleanser to do it all.
Ingredient Quality: Antioxidant-rich but not Byrdie-clean
The first two ingredients of this cleansing balm are olive oil, an antioxidant with anti-aging anti-inflammatory benefits, and grapeseed oil, an antioxidant-rich emollient with vitamin E. The balm also contains sea buckthorn oil—which, according to a 2017 review, has skin regeneration and repair properties—and persimmon extract, meant to brighten skin and prevent premature aging. Also, the brand promises that this product is free of artificial fragrances, instead getting its refreshing scent from rosewood oil and grapefruit peel oil.
This product is vegan, cruelty-free, and formulated without mineral oil, alcohol, silicone, parabens, and artificial coloring. However, it still doesn’t classify as clean, according to Byrdie’s Clean Beauty Pledge, because it contains PEGs. An acronym for polyethylene glycol, PEGs are on our list because the process of making them involves ethoxylation, which produces 1,4-dioxane as a byproduct. According to the National Toxicology Program, this compound “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
However, PEGs may be considered safe for cosmetic use if the company confirms that the contaminants have been stripped. When we reached out to Then I Met You to confirm this, a spokesperson for the brand didn’t confirm directly but offered, “Any PEGs used for Then I Met You’s Cleansing Balm are safe ingredients (EWG 1-3) and our manufacturer confirms its safety for cosmetic use.”
The Feel: Like warm butter
The texture of this product is what makes it so incredibly special. It’s thick without feeling heavy, and it has a bright golden hue. It has the consistency of margarine, but in a good way. To me, there’s something weirdly addicting about the feel of it.
To apply this product, I scoop it out with the included blue spatula—the brand recommends a dime-sized amount, but I usually opt for a scoop that’s slightly larger than a quarter—and apply it to my face. As I massage it into my skin, it melts into a luxurious-feeling oil. I’ve tried other cleansing balms where you really have to work to soften the product into your skin, but this one melts on contact. Honestly, this balm could take me out on a date, shower me with compliments, then ghost me—and I’d still sing its praises. I’m that obsessed.
The Scent: Satisfying citrus
The cleansing balm has an uplifting, warm, sunshine-y scent—a light, not-too-overpowering citrus. It makes me happy whenever I use it.
The Results: Instantly clean skin
This cleansing balm yields instant results. Namely, it removes makeup and leaves my skin feeling clean. Other cleansing balms require you to remove with a muslin cloth, or follow with another cleanser. Then I Met You recommends that you pair the Living Cleansing Balm with the brand’s Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel, but I find that most of the time, my skin feels clean already without having to double-cleanse.
Another thing I love about this cleansing balm: I’ve tried so many similar products, and almost all of them leave a thin film of oil behind—but not this one. Overall, it makes arguably the most boring part of my skincare routine the one I look forward to the most.
The Value: Worth It
I always try to think about a product’s price before recommending it to friends—only because I vividly remember my pre-beauty editor days when I would buy most of my makeup at the drugstore and have to think long and hard before shelling out anything over $30.
This cleanser might seem on the pricier side at $38 for a tub, but it lasts forever. You only need a small amount per use, and its texture allows it to melt into an oil as you work it into your skin. Plus, cleansing is one of the most important steps in your skincare regimen; if your skin isn’t properly cleansed, then all the expensive serums and moisturizers you slather on probably won’t work as well—so it’s important you find one that works, like this one.
Similar Products: Still a standout
Eve Lom Cleanser: This beloved balm cleanser is another favorite of mine. Then I Met You’s version is a lot lighter-feeling than this one, though, and its smell is much less intense. Plus, because Lom’s version retails for $68, Then I Met You’s version is much more affordable.
Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Original: The texture of this hypoallergenic cleansing balm is similar to Then I Met You’s version, although retails for significantly less ($19). However, I think the higher-quality and naturally sourced ingredients in Then I Met You’s version make it worth the price.
Interested in reading more reviews? Check out our list of the best makeup removers.
Our Verdict: Yes, buy it.
Then I Met You’s Living Cleansing Balm the perfect cleansing balm if you prefer a light, buttery texture that melts into an oil and doesn’t require a cloth to remove. Plus, it gets rid of makeup in one go and left my skin feeling as soft as a baby’s bottom. I still use it frequently, more than a year after trying it for the first time.
Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
Zielińska A, Nowak I. Abundance of Active Ingredients in Sea-buckthorn Oil. Lipids Health Dis. 2017;16(1):95. doi:10.1186/s12944-017-0469-7
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 1,4-Dioxane in Cosmetics: A Manufacturing Byproduct. Updated August 24, 2020.