What Are Cleansing Oils and BalmsSource: FashionStock.com/ Shutterstock

If there’s one skincare category that doesn’t receive as much hype as it’s worthy of, we’d argue that it’s cleansing oils and balms. For some, it seems like a throwaway step — one you can get away with skipping and never know the difference. But the people who actually do take the extra few minutes to first cleanse their skin with an oil or balm end up shouting the product’s praises louder than Kanye West at an award ceremony.

Today we’re discussing what cleansing oils and balms are, why they’re a complexion game-changer, and how to incorporate them into your regimen. We’re also throwing out some of our current stans so you can get straight to shopping.

What Are Cleansing Oils and Balms?

Simply put, cleansing oils and balms are oil-based cleansers that attract dirt and makeup like a magnet. The primary difference between a cleansing oil and a balm is the texture. Oils are liquid and tend to be a little heavier while balms are solids and are generally more lightweight. You can use them interchangeably, but if your skin is on oily side then you may prefer a balm formulation more.

How Cleansing Oils and Balms Fit into Your Regimen

Both cleansing oils and balms should be applied as the very first step in your skincare regimen. The product is applied directly to dry skin (even with makeup on), massaged for a few minutes, and then rinsed away with warm water. (BTW, the products are formulated so that they turn into a thin and milky texture that washes off very easily).

So why start with an oil cleanser? For starters, the oils are superheroes when it comes to breaking down and lifting away dirt, grime, makeup, and product residue. Some people even say they can feel hard sebum plugs being pushed out of their pores during the massage process, which TBH is as gross as it is satisfying. Second, those oils nourish and hydrate the skin, making your face noticeably softer to the touch, more balanced, and more glowy. Cleansing oils are also great for all skin types, even if you’re oily or acne-prone.

After cleansing with an oil or balm, it’s best to follow up with a water-based cleanser like a gel or foaming cleanser. This step whisks away any remaining gunk as well as excess oil for an immaculately clean face. After both steps, skin is brighter, clearer, and healthier — without being stripped — and is ready to drink up whatever products you apply next.

Cleansing Oils and Balms Your Skin Will Thank You For

Ready to try out a cleansing oil or balm yourself? Start with one of these.

1. Banila Co. Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm

cleansing balmSource: Banila Co.

K-Beauty brand, Banila Co., was one of the first to bring cleansing balms to the forefront of modern-day skincare. In fact, a tub of their Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm, $27, is sold every three minutes. The sherbet-like balm is a hypoallergenic formulation that’s approved for all skin types and features a range of skin-nourishing botanical extracts.

2. Neutrogena Ultra-Light Face Cleansing Oil

Neutrogena Cleansing OilSource: Neutrogena

If a cleansing oil is more your thing, try Neutrogena Ultra-Light Face Cleansing Oil & Makeup Remover, $7.50, an unscented and non-comedogenic formula that’s dermatologist-tested. A single pump is all you need, and it rinses away like a dream with zero greasy residue left behind.

3. Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

cleansing balmSource: Then I Met You

Esthetician and founder of Soko Glam, Charlotte Cho, debuted a double-cleanse kit in early 2019 that’s been met with rave reviews from skincare experts and beauty editors across the board. You can buy the Then I Met You Cleansing Duo (a cleansing balm and a gel cleanser) or just the Living Cleansing Balm, $38, on its own. The balm is made with nutrient-dense seaberries, persimmon extract, olive oil, and grape seed oil.

4. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

DHC cleansing oilSource: DHC

For an oil that’s a bit richer, try DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil, $28. The product has been a steadfast staple in the Japanese brand’s lineup and has even reached cult-favorite status among skincare junkies. It’s formulated with olive oil, rosemary leaf oil, and vitamin E to nourish, hydrate, and balance the skin while cleansing.

5. Rodial Pink Diamond Cleansing Balm

Rodial Pink Diamond Cleansing Balm

Infused with nourishing vitamin E and diamond powder to brighten and even the complexion, the Rodial Pink Diamond Cleansing Balm, $59, removes all traces of makeup and dirt from the face while hydrating and conditioning the skin. The addition of rice germ oil helps to repair and calm the skin as it boasts anti-inflammatory properties while also helping to combat oily skin. It smells amazing and leaves your skin feeling SO soft!

Do you guys use a cleansing oil? If so, which is your fave? Let us know in the comments below!