best cleansing balms 2021

These 9 Cleansing Balms Will Wipe Away the Day and Keep Your Skin Soft

Including picks from POND'S and Drunk Elephant.
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Finding the best beauty products has never been easier thanks to Pia's Picks, our weekly curated list. As the Senior Beauty Editor at HelloGiggles, I test and examine the latest skincare, makeup, hair, and nail products so I can confidently recommend the best ones to you.

The first step toward achieving clear, healthy skin is cleansing. We daresay it's even more important than wearing sunscreen every day and applying moisturizer—which you still should do—because for your skin to thrive, it needs to be cleansed of daily debris and buildup. And while there are a dime a dozen cleanser on the market, one of our favorite types of formulas are balms. Unlike exfoliating cleansers or more traditional formulas, cleansing balms feel more nourishing on the skin. Plus, the ritual of massaging a balm into your skin gives you a few extra moments of zen and self-care, which we could all benefit from right now. Below, the best cleansing balms of 2021:

1. Best budget cleansing balm:

POND'S Cold Cream Cleansing Balm

This isn't your mother's POND's cream (although let's be real, that stuff is awesome)—this is the new generation of cleansing balms. It has the same texture as the OG but can also remove makeup with a simple massage of the balm-to-oil formula.

2. Best luxe cleansing balm:

Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm & Makeup Remover
$32.00
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Sephora

Wrap up your days by massaging and melting away your face, eye, and lip makeup with this rich and moisturizing balm. For this product, Glow Recipe blended soothing papaya seed oil, antioxidant-rich blueberry extract, and exfoliating papaya enzymes to melt makeup away while gently exfoliating the skin of dead skin cells and lingering pollutants. We love it so much, we gave it a 2021 Beauty Crush Award.

3. Best acne-clearing cleansing balm:

Banila Co Clean It Zero 3-in-1 Cleansing Balm
$22.00
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Ulta

Looking to keep blemishes at bay but also want the benefits of a nourishing cleansing balm? Look no further. This formula uses an alpha-hydroxy (AHA), beta-hydroxy (BHA), and lipohydroxy acid blend to exfoliate the skin and clear out clogged pores.

4. Best makeup removing cleansing balm:

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

All of IT COSMETICS' products were formulated and developed to work on even the most sensitive of skin types, and this cleansing balm goes up and above by providing even more benefits than just working for all skin types. This balm will melt all your heavy-duty makeup and sunscreen, including waterproof formulas, without stripping your skin of essential moisture. It uses a proprietary concentrated softening serum to maintain your skin's softness and nourish it, all while helping to cleanse your skin of all impurities.

5. Best anti-aging cleansing balm:

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
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Amazon

If you're looking to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, check out this cleansing balm, which uses luxurious oils that make cleansing your skin feel like a high-end ritual. It contains elderberry flower, algae, and starflower to boost the skin's natural collagen production. And since it's a balm, you won't be tugging at the skin around your eyes, which can speed up signs of aging.

6. Best K-beauty cleansing balm:

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
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Soko Glam

Integrate a bit of K-beauty into your skincare routine with this expert-approved balm. The formula is rich in softening sea buckthorn oil (which Gwyneth Paltrow and Kourtney Kardashian are currently obsessed with), nourishing vitamin E, and moisturizing olive oil.

7. Best sustainable cleansing balm:

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm
$34.00
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Sephora

Melt away the day with this refreshing balm. It uses a mix of papaya extracts, sunflower seed oil, turmeric, and ginger root oil to gently exfoliate and nourish the skin. In addition to having an incredible formula, it comes in a jar that's 100% recyclable.

8. Best nourishing cleansing balm:

Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
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Sephora

Made with moisturizing fruit extracts and nourishing oils from marula and baobab seeds, this milky cleansing balm melts into the skin like butter—hence the name—and delivers on its promise to wipe away the day and leave skin feeling supple. 

9. Best lightweight cleansing balm:

CLINIQUE Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover
$34.00
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Sephora

For those looking for a cleansing balm that doesn't feel heavy on the skin yet has the same performance as others on the market, this lightweight formula is for you. Despite having a less waxy formula, it still has a non-greasy feel and dissolves long-wear makeup.