Cleansing Balms Are Oil Based - Here’s Why

Cleansing Balms Are Oil Based - Here’s Why

What is a Cleansing Balm?

A Cleansing Balm typically has a solid or balm form which melts into an oil when warmed on the skin and emulsifies into a milky liquid once you add water. Balm cleansers are the perfect first cleanse to remove makeup, SPF, pollutants and impurities that might be on the skin. A balm texture is perfect for those with drier skin types as it doesn’t strip the skin of any further oils and protects the skin’s barrier with the nourishing oils. What most people don’t know is that balm textures are also great for oilier skin types as oil attracts oil, meaning it helps to remove any excess oil on the skin.

In this article:

Are Cleansing Balms Oil Based?

Cleansing balms are oil based. Both balm and oil cleansers are formulated with many of the same natural oil-based ingredients. They work by dissolving excess sebum, makeup and other impurities, leaving skin clean and ready for a second cleanse. The major difference between cleansing oil and balm is the texture. With an oil you need to use a lot more product and it can feel greasy on the eyes. Whereas with a balm it is an efficient way to remove make-up and eye makeup. A little goes a long way.

Benefits of Using Cleansing Balms

Deep Cleanse

Cleansing balms are the perfect first step cleanse in your pm cleansing routine or your am cleanse. These products are designed to be used as the first step in your double cleansing routine, followed by your skin-specific cleanser treatment for your specific skin type.

A good cleansing balm will melt away make up at the end of the day.

Kind to skin

Unlike surfactant-based cleansers (those which foam up), cleansing balms are non-irritating and won’t dry out your skin, compromise its moisture barrier, or disrupt its pH balance.

Moisturising properties

Since they’re packed with oils, balm cleansers are incredibly nourishing and moisturising, leaving skin feeling soft and smooth. Cleansing balms effectively remove traces of sunscreen, make-up, pollution and impurities without stripping natural oils. Balms also leave skin feeling soft and supple after cleansing.


Unlike cleansing oils which tend to be thin and runny in texture (and can end up all down your arms and over your bathroom!), balm cleansers are much less messy, so product doesn’t get wasted.

What is Cleansing Oil?

A cleansing oil is an oil-based face wash. Generally cleansing oils are used to clean the face day and night. Oil makes a great cleanser because it can easily remove stubborn makeup, waterproof sunscreen, oil and dirt, much better than traditional water-based cleansers. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you may think that putting oil on your skin would make it worse, but oil based cleansers are great for oily and acne-prone skin types and they can actually help with oil production and acne.

Pros and Cons of Cleansing Oils


  • Easier to use and more hygienic because you’re not contaminating the product with your fingers
  • More variety of cleansing oils on the market than cleansing balms
  • Cleansing oils can be used as a makeup brush cleaner
  • Cleanses skin effortlessly (you don’t have to work as hard to massage the product in) and rinses off easily
  • Fastest option. Cleansing oil is arguably the fastest makeup-removal method.


  • Can be messy because they are so runny
  • Depending on the formulation, cleansing oils can feel like you’re putting straight up oil on your skin and leave an oily residue behind
  • Fewer benefits. The formula rinses away by design so you don’t get an extra layer of treatment
  • Not great for travel. With liquid formulas, there’s always a chance of spills.

Oil Based Cleansing Balm FAQs

Do I Need to Use An Oil Based Cleaner?

We’re advocates of double-cleansing, a method of cleaning your face twice. You use a cleansing balm first to break down any makeup and excess oils from the day. Then, a treatment based cleansing product can further clean your skin, whilst addressing skin concerns with ingredients to hydrate, smooth or exfoliate or treat blemishes. Added bonus? Double-cleansing will assure that any treatment and moisturisers you use afterward is not done in vain. They’ll sink right in. If you’ve got clogged or enlarged pores, acne, blackheads, oily or very dry skin, then you might really benefit from double cleansing.

Are Cleansing Balms Good for Oily Skin?

The first question that people ask when first discovering oil based cleansers is “won’t it make my skin more oily?”. The answer is no, a cleansing balm definitely won’t make your skin more oily (unless you’re over-cleansing of course). The reason for this is that the oils in your cleansing balm actually help to pull oil-based impurities from your pores. And oil-based cleansers won’t leave an oily residue as they contain emulsifiers (surfactants), which when you apply water to your face (after you’ve massaged your oil cleanser into your skin), help to dissolve the oil cleanser and rinse it off your skin without leaving any oil behind.

Cleansing Balm vs. Cleansing Oils

Cleansing balm vs oil: what’s the difference and which should you use? Both cleansing oils and cleansing balms use oil to attract and dissolve makeup, sunscreen, dirt, oil and bacteria from the skin. Once you add water, the cleanser emulsifies and rinses clean, removing all impurities from the skin. One is not more effective than the other – they do the same thing. So how do you know which one to use? It’s really down to personal preference.

SKINICIAN Cleansing Balm 
£29.00 / €36.00

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