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9th February 2016

Demystifying skincare: The cleansing balm

Beauty Editor Millie Kershaw explains why it’s time to ditch the makeup wipes and embrace oils in your skincare regime

Various problematic episodes with my exceptionally dry skin means I have had to adapt my skincare regime as my face becomes gradually less tolerant to the stuff I put on it. If you too are unfortunate enough to have itchy eczema around your eyes, you will understand the plight of finding makeup remover and cleansing products that don’t make you grit your teeth as your skin screams in protest.

A bit of trawling through beauty blogs and a considerable amount of trial and error led me to a product that works: The indisputable holy grail of anyone’s bathroom cabine, the cleansing balm. I will recommend cleansing balms to anyone who will listen, or indeed to anyone who whips out a satanic, alcohol-ridden makeup wipe in my vicinity.

Cleansing balms may seem a bit alien at first.  It feels so thick, so oily… Is it a moisturiser? Will this wash off properly? In response, cleansing balms cleanse you skin very effectively, all the while being nourishing instead of stripping. Apply a cleansing balm onto dry skin and it will dissolve all the makeup and the remains of the day’s residue. Next step: Flannel. Buy them in bulk from your nearest Primark or budget-friendly equivalent so you’ve got enough for a week of face washing (no one wants a dirty flannel) and run one under hand-hot water before applying it to your oily face. First of all, you’ll feel like you’re in a spa (or on a long haul flight when they give you those teeny tiny hot towels) and moreover, a few gentle swipes will get rid of that facial muck in a trice.

Not totally convinced? If you, unlike me, have no qualms about an insufficiency of moisture or are of the oilier persuasion, this is not a satisfactory excuse to steer clear of oily skincare. Oily skin plus oily product may seem like the recipe for a spotty explosion, but fresher products like wipes or cleansers that produce a lather are not the magic ingredient for oily skin types (contrary to the opinions of many brands in the industry).

The reason for this is quite logical when you give it some thought. In basic, humanities student language, foaming cleansers inevitably include surfactant, alkaline chemicals in their ingredients list. These chemicals, such as Sodium lauryl sulphate are pretty corrosive (you’ll also find them present in household detergents and engine degreasers) and, at the cost of making your skin feel clean and grease-free, they strip your skin of its natural oils, which will in turn only encourage more oil to be produced to compensate. All in all, quite counter-productive.

Leave the squeaky-clean lathers to your shower gels and washing-up liquids and try one of these cleansing balms instead:


Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm

£38 for 100ml from Space NK

Photo: Space NK


No7 Beautiful Skin Melting Gel Cleanser

£9.50 for 100ml from Boots (only £4.50 if you get one of those handy £5-off vouchers)

Photo: Boots

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