Welcome to Round 2 of The Battle of the Balms! If you haven’t read Round 1, then head over here to catch up.
This time, it’s this super six below who’ve been put through their paces by Mindfood Magpie.
For those who have not read the prelude to this post or need a quick refresher course, cleansing gels or balms are basically a jelly-like or thick balmy substance with a melting formula that transforms into a nourishing oil upon massage into dry skin and then usually transforms again into a milk upon the introduction of water via splashing the face or wetting fingertips and massaging the face again.
They are perfect for makeup removal (though I wouldn’t waste a really expensive one on that unless you’re feeling extravagant and flush!) facial massage, and a thorough clean as they lift every scrap of makeup, grime and daily dirt and it feels lovely, nourishing and like a treatment to boot!
Cleansing Balms are my favourite method of face cleansing and I especially recommend them for dry and mature skins but there are plenty that are good for oily skins (I’ll say so within the individual review if that’s the case) and I really encourage you to at least obtain a sample of a cleansing balm and have a go because it’s revolutionised my cleansing routine and it could do the same to yours.
If you’re in the market for a new cleanser, or are just interested in hearing more about balms, read on…
Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm, £38
We are kicking off this fight with a hyped up contender for the top spot. This is probably the most popular cleansing product of the beauty blogger and this slightly puts me off as I question whether it’s paid product placement (yes I know they have to declare it by law now, but that’s another story). Anyway, it also ignites curiously in me so I was thrilled to be able to finally see whether all the fuss was warranted.
Happily, using this Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm was a joyful experience; It smells divine (vaguely like jasmin, mandarin and oranges so avoid if that’s not your cup of tea) and that makes massaging it in an ever more pleasurable experience. I’d heard literally countless reviews rave about the scent and was intrigued about this more than almost anything else about it because it seemed so universally adored, which is unusual with such a subjective thing and it does smell really lovely – like Lush’s Gorgeous Moisturiser, so if you don’t live near a stockist and are as curious as me about the scent, head into Lush!
The texture is a dream; It is very silky and smooth to apply with not a single fragment of grit within the texture and melts nicely and evenly without any work.
The instructions tell you to add a bit of water immediately and create a milky paste but I preferred to use it as a traditional balm and massage on to a dry face with dry fingers and add the water later. It comes with a lovely quality flannel embossed with the Emma Hardie name, which I appreciate because I like a brand who give you everything you need to follow the directions for use they’re printed on the box. Way too many tell you to use a muslin cloth but don’t provide one, when to be frank, most people only buy muslin cloths after they’ve binged on Mumsnet must-have list threads when they find out they’re pregnant, meaning much of the target audience don’t have the (albeit cheap) tools.
I have been using it on my eyelashes and eyelids, too and it’s very gentle. I haven’t experienced any stinging, even though it annihilates mascara and liner so that’s a huge positive if you want a one-step cleanser without doing a separate eye makeup removal process, which lets face it, is a right pain at the end of a long night.
There’s a substantial number of essential oils in this formula, and even though citrus essential oils often irritate sensitive skin, I haven’t heard of anyone having any issues with this troubling their skin, but do bear in mind if you’re very sensitive to essential oils.
In theory, all cleansing balms are supposed to hydrate – at least compared with traditional cleansing products – but in my experience not all cleansing balms are created to equally hydrate.
This one is in the middle of the squeaky clean- very hydrated spectrum. I have found that the cleansing balm leaves my skin feeling a tiny bit moisturised, although there’s no real residue, but certainly not to the extent I would skip moisturiser.
Now, many (too many, if you ask me. Yes I know… You didn’t) people prefer to strip their skin clean before injecting the hydration and moisture back with skincare products (figuratively injecting, literal injections are for another post), hence the love of foams (always stripping) and suchlike, but I have learnt that you can cleanse thoroughly without subjecting yourself to the damage attached to that squeaky-clean feeling skin. If you are one of the squeaky-clean feel brigade then I can imagine that this might be ever so slightly too heavy for you. There’s definitely a hint of something left behind. As with many of these, I can’t imagine you loving it if you’re extremely oily for the same reason; although the formula is said to purify the skin and minimise open pores.
My skin was soft, supple, and smooth after a cleansing session with this but it wasn’t as soft, supple or smooth (or moisturised) as it is after a few of the other balms on this list.
I think it’s very, very nice but I don’t think it’s quite deserving of its blogosphere/YouTube ‘Holy Grail’ status (unlike the other blogger/vlogger favourite, Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel – keep reading to find out more!) and it’s not one of my absolute favourites but it is on the periphery. Maybe I’m being unfair and I’d rank it higher if it wasn’t so unbelievably hyped up… but at the moment, at this price point, you can get better. Scratch that, you can get better at a lower price point, actually!
Still, I don’t think anyone would be disappointed in this.
Clear as mud, right?!
Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel, £30
Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel is more of a balm than a gel, hence its inclusion in The Battle. It works like most cleansing balms, melting from a balm to an oil when massaged with dry fingers onto completely dry skin before turning into a milky water when you emulsify it with water.
I’ve complained in the previous Battle of the Balms post that the cleansing balm pots and jar containers can be unhygienic (but I love them) and that tube containers sound good but balms are firm and are difficult to squeeze through the hole. This time, I’ve found the perfect solution – a bottle with a pump – easy peasy and clean!
This, like the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm, is another one of the most hyped-up products on the Internet and if you watch any beauty blogger or read any beauty blog then you’ll have heard about it – maybe heard too much about it! For this reason, I was reluctant to try it. As I said before, when every blogger or blogger rave about something at the same time, huge alarm bells ring in my ears, because often there’s a PR campaign attached and they’re being paid to rave review the item so I take it with a pinch of salt, sometimes a handful of salt.
I wasn’t fussed about this, but agreed to try it for the purposes of this post. I am so, so glad that I didn’t miss out on this because every single rave review is completely and utterly well deserved. I think this is just beautiful! I’m annoyed at myself for being such a jaded beauty sceptic.
This cleanser is a sumptuous, juicy, bouncy, gelatinous, pinky-peachy coloured, balmy dream that smells really rosy and delicious. Not typically rosey – it’s sweeter than most rose scents. It’s like your face is being kissed by an angel who has just eaten Turkish Delight. It’s totally the scent doppelgänger of the most expensive Turkish Delight. I don’t even like Turkish delight and this thrills me. (Yes, thrills me. Don’t say I don’t know how to live on the wild-side).
It’s full of ingredients to help resurface, rejuvenate, hydrate and generally brighten the skin. Things like pumpkin enzyme to help cleanse pores and exfoliate dead skin gently and vitamins A, C and E. It has ingredients to protect against free radicals and also to reduce inflammation.
As a makeup remover it’s very efficient and removed heavy makeup without a hint of trouble, or any eye irritation but I like to leave it on for a little longer as a mask, like all good balm cleansers, because it seems such a terrible waste to immediately drain it down the sink when my face would benefit from it being left on.
To rinse it off, you simply add water and it turns milky and washes clean off without the need for a cloth. It’s a good choice for the morning when you’re in a hurry or people who can’t be bothered faffing around with cloths and muslins.
The Renaissance Cleansing Gel is suitable for any skin type so is a great gift. It leaves skin moisturiser but doesn’t leave an oily residue.
If I was to choose any balm that I think would appeal to anyone then it’s this one. Unlike the Emma Hardie I do think this is entirely worthy of the hype and is a heavenly cleansing product, if such a thing exists.
PS. Mitma Magpie/Mother Magpie doesn’t have a single negative on this. From the of hundred-mile–high skincare standards – this is brilliant. She initially did have a negative – “the scent is so delightful I want it to last longer! It doesn’t linger as long as I like”. I suggested her nostrils were just accustomed to it after she’d had it on for a minute and that wasn’t a legitimate complaint, but she’s since found a remedy…. she just keeps pumping more on. She’s practically quadruple cleansing.
I have a feeling I might inexplicably “lose” it soon, to avoid the bottle being empty before the year is out.
Pixi Nourishing Cleansing Balm, £20
I’ll start with the positives. This has a very lovely, fresh rose scent. Mother Magpie loves this scent too. She tells me it’s specifically a “garden rose” smell. I think it’s refreshing and awakening more than relaxing. Completely subjective, as ever with scent, but it’s very nice unless you’re offended by fragrance, rose or both. I love rose, and I do love the aroma of this.
This is also, as the name suggests, nourishing, as it’s packed full of emollients like apricot kernel oil, almond oil, cocoa seed butter and shea butter. A lot of butters, right?! The inclusion of these mean it does feel nourishing to a certain extent and is certainly super effective in lifting and removing makeup from the skin, but you’ll have to wipe this off with a washcloth or muslin because if you don’t you will feel like you have lard smeared all over your face. I like an emollient feel but this more like straight up thick grease so I couldn’t bear not to take it off with a cloth. Even then, I don’t love the feeling it leaves behind and I have dry skin so if it’s too emollient for me then I really don’t fancy its chances of someone more oily.
I will finish this but I think I’ll only ever use it as a first cleanse to remove makeup and then go over with something lighter in texture to cleanse the skin. You can do a good facial massage with this as the texture lends itself well to that process, but I don’t fall in love with the texture.
I wouldn’t particularly recommend this to anyone actually, which is a shame because I like the brand a lot, and I don’t dislike this as such, but there are loads more cleansing balms that just outperform this in every area, in my opinion.
Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter, £10
Housed in a lightweight metal tin affixed with a screw-top lid is this rich cleansing balm with a somewhat waxy formula warms to an oil-like consistency within seconds of skin contact, and the emollient, slippery ingredients work quickly to dissolve and destroy all types of makeup, even long-wearing stains and waterproof mascara quickly and efficiently.
This very much reminds me of the Clinique TTDO Balm in its effectiveness (see the Clinique review here) but is a bit more enjoyable to use because it’s got a fresh, clean, camomile scent.
There is no mineral oil in the Clinique or this one but it does have ingredients that aren’t perfect for acne prone skin and this is quite a greasy rather than creamy feeling balm so I don’t think it will be your best friend if you have an oily skin.
You could use it as a first cleanse if you were wearing really heavy makeup, but you would probably need to go in with something more suitable for your skin as a second cleanse to make sure it was all off and didn’t clog any pores.
Drier skins should be absolutely fine with this.
For such a greasy texture, this has surprisingly good rinse-ability and skin is left feeling soft and smooth without a very noticeable greasy residue, though I think there’s a touch of something left on the skin of you don’t use a flannel or muslin cloth to remove.
It’s a good and reasonably priced option for teenagers, mature women, anyone with drier skin or just looking to have a go with a cleansing balm without a big outlay in cost. There are always deals and discounts in the body shop in store and online so you’ll almost never pay full price for this.
It’s good and I’ll replace this one as my main cleanser if I’m feeling less extravagant (read: poor) or when I’m looking for a first cleanse option. You can buy the eye makeup remover and oil cleanser from this range and gift it as a set (those are both brilliant!) too.
RMK Moist Cleansing Balm, £30
This balm from great Japanese Brand RMK Beauty comes in a what I think is quite a pretty looking pink frosted plastic tub. You flip the lid rather than unscrew it which I found quite handy but the best thing about the packaging is that the little spatula for hygienic scooping out of protect clips into the lid on the inside so I won’t loose it like all the other little spatulas!
The product is a similar shade of pink to the container and it smells of delicious rose.
It’s ingredients include things like grape seed oil and avocado oil to nourish and hydrate the skin, as well as Damascus Rose oil to help repair skin, and with soothing irritation, inflammation and breakouts. It does indeed feel quite soothing on the skin and also on the mind – it’s a very relaxing scent and like lots of these gorgeous smelling balms, helps melt away stress and tension as well as makeup.
It has a very rich, easily melting texture (this melts on the skin before you’ve massaged it in) and this balm works to effectively remove makeup. and leave skin feeling plump and hydrated. As with a lot of these, maybe too hydrated if you’re oily skinned.
I think mature and drier skins will love this.
It does contain mineral oil so if that’s an issue for you, then this is one to avoid.
I really like this. It’s not in my top 5 and doesn’t blow me away, but it’s really nice.
Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm, £48-£84
Omorovicza is the most beautiful brand; total luxury but with a wonderful philosophy based on the proven historical benefits of the mineral-rich healing waters found in Budapest’s thermal spas.
I’m going to jump right in and tell you immediately that, in my opinion, this is a very special product. It does so many good things that I’ll list below but it also just does something indescribable that makes me fall in love with it every time I use it. And I have been using this on and off for about four years. It’s probably my most enduring beauty relationship.
I recently introduced my mum to it and she also loved it, which delighted me and troubled me in equal measure; I’m happy she shares my adoration but I’m going to go through the jar at double the speed!
It’s full of lovely ingredients like Acerola, which is plant based and hugely beneficial to the skin due to its extremely high vitamin C content, as well as copper, magnesium, zinc, calcium, selenium and manganese. All of these combined with technology form Omorovicza’s patented Mineral Cosmetology and are used to great effect throughout the whole gorgeous range to soothe, calm and repair the skin while they neutralise free radicals, support the skin’s infrastructure and promote cell regeneration. The sweet almond oil is moisturising and cleanses without stripping the skin or leaving it tight and the wonderful Hungarian Moor Mud removes impurities and decongests pores amazingly well, in my experience, without drying skin out one tiny little bit – quite a feat for a notoriously drying ingredient like mud/clay.
This balm looks an unusual charcoal shade in the gorgeous glass jar but when you apply it to the face it is more like an ashy grey with blackish areas. It’s a bit counterintuitive to smear something like this on your face but I find it quite pleasing for some reason.
Another pleasing element is the amazing smell (similar to the smell of the Queen of Hungary Mist from the brand – a hydrating spray that I love) but puzzlingly not many reviewers seem to comment on the scent, despite the fact it smells incredibly similar to the Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm (that I’ve reviewed above) which every reviewer seems to obsess over in terms of scent. Strange. Anyway, it smells the same as that, but like a more diluted and subtle version. An Eau de toilette compared to a perfume, if you will.
It’s a great makeup remover but it feels like such a waste to use for that when I want my clean skin to get treated to this. If you do use it for makeup removal, you can take it over the eyes with no irritation or stinging – at least in my experience and my mums. It’s very gentle, but oh so mighty on the cleaning front! It feels like it gives the deepest cleanse but with not a modicum of stripping!
I think this is good (so, so good!) for all skin types.
I take a small amount of the cleanser, you need much less than you think (although I often have to go in and double cleanse with this because I love it so much), dot it around my dry face with dry fingers and proceed to massage it across the skin before rinsing it off with water – or using the muslin cloth or flannel depending on my mood.
This is a glorious cleanser and I could not be more impressed by it. I like everything about it. There are very few cleansers that I’ve ever tried that come close to this one and I have no hesitation in naming it one of my favourite skincare products across the board. My skin loves this and is undoubtedly clearer, softer, more moisturised and happy when I use this. Time After time Omorovicza sells me magic in a glass jar and make me feel like a queen (of Hungary). This is The One.
(You know the drill – I am not completely faithful to cleansers and use more than one consecutively so technically I have more than one products that’s The One… so really this is Another One, or The Two but it doesn’t quite have the same ring does it?).
The Final of the Battle of the Balms will appear soon, but until then, if you’d like to purchase any of these, please click the links below;
Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm: www.spacenk.com/uk/en_GB/brands/e/emma-hardie/moringa-cleansing-balm-MUK200005032.html
Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel: www.spacenk.com/uk/en_GB/brands/o/oskia/renaissance-cleansing-gel-MUK200013165.html
Pixi Nourishing Cleansing Balm: https://www.cultbeauty.co.uk/pixi-nourishing-cleansing-balm.html
Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter: www.thebodyshop.com/en-gb/range/view-all/camomile-sumptuous-cleansing-butter/p/p000186
RMK Moist Cleansing Balm: http://m.lookfantastic.com/rmk-moist-cleansing-balm-100g
Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm: www.cultbeauty.co.uk/omorovicza-thermal-cleansing-balm.html