Cleansing balm comparison: solution to dry skin and heavy makeup

Just like how you diligently put on makeup in the morning, you need to remember to remove all of it every night. I have long proclaimed my love of cleansing water since it’s no rinse and hydrating AND removes most makeup pretty well, skincare+makeup remover? sign me up! However, if you wear a lot of makeup (foundation/primer) or heavy duty/waterproof stuff, cleansing water may not be very effective or else you need a lot of it. And it’s also approaching fall, when our skin is drier, so why not try a cleansing balm?

cleansing balms

It feels heavy and greasy in the summer, but moisturizing and gentle in colder weather when the skin is dehydrated or irritated/sensitive. It most definitely needs to be rinsed off, you can’t just wipe then go like cleansing water, but it’s also better at removing tougher makeups. While Clinique Take the Day Off balm is my go to for tough makeup, I couldn’t help but eyeing the fancier cleansing balms like Ren Rose Centifolia or Omorovicza. I did a comparison against my toughest makeup and as it turns out, somethings are called “oldies but goodies” for a reason…

All of them are balms that supposedly melts the toughest makeup and hydrates the skin, but let’s look at the claims anyways, from Sephora’s product description page:

  1. Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm ($28.50 for 3.8oz) – “This makeup remover goes on as a solid balm and transforms into a silky oil that effortlessly dissolves makeup and sunscreen. Its non-greasy, non-drying formula cleanses thoroughly and rinses off completely.”
  2. Ren Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Balm ($48 for 5.1oz) – “This rose-infused balm sweeps away impurities, including waterproof mascara and the toughest of complexion products. It leaves skin cleansed, purified, calm, and glowing. It also conditions the lashes and brows.”
  3. Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm ($105 for 1.7oz) – “The Thermal Cleansing Balm removes all makeup (even waterproof mascara), deeply cleanses, and moisturizes the skin. It contains Hungarian Moor mud which contains very high levels of calcium and magnesium carbonates to cleanse and detoxify the skin. “


I compared the 3 cleansing balms and tested them on my heavy duty makeups: Marc Jacob Highliner eyeliner, YSL Ink Fusion foundation and Hourglass Liquid Lipstick. I smoothed the balms over the area and rubbed 10 times. Clinique turned from solid balm to oil once you massage it onto the skin, while Ren is a softer balm in the jar and remained balmy while being massaged onto the skin. Omorovicza is a creamy mud in the jar and on the skin, reminds me a little of GlamGlow. For Ren and Omorovicza, they are IMPOSSIBLE to rinse off and you definitely need to wipe off and cleanse afterward. For Clinique, unless you’ve got super dry skin, I would recommend cleansing afterward, too.


The effect from Clinique is almost immediate. I then waited 10 seconds for balms to melt into the skin, then 40 more rubs. The whole process took less than a minute, probably 30 second since I was doing quick gentle rubs. They all say massage onto dry skin, then rinse/wipe off with water so I wiped them off with a damp/wet cotton pad then patted dry.


From the pictures, you can tell that Clinique work the fastest and really took everything off, followed by Omorovicza, while Ren didn’t really do anything until 30 seconds later when the other balms have already removed most of the makeup. I like the idea of Ren and true, the instruction did say massage for 1-2min, but why do that when you can get it off in <1min with Clinique? While I like taking my time with masks, removing makeup is not really a step I want to spend a long time on. Unless you really are planning on leaving your makeup remover on for minutes at times, I doubt the fancy detox/calming/purifying ingredients will have any effect. And if those effects are what you are looking for, then I feel like a mask applied on clean skin will be much more effective.

Ps. Of course I also tested cleansing water against the balms, where I did ~50 gentle wipes on the first set of swatches (0). While KGD cleansing water was great on foundation, it had some difficulty removing waterproof eyeliner and almost did nothing for the lipstain. I like KGD cleansing water most of the time, but if I’m going all out with makeup (primer, foundation, powder, waterproof eye/lip etc) then Clinique cleansing balm it is.



11 thoughts on “Cleansing balm comparison: solution to dry skin and heavy makeup

  1. Interesting to see how well Clinique worked! I’m a huge fan of Ren, but that’s because I love the smell and I use it when I want to feel pampered. It definitely doesn’t do the trick for nights when I want quick removal. I’ll have to check out Clinique – thanks!

    1. True dat, it does have a nice rose scent, but it’s also kind of hard to remove, for me at least, since I’m paranoid about clogged pores. I’m a big fan of Clinique, do hope you check it out. =D

  2. I use and LOVE the Clinique cleansing balm! It takes 100% of my makeup off in the first try and doesnt irritate and dry out my dry/sensitive skin. I dont use a cleanser after it because when I use cotton pad and toner ( my go to is Thayers Alcohol Free toner) absolutely nothing comes off on the cotton pad. I tried a deluxe sample of the Ren cleansing balm but it left a layer of grease behind after rinsing and didnt feel nearly as pleasant as Clinique. I dont have very much left in my tub….and my Sephora is usually sold out of it >_<

    1. Haha, it is my last line of defense when all else fails. Sometimes I wonder if I sounds like a broken recording raving about it, since I never tried other cleansing balm before, but now that I tried others, I can safely say Clinique it is. It is IMPOSSIBLE get Ren and Omorovicza off without wiping and getting a towel/clothe dirty, and you have to cleanse afterward. More expensive is not always better, even if they look fancier, lol.

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