As discussed, I am slightly obsessed with skincare. The pinnacle of my obsession, though, is cleansers. Because you need to use creams and serums continuously in order to see an improvement or difference in your skin, I feel that it’s best to stick with the same moisturisers and treatments, only changing them if your skin requirements change too. However, you’re always going to need to take off makeup and clean your skin, which is why I love having as many different kinds of cleansers as possible. At the moment I’ve got a cream cleanser (Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish); a clay cleanser (REN’s ClearCalm Clay Cleanser); a gel cleanser (Clarins’ Pure Gel Melt); and a foaming cleanser (La Roche Posay’s Physiological Foaming Water) on the go. I know that sounds slightly OTT, but I do use them all, according to how my skin feels. If it feels congested or dirty (after a workout or using heavy sunscreen, for example), I reach for REN. If it feels a little dry and in need of comfort, I use Liz Earle. When I want something luxurious, Clarins is my go-to, and I tend to use La Roche Posay in the shower each morning.
The only type of cleanser that I was “missing” was a balm-type cleanser, which is the kind that Caroline Hirons favours. I had avoided purchasing one because, out of the two main cleansing balm contenders, Eve Lom Cleaner is prohibitively expensive (between 40 and 85 POUNDS, depending on the size), and mostly contains mineral oil – I don’t mind mineral oil in a cleanser as you will be washing it off, but I refuse point blank to spend that kind of money on what is essentially Fancy Baby Oil – and the other balm of choice, Emma Hardie Amazing Face Natural Lift and Sculpt Moringa Cleansing Balm (there’s a mouthful), although half the price of Eve Lom and thankfully free of mineral oil, is difficult to get hold of.
So there I was, straggling along, balmless and bereft, until I checked Caroline’s blog this morning and she recommended Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm as a fantastic cleansing balm alternative. I’m a massive fan of the accompanying Take The Day Off Lashes, Lids and Lips makeup remover from the same range, as it’s gentle on the eyes yet one of the few products I’ve found which actually removes gel liner. The Cleansing Balm was €28, making it much cheaper than Emma Hardie’s offering, and better yet, it was available to buy in my local Debenhams. Shur there’s nothing like a bit of instant gratification of a Tuesday…
It wasn’t until I went through my makeup and skincare stash that I realised just how much Clinique I actually use. Their High Impact Lash mascara is one of my favourites, I love their Chubby Sticks (Clinique started the lip crayon craze that every brand from Dior to Revlon, Bourjois to Nars has jumped on), their eye creams and eye serums are gorgeous and, as I said, I’m a massive fan of their Take The Day Off Lashes, Lids and Lips. I think that Clinique is a very underrated brand, but I can understand why. It’s the same price as many high-end skincare and makeup brands, but it feels a lot more, well, clinical. I think most women, given the choice between a fancy, fluffy, fragranced brand and a quiet, assured, does-exactly-what-it-says-on-the-tin brand will choose the former. And who can blame them? This cleansing balm didn’t even come in a box; it was just sitting in its tub on its lonesome alongside the other cleansers. I have to say though, I do admire a brand that doesn’t feel the need to present its offerings in plush boxes, replete with bows and glitter, bells and whistles. To me, plainly-packaged products say, simply and confidently, “I work”.
As you can see, the balm itself looks for all the world like a tub of lard. Mmm, appetising. It is quite solid but easy to scoop out with fingers, and gently melts with the warmth of your skin. You rub a small amount of it together on your fingers or in the palm of your hand, and apply it to your face. As you massage it in it continues to melt until it becomes an oil, swiftly removing all traces of makeup, even waterproof mascara. I then wet my fingertips and continue to massage my skin, as the oil emulsifies to a milk. I like to remove this with my usual face cloth, wrung out in hand-hot water, and splash some fresh water on my face afterwards. It left my skin gorgeously soft, without a trace of makeup remaining. I wasn’t wearing very heavy eye makeup on the day I tried it, but it removed all traces of my blacker-than-black mascara easily. I’m not sure how it would fare with a full-on smokey eye but personally I prefer to remove heavy eye makeup separately beforehand as I don’t like tugging at the delicate skin, or rubbing cleansers in or around my eyes, so it’s not an issue.
I’m looking forward to using this as a pre-cleanse on days where I am wearing particularly heavy makeup, or am just feeling a bit lazy and want a one-step cleanse as opposed to my usual double cleanse. It contains no mineral oil, fragrance or essential oils, so it sounds like a winner for sensitive skin. In addition, it is non-drying, so it’s a good pick for dry skin. I thought that the lack of fragrance would make it feel less luxurious, but the nature of the balm means that it still feels gorgeously luxe on the skin. This is perfect for when you want a no-nonsense cleanser that will just get the job done, and I can see it becoming a staple in my routine.
Have you used a cleansing balm before? Would you be tempted to try one if not? Let me know in the comments!