The Best Drugstore Cleansing Balms of 2022

Don’t spend $60 on a high-end cleansing balm! These drugstore dupes are just as amazing.

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Roundup of the best drugstore cleansing balms

If you follow any beauty influencers or just keep up on what’s new in the skincare world, you’ve heard of cleansing balms by now.

As opposed to liquid cleansers, cleansing balms are rich, buttery cleansers that come in a tub and transform into a liquid when you mix them with water. They’re known to be extremely effective at emulsifying makeup and removing thick products like sunscreen with ease.

The best part is, cleansing balms do all of this without stripping the skin, so they get your face clean while also keeping it moisturized.

You may have seen influencers raving about high-end balms like the Elemis Pro-Collagen Balm and Charlotte Tilbury’s Multi Miracle Glow. While I’m sure those products are amazing, they’re also upwards of $60 a jar — a little out of range for most of us.

Not to worry, though: there are some amazing cleansing balms out there that don’t cost a fortune! Here are the best drugstore cleansing balms that have a high-end feel with a low price tag.

5 Best Drugstore Cleansing Balms

1. Neutrogena Makeup Remover Melting Balm

Neutrogena is a famous skincare brand that almost all of us have used before. They know how to make good cleansers that you’ll buy and re-buy again. Their Makeup Remover Melting Balm is no exception.

This product does what it claims, removing dirt, oil, and makeup without stripping skin. With a simple list of ingredients, this balm is fragrance-free and perfect for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

  • Skin Type: All skin types
  • Scent: Unscented
  • Product Size: 2 oz
  • Key Ingredients: Vitamin E
  • Cruelty-free? No

Recommended For: If you just want to try a cleansing balm and are looking for something you can find at your local drugstore or supermarket, Neutrogena’s balm is a great choice. It works great to dissolve dirt and makeup, plus it’s suitable for all skin types and is unlikely to irritate your skin.

The only drawback is that the brand is not cruelty-free, so if you’re an animal lover like me, skip this one. (Don’t worry, there are three awesome cruelty-free options listed below!) Also, not that this product can leave a greasy feel if you don’t follow it up with a second cleanse.

Pros:

  • Easy to find at any store including the grocery store
  • Softening and moisturizing
  • Works for all skin types including sensitive skin
  • Fragrance-free

Cons:

  • Not cruelty-free
  • Can leave a greasy feeling on the skin (best to use as step 1 of a double cleanse)
  • Needs to be wiped off with a towel to fully remove

2. Ponds Cleansing Balm

Ponds is another trusted brand that you’ve probably used before. Your grandma probably used their cold cream to remove her makeup, and now you can clean your face with their Cleansing Balm, 2022’s version of that classic product.

If you wear a lot of makeup or just want a cleansing balm that will remove absolutely all traces of product from your face, the Ponds balm is incredible. It melts away sunscreen, long-wear foundation, and waterproof mascara in seconds.

  • Skin Type: All skin types
  • Scent: Lavender
  • Product Size: 1.5 oz and 3.38 oz sizes
  • Key Ingredients: Shea Butter, Cacao Butter, Sweet Almond Oil
  • Cruelty-free? No

Recommended For: When it comes to serious makeup removal, you can’t beat the Ponds Cleansing Balm. It removes even the most stubborn products in just a few swipes. It’s also super moisturizing, thanks to ingredients like shea butter and sweet almond oil, so it’s great for skin in need of hydration.

Once again, the big drawback here is that the product isn’t cruelty-free. If you don’t need major makeup removing properties, other products may be a better fit. Also, this does contain fragrance and is not available in a fragrance-free formulation.

Pros:

  • Amazing at removing stubborn makeup — the most effective for makeup of any product on this list
  • Comes in two sizes so you can have one for travel and one for home
  • Even removes thick sunscreen
  • Does not leave a greasy feel on your face

Cons:

  • Not cruelty-free
  • Contains fragrance
  • Expensive at $15.99 for the small size
  • Needs to be wiped to be fully removed

3. Shea Moisture Even & Radiant Raw Honey 3-in-1 Cleansing Balm

I’ve always been a huge fan of Shea Moisture products, so when I found out they made a cleansing balm, I ran out to try it! Turns out, it’s just as amazing as everything else in their lineup.

The Shea Moisture Even & Radiant Raw Honey Cleansing Balm applies like a thick butter but quickly emulsifies into an oil that removes dirt, oil, and makeup. After rinsing, it leaves the skin feeling super hydrated thanks to moisturizing ingredients like Coconut Oil, Raw Honey, and Shea Butter.

  • Skin Type: Normal to Dry
  • Scent: Almond
  • Product Size: 3.2 oz
  • Key Ingredients: Raw Honey
  • Cruelty-free? Yes

Recommended For: If you have dry skin, this is the cleansing balm for you. It contains a whole host of moisturizing ingredients to lock in hydration. It’s effective at removing makeup and sunscreen, but it won’t leave your skin feeling dry or tight. However, if you have oily or combination skin, this balm may be too richly moisturizing for you.

As a bonus, this product is cruelty-free, sustainably produced, and ethically traded (hallmarks of the Shea Moisture brand). Plus, you get a large amount of product (3.2 oz) for your money, so this will last you longer than the other balms on this list.

Pros:

  • Ultra-moisturizing and hydrating; never dries out skin
  • PETA certified cruelty-free
  • Ethically traded and sustainably produced
  • Safe to use on eyes (no burning)
  • Fragrance-free
  • Relatively inexpensive for how much product you get (3.2 oz for $11.99)

Cons:

  • May be too thick and moisturizing for combination and oily skin types
  • Can leave a filmy feeling on the skin for a few minutes after rinsing

4. e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

e.l.f. Cosmetics never ceases to amaze me with their product quality, especially for the low prices they charge. And they definitely keep up with the beauty trends! So naturally they have a cleansing balm, and naturally it’s amazing.

In contrast to some of the other balms on this list, the e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm contains a host of skincare ingredients that go beyond just cleansing the skin. These include hyaluronic acid for hydration, ceramides to build skin’s moisture barrier, and peptides to reveal a fresh complexion.

Effectiveness-wise, it does its job as a cleanser, removing makeup and dirt with ease and rinsing completely clean — no residue or film with this one.

  • Skin Type: All skin types
  • Scent: Unscented
  • Product Size: 2 oz
  • Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Ceramides, Peptides
  • Cruelty-free? Yes

Recommended For: If you have oily, combination, or sensitive skin and don’t like the feeling of residue on your face, the e.l.f. cleansing balm is fantastic. It removes makeup and dirt really well and has excellent moisturizing properties without feeling greasy or filmy. Plus it’s cruelty free!

As far as drawbacks go, the product size could be larger. At just 2 oz, it’s tied with the Neutrogena balm for the smallest amount of product on this list. You will go through this stuff fast, so that’s a consideration when purchasing.

Also, if you have very dry skin, I’d skip this one. It rinses completely clean which is great for oilier skin types, but it doesn’t leave anything behind to moisturize the driest skin.

This product does contain fragrance, however it’s free from ingredients like phthalates, parabens, nonylphenol ethoxylates, triclosan, triclocarban, and hydroquinone. It’s also sulfate-free.

Pros:

  • Extremely gentle and doesn’t strip skin (suitable for all skin types including sensitive)
  • Even removes stubborn waterproof mascara
  • Rinses clean with no residual greasy feeling
  • Certified cruelty-free and vegan

Cons:

  • Does contain fragrance despite being “unscented”
  • Small product size compared to most of the other balms on this list (just 2 oz)
  • May rinse too clean for the driest skin types

5. W7 Peachy Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

As someone who doesn’t react to fragrance in skincare products, I love when a face wash smells really amazing. W7’s Peachy Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm is one such product. It has a lovely light peach scent that makes washing your face that much more enjoyable.

Beyond the nice scent, my favorite thing about this product is the price point — it’s just $6.50 for 2.46 oz, making it the least expensive balm on this list.

  • Skin Type: All skin types
  • Scent: Peach
  • Product Size: 2.46 oz
  • Key Ingredients: Mineral Oil
  • Cruelty-free? Yes

Recommended For: If you want to try a balm without spending a lot of money and you enjoy scented products, this is the best drugstore cleansing balm for you! It’s extremely affordable for how much product you get, and a little goes a long way so it will last you a long time.

Effectiveness-wise, this is on par with all of the other cleansing balms on this list. It removes waterproof makeup when mixed with water and leaves behind a sweet peach scent.

The only drawback is that it doesn’t always rinse completely clean and does tend to leave a residue. I recommend using this as step 1 of a double cleanse routine.

Pros:

  • Smells really nice if you do like scented products — it has a light peach scent that isn’t overpowering.
  • At just $6.50 for 2.46 oz, it’s the least expensive product on this list.
  • Cruelty-free and vegan
  • Removes waterproof makeup and sunscreen well

Cons:

  • Does contain fragrance; not suitable for skin that’s sensitive to fragrances
  • Can leave a residue if not rinsed really well or followed up with a second cleanse
  • Not all drugstores carry W7 products

What do you think of our picks for the best drugstore cleansing balm?

For more cleanser recommendations, see our guide to the best drugstore cleansing oils.

Have you tried a cleansing balm before? Would you use a cleansing balm from the drugstore or will you be sticking to high-end products? Tell me what you think in the comments down below.

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