Cleansing Balms vs Makeup Wipes!

Cleansing is the all important first step of your evening skincare and can really set the tone for the rest of your routine. While there are a few ways you can approach this, whether you use a cleansing balm or makeup wipes is still the cause of much debate in the beauty community. Both offer a range of benefits and drawbacks, so let’s get into it and see which one ends up on top! 

What is a cleansing balm?

Cleansing Balms are typically made of emollient or oil-based ingredients that will help to break down makeup, sunscreen and skincare on the face. The balm is warmed in the fingers until it’s more of an oil texture and then worked into the skin before being emulsified with water and removed with a cloth. It’s typically followed by a water-based cleanser before continuing with the rest of your routine. 

What are makeup wipes?

Makeup wipes are normally a fibre-based cloth soaked in a makeup removing solution or micellar water. They feel damp to touch and can be used straight from the packaging to wipe and remove makeup. Most of the time they are still designed to just be a first cleanse and should be followed by a second step.

Now that we know who our two contenders are, let’s talk about some of the advantages and drawbacks to each method. 

  • Cleansing balms tend to be more gentle on the skin, since it’s the oil that is making contact with your skin instead of a fibrous cloth. This is good news for people with more sensitive skin who may find the texture of a wipe too abrasive. 
  • Your balm or oil cleanser works by dissolving the makeup, using that “oil attracts oil” relationship whereas wipes can tend to be less effective and may result in smearing the makeup instead of fully removing it (ew, no thanks). 
  • The oils chosen for your cleansing balm are typically similar to those that naturally exist on the skin, so they won’t leave the skin feeling stripped. Instead, they often give back to the skin, leaving it feeling soft and nourished. Depending on your makeup wipe formula, it can have the opposite effect and feel quite drying or even stripping. 
  • Wipes provide quite a convenient option for makeup removal, especially if you’re travelling or in situations without access to running water.  They can also be a better option for people who have reduced motor range or dexterity and find the wiping motion easier than navigating a tub of balm. 
  • Both have formulas suited to different skin types, but cleansing balms edge ahead because they go beyond simply removing the makeup to being beneficial for the skin. Acne prone or more oily skin types may see a benefit as the oil from the cleanser can help remove excess sebum and ensure pores don’t become clogged. More sensitive or dry skin types see the benefit in the nourishing and softening effect that the oils have.
  • Using the wipe to remove more heavy duty makeup, such as waterproof eyeliner or mascaras, can results in rubbing and tugging of the skin. This can lead to skin that is sensitised or even irritated, particularly around the eyes – we all know that feeling after we’ve tried a bold cat eye. The oils from the cleansing balm break these down more gently, so you can still wear your statement look without risking damage to the thin skin around your eye. 
  • Makeup wipes are single use and still tend to be made from and packaged in non-recyclable or non-biodegradable materials, which isn’t a vibe in 2023. The tubs or tubes your cleansing balms come in are more easily recycled through a local retailer or even in your curbside collection.    
  • The overall experience of using a cleansing balm feels more like a self-care moment, a little bit of luxe for the everyday and such a great way to start your skincare routine. 

So there you have it – cleansing balms for the win! Whilst there are definitely some situations where makeup wipes can be useful, for your regular routine I’d be reaching for that cleansing balm (ahem, GunkOff Cleansing Balm) every time.