It’s become crystal clear that the realm of K-beauty is a true gem of its own. What with an ever-evolving landscape where its starry idols and model-esque actors—whatever their gender may be—donning the latest in make-up and advocating for emerging skincare. Perhaps your first brush with the scene might have been inspired from the ‘glass skin’ so many of its celebrities and influencers carry. Or the quiet, unspoken understanding that a beauty regime moulded around Asian skin would appease your every worry. After all, from its highly-lauded ten-step skincare routine to the notion of double cleansing, its results have proven unequivocable. And should the latter be one you’re still experimenting with yourself, then the concept of oil-based cleansing balms would have definitely come into your purview.
Cleansing balms, despite not being a K-beauty foray, are considered an essential step in the suit of double cleansing; where an oil-based cleanser is used prior to a water-based one. Although cleansing oils or milks are a possible alternative, much ado has been given to cleansing balms for its all-inclusive properties that cater to a myriad of skin types. Why so, you ask? Whilst dry skin types will have a field day in knowing that balms are ideal for preventing stripping of the skin’s natural hydration levels, individuals with oily or combination skin are also accounted for as these sorbet-like formulations work to keep excess oils at bay.
Moreover, its nourishing ingredient list—think canola oils, tea tree oils, sunflower oils and the like—ensures the easy removal of dirt, grime and heavy make-up without the harsh scrubbing nor loss of the skin’s natural oils. And to package it all up like a dream: its creamy texture makes for an easy melt when rubbed into the skin, hence reducing the need for any make-up remover wipes or cotton pads that can be abrasive for the skin surface (and aren’t kind to the environment, either).
Indeed, the beauty market holds an assortment of cleansing balms to take your pick from. Yet should you be placing your trust in the K-beauty verse, rest assured that you won’t be disappointed. Below, we’ve gathered the best of Korean cleansing balms to try your hand at, all of which are formulated to offer you a luscious rub; effortless make-up removals; and a safe, refreshing cleanse at the end of a long day.
1 / 7
Beauty of Joseon Radiance Cleansing Balm
Now a TikTok-favoured skincare brand, Beauty of Joseon’s Radiance Cleansing Balm is an effective pick for truly ridding your face of make-up and impurities post a full face affair. After coming into contact with water, the translucent formulation melts into a milk-like texture; the baseline for a generous spread across the face with just a tiny scoop of product. With its inclusions of rice seed water and sea buckthorn oil, rest assured that your wash after will not leave your skin feeling stripped of moisture.
Beauty of Joseon Radiance Cleansing Balm, $21.90 for 100ml, available at iShopChangi.
2 / 7
Pyunkang Yul Deep Clear Cleansing Balm
Cult beauty brand Pyunkang Yul has whipped up a clear cleansing balm that is meant to both cleanse and soothe—proving to be exactly what the skin needs after long hours. Once rubbed into skin, it transforms into a milky white texture that easily glides over the skin surface. Combining rice bran, sunflower seed oils and macadamia seed, this make-up removing balm also proves to be hydrating and nourishing for the skin’s barrier, boosted by the inclusions of tea tree and centella asiatica that calms the skin at the same time.
Pyunkang Yul Deep Clear Cleansing Balm, $16.20, available at Hush.sg.
3 / 7
Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm
When it comes to cleansing balms from South Korea, Banila Co’s Clean It Zero is a cult favourite loved by K-beauty enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. Bottled in a tub, the lightweight, sorbet-like texture of the balm transforms into an easy, luscious spread for the mien once massaged into skin. Led by its Zero Balance Technology, each of its variations—catered for all the different skin types—come stocked with an array of hydrating ingredients that work towards a make-up cleanse that doesn’t dry out the skin. And when it comes down to removing waterproof make-up, it’s guaranteed to deliver—without stinging the eyes should you be trying to rub out that stubborn mascara.
Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm, $32.90 for 100ml, available at Banila Co.
4 / 7
Numbuzin’s No.3 Pore & Make-Up Cleansing Balm
Richly infused with green tea and charcoal, Numbuzin’s No.3 Pore & Make-Up Cleansing Balm will provide a thorough removal of make-up and grime at the end of a long day. Its inclusion of green tea helps to clear clogged pores, whilst the latter’s antibacterial properties will aid in reducing inflammation in the process—hence making this pick suitable for more sensitive skin types.
Numbuzin’s No.3 Pore & Make-Up Cleansing Balm, $21.40, available at Yesstyle.
5 / 7
Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm
Glow Recipe’s trusty offering comes in at the highest price point on this list, but it’s also guaranteed to deliver on the multiple fronts it so audibly promises. Starting with its in-name ingredient, the natural enzymes extracted from papaya not only make for a gentle, irritation-free experience—but are also meant to give way to a post-wash glow. The buttery balm is a true dream to apply, leaving the skin feeling plush-soft after. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that its playful orange hue is one that’s undeniably pleasing to the eye.
Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm, $51 for 100ml, available at Sephora.
6 / 7
Medicube Super Cica Exfoliating Cleansing Balm
If you consider yourself to be a proponent of vegan-friendly products, then perhaps Medicube’s latest formulation might be well suited to satisfy your every need. With its herbal infusion of centella asiatica, the make-up removing balm is a reliable option for acne-prone or sensitive skin, what with its anti-inflammatory and non-comedogenic properties. Also working as a gentle exfoliator to clear out blackheads and dead skin cells, this hypoallergenic pick can be assured to give a deep, purifying cleanse at the end of the day.
Medicube Super Cica Exfoliating Cleansing Balm, $35 for 100ml, available at Medicube.
7 / 7
Heimish All Clean Balm
For a gentle, invigorating cleanse, the Heimish All Clean Balm will do the trick. Combining a variety of botanical extracts, nourishing oils and moisturising ingredients such as shea butter and coconut oil, this make-up remover emulsifies into a soft and creamy experience when lightly brushed with water on your fingertips. But for those who are not planning to follow up with a double cleanse after, it would do you well to go in with a damp cloth after, especially if you’re trying to rub away a heavier face of make-up. Considering it is infused with tea tree oil, this particular formulation also carries with it an aromatic, herbal fragrance, although it disappears once washed away with water.
Heimish All Clean Balm, $17.10, available at iHerb.