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Are cleansing balms better at makeup removal than cleansing oils?

lifestyle / Columns
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Glossed in Translation

Are cleansing balms better at makeup removal than cleansing oils?

/ 12:58 AM December 04, 2015

Multi-awarded Korean makeup and skin-care brand Banila Co. launched this week with CEO Chang Soo Kim and chief makeup artist Kangpil Kim flying in to Manila for the occasion.

During his makeup demonstration, Kangpil Kim relayed a concern he noticed among the Filipina models: Almost all of them seem to have dark circles around their eyes, but these weren’t caused by sleep deprivation. Rather, they were the effect of improper makeup removal.

“So we asked the models, ‘How do you cleanse your heavy makeup?’ And they said,  ‘Oh, we just wash it off with water and soap, or we just use eyeliner remover,’” he says. “But that doesn’t always cleanse it properly. You should never erase makeup using just water.”


At that point, he decided to demonstrate how to use Banila Co.’s Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm, which is so popular in Korea that one jar is sold every 4.8 seconds.

I rely on varying product lines to remove my makeup, depending on my mood. If I still have the energy to do my full skin-care routine at night, I use Shu Uemura cleansing oil. If I’m beat, I crash on my bed and reach for Bioderma Sébium H20 micellar water and cotton pads, which are conveniently propped on my nightstand. I moisten the pads, wipe my makeup off, then call it a night.

But for traveling, my favorite product to pack is a cleansing balm. Makeup wipes still have a tendency to tug at your skin and can sometimes evaporate because of the dry cabin air on the plane. Cleansing balms are light, don’t spill and are really easy to use.

Though not as common in the market just yet, cleansing balms work just as effectively as cleansing oils when it comes to makeup removal. Just scoop out a small amount using a spatula, warm with your hands so the sorbet-like texture turns to liquid, then massage on a dry face.

Here are three of my top picks:

  1. Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm

This award-winning product is a No. 1 seller in Korea with several beauty bloggers raving about it. It is formulated with papaya extracts that exfoliate dead skin cells and vitamin C to brighten your complexion. This cleanser is also available in three more variants in addition to the classic formulation: Clean It Zero Purity (for acne-prone skin), Clean It Zero Resveratrol (for mature skin), and Clean It Zero Radiance (for dull, dry skin).

After massaging on your face, simply wipe off with a moist towelette, which is what Kangpil Kim chose to do onstage. But if you have access to a sink, you can wash it off with water as the formulation emulsifies when wet.

Available at the Banila Co. store in Glorietta 4, Ayala Center, Makati City.


  1. Tony Moly Aquaporin Sherbet Cleanser

This is the first cleansing balm I tried. Though less solid than the Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm, this product thoroughly removes makeup just as well. Designed to hydrate skin while removing impurities, it also moisturizes with oils from fruits and flowers, such as lavender, bergamot, geranium and chamomile.

Its humectant ingredients help bind moisture to the skin, allowing skin to hold more water weight than it could on its own, making it appropriate for women of all ages and skin types. It is also massaged on a dry face and removed with water or a moist wipes.

Available at Tony Moly stores in SM Makati and SM North


  1. The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter

If you prefer more natural ingredients or have sensitive skin, try using this product from The Body Shop. Formulated with chamomile, it gently yet effectively removes makeup without irritating skin or the eyes of contact lens users.

The company’s Community Fair Trade chamomile essential oil and water come from a collection of family farms that are part of the Norfolk Essential Oils (NEO) located in The Fens of East Anglia, United Kingdom. The chamomile flowers grown are freshly cut, steamed and distilled at the farmyard. Through the sale of essential oils and floral waters, nine traditional English farms continue to remain in business today.

After massaging on skin, rinse off with water or remove with a wet muslin cloth for a more thorough cleanse.

Available at The Body Shop stores nationwide.

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TAGS: Banila Co., Chang Soo Kim, Cleansing Oil, Fashion & Beauty, Kangpil Kim, Preen
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