First Cleanse Recommendations: 6 Cleansing Balms I Love (& 2 I Don’t!)

Today I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite first cleanse recommendations. If you’re new to skincare, you might be thinking “first cleanse? There’s more than one cleanse needed?” Well, yes and no. You don’t always need to use more than one cleanser, but after a long day of wearing sunscreen and makeup I think a double cleanse ensures you go to bed with a clean, clear face. The first step in a double cleanse is usually either a cleansing balm or a cleansing oil. Personally, I don’t love cleansing oils and almost exclusively use cleansing balms. So, let’s get into the ones I love (and a few I absolutely don’t!)

What is Double Cleansing Anyways?

Double cleansing is a practice taken from Korean skincare where rather than just use one cleanser, you go through a two step process. You begin with an oil or balm cleanser to break down makeup, spf, dirt and other impurities. This first layer makes it easier for your second cleanse – a cream or gel cleanser – to wash your face rather than have to work through all the layers that accumulate through the day. It doesn’t have to take a ton of time. However, you can use it as a chance to practice self care at the end of a long day.

Do I Need to Double Cleanse?

In all honesty, I don’t double cleanse every single day. If I spent the majority of the day inside, then I might not need both my cleansers. But any day I worked out, reapplied SPF or wore makeup I am definitely going to double cleanse.

My First Cleanse Recommendations

Now, let’s get into the first cleanse recommendations. Going from holy grail to pretty good, I’ve picked from a variety of textures, cleansing experiences and prices.

My Best of My First Cleanse Recommendations: the Deviant Cleansing Concentrate

My love for Deviant Skincare, specifically the cleansing concentrate, is no secret. If you couldn’t tell from this love letter review I wrote over the summer, I am endlessly impressed by the elegant, effective formulas created by Natalie Smyth. The cleansing concentrate (which I reviewed in detail here) is my holy grail cleansing balm. It has a beautiful buttery texture that emulsifies perfectly. It removes all my makeup easily without causing blurry eyes.

The original is amazing, but they recent launched a new limited-edition blue tansy version that I am also enjoying. Whichever version you pick, you’ll fall in love.

The only downside to this product is the price. It is expensive at $43.05 for 50ml and/or $63.88 for the 100ml, but to me that pricetag is worth it.

Pick #2: Juno Skin Co Clean 10 Cleansing Balm

juno skin cleansing balm

I did not expect for this $14.95 cleansing balm to impress me as much as it did. If the luxurious, elegant feeling of the Deviant Cleansing Concentrate appeals to you, but the price tag is out of your budget, this is a near-enough dup. It cleanses well, emulsifies into a thick milky texture, and leaves my skin feeling nourished and clean. I appreciate Juno Skin’s commitment to clean ingredients and simple formulas.

Pick #3: Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm

The Banila cleansing balm was one of the first I tried when I first started my skincare instagram. And while it’s not fancy, it’s a cult-favorite for a reason. Coming in 5 different versions (original, purifying, clarifying, nourishing, and revitalizing), anyone can find a formula that works for them. It cleanses nicely and doesn’t strip my skin. It’s a decent price point for a cleansing balm at $22.00.

Pick #4: Then I Met You Cleansing Balm

then I met you cleansing balm

Another Korean skincare cleansing balm makes my list! Created by Soko Glam founder Charlotte Cho, the Then I Met You cleansing balm has a rich, sorbet-like texture in a distinct orange color. My skin loved the benefits of the seaberry oil and vitamin E extract. On the pricier side ($38.00), this is definitely a splurge for a first cleanse.

Pick #5: Elemis Cleansing Balm

Elemis pro-collagen cleansing balm

Clearly there’s a theme with my recommendations! I prefer thick, nourishing cleansing balms. The Elemis texture is a little thicker from the start than the Deviant CC. It’s enjoyable to use as a cleanser, as a mask, as a little spa moment. It does contain essential oils, so if your skin is sensitive this may not be your best bet.

Pick #6: Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm (pictured: Very Cherry Clean)

Farmacy very cherry clean cleansing balm

The last of my first cleanse recommendations is reserved for one of the first cleansing balms I tried: Farmacy Beauty’s Green Clean Cleansing Balm. This is different from my other picks – it’s thinner, and has a smooth “slip” feel versus a thick emulsion. It does the job of removing makeup & SPF well, although I can’t use it on my eyes. If you want a thinner cleansing balm, this would be my top pick for you.

The Opposite of First Cleanse Recommendations: Products I Would AVOID

The above first cleanse recommendations are all fantastic – but I would be lying if I said I haven’t kissed a few frogs along the way to finding those gems. There are two cleansing balms that just did NOT agree with my skin. In the spirit of transparency, let’s get into the two I would avoid.

Sunday Riley Blue Moon

I don’t even have a photo of this cleansing balm, that’s how much I disliked it! It has a horrible gritty texture that perhaps was intended to be exfoliating, but I don’t like that sensation in a cleansing balm. I didn’t feel like it left my skin clean enough for my taste. If you’re experimenting with cleansing balms, I would steer clear of this one.

Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm

This is the only other cleansing balm I’ve had so much distaste for. I love a lot of the products from Inkey List (stay tuned for a blog post featuring my routine from them for acne prone skin!) but this balm did not get a rose from me. While the tube packaging is innovative, it’s not effective in getting a good amount of product out. But the biggest problem goes beyond aesthetics: the cleanse leaves a film on my face that I just can’t get used to. My skin doesn’t feel cleansed after, and while I do follow with a second cleanser I don’t like that oily feeling. I’m also pretty sure it caused a breakout. While the price point ($10.99) is amazing, that’s the only positive when it comes to this product.

Final Thoughts on First Cleanse Recommendations

Whether you’re new to double cleansing or a skincare pro, I hope this article provided you with some new first cleanse recommendations! It is one of my favorite parts of my routine both for the acne-preventing benefits and for the time it gives me to practice self care.

Tell me your favorite cleanser in the comments!

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