The Balm Cleanse: Foundational Skin Care

So many people chat with us a little bit about their skin, and very commonly they say they want a really great cleanser (I understand.), and usually their skin doesn’t have just one issue, it has several. Sometimes there are conflicting issues like, “I’m oily but sometimes dry…” Sometimes they seem confused about the condition of their skin, or sometimes they say they are just congested, or just dry. The truth of the matter is, all that ails skin can be radically treated with one simply amazing product that also happens to also be the most pampering skin innovation ever. Yes, there is one type of cleanser to rule them all. One every bathroom must stock at least one of. The balm cleanser.

My favorite part of prescribing this, time after time, is the moment after I ask a client if they have tried a balm cleanse, and they say “no.” It’s like Christmas when I hear that little no! I get to tell them about the best thing to happen to skincare in a long, long, time, and I also get to send them home with what I know is going to be a new standby routine for them for years and years to come…and they often come later with same “oh-my-gosh-how-did-not-know-about-that-before” expression. And it’s so much fun.

Before we get into the brands, let’s talk procedure, prescription, ritual. The balm cleanse regime is a part of your day that is your moment, and it has a deeply relaxing and renewing effect and your mind and your skin. It’s a powerful way shift down at night, or to prep for a big night out, or a big day at work. It is, most certainly, more than just a skin cleanse.

  • step one: massage about a quarter sized amount of the balm onto your dry face, and massage. This is the key step. The oil is breaking down all the oils, dirt, makeup and other residues on your skin, loosening them from your pores, and binding them to the oils of the balm. As you massage your face with small circular motions, lymphatic drainage is activated, draining unwanted fluid and toxins from your skin and tightening you up.
  • step two: also key. Take a warm to hot wet washcloth, and gently press it into the curves of your face, slowly pulling it down your face one two times until all the balm is removed. You may be shocked at how much dirt you see on the cloth versus when you use a regular cleanser.
  • step three (optional): If I am using a deeply moisturizing formula, like The Organic Pharmacy Carrot Butter Cleanser, and I know I am putting makeup on afterwards, I take a light gel or lotion cleanser and do one last pass over my face, then rinse. I never do this last step at bedtime because if I leave the moisture in, my skin wakes up glowing. 

At Chemistry, we stock some seriously amazing balm cleansers, and there are more to come, but our top three prescriptions for the three basic types of skin are:

For Normal/Sensitive Skin with no major symptoms (or someone who loves rose)REN Rosa Centifolia No. 1 Purity Cleansing Balm: This balm is gentle, milky, and delicate on skin and it smells, incredibly beautifully, of soft roses. It utilizes Roman chamomile oil and pink violet leaf to both sooth redness and calm skin down, and it contains rebiotic oligosaccharides which are probiotics for the skin, and promote healthy bacteria – the skin’s natural defense barrier – which can be easily broken down by products, especially acids and exfoliators – or harsh face washes.

DV8T8739For Oily/Combination/Problem Skin to Normal Skin: Eve Lom Cleanser – I am not sure if Eve Lom can be said to have invented the balm cleanse, but to be honest, she invented it. This was the first and the only balm cleanse for many years and although more well known in the UK for quite a while, has now gained massive fans stateside (and worldwide) for very solid reasons. It is described by Vogue as ‘probably the best cleanser in the world’, and troves of women will agree. It meltingly decongests with clove oil, and cell turnover happens by way of hops. It also soothes with Chamomile and invigorates with a tinge of eucalyptus. The cleanser also comes with its signature petal soft muslin cloth for a very refined routine.

DV8T8743For Dry to Very Dry Skin (my personal favorite – the spa that comes in a jar) – The Organic Pharmacy Carrot Butter Cleanser. This is the super butter of cleanser, and I usually, but not always reserve it for night use, but there is no better nightcap. It smells like a massage. It’s full of sunflower oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and sesame seed oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil. That’s six oils, plus St John’s Wort for immunity and stress relief, lavender, chamomile…need I continue? This deeply, deeply moisturizes and soothes and also deep cleans your skin and pores. It is a spa facial in a jar, I said it again. An absolute bathtime/showertime jewel.