The 6 Best Cleansing Balms for Acne-Prone Skin

Contrary to popular belief, oil-based skincare products, such as cleansing oils and balms, shouldn’t be avoided if you have acne-prone skin. In fact, since oil-based cleansers are the most effective at removing makeup and thorough makeup removal is of the utmost importance when it comes to preventing breakouts, you could even say that the use of oil-based cleaners should be encouraged if you have acne-prone skin. Still, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right product. The best cleansing balms for acne-prone skin are formulated with beta hydroxy acids (BHA) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), or ingredients known to have antibacterial properties, such as manuka honey. But just as important as the cleansing balm you choose is How? ‘Or’ What you use it. More on that below.

If you are prone to acne, a cleansing balm should be used as the first step in a double cleansing routine. That means you’ll want to use one of those oil-based cleansers first to break down makeup and sunscreen, then use a water-based cleanser (like a gel or mousse) to get rid of any residues. This way, you’ll make sure your skin has been properly cleansed at the end of the night, and you can literally rest easy (you won’t have to worry about your face staying oily, either).

Keep scrolling to discover six excellent cleansing balms for oily, acne-prone skin; Then check out this guide to the best face washes for acne to complete your double cleanse routine.

1. Cult favorite

BANILO CO’s Clean It Zero Cult Classic Cleansing Balm has put cleansing balms on the map; the product is so popular that a jar is allegedly sold every 3.1 seconds. The original formula is the most popular, but since the product’s launch over seven years ago, the brand has released several additional cleansing balms from the Clean It Zero range, such as this ‘pore-clarifying’ version, to target problem areas. more specific skin. The pore-clarifying cleansing balm uses the brand’s Tri-Peel Acid Complex, which contains AHA, BHA, and LHA, to remove dead skin and oil that could clog your pores and cause breakouts. The formula also contains jojoba oil, an oil with antimicrobial properties very popular with acne-prone skin. The balm itself has a delicious texture — think ice-cold green sherbet — and removes waterproof makeup like a charm.

2. Another popular K-Beauty option

Like BANILO CO., Hanskin is another popular K-beauty brand that makes some truly amazing cleansing balms. Three of their cleansing balms in particular — the BHA, PHA, and AHA cleansing balms, all pictured above — are solid options for acne-prone skin. Linked to here is the BHA balm, which deeply cleanses pores using salicylic acid (the BHA in question) while a host of nourishing oils work to break down stubborn makeup.

If you have sensitive, acne-prone skin, PHA Pore Cleansing Balm may be the best choice for you. And if you’re worried about rough or uneven-textured skin, go for the AHA Pore Cleansing Balm.

3. Best Under $15

If you’re looking to spend under $15 on a cleansing balm, this one from innisfree is the best bet for acne-prone skin. The brand’s Pore Clearing Cleansing Balm uses mineral-rich volcanic clusters from Jeju Island in South Korea to purify your skin and unclog congested pores. The brand even makes a matching water-based cleanser – their Pore Clearing Face Foam – which is the perfect companion to this cleansing balm in a double-cleanse routine.

4. Best for glowing skin

If your skin looks a little dull or uneven from past breakouts, you can opt for Glow Recipe’s Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm. It’s rich in exfoliating papaya enzymes that gently slough off dead skin cells so your skin looks clearer and smoother. For those who prefer above all a luminous and radiant complexion, this is the cleansing balm you need in your routine.

5. Better madness

This admittedly pricey cleansing balm contains real manuka honey, a valuable New Zealand ingredient known for its antibacterial activity, making it an amazing, all-natural acne treatment. There’s also a probiotic here to promote a strong and balanced skin microbiome – something that can help stave off breakouts, as a weakened microbiome is more susceptible to acne breakouts and irritation – as well as royal jelly peptides for pamper and nourish your skin. If your budget allows, this is a decadent cleansing balm worth splurging on.

6. Honorable Mention

This cleansing balm from the new brand Peace Out Skincare deserves a mention, as it has been carefully designed to meet the needs of oily, acne-prone skin. It contains pore-clearing salicylic acid to help treat breakouts at the root, while soothing niacinamide promotes a more even skin tone. To strengthen and hydrate your skin, the brand has included hyaluronic acid and ceramides in the formula.

Don’t sleep on the rest of the brand’s line of anti-blemish products, including their acne serum and pimple patches.

Referenced studies:

A review of the importance of plants, biotechnological aspects and challenges of growing the jojoba plant, by Jameel R. Al-Obaidi, Mohammed Farouq Halabi, Nasser S. AlKhalifah, Shanavaskhan Asanar, Abdulrahman A. Al-Soqeer and Mr. F. Attia; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5571488/

Antibacterial Activity of Manuka Honey and Its Components: An Overview, by Matthew Johnston, Michael McBride, Divakar Dahiya, Richard Owusu-Apenten, and Poonam Singh Nigam; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6613335/

Potential Role of the Microbiome in Acne: A Comprehensive Review, by Young Bok Lee, Eun Jung Byun and Hei Sung Kim; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6678709/

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