Cleansing Balms vs. Makeup Wipes: Which One Is Right for You?

November 29, 2023
Alanna Martine Kilkeary
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | by L'Oréal
Photo of a model with their hair pulled back washing their face

When you remove your makeup at night, do you use makeup-removing wipes or a cleansing balm? Both of these products are designed to help remove traces of makeup, dirt and pollution from the skin, but one may be better suited for you than the other, depending on your complexion and skincare preferences.

According to experts Dr. Hadley King, a NYC-based board-certified dermatologist, and Nicole Hatfield, an esthetician at Pomp, your skin type is a determining factor when choosing between makeup wipes and cleansing balms. Ahead, our experts break down the similarities and differences between makeup wipes and balms. Keep scrolling to find out which may work better for you.

Cleansing Balms vs. Makeup Wipes

The Similarities and Differences

Both Dr. King and Hatfield agree that both balms and makeup wipes are effective ways to remove face makeup, but there are a few notable differences between the two methods.

“Cleansing balms tend to be more gentle on the skin because they are usually oil-based and work by dissolving makeup on the face, and then [they are] rinsed away,” says Hatfield. They are a better choice for thoroughly cleansing the face if you tend to wear a lot of makeup.

Who Should Use Makeup Wipes?

While cleansing balms are preferable for heavy amounts of makeup, makeup wipes can be enough to cleanse the skin if you wear light to medium makeup, says Dr. King. (Shout out to our favorite Garnier SkinActive Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes!) 

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes

Who Should Use Cleansing Balms?

On the other hand, people of all skin types can benefit from using cleansing balms. They are well-suited for dry and sensitive skin types because “they won’t strip the skin of its natural oils and cause drying,” says Dr. King. “But if you have very oily and acne-prone skin and you are not sufficiently removing excess oils, dead skin cells, bacteria and potentially comedogenic material, then a more thorough cleansing method [such as a cleansing balm] could help avoid clogged pores and acne breakouts.” 

CeraVe Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

She recommends a double-cleansing method, in which you begin by cleansing your face with an oil-based cleansing balm, like the CeraVe Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm, and follow up with a water-based cleanser, like the CeraVe Cream to Foam Cleanser.

Photographer: Nelson Huang

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