What Are Cleansing Balms? Unraveling this counter-intuitive cleansing trend.

What’s the purpose of a cleansing balm, and do you really need one?

black woman looking at skincare product

 Ever since the concept of K-Beauty hit our clean beauty loving brains, we’ve been on a worldwide mission of discovery. If Korean women have been keeping these fascinating beauty routine secrets for centuries, then it’s only natural to wonder what the rest of the world isn’t telling us. What other skincare secrets are out there to discover? 

Take this double cleansing concept, for example. One of the many trends brought to light by our newfound Western fascination with K-Beauty, double cleaning is generally listed as the first and second of anywhere from 7-14 skincare steps. And sitting in position number one is the oil-based cleanser. AKA, cleansing balm.


glass jar of cleansing balm

It’s pretty much all in the name. When you think of a balmy consistency, you imagine something akin to chapstick or lip gloss in a little tin pot. Rather than being water-based, like most cleansers, it’s oil-based. So, you want to apply cleansing balm before you wet your face. Essentially, you’re just rubbing it over the top of your makeup in order to help break up the oily elements of your skincare products.   


Adopting a “like dissolves like” philosophy, the idea is that the oily consistency of a cleansing balm will dissolve the oily consistency of any skincare products that you’ve been sporting that day. Whether it’s a thick SPF, a creamy concealer, or an oil-based foundation, a cleansing balm is meant to tackle them all. 


woman putting on mascara

If you’ve come across any social media posts about double cleansing, you’ve probably seen the images of gooey-faced, raccoon-eyed beauty vloggers demonstrating the efficacy of oil-based cleansers. Yes, they can effectively remove makeup. Even heaps of mascara. 

They feel soothing while they cleanse without leaving the skin feeling dry or irritated. However…most cleansing balms will expressly be recommended for those with dry or sensitive skin. Using an oily cleanser for oily skin will get you the finger wag from any dermatologist. As will overdoing it. If you have oily skin and you’re considering a complex double cleansing routine, it’s better not to upset an already shaky microbiome with a bunch of unnecessary new products. This leads us to the necessity question…is double cleansing necessary? 


Honestly, not really. Ok, so it is kinda fun to rub it into your skin and it feels oddly soothing. But then, you have to wash it off. The fun can be short-lived if you’re in a hurry or trying to simplify your beauty routine

Before you commit to double cleansing, know that you’re committing to two steps and two products. If you start with an oil-based cleanser, you’ll want to follow it up with a water-based cleanser. The first removes makeup, the second removes dirt and impurities from your pores. If this sounds like a lot of work for something that’s not really going to offer your skin any real benefits, then you’ll be happy to know that you can get equally clean skin with a good cleanser. A, as in singular, meaning one good cleanser. 


Look for a multi-tasker that gently cleanses but also has hydrating properties. Layers Balancing Milky Cleanser contains a prebiotic + probiotic blend of yogurt powder and lactobacillus ferment, cleansing the skin while simultaneously introducing healthy bacteria. This helps balance your skin microflora every time you use it. It also contains Irish Moss, a seaweed known for its ability to hold moisture and improve skin softness, and lactic acid to gently slough away dead skin cells. So with one cleanser, you’re covering 3 K-Beauty steps (cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing) in one fell swoop! 

At Layers, it’s about quality over quantity. That’s why we’ve kept our line of probiotic skincare simple:

Layers probiotic skincare line

Far from a 7, 10, or 14 -step K-Beauty routine, we’ve whittled it down to 4 simple steps. And the best part? They’re backed by science and clinically proven to deliver results. Remember, a skincare routine doesn’t have to be hard. It just has to be effective.