Cleansing Balm reviews: Farmacy, Pixi, Emma Hardie, Ole Henriksen, Caolion

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How to cite: Wong M. Cleansing Balm reviews: Farmacy, Pixi, Emma Hardie, Ole Henriksen, Caolion. Lab Muffin Beauty Science. November 23, 2017. Accessed April 24, 2024.

I’ve been a fan of cleansing oils for a while (see e.g. Cleansing Oil Reviews). I love how quickly they get rid of my make-up, and how they protect my dehydration-prone skin.

But the tiny thing that annoys me a little about cleansing oils is that they can be a bit fiddly to get onto my face. I know this is a massively first world type of problem, but if you can solve it, why not? That’s why I’ve been reaching more and more for cleansing balms instead.

Related post: How Do Cleansing Balms Work? The Science!

Here are some cleansing balms that I’ve been trying out lately.

Cleansing Balm reviews: Farmacy, Pixi, Emma Hardie, Ole Henriksen, Caolion

Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm

Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm ($34 USD or $46 AUD for 90 mL) is a soft green waxy balm. It comes with a handy spatula, but it’s attached to the flimsy plastic insert lid that I throw away most of the time, which got annoying, so I’ve gotten rid of the insert and I’ve just stabbed the spatula into the balm for safekeeping.

It quickly melts away make-up, and rinses off quite cleanly, which is all I really need in a cleansing balm. It has a few actives (in particular echinacea, which is in a lot of their other products too), but I’m not really looking for my cleansers to do much heavy lifting in the actives department.

This Farmacy cleansing balm does contain polyethylene, which is technically microplastic. While it would be nice if they got rid of it, the very small size of polyethylene used for thickening (rather than as scrubbing particles) means it’s probably not going to have the same effects in the environment as the larger microplastic particles.

Ingredients: Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, PEG-10 Isostearate, Polyethylene, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Amino Esters-1, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Amber Powder, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract, Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Echinacea Purpurea Root Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Disodium Phosphate, Citric Acid.

Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm

Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm ($60 USD or $79.95 AUD for 100 g) is a product with a cult following. It’s based on grape seed and sweet almond oil. Grape seed oil has always been one of my favourites with its high linoleic acid content, which makes it light in texture and perfect for oily skin. This particular product feels and smells super luxe as well. It doesn’t dissolve as well in water as most of the other options I’ve been trying, so it comes with a two-sided (muslin and cotton towelling) washcloth for removal. I personally don’t like dealing with washcloths since I dislike having to launder them regularly to avoid breakouts. This balm doesn’t rinse off cleanly without the cloth unfortunately, so I tend not to use it as much, but if you’re a fan of cloths this is a great but pricier option.

Ingredients: Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-8 Beeswax, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Sorbitan Stearate, Palmitic/Stearic Triglycerides, Limonene, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Silica, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Juniperus Virginiana Oil, Aqua (Water), Lecithin, Linalool, Butylene Glycol, Octyldodecyl PCA, Menthyl PCA, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Disodium Phosphate, Citronellol, Citric Acid, Geraniol, Citral.

Ole Henriksen Pure Truth 3-in-1 Melting Cleanser

Ole Henriksen’s Pure Truth 3-in-1 Melting Cleanser ($32 USD or $46 AUD for 95 g) has been rebranded as Uncover the Truth Melting Cleanser. It’s pretty cool – it’s an orange-scented product with a clear gel-like texture that my friend and cosmetic chemist Stephen says is the result of cubic packing. I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on this and I think the issue is that this product has to be used on dry skin to remove make-up effectively, since wet skin just forms a film of water between the oil and the make-up so it doesn’t dissolve. When I used it on dry make-up, it worked well at removing everything.

My gut feeling is that foolproof skincare products that work regardless of how well you follow instructions are going to do better on the market, but I’m probably biased because I rarely read product instructions…

Ingredients: Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Water, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Glycerin, Sucrose Laurate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Prunus Avium (Sweet Cherry) Seed Oil, Prunus Cerasus (Bitter Cherry) Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract, Xanthan Gum, Retinyl Palmitate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Limonene, Citral, Annatto (CI 75120).

Pixi Double Cleanse

Pixi Double Cleanse ($24 USD or $38 AUD for 2 x 50 mL) is a collaboration between Pixi and celeblogger (is that the term?) Caroline Hirons. It consists of a solid cleansing oil that’s textured like a standard cleansing balm, coupled with a cleansing cream which is like a cold cream. You’re meant to use one after the other, wiping off each product with a moist facecloth.

It seems to work OK without a cloth, but the two step process is pretty unwieldy in the shower, which is where I do the bulk of my cleansing so it doesn’t fit that well in my routine. It takes off my make-up decently well, though I feel like it isn’t as effective as a cleansing oil + foaming cleanser double cleanse (try saying that really fast 5 times).

My main complaint is that while the yin-yang swirly design is very pretty, it’s actually a bit of a pain to put the plastic insert in so that it matches up. I ended up with cold cream in the balm after the second time I used it. It’s also fragrance-free, which is good if you’re sensitive to fragrance but pretty dull if you’re not.

Solid Cleansing Oil ingredients: Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, PEG-8 Isostearate, Polyethylene, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylgylcerin, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil

Cleansing Cream ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Dipropylene Glycol, Sorbitan Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 80, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearic Acid, PEG-100 Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-40 Stearate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Arginine, Carbomer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Allantoin, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, 1,2-Hexanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ascorbic Acid, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Maltodextrin, Butylene Glycol, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, sh-Decapeptide-7, sh-Octapeptide-4, sh-Oligopeptide-9

Caolion Where is Pore? Pore Triple Action Cleansing Stick

Caolion’s Where Is Pore? Pore Triple Action Cleansing Sticks ($37 AUD for 50 g) are the first cleansing sticks I’ve ever tried. They come in two versions: green tea and charcoal. I tried both and they were pretty similar. They’re wind-up sticks of cleansing balm with bits of tea leaves or charcoal embedded in them.

The stick format is handy for applying the balm to your face when your hands aren’t clean (e.g. after putting on a hair treatment), but it’s also gross because your makeup visibly collects on the surface after use. The bits of tea and charcoal act as scrubbing grains. I found that it was a little difficult to rinse these off cleanly and I definitely had to follow up with a foaming cleanser, but they took make-up off really efficiently.

Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Diethylhexyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Polyethylene, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium PEG-7 Olive Oil, Carboxylate, Silica, Volcanic Ash, Butylene Glycol, Charcoal Powder, 1,2-Hexanediol, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract, Artemisia Annua Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Citrus Junos Seed Oil, Punica Granatum Seed Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Seed Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract

Have you tried cleansing balms before? Which ones were your favourites?

Products were provided for editorial consideration, which did not affect my opinion. This post also contains affiliate links – if you decide to click through and support Lab Muffin financially (at no extra cost to you), thank you! For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

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15 thoughts on “Cleansing Balm reviews: Farmacy, Pixi, Emma Hardie, Ole Henriksen, Caolion”

  1. I use and love cleansing balms in the winter. The Emma Hardie one was my favorite until I git pregnant the first time and couldn’t stomach the scent anymore. The pixi one is nice, but my favorite is the Clinique Take the Day Off version.

  2. I look forward to trying one of the balms you recommended. I had a sample of the Ole Henricksen balm and didn’t like the smell really. I do love a cleansing oil, but how important is it that I follow up with another cleanser? I feel like they all rinse cleanly and for some reason I tend to get a little dry using a foaming cleanser after. It’s probably because I don’t wear (much) makeup. The internet seems to be all about a double cleanse though!

  3. Michelle, many years ago, I began using 10% (and eventually 15% and 20%) salicylic acid solution as a toner. (I make it myself, so I can use whichever strength I feel appropriate.) I do that because once, after having washed my face and assumed it was clean, I tried the solution and discovered it removed tons of makeup that my cleanser apparently hadn’t! Ever since, I’ve used the solution to make sure all my makeup is gone, and have YET to find a cleanser that removes all my makeup. (Let me be clear: I’d always THOUGHT my skin was clean after cleansing; it was the SA that proved otherwise.) I brought all this up in the run-up to my question so it’ll be clear: are you sure the oils and balms are getting your face clean? Have you tried using (for example) a SA pad (meant for acne) to see whether you still have makeup on after using the oils and balms? I’m asking because I wonder how clean your skin truly gets with an oil or balm. (They just seem as if they’d not get it all off, you know? Like the oil or balm mug merely moosh it all around. I guess I have the “soap and water” thing ingrained too deeply into my brain.) FWIW, I use non-soap, unscented cleaners for sensitive skin (Neutrogena and L’Oreal make them). In winter, when my skin is dry and tight, I’d suuure like to try a cleansing oil … if I thought it’d really clean my face and not just make makeup soup.

  4. I love cleansing oils and balms, they are a mainstay in my routine! I’ve never tried one in a stick before – the idea of makeup collecting on the top doesn’t appeal to me at all! But the application and scrubiness sounds good haha!

    Tasha // shiwashiful.

  5. I do appreciate the meeting power of the cleansing balm. My favourite at the moment (that I’ve just finished using) is the Rice water bright face cleanser from The Face Shop. It is this creamy product that takes off makeup fairly well. I also want to try the Clinique Take the Day Off balm

    Lubz ||

    • FYI, I developed an allergic reaction to the Clinique Take the Day Off Balm after about a week’s use, with red, puff, blotchy skin. It went away once I stopped using the balm. I have oily skin that rarely reacts badly to products, so that was a big surprise. I have stayed away from all balm cleansers since.

  6. I love cleansing balms, they feel like a small spa in the evening for me. My fave one is the Eve Lom cleansing balm. It smells amazing and very relaxing and works both with a washcloth and without one. It is expensive, but it’s 100% worth the price.
    I also want to try the Banila Clean it zero for sensitive skin, it is less expensive and has good reviews.

  7. I’ve tried quite a few cleansing balms and similar 1st cleanse products . At the moment I’m trying out some less known small company brands which actually are a better option than some expensive options which I used (aghm ..Emma Hardie … Eve Lom… ) – ingredient wise and price wise too . Don’t get me wrong , I used up E.H. balm and others , but apart from a lovely spa-like scent , I can’t say I was blown away nor by results nor by anything . They remove makeup , need to be followed up by a gel cleanse afterwards (who ever tells you differently – lies ! , there is always a residue after a cleansing balm ) and that’s it . The only balm on which I splurged and use it sporadically – more as a treatment cleanse than makeup / sunscreen remover is the De Mamiel balm . I also tried Heimish , Banilla , Elemis ,Oskia, etc. . I like the REN balm (cheaper version of Oskia’s balm ) and their products in general . Tried TATA HARPER via that box of minis which she sells – didn’t like it . Also May Lindstrom ‘s cleansers – too much sodium for a 80+ USD price tag – no. Pixi CH double cleanse – didn’t try it , nothing special in the formula – you can find cheaper balms with better formula out there . Just try to avoid really dirt cheap formulations . Sometime I use the balm & cloth cleanse system as my only clenase of the day (if I haven’t worn any makeup or sunscreen or worn those lightly ) , don’t stress the skin more than needed. Also, don’t stray away from some ingredients just because a ” sale assistant with 30+ years at a counter” tells you so in a (payed) blog post . xxx

  8. Michelle have you tried Heimish cleansing balm? What’s your thoughts on that? I feel it’s effective, and better than Banilla’s one, however it took me a while to get used to the smell of it, though I know many people love it.

  9. Omg, I love the idea of cleansing balms, but as I’m very acne prone and oily, I’m terrified of putting something on my face that will aggravate my acne, and a LOT of cleansing balms contains shea butter. I’ve tried a couple of them though: Did NOT like the Pixi Cleansing Balm, ended up using almost a full jar as shaving cream. I really liked the Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm though, but it’s HELLA expensive! Would probably buy it again if there was some sick bargain deal, but meh. I’m currently waiting for the Sunday Riley Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm (sigh, what’s the deal with these names though) to arrive, and I’m super stoked, honestly most because it looks so blue and pretty.

    • I am lusting after Sunday Riley products so much! I used to avoid shea butter, but recently found out that the only sunscreen that doesn’t clog my pores uses shea butter…

  10. Hi!

    Re: the green clean farmacy, you said the polyethylene was a “small size” but looking at the ingredient list and knowing that ingredients are listed based on quantity (right?) it looked pretty high up there (look like it was the 5th listed) so how much polyethylene do you figure is in this product? Thank you. Hope to see your response.

    • I meant the size of the individual polyethylene particles, rather than the total quantity in the product. If I had to guess the amount of polyethylene in the product, I’d guess somewhere around 2%.


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