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The Difference Between Cleansing Oils and Cleansing Balms – and Which Is Best For You

Oil Cleansers, which are used as the first step of the double cleanse method to remove sunscreen, makeup, and excess sebum, come in two forms: liquid cleansing oil and cleansing balms. Ever wondered if there’s a difference between the two? We’re here to explain.

The most common question The Klog gets about oil cleansing is, “Will it make my skin more oily?” The second most common question we get about oil cleansing is, “Do I really have to do it twice a day, every day?” And the third most common question we get about oil cleansing? “What’s the difference between cleansing oil and cleansing balms?”

RELATED: How to Shop For a Water-Based Cleanser

We’ve answered question number one here and number two here. So today, we’re focusing on lucky number three.

The short answer is that there are two simple differences between cleansing oil and cleansing balm: texture and packaging. Cleansing oil is a liquid that typically comes in a pump bottle. A cleansing balm is a buttery-like solid that comes in a tub and (usually) with a spatula for application.

Whether or not you should choose one over the other really comes down to personal preference. To help you decide, I detailed the pros and cons of each, with a little help from a group of people who have tried pretty much every oil cleanser under the sun: Team Soko Glam.

oil-cleanser-guideThe Pros and Cons of Cleansing Oil

Pro: Cleansing Oils Are More Hygienic 

As mentioned above, cleansing oils are typically packaged in pump bottles. This means that the formula doesn’t get exposed to a lot of air and unlike cleansing balms, you don’t have to stick your fingers in the formula (because the chances of that tiny spatula going missing are high – let’s be real).

Pro: Cleansing Oils Can Double as Makeup Brush Cleaner

Marissa, associate social media manager, likes to use her favorite cleansing oil – the Neogen Real Cica Micellar Cleansing Oil – to clean her makeup brushes and Beauty Blender. “It’s the perfect consistency!”

Con: Cleansing Oils Can Be Messy

Most of the people polled who are on Team Cleansing Balm said that they find the texture of cleansing oils to be too messy. “Whenever I use oils they end up getting all over the bottle and the sink and me,” Ariel, senior marketing manager, said, while Vanessa, junior graphic designer, said that in her experience, “the oil drips down my wrists and gets everywhere.”

Con: Cleansing Oils Are Too “Oily” 

If the idea of applying an oil on your skin just sounds wrong,  you might find the texture of a cleansing balm more inviting. “I’m afraid of most oil cleansers that are runny because it looks like oil” said Guad, associate brand marketing manager.

oil-cleanser-guideThe Pros and Cons of Cleansing Balm

Pro: Cleansing Balms Are Easy to Travel With 

“It’s solid so it doesn’t get confiscated at the airport and it doesn’t leak,” said Shanelle, office manager. Abby, customer experience associate, said that she likes that cleansing balms are easy to transfer to a smaller TSA-friendly jar when traveling.

Pro: Cleansing Balms Are Really Good at Removing Makeup 

Jess, senior merchandising manager, explained, “I wear a ton of foundation and feel like it’s the only type of oil cleanser that really removes all of it. I can apply a dime-sized dollop to each side of my cheek and my forehead without worrying about it sliding down my face and then the more you emulsify, the more of the makeup it removes.”

Con: Cleansing Balms Require More Effort 

This is going to sound silly (or just lazy!), but when I’m tired and just want to get into bed at night, the act of opening a jar of cleansing balm, scooping out product and massaging it into my skin until it emulsifies just seems tedious. Pumping a few hits of cleansing oil into my hand is more manageable for me on most days.

Made your choice? Shop three popular oil cleanser formulas below. 

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