Trying to bring your usual skin-care routine to the gym, your partner’s place across town, or on vacation can be a gamble. A bottle of something will always burst open, slowly leaking throughout your bags and making everything inside a goopy, slippery mess. Yes, you can rinse everything out and it’ll be fine, but with these 12 solid cleansers that won’t spill or bust open, it’ll also be unnecessary.
These oil-based cleansers melt into a creamy texture and emulsify into a milky liquid as you rinse, taking away with it waxy makeup, pore-clogging oil, and the day’s dirt and grime. Whether they come in jars with teeny spatulas or XL twist-up sticks that resemble crafting supplies, your bags stay mess-free while your skin gets clean.
Here are 12 cleansers that will do your skin — and your bags — a solid.
Photo courtesy: Lush
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Made with rice bran and coconut oils to get rid of dirt, pomegranate fruit enzymes to naturally exfoliate without harsh scrubbing, and camellia, jojoba, and rosehip oils to hydrate, this travel-friendly twist-up stick is a dream to use. It also smells lovely thanks to the grapefruit peel oil, but not overwhelmingly so. It lathers well and rinses off easily, though you can also leave the cleanser on as a mask while you brush your teeth. If the low quantities stocked on shelves won't persuade you, this product won an Allure Best of Beauty Award in 2017.
Shop: Julep Love Your Bare Face Detoxifying Cleansing Balm Stick, $28, available at Macy's
Package-free, cruelty-free, and totally vegan — there’s already so much to love, and we haven’t even gotten to the formula yet. The macaron-sized cleansing solid is made with chamomile vinegar and eucalyptus oil to remove dirt and makeup while murumuru and shea butters moisturize, mung bean exfoliates, and peppermint oil refreshes your skin and senses.
There’s no packaging, so you swirl the balm over damp skin like a stick of butter and then turn it over to the mung bean side to exfoliate, or just rub it between your hands like a bar of soap before lathering onto your face. You can also keep the solid cleanser out in a soap dish in your bathroom, or grab a $4 reusable tin for safekeeping when you travel.
Shop: Lush Jade Roller Naked Cleansing Balm, $5.95, available at Lush
The solid balm emulsifies into a creamy, almost oily texture once you rub the product onto dry skin. Made with sunflower and ginger root oils to remove makeup, turmeric, and moringa extracts to get rid of dirt, and papaya enzymes to naturally exfoliate, this all-in-one balm cleans skin without giving you that tight “squeaky-clean” feeling. This balm also has a “Clean at Sephora” seal, which means it’s formulated without ingredients like sulfates, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, mineral oil, and more.
Shop: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm, $34, available at Sephora
Wake up, exfoliate, and detoxify your skin all in one step with this cleanser. The twist-up stick uses matcha (finely ground green tea powder) to detox, while lavender water helps clear acne and soothe skin. It’s also vegan and free of gluten, soy, talc, and animal cruelty. All you have to do is swirl the stick over damp skin and rinse off normally. The stick will dry naturally so there’s no need to wipe the bullet down after you use it either.
Shop: Milk Makeup Matcha Cleanser, $26, available at Sephora
This is the real OG of cleansing balms, a product with more than 30 years of history. The formula incorporates four different types of oils — eucalyptus to remove dirt and makeup, Egyptian chamomile to soften skin, clove to clear, and hops to tone.
After rubbing a small amount on dry skin, use a damp muslin cloth (which comes free with the cleanser) to wipe your face instead of rinsing for additional exfoliation, and then follow-up with cool water if you want. The formula is really rich and emulsifies well, so just use a tiny amount — it’ll also help you stretch the balm a bit more to justify the price tag.
One of the reasons this balm is so rich and emollient is the large amount of mineral oil; it’s the first ingredient in the formula. It doesn’t provide moisture so much, as it has occlusive properties that help prevent additional water loss in your skin, so you’d need to follow up with an actual moisturizer. Mineral oil is also slightly controversial because it’s a byproduct of petroleum — you know, gasoline. Cosmetic-grade mineral oil though has been refined and purified, so it’s not toxic but can understandably be off-putting to those who want a more natural formula.
Shop: Eve Lom Cleanser, $135, Available at Space NK Apothecary London
St. Ives has definitely glowed up with its line of cleansing sticks. This one is formulated with manuka honey, coconut oil, and, of course, apricots to wash whatever the day’s thrown at you while also nixing bacteria and giving your skin a healthy glow. The bright orange tube is a fun color addition to your bathroom cabinet and would be easily identifiable among a sea of products in your bathroom cabinet. There are four different versions of the stick, but Apricot & Manuka Honey is the closest to the brand’s classic scrub and gives us a trip down memory lane every time we use it.
Shop: St. Ives Glow Apricot & Manuka Honey Cleansing Stick, $6.99, available at Target
The classic K-beauty cleansing balm got a formula and packaging makeover, so now it’s made without mineral oil and has a higher melting point so it won’t break down if you take it on your next tropical vacation.
The texture of the balm has also been one of the smoothest we’ve tried, it feels even silkier than butter. The original is a cult-fave, though there are three other formulas geared towards detoxing, revitalizing, and nourishing your skin. Another reason to get the original is that it also comes in a larger size that is almost double the quantity but not price, so it’s definitely at a good value.
Shop: Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Original, $17.05, Available at Amazon
A solid iteration of your mom’s cold cream but updated to rinse off easier, this cleansing balm will bring back major memories while getting rid of makeup, dirt, and oil. Just like the original, the first ingredient is still mineral oil so definitely follow-up with a moisturizer.
Shop: Pond's Cold Cream Facial Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover, $9.99, available at Target
This twist-up stick was developed between K-beauty brand Neogen and Soko Glam founder and licensed aesthetician Charlotte Cho, so you already know it’s going to be good. Made with ground green tea leaves and 13 different types of natural oils, including green tea, coconut, olive, and sunflower, this cleansing stick soothes, hydrates, and exfoliates while also clears up acne and prevents premature aging and inflammation. The light green tea scent and XL glue-stick size makes it fun to use on bleary-eyed mornings.
Shop: Neogen Real Fresh Green Tea Cleansing Stick, $22, available at Soko Glam
If you’re looking for a clean formula without mineral oils, sulfates, parabens, and more, check out this solid balm from BeautyCounter. It has shea and mango butters, and seed oils like jojoba, grape, raspberry, and cranberry to melt away makeup, hydrate dry skin, and boost radiance. A muslin cloth is included as well for easier rinsing.
Shop: BeautyCounter Cleansing Balm, $80, available at BeautyCounter
Charcoal is great at purifying skin and sucking out every last bit of dirt and oil — which is a good thing it powers this balm. Sunflower oil, jojoba leaf, and willow herb also help melt away makeup, prevent free radical damage, and soothe inflamed skin. The balm gets a little transparent as you massage your face, but won’t ever turn clear like other formulas because of the active charcoal — we’re warning you now in case you get scared of your reflection.
Shop: Boscia Charcoal MakeUp Melter, $32, available at Riley Rose
The teal color of the balm definitely makes washing your face a little more fun, but it’ll soon turn into a clear oil that feels like buttah. Unlike other formulas, this one uses sugar to clean and remove makeup, along with essential oils like blue tansy (which gives the balm its color), and German chamomile to calm skin, hydrating carrier oils like jojoba and moringa, and cocoa butter. The tangerine and sweet orange oils also give off a light citrus scent that isn’t overpowering, which is great for your nighttime skin-care routine as you’re trying to wind down.
Shop: Sunday Riley Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm, $50, available at Sephora