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Put in the simplest of terms; we are all far too familiar with our skin. Whether you have oily, dry, acne prone or combination skin, we have all stood in front of the mirror endlessly picking and/or squeezing, pushing and prodding; wondering how we got to this point. With such an inclusive variety of skincare products, brands and formulas on the market, when it comes to the daily task of removing your makeup and caring for your skin, what’s your best option? To put an answer to all questions, we spoke to Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme (@dr_ifeoma_ejikeme), clinical skin expert, aesthetic medical doctor and founder of the Adonia Medical Clinic (@adonia_medical_clinic), who opened our eyes to the benefits and purpose of cleansing balms.
“Cleansing balms are a form of skin cleanser that remove dirt, pollution and often makeup from the skin” says Dr Ejikeme. “They have an immediate feel of making your skin feel quite supple and moisturized without stripping your skin. So even before you go about putting on a serum or moisturizer, a balm will give you that hydrating feeling.”
What sets a balm apart?
“Cleansing Balms in general have lots of different ingredients that will usually give them a bit more of a slippery, lotion like texture, and they won’t tend to foam. So, when you’re looking at ingredients in a good balm, they will often include surfactants and emulsifiers. I think there’s a misconception where people think oil removes oil. The way I like to think about it is: if you have a greasy plate you don’t need oil to remove the grease. The skin is quite similar.”
What is the best method in applying a cleansing balm?
Whether it’s a one or two step process, if you’re wanting to do things right, following the recommended method in applying a cleansing balm is a must. And according to Dr Ejikeme, the magic happens in a double cleanse. Simply put, “Put a pea size into your hand and then rub into the skin, give it a massage into the skin and use water to rinse off.” To complete the two-step process, go in again with your regular cleanser.
In terms of method, we have all thought the question, does hands or flannel really make a difference? Well, with a cleansing balm, it really does. “Using your hands is the best way to go about applying, as the balm comes into its own by actually being in contact with the skin, says Dr Ejikeme. “If you squeeze the balm into a flannel, the flannel will reap the benefits and not your skin. So, apply straight to the face, rub and rinse.”
Glossary break Surfactant: A product that removes and breaks down grease from the skin Emulsifier: Emulsifiers are used to bind contrasting ingredients (such as oil and water) together
How do you know which balm works for you?
“On the whole, cleansing balms are great for dry skin types. As they are often oil based, there is always the concern that if you have oily skin, they can be invasive. However, there are balms that are formulated for oily skin and are non-comedogenic.”
“If you have an acid breakout and you’re inflamed, I wouldn’t recommend using a balm; however, there are some balms that are formulated that are non-comedogenic, so that they can be used on oily or acne prone skin. In this case, I would use the balm and then go in with a foaming cleanser to remove all the access oils and any residual product so you get the benefit of both,” making sure to remove all the dirt, grease and build-up with the balm and all the excess product with the foaming cleanser. The over-riding rule suggested by Dr Ejikeme being: “If you have oily skin, wash the balm off completely, if you have dry skin, play it by ear.”
“If you have oily skin, wash the balm off completely, if you have dry skin, play it by ear.”Dr Ejikeme
How often should a cleansing balm be used on the skin?
There are too many questions to ask when it comes to skincare routines. One being, how often should we commit to using a skin balm? In Dr Ejikeme’s eyes, the rule book is simple. “Use a cleansing balm when you feel you have a lot of build-up on your skin in terms of product, pollution or something you really want to get off.” Even for those suffering with sensitive skin, cleansing balms won’t fail you. “When your skin is feeling too sensitive for your regular cleanser and you want to wash your face, but you don’t want to feel completely stripped.”
At the Adonia Medical Clinic, their philosophy is to ‘help you rediscover your skin health and vitality’ to provide ‘a holistic approach to skin that embraces both new and traditional approaches.’ The clinic offers education, a range of non-surgical aesthetic treatments, fillers and specialised skincare treatments; some that specifically cater towards hydration and cleansing.
For cleansing: The Adonia Ultimate Facial:
“When you’re needing a good cleanse and you want to remove any makeup from the skin, we have the Adonia ultimate facial. This is one of our most luxurious facials. There’s the hydro element which removes all dirt and grease from the skin, without having to do extractions, and then we follow that up with Microdermabrasion which will then exfoliate the upper layers of the skin. Then we really start healing the skin with the oxygen facial and the LED light. These two helps to stimulate collagen and improve the bodies ability to maintain its water balance. “
Glossary Break: Non Comedogenic: A fancy term for products that are suitable for those with acne prone skin as they won’t block pores.
For Hydration: The Adonia AquaGold Facial:
“24 karat gold hollow needles allow me to place different ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and more directly into the skin. It is a really lovely treatment if your skin is feeling parched and dehydrated; leaving you with rejuvenated skin.”
Especially as we have now felt the effects of the cooler season, cleansing balms really come into play this time of year. With all the environmental stresses of the wind, rain and artificial filters, now is the time for cleansing balms to shine. “With these changes, what happens is a difference in the barrier function of the skin. When we have any disruption to the barrier, our skin feels dry and it feels irritated so we have to support the skin. And we support the skin with ingredients, things like hyaluronic acid and ceramides which are known to help repair that barrier.”
Convinced? Here are Dr Ejikemes’ Top Cleansing Products that have been put through her test, so you don’t have to:
Words and Interview By Clare Stephenson, Graphics By Millie Pollok