I had been using my favorite cleansing oil (Origins Clean Energy Gentle Cleansing Oil) for the longest time but recently I was introduced to the Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm by my good friend Rachelle in Singapore (she had asked me to send her one). Since I was running out of the Origins cleansing oil, I thought I'd try something new for a change and get one for myself, too. And wow! What a world-changing experience in the history of makeup removal! (OK, maybe not that dramatic, but close!)
Right off the bat, I was drawn to the pretty purple jar! And it's a humongous jar! Not exactly travel-friendly here but you can always transfer to a smaller jar to take it with you. The surface of the balm reminds me of candle wax but it is not as solid and will melt immediately into oil upon contact with warmth. The product is formulated without mineral oil and is 100% fragrance free.
The way I use this balm is simple. I usually just dig it out with my clean fingers (if this sounds unsanitary to you, or if the balm gets stuck under your long fingernails, try a spatula) and massage it on my dry (made-up) face. The warmth from the skin will instantly melt the balm and turn it into a layer of soothing oil. I find that if I begin with a small amount of balm, it will stay oily during massaging (much like cleansing oil) but if I start with a little bit more than necessary, the balm will turn milky, and thus making massaging so much more fun and relaxing!
Whether to emulsify (lather) during massaging depends on the type of makeup. I find that light makeup (non-waterproof) can be easily dissolved and washed off without emulsifying but for long-wearing or waterproof makeup especially eyeliner/mascara, adding a little bit of water helps to break down the product easier.
Final step is simply rinse clean with warm water and pat dry. My face always feels soft, refreshed, clean, and most importantly, non-stripped after using this balm. The formula is so gentle, non-irritating, and never tugs at skin. There is no oily/greasy residues left behind so you can probably get away without a second cleanse. But I am acne-prone so I always follow with my usual cleanser to make sure my face is as clean as possible. To test whether all traces of makeup is gone, simply wipe your face with a toner-soaked cotton pad. There shouldn't be anything transferred onto it if you have cleaned properly.
Now, let's see it in action! Below is a swatch of some of the waterproof/long-wearing/staining makeup.
After applying a generous amount of the balm over it and massaging for a full minute, you can see that the balm now turns milky and the majority of the makeup (1 and 3-9) has started to come off already.
Since 2 and 10 don't seem to budge at all (good job Benefit and Marc Jacobs!), I add a little bit of water to further emulsify, rub a little more, and then rinse clean with warm water. They are still not completely removed after rinsing (see below) but most of them is now pretty much dissolved. If I were to continue rubbing, I'm pretty sure I'd get every trace of it off, but I had to stop because my skin was getting red and in reality, you are not supposed to rub this hard especially on the skin around the eyes.
It doesn't completely remove the Benetint and Marc Jacobs eyeliner as easily as I'd like but it's not a big deal for me because I always do a separate step to remove my eye makeup (I use Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover) before cleaning the rest of my face anyway.
I have to say Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm is the best (face) makeup remover I've tried to date. It hasn't irritated my skin, clogged my pores, or made me break out since I've started using it. While digging out the balmy texture is not as easy as pumping (cleansing) oil into the palms, you can't beat the soothing sensation of massaging the balm on the skin. It really just feels so relaxing that I always look forward to removing my makeup every night! :)
Have you tried any cleansing balm? What do you prefer: cleansing oil or balm?