I really, really liked the It Cosmetics Bye-Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm, but I didn’t like the price ($38/2.82oz, which is just stupid for a cleanser). So I’ve set off on a quest to find a cheaper alternative! While I won’t be reviewing new cleansing balms frequently enough to do a full Battle of the Balms series, you can expect to see as many of these as it takes until I find a low-cost HG. ;)
First up? The OG cleansing balm — Banila Co Clean It Zero. Since it’s a foreign import, prices range from $16 – $21/3.4oz — Amazon has it for $17.89 (which happens to mark the beginning of the French Revolution. AND the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille is in a couple of weeks! Vive la revolution!). Clean It Zero comes in four varieties: Original (pink), Radiance (silver), Resveratrol (green), and Purity (turquoise). I bought a sample set ($12/4 x 7ml) so I could try all four without investing $80.
Texturally, I find all four are quite similar. They’re a little thinner and greasier than the It Cosmetics cleansing balm (which is more plush). I mean, yeah, both brands are greasy — they’re oil-based cleansers! But this sort of greasy is that thin, dry greasy — gasoline vs motor oil. It’s that “I appreciate that you efficiently clean oil paint off my hands, mineral oil, but I do not enjoy your texture and can’t wait to rinse” thing. Makes sense, as both Original and Radiance are mineral oil-based. Resveratrol and Purity rely on Ceteryl Ethylhexanoate and Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, respectively; I’m no cosmetics chemist, but they look like fatty alcohol esters to me and COSDNA says they’re fine. Those two feel a tad thicker to me. There are a couple of other formula differences — Radiance adds macadamia oil, Resveratrol adds grape seed oil — but for the most part, they feel and perform simiarly.
All four are fragranced:
Original (pink) has a very Bath & Body Works sweetly-floral “Cherry Blossom” thing (not my favorite, but the scent doesn’t stick around once rinsed — I can deal with it).
Purity (turquoise) is more herbal.
Resveratrol (green) is fruitier and less floral than the Original.
Radiance (silver) is the most mildly fragranced, and smells like “clean” to me.
The Banila Co melts more quickly than the It Cosmetics; the It Cosmetics has to be massaged around my face for a bit before it melts against the warmth of my skin, but the Banila Co turns to oil as soon as it’s applied. I like the massage-to-melt approach myself, but that’s just a personal preference.
But does it work? Yes! It efficiently and effectively melts makeup, and rinses with very little trouble. Like the It Cosmetics, using it to remove eye makeup leaves my contacts foggy for a few minutes, so I prefer to use a separate eye makeup remover first. It irritates my eyes a little more than the It Cosmetics cleansing balm, but not enough to actually sting.
Even though mineral oil is non-comodegenic, the Clean It Zero leaves my skin feeling weird, so I prefer to follow up with a second cleanser (generally CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, which is awesome for dry/sensitive skin). By contrast, the It Cosmetics left my skin feeling soft and hydrated with zero residue, so I never bothered to do a follow-up cleanse. I emptied the Original pot and panned the Purity while testing these, and none of the four gave me acne or dried out my skin when followed by a second cleanse.
Am I willing to crown this balm my Perfect Low-Cost Cleansing Balm? Nah. Even though it does a fine job and is significantly cheaper than the It Cosmetics — ~$5.29/oz versus $13.48/oz — I don’t love the texture or fragrance. I may end up coming back to this one if every other cheap cleansing balm on the market sucks, but I’ll at least give the others a try first.
Worth noting: Original, Resveratrol, and Radiance all have parabens. Maybe that doesn’t bug you — I’m tentatively (but not obsessively) in the “better safe than sorry” camp when it comes to endocrine disruptors — but the Purity IS paraben-free. This (combined with my dislike of the Original scent) means that if I end up buying a full-size of these, I’ll go for the Purity.