Skip to main content

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

  1. blog
  2. > Skincare Products

Cleansing balms for oily skin

What are cleansing balms, and can they be used on oily skin?

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Lauren Fox, PA-C
Cheerful Woman Applying Foaming Cleanser
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Lauren Fox, PA-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

If you have oily skin, figuring out what works for you may be challenging. With so many cleansers, moisturizers, and makeup types on the market, it can feel like an unending search to find the perfect product for your skin. Luckily, Curology is here to help you put together an effective—and uncomplicated—routine that will help you reach your skincare goals. And, depending on your preferences, a cleansing balm may be part of that routine. 

Oily skin is a common skin type that is often caused by overactive sebaceous glands and affects both males and females.¹ Aside from the scalp, the face is the most common place on the human body to be affected. As a result, the skin may appear excessively shiny or greasy and possibly develop redness or scaly patches, known as seborrheic dermatitis. 

All skin types are not created equal. While some people have dry skin, others tend to have more oily skin. This can cause confusion over which skin care products are best. But again—we’re here to help with that! Here, we’ll break down what you need to know about cleansing balms, especially if you have oily skin.

What exactly are cleansing balms?

Cleansing balms are one type of cleanser you can use to wash your face. They live up to their name as they have a thick, milky texture that helps remove makeup, SPF, sweat, and grime. Oftentimes, they are used as a first step in a double cleansing routine, though this is not necessary. Since balms are generally formulated with oils, it may be believed that people with oily skin should not use cleansing balms. This is not necessarily true. 

Cleansing balms can also be a good option for sensitive skin. Those with oily skin may gravitate toward a double cleanse. Just be aware that this may result in dryness. In general, cleansing balms can be used by any skin type, including oily or acne-prone. 

Cleansing balm pros and cons

There are pros and cons to using cleansing balms in your skincare routine. Just be aware that what may work for one person may not work for you!


  • Can be tailored to specific skin needs

  • Easy to travel with

  • Dual-purpose of waterproof makeup remover and cleanser allows for a more efficient skincare routine


  • Can be expensive

  • Can feel heavy upon application

What to avoid in cleansers for oily skin

With so many skincare products available, it can be hard to know what to seek out and which products to avoid. In true Curology fashion, we did the work, so you don’t have to! 

A general rule of thumb is to avoid cleansers that contain ingredients not designed with your face in mind. Some examples include:

  • Bar soaps, hand soaps, or body wash

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate, which is known to cause excess dry skin and is a common pore-clogging ingredient

  • Alcohol, seen in many skincare products, which can damage your natural skin barrier and cause excess dry skin

  • Pore-clogging ingredients, such as isopropyl myristate, laureth-4, and myristyl myristate

  • Coconut oil, which is also known to clog pores

Our top picks for cleansing balms 

Makeup-removing balm 

Farmacy Green Clean is a makeup remover and facial cleanser. Its ingredients help remove makeup and gently cleanse the skin. Papaya enzymes help gently exfoliate. This formula is also TSA-approved and comes in a 100% recyclable container.

Balm for sensitive skin

True Botanicals - Natural Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm is a skincare product that is generally considered safe for those with sensitive skin. This balm is non-comedogenic, cruelty-free, and free from parabens and phthalates. 

Drugstore cleansing balm

Physicians Formula “The perfect matcha 3-in-1 melting cleansing balm” is gentle, removes makeup, and is non-comedogenic. Other benefits include: it’s hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and vegan. 

Cleansing balm for acne

The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm helps to remove makeup and contains oat kernel oil to help hydrate and moisturize the skin. This product is also vegan! 

Affordable cleansing balm

Innisfree Pore-Clearing Volcanic Cleansing Balm is a wallet-friendly option. Naturally infused with volcanic clusters, this targeted skincare solution unclogs pores as it cleanses. 

Best overall skin routine for oily skin 

When it comes to oily skin, simple is best. Always remove the makeup and SPF from the day. For a quick makeup remover, try micellar water. Then follow up with the Gentle Cleanser by Curology. This option is designed to be used on all skin types and helps keep the sin barrier balanced. Be sure to use lukewarm water and wash in a circular motion. 

Cleansing balms are also an effective way to remove makeup and excess oil and cleanse the face. Just be sure to steer clear of coconut oil or any other comedogenic ingredients! 

The Cleanser by Curology

Personalized skincare is where it’s at 

Finding products that will work for your specific skin type may be difficult. Oftentimes, people buy facial cleansers without knowing which products would work best—which may make it harder to reach their skincare goals.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

curology bottle
curology bottle

Curology offers personalized prescription formulas and treatment plans designed with your skin in mind. All you have to do to get started is take a short skin assessment and submit a few selfies. Then, you’ll be paired with a licensed dermatology provider who can not only prescribe you a personalized formula with clinically proven active ingredients, but also answer any questions you have about your skincare along the way. 


Are cleansing balms good for oily skin?

Cleansing balms can generally be used on all skin types. To pick one that complements oily skin, follow the tips listed above.

Are cleansing balms safe for acne-prone skin?

Yes, cleansing balms can be effective for acne-prone skin. Since balms are good at removing excessive oil, sweat, and other impurities, this can help decrease breakouts. Just be sure the cleansing balm does not contain pore-clogging ingredients!

What is the difference between a cleanser and a cleansing balm?

Most facial cleansers are water-based products that create a lather to remove impurities on the surface of the skin; cleansing balms are thicker and can break down oil, makeup, SPF, sweat, and other impurities.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework, so you don’t have to:

  1. Oakley, A., et al. Seborrhoea. Dermnet. (June 2014).

Lauren Fox is a certified physician assistant at Curology. She received her Master of Physician Assistant Practice from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA.

*Subject to consultation. Cancel anytime. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Lauren Fox

Lauren Fox, PA-C

Related Articles

Sunscreen for eyes: How to protect your delicate skin from UV raysFoundation makeup for aging skinWrinkles and other signs you’re doing it rightWhat is micellar water and how can you use it effectively?Why Curology is cruelty-free and vegan-friendly

Popular Articles

Ask Curology: Is my cold breaking me out?Slugging: The dermatologist-approved skincare hack going viral on TikTokTretinoin vs retinol: What’s the difference?How to create a self-care routine that actually sticksYour 2023 skincare horoscope
Try prescription skincare
30-day trial. Subject to consultation. Cancel anytime.
Get routine essentials
A display of Curology Custom Formula bottles on a white shelf.

Good skin days ahead

Join the 1M+ patients who’ve tackled everything from acne, to fine lines, to hair thinning with prescription-powered treatments, personalized by a Licensed Dermatology Provider.
Ingredients proven to tackle
  • Breakouts
  • Redness
  • Fine lines
  • Dark spots
  • Hair thinning
*Subject to consultation. Cancel anytime.
Get StartedShop ProductsWhy CurologyGuidesOur StoryCommunity
All Rights Reserved 2014-2024 Curology Inc.
Terms of ServicePrivacy Notice
Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information