Top 25 Best Japanese Cleansing Gels to Buy Online 2019 – Tried and True!

Top 25 Best Japanese Cleansing Gels to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!

Our editors searched Japanese e-commerce sites (such as @cosme, Amazon, and Rakuten) for the best cleansing gel. We then chose the 25 most popular products and tested them for the following:

  1. Cleansing Power
  2. Hydration
  3. Ingredients

Cleansing gels tend to be mild, but we wanted to see what options, if any, would be suitable for waterproof makeup and oily skin. We also asked a specialist in cosmetic ingredients to inspect the formulas, seeking options for sensitive skin. We then compiled everything we learned into a buying guide about and list of the best Japanese cleansing gels available online.

Table of Contents

Top 25 Best Japanese Cleansing Gels Available Online

We tried the cleansers out on waterproof makeup (which usually contain plenty of oil). We measured moisture levels in our skin. We asked a researcher who used to work in cosmetic R&D to pick out the mildest formulas for us. Then, based on how they performed on our tests, we ranked the top 25 Japanese cleansing gels available online.

※Japanese prices for the products are given; they’ve merely been converted into USD for easy viewing.

1. Bioré Makeup Remover Cleansing Gel

Bioré Makeup Remover Cleansing GelBioré Makeup Remover Cleansing Gel

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Price: $5.55

Best for Those Who Want a Little Bit of Everything: Cleansing, Hydration, Mild Ingredients, and a Good Deal

This was the only cleansing gel we tested that had it all: cleansing power, hydration, and ingredients. Plus, it’s a drugstore brand available at a drugstore price.

Unlike most gel cleansers, this worked on waterproof mascara–and even tint and waterproof eyeliner significantly faded. It spread far and felt light. We also liked the floral scent.

Japanese ビオレメイクとろりん なで落ちジェル Type Water-Based w/ Oil
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Cleansing 4.0
Hydration 4.0 Ingredients 4.0
Overall Score 4.0

2. FANCL Mild Cleansing Gel

FANCL Mild Cleansing GelFANCL Mild Cleansing Gel

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Price: $24.09

Best for Those Who Need Cleansing Power: Thick Gel that Washes away Even Waterproof Items

This is about as powerful of a gel cleanser you’re going to find; waterproof eyeliner disappeared and the mascara and tint became faint shadows.

The gel was thick and slid smoothly against skin. However, it was just the slightest bit drying, so make sure you follow up immediately with moisturizers. And while the formula was fragrance-free, it smelled a little like chlorine.

Japanese ファンケル マイルドクレンジング ジェル Type Water-Based w/ Oil
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Cleansing 5.0
Hydration 2.0 Ingredients 4.0
Overall Score 4.0

3. Cinderella Time Booster Serum Nano – Cleansing Gel (Extra Moisturizing)

Cinderella Time Booster Serum Nano - Cleansing Gel (Extra Moisturizing) Cinderella Time Booster Serum Nano - Cleansing Gel (Extra Moisturizing)

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Price: $18.37

Best for Those in Need of Extra Skincare: Cleans, Hydrates, and Functions as a Serum

This balanced hydration with cleansing. While it wasn’t powerful enough to work on waterproof items, we liked that it doubled as a serum and was designed to nourish your skin, not simply strip it.

While this is categorized as a gel cleanser, it actually was quite thin and felt more like liquid or oil. Honestly, it didn’t seem like we were using gel at all.

Japanese シンデレラタイム ブースターセラム ナノクレンジングゲル 高保湿タイプ Type Water-Based w/ Oil
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Cleansing 4.0
Hydration 4.0 Ingredients 3.0
Overall Score 4.0

4. Curél Makeup Cleansing Gel

Curél Makeup Cleansing GelCurél Makeup Cleansing Gel

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Price: $6.57

Best for Those who Need a Mild Cleanse: Slick Texture and Gentle Ingredients

The gel was dense, and it took some time to spread on and rinse off. Still, it cushioned skin from rubbing and tugging and featured mild ingredients.

Waterproof items didn’t budge, however. You can only use this only light makeup; eye products may require a separate eye makeup remover.

Japanese キュレル ジェルメイク落とし Type Water-Based w/ Oil
Double Cleansing Neccessary Cleansing 2.0
Hydration 4.0 Ingredients 4.0
Overall Score 4.0

5. maNara Hot Cleansing Gel

maNara Hot Cleansing GelmaNara Hot Cleansing Gel

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Price: $36.92

Best if You Want to Try Hot Cleansing Gel: Warm, Buttery Texture and Impressive Cleansing Power

Once you start massaging the gel into your face, it heats right up. It also spread easily, melting into skin and obliterating waterproof mascara.

Despite the warmth and the cleansing power, the formula was actually hydrating. It smelled of citrus fruit.

Japanese マナラ ホットクレンジングゲル Type Water-Based w/ Oil
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Cleansing 3.0
Hydration 5.0 Ingredients 2.0
Overall Score 4.0

6. softymo LACHESCA Gel Cleansing

softymo LACHESCA Gel Cleansingsoftymo LACHESCA Gel Cleansing

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Price: $6.74

Worth Checking out: Silky Texture, Zero Fragrance

This was a loose, spreadable gel. Warning: product does spurt out of the tube.

There was no scent to it, and it wasn’t drying. Nothing particularly stood out, but nothing was poorly done either.

Japanese ソフティモ ラチェスカ するりんジェルクレンジング Type Oil-Based
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Cleansing 3.0
Hydration 4.0 Ingredients 3.0
Overall Score 3.0

7. Fleuri Clear Gel Cleanse

Fleuri Clear Gel CleanseFleuri Clear Gel Cleanse

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Price: $34.33

Worth Checking out: Works Better than Your Average Gel Cleanser

This felt like a typical gel: a bit dense but cool and smooth. It performed better than average on all our tests, though hydration was where it shined the most.

While no fragrances were included in the formula, it did have a smell. It was a bit planty and likely originated from the botanical extracts used as moisturizers.

Japanese フルリ クリアゲルクレンズ Type Water-Based
Double Cleansing Recommended Cleansing 3.0
Hydration 4.0 Ingredients 3.0
Overall Score 3.0

8. PEARLDAYs Pearl Moist Cleansing Gel

PEARLDAYs Pearl Moist Cleansing GelPEARLDAYs Pearl Moist Cleansing Gel

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Visit PEARLDAYs for more details (Japan only)

Price: $23.04

Worth Checking out: Works Decently Well; Plus, the Texture and Scent are Divine

This was a thinner gel–felt a little similar to oil, actually. It was smooth and gloopy and very spreadable. The floral scent was refined, not too sweet.

After cleansing, skin was soft and smooth but not sticky. As an extra plus, the pump was easy to use.

Japanese パールデイズパールモイスト クレンジング Type Water-Based w/ Oil
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Cleansing 3.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 4.0
Overall Score 3.0

9. Dr.Ci:Labo Super Cleansing EX

Dr.Ci:Labo Super Cleansing EXDr.Ci:Labo Super Cleansing EX

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Price: $19.66

Worth Checking out: Effective Gel that Melts into Oil

As you massage the gel into skin, it slowly heats up then melts into oil. However, it was a bit tacky.

The formula worked on waterproof items; all either faded significantly or disappeared completely. Now, there are some ingredients that may prove irritating on sensitive skin. However, the cleanser isn’t drying and it certainly isn’t harmful.

Japanese ドクターシーラボ スーパークレンジングEX Type Oil-Based
Double Cleansing Unecessary Cleansing 4.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 1.0
Overall Score 3.0

10. Nursery Yuzu Makeup Cleansing Gel

Nursery Yuzu Makeup Cleansing GelNursery Yuzu Makeup Cleansing Gel

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Price: $12.47

Worth Checking out: Yuzu-Based Cleanser with an Ideal Texture

This featured a Goldilocks texture; dense enough to cling to skin, loose enough to spread. Otherwise, it was an average cleanser, neither failing nor excelling at anything.

If we had to nitpick, we’d say the dispenser was too stiff and the smell was too strong. It was very citrusy, to the point it smelled almost artificial.

Japanese ナーセリー Wクレンジングジェル ゆず Type Water-Based w/ Oil
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Cleansing 3.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 3.0
Overall Score 3.0

11. Santa Marché Green Tea Deep Cleansing

Santa Marché Green Tea Deep CleansingSanta Marché Green Tea Deep Cleansing

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Price: $12.99

Worth Checking out: Solidly Average Cleanser, but Fragrant with the Scent of Tea

This was also about as dense and slick as you’d expect gel to be. It spread readily but took time to rinse off.

This earned average scores on all our tests. Still, we appreciated the scent of green tea. We also felt light and refreshed after cleansing.

Japanese サンタマルシェ ディープクレンジング Type Water-Based
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Cleansing 3.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 3.0
Overall Score 3.0

12. ORBIS Cleansing Gel (Oil Cut)

ORBIS Cleansing Gel (Oil Cut)ORBIS Cleansing Gel (Oil Cut)

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Price: $12.56

Worth Checking out: Only Gel Cleanser We Tested that Earned a Full Score for Ingredients

This gel felt a bit heavy and thick, but it spread easily. It seemed to melt into makeup, gently lifting it off skin.

This was the only product we tested that earned a 5.0 for its ingredients, meaning the formula is highly unlikely to irritate even sensitive skin. Just make sure that, after cleansing, you moisturize well.

Japanese オルビス クレンジングジェル Type Water-Based
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Cleansing 3.0
Hydration 1.0 Ingredients 5.0
Overall Score 3.0

Products That Didn’t Make the Cut

And why they didn’t quite make it.

Provides a Good Amount of Moisture but Only Below Average Cleansing, Even for a Gel

Provided a Good Amount of Moisture but Only Below Average Cleansing, Even for a Gel

Skinvill’s Hot Cleansing Gel (13) earned a full score for moisture but 2.0s on all other counts. Likewise, BCL Cleansing Research’s AHA Gel Cleansing (18) received a high score of 4.0 for moisture but 2.0s otherwise.

PLuS’s Amino Moisture Cleansing Gel (14) and Duplair’s W Cleansing Gel (15) earned 4.0s for hydration too, but packed below average cleansing, even for a cleansing gel. These latter two did get a 3.0 for ingredients, though.

Performs Only Decently Well, and Ingredients May be Unsuitable for Certain Skin Types

Performs Only Decently Well, and Ingredients May be Unsuitable for Certain Skin Types

Botanical Marche’s Deep Cleansing Gel (16) earned average scores for cleansing and hydration but was rated a 2.0 for its ingredients.

Contains Relatively Mild Ingredients, but Lacks in Either Hydration or Cleansing Power

Contains Relatively Mild Ingredients, but Lacks in Either Hydration or Cleansing Power

On the other hand, MUJI’s Gel Cleansing (17) featured mild ingredients that earned it a score of 4.0 but its sub-par cleansing landed it with a rating of 2.0. Moisture was graded at a 3.0.

Similarly, Aile’s Shinsei Cleansing Gel (19) had ingredients that received a 4.0, but it was deemed to be drying. Cleansing was average.

Formula May Prove a Bit Harsh; Doesn’t Offer a Deep Cleanse to Make up for It

Formula May Prove a Bit Harsh; Doesn't Offer a Deep Cleanse to Make up for It

ÍPSA’s Cleansing Gel EX (20) and Re dermalab’s Moist Gel Cleansing (21) earned 2.0s for hydration and ingredients; yet, they offered only average cleansing power for a gel.

Doesn’t Cleanse Well and Isn’t Particularly Hydrating Either

Doesn't Cleanse Well and Isn't Particularly Hydrating Either

Mocchi Skin’s Gel Cleansing (22) and CLAYGE’s Clear Cleansing (23) offered sub-par cleansing but were only decently hydrating. Mocchi Skin’s product, however, did earn a slightly higher score for its ingredients–3.0, versus CLAYGE’s 2.0.

Doesn’t Offer Decent Moisturization or Cleansing

Doesn't Offer Decent Moisturization or Cleansing

Finally, Kikumasamune’s Skin Care Cleansing Gel (24) and Chifure’s Cleansing Gel (25) could only get 2.0s for both cleansing and hydration; ingredients were rated as average.

How We Tested Our Products

Cleansing gels tend to be weaker, but we still hoped to find some products that would work on waterproof products and oil. At the same time, we wanted them to be non-drying and feature mild ingredients.

This is how we tested for those factors.

Test ①: Cleansing Power

Cleansing Power

We applied makeup to the backs of our hands, then used the cleansers on them. We looked at how much product came off and graded each cleansing gel on a five step scale.

To test the limits of each cleanser, we tried them out on the following long-wearing items.

  • Waterproof Mascara
  • Eyeshadow
  • Waterproof Eyeliner
  • Lip Tint
  • Liquid Foundation

We learned that even oil-based cleansing gels weren’t a match for waterproof products (usually). If you wear them, you’ll likely have to invest in a dedicated eye makeup remover.

Test ②: Hydration

Hydration

We used a moisture analyzer called the Corneometer to measure water levels in our skin before cleansing, right after cleansing, and five minutes after cleansing.

We found that denser gels were less drying and tugged less at skin.

Test ③: Ingredients

Ingredients

We asked a researcher who used to work in cosmetic R&D to look at the ingredients lists. She graded each product based on how compatible it was with sensitive skin.

※Keep in mind that a low score doesn’t equate to a dangerous product. It simply means that it was judged to be possibly irritating for folks with sensitive skin.

We learned that products that contain high amounts of or many types of botanical extracts/essential oils could prove too much for sensitive skin. While all skincare products have to undergo vigorous testing before being released onto the market, there is a possibility that your skin will sensitize if it is constantly exposed to high concentrations of essential oil.

Tips on How to Choose Japanese Cleansing Gel – Buying Guide

Here are four big things to look out for.

① What is the Gel Based off of? Determines Things like Texture and Cleansing Power

There are three main types of gel cleansers: water-based, water-based but contains oil, and oil-based.

Water-Based Gels: Safe for Eyelash Extensions but Offer Little Cleansing Power

Water-Based Gels: Safe for Eyelash Extensions but Offer Little Cleansing Power

Water-based gels※1 contain no oil. Now, if you have eyelash extensions, you likely know that the glue used to attach the extensions is weak to oils. Most cleansers–including oil and milk cleansers–do contain oil. While there are oil cleansers formulated for extensions, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and just go oil-free.

There’s a few ways to identify a water-based cleanser. They’re usually marketed as oil-free※2. You can also look at the ingredients list. If the cleanser is water-based, then water-based ingredients and surfactants should be among the first things that appear. However, keep in mind that oil-free cleansers very rarely work on waterproof products.

Ingredients Featured in Water-Based Cleansing Gels

  • 水: Water
  • BG: Butylene Glycol
  • DPG: Dipropylene Gycol
  • PEG-#: Polyethylene Gycol #
  • ○○グリセル: -Glyceryl
  • ○○ソルビタン: -Sorbate

※1 水性ジェル: water-based gel
※2 「オイルフリー」「100%オイルカット」: oil-free

Water-Based Gels that Contain Some Oil: Light but Effective Enough for Most Everyday Use

Water-Based Gels that Contain Some Oil: Light but Effective Enough for Most Everyday Use

Some water-based cleansers will contain small amounts of oil, along with surfactants. Most cleansing gels fall under this category. Thanks to the oil, the formula blends more readily with makeup. It also spreads more easily over skin. However, it’ll still feel lighter than pure oil-based gel and likely be less effective on long-lasting products.

Water-based cleansers that contain oil still feature the same surfactants and water-based ingredients as their oil-free cousins. The oils※3 usually start appearing near the middle ot bottom of the list.

※3「○○オイル」「○○油」: -oil

Oil-Based Gels: Offer the Most Thorough Cleanse

Oil-Based Gel: Offer the Most Thorough Cleanse

Oil-based cleansing gels※4 include ingredients like cetyl ethylhexanoate and mineral oils–the same stuff you’d find in cleansing oil. They’re widely effective, even on waterproof items and liquid foundation. However, some formulas can be drying.

Identification is easy. If you see any oils topping the ingredients list, then you know you’re dealing with an oil-based cleanser.

※4 油性ジェル: oil-based gel

② Consider Cleansers that Don’t Need to be Used with a Separate Face Wash

Consider Cleansers that Don't Need to be Used with a Separate Face Wash

Many cleansers need to be followed up with a face wash. This is known as double-cleansing (sometimes written as W-cleansing).

However, you will often run into gel cleansers that state they can be used alone※5. There’s a couple of benefits to these. They save you time and money. Your skin is also less likely to dry out, since you aren’t exposing it to as many cleaning agents.

You’re more likely to find a water-based gel cleanser than can be used alone than an oil-based gel cleanser.

※5 W洗顔不要:can be used alone (lit. double-cleansing unnecessary)

③ Never Forget to Inspect the Ingredients List

Never Forget to Inspect the Ingredients List

A word to the wise: if you know you’re sensitive, never settle for a cleanser that simply claims to be “additive-free※6.” If a formula is free of any one of a number of specified additives (fragrances and dyes and so on), then it can label itself as additive free. What you need to do is identify exactly what it’s free of–and what it isn’t free of.

Below are the Japanese translations of common additives.

Ingredients that More Commonly Cause Irritation

  • アルコール (エタノール): Alcohol (Ethanol)
  • 合成香料: Synthetic Fragrances
  • 合成着色料: Synthetic Dyes
  • 防腐剤 (安息香酸、パラベン類): Preservatives (Benzoic Acid, Parabens※7)

Ingredients that Can be Drying

  • 鉱物油 (ミネラルオイル): Mineral Oils

※6 無添加: additive-free
※7 パラベン: parabens (note: not all parabens are irritating. Many brands are dedicated to the safety of their products and conduct vigorous tests to ensure that their formulas are gentle. However, items that contain a large amount of parabens or parabens that are highly antibacterial can sometimes act as triggers when applied to sensitive skin.)

④ If You Want to Clear out Your Pores, Consider Hot Cleansing Gel

If You Want to Clear out Your Pores, Consider Hot Cleansing Gel

If you’re plagued by blackheads or enlarged pores, consider investing in hot cleansing gel. The heat opens up your pores and gives the cleanser more space to work and clean. It also helps with blood circulation, which in itself comes with all kinds of skincare benefits.

However, many of these hot cleansers contain ingredients that could prove rough on sensitive skin.

How to Use Cleansing Gel

The best thing you could do is to follow the instructions listed on the packaging. But if you can’t read Japanese or what some extra information, here are a few tips and tricks.

Apply with Dry Hands onto a Dry Face

Apply with Dry Hands onto a Dry Face

If your hands or face are wet during application, the cleanser will have to fight past all that water before it gets to your skin and the makeup you’re wearing. It won’t be as effective, and the moisture keeps hot cleansing gels from really heating up.

Even if the cleanser claims it can be used wet※8, we recommend applying it dry to maximize cleansing power.

※8 濡れた手でもOK: can be applied with wet hands

If the Gel Contains Oil, Warm It up in Your Hands Before Application

If the Gel Contains Oil, Warm It up in Your Hands Before Application

If you use an oil-based gel or a water-based gel that contains oil, warm it up in your hands before applying. That’ll help it blend better with makeup.

When you first dispense an oil-based gel, all the oil is actually surrounded by water. However, by warming up the formula, you allow the oil to shift to the surface of the gel, and that oil is what lifts makeup and other gunk off of your face. You can use the same trick with cleansing cream and milk as well.

The heat from your face will also eventually have the same effect on oil formulas. However, this shift takes a while. By cupping the cleanser in your hands before applying, you’re helping along the change and saving yourself time.

Make Sure You Let the Formula Emulsify before Rinsing off

Make Sure You Let the Formula Emulsify before Rinsing off

Again, this only applies to formulas that contain oil, but wait for the formula to emulsify before rinsing off. All you have to is collect warm water into the palm of your hands and massage it into your face, bit by bit. Eventually, the water will mix with the oil and the cleanser will turn a milky white.

As you know, oil repels water. However, you can get the two to mix if you add in the water bit by bit; the resulting oil-water solution is called an emulsion. By emulsifying your cleanser, you’re taking away its ability to repel water and you’re making it easier to rinse off.

Want to Try a Stronger Cleanser?

Want to Try a Stronger Cleanser? What about an Oil Cleanser?

Let’s say you wear a lot of waterproof products and you aren’t completely satisfied with what you saw here. Consider checking out cleansing oils, which are said to be the most powerful cleansers.

Summary

We rounded up members from our editing department, purchased the 25 most popular Japanese cleansing gels, and tested them all.

Every gel offers its own unique combination of ingredients and balance between hydration and cleansing. You can also choose between oil-free gels, oil-based gels, hot gels, or cool, slick gels. There is no one best product, but there will be a few products that are best suited to you.

Original by Rio Sasaki; Translation by Jasmine Li

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    Micellar water’s more than just makeup remover. It’s supposed to cleanse and nourish your skin at once–and be non-drying and non-irritating. Out of all the solutions out there, Bioderma’s Sensibio H20 remains a favorite, whether in Japan, the States, or its native France. So our editing department purchased a bottle and put it to the test. We looked at its cleansing power, hydration, and ingredients. This is what we learned. Bioderma Sensibio H20 Make-up Removing Micelle Solution Visit Amazon for more details Visit ebay for more details Visit Dermstore for more details Price: $14.16 Give me a Quick Rundown on the Sensibio H20 Bioderma is a sensitive skincare brand from NAOS, which has over 40 years of history and is used in over 100 countries. Their micellar water is, like the rest of their products, formulated for sensitive skin. It’s fragrance-free and utilizes fatty acid esters, which resemble other components in your skin, to not only cleanse but also fortify and nourish. It clear

  • Curel Makeup Cleansing Gel Review - mybest
    There’s a few things you should ask before you buy a cleanser. Will it actually remove makeup? Will it irritate my skin? Will I absolutely hate the scent and texture? Our editing department purchased Curel’s popular Makeup Cleansing Gel and sought to answer the above questions.  We also analyzed the ingredients and, later on in this article, explain how to properly use the product. Here’s what we learned during testing. Curel Makeup Cleansing Gel Visit Amazon for more details Visit ebay for more details Visit Global Rakuten for more details Price: $7.79 What Makes Curel’s Makeup Cleansing Gel Special? Curel’s Makeup Cleansing Gel is a medicated cleanser that soothes your skin as it cleans. As a brand, Curel is known for catering to people with dry and sensitive skin. This product works by preserving the ceramides in your skin, which are an important part of its protective barrier. The gel-like texture spreads readily, so you aren’t rubbing at and possibly irritating skin. Gently ma

  • Whenever we see the word “mild” affixed onto a cleanser, there’s a few questions that come to mind. Is it really mild? What are the ingredients? Does it have any cleansing power at all? Our editing department purchased FANCL’s Mild Cleansing Oil and sought to answer the above questions. We also compared it to products from other brands, including DHC–more on that below. FANCL Mild Cleansing Oil Visit Amazon for more details Visit ebay for more details Visit Global Rakuten for more details Price: $16.73 What is the Selling Point of FANCL’s Mild Cleansing Oil? FANCL’s oil cleanser is supposed to work on makeup, clogged pores, and rough skin. Though it packs a lot of cleansing power, it doesn’t strip skin of moisture; in fact, during testing, it even reduced the appearance of fine lines caused by dryness. It also was formulated with basic ingredients safe for a wide range of skin types. How to Use it You dispense about two pumps into the palm of your hand, then apply to your cheeks, fore

  • We always do a double-take when we see the words “cleansing” and “balm” plastered across a jar. A product can cleanse or it can moisturize, but both? And effectively? Hard to say. Our editing department purchased RMK’s popular Moist Cleansing Balm and gave it a few test runs. We also analyzed the ingredients and, later on in this article, explain how to properly use the product. Here’s what we learned during testing. RMK Moist Cleansing Balm Visit Amazon for more details Visit ebay for more details Visit lookfantastic for more details Price: $35.79 What is RMK’s Moist Cleansing Balm? RMK’s Moist Cleansing Balm is a cleanser made up of skin-healthy botanicals, including squalane (sugar-cane derived), shea and mango butter, as well as avocado, rosehip, and olive oil. It comes out of the jar in a solid wax-like state but melts into an oil when it touches skin. It’s thick and spreads easily. It’s as much a moisturizer as it is a cleanser. Side note: we were really feeling the baby pink