The Balm is Mine
(sung to the Brandy and Monica tune The Boy is Mine)
My Relationship With Balm Cleansers Started Innocently Enough
Double cleansing changed my life. Once I really learned how to take it all off at the end of the night, my skin improved drastically and I’ll never go back to just using a cleanser to remove my makeup and clean my skin again. Oil cleansers saved my skin and I won’t be without them.
But traveling with an oil cleanser is a pain in the butt. Especially if you live that carry-on life. The oil cleanser bottle is too large to fit in the quart size Ziploc bag and try finding a decent decant bottle that won’t seep oil all over your liquids bag 35,000 feet in the air.
So when I was planing how I was going to pack a ten-step skincare routine for a 3 week trip to Europe in a carry-on, I knew I had to eliminate my oil cleanser.
Flirting With The Balm
Enter the Heimish All Clean Balm.* This stuff was blowing up all over my Instagram feed this spring tempting me with its claims of liquid-less first cleansing abilities and totally photogenic packaging.
Balm cleansers have the consistency of coconut oil at room temperature. Once they hit your face and warm up they turn into the oil texture you’re used to with traditional oil cleansers.
I have tried a few balm cleansers in the past but was never a huge fan because they often felt heavy on my face after rinsing, and didn’t seem to give the deep clean my beloved oil cleansers did.
But I was committed to my carry-on bag for the trip and this would be an easy swap to get another liquid out of my quart sized bag. So I caved in and bought the popular cleansing balm everyone was raving about.
More Than Good Looks
Now, this has cult status in the K-beauty community for many reasons beyond its gorgeous packaging.
Its featured oils are coconut and shea butter instead of problematic mineral oil like many other famous balm cleansers on the market (*cough* *cough* Banila Clean It Zero I’m looking at you). The ingredients list boasts plant extracts like tea tree oil, lavender and jasmine. It also contains a golden child ingredient, donkey milk, to help soothe and moisturize the skin.
Using this over my makeup on dry skin was actually a very nice experience. This melted down very quickly on my skin and turned into a nice slippery oil that didn’t cause pulling or tugging on my skin as I worked it into every crevice of my face to break down makeup and sunscreen.
This rinsed away cleanly from my face without any feeling of a residue coating my face. It also never caused irritation on my sensitive skin and didn’t cause any tightness or dryness. I used this for about four months and experienced no additional clogged pores or blackheads from using this balm.
This worked really well to break down my makeup, which was impressive to the girl who didn’t want to let a balm cleanser into her heart. All Clean Balm took off foundation, sunscreen and even eye makeup effectively and performed as well as any oil cleanser I have used.
The Balm Has Some Shortcomings I’m Willing To Over Look
I will say this didn’t give me that deep-down-in-my-pores clean that I have come to expect from oil cleansers. Grits, the phenomenon of feeling hardened sebum plugs release from your skin during oil cleansing, didn’t really come out of my skin while using this balm which was disappointing as someone who suffers from congested skin.
However, this was a minor point and didn’t break the general good opinion I had of this product.
But of course, something had to come between me and my newfound fondness for this wunderkind balm cleanser.
The Wedge That Pulled Us Apart
I was ready to start telling all my friends about the exclusive relationship I had entered with Heimish All Clean Balm. I mean, it had been about four months now, it was kind of a serious thing.
But just as my heart has suspected all along, something came to tear us apart.
Declaring my glowing love of the Heimish All Clean Balm on my Instagram feed, lovely Jennifer (@lailou47) informed me that she suspected this balm cleanser contained plastic microbeads.
My world was shattered. Microbeads are those nasty minuscule plastic particles that are polluting the oceans and are so horrific to the environment that they have actually been banned in my home country of the United States, as well as Canada, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, Taiwan and The United Kingdom.
Dealing with my broken heart, I had some questions:
How could I have missed this?
Well, companies don’t just list “microbeads” in their ingredients list. It’s usually masked as polyethylene, and further investigation shows it appears in the ingredient list for pretty much all cleansing balms. It seems that polyethylene is the binder that keeps the oils solid at room temperature in balm cleansers, rendering it pretty much essential for the consistency of a liquid-less first cleanser.
How bad is it for the environment?
Pretty bad. Microbeads are rinsed down our pipes into our water supply. They are too small to be detected and filtered out by water treatment plants. The microbeads are non-toxic to humans but they act as pollution magnets and can quickly become toxic to the ocean life that eats them, and can eventually end up on our plates in the form of polluted fish or even sea salt. That non-toxic to humans point becomes useless once the polyethylene has had a joy ride through a sea of pollutants, attracting every single one of them like a hot 20-year-old woman at a sports bar.
Remember, it was banned by 11 countries for good reason (and many others are working on legislation).
How could I have purchased this in a national chain store (Riley Rose) in a local mall when microbeads are banned in the U.S.?
Well, the short answer to this is that there are holes in the legislation that only ban the microbeads from being manufactured in the country banning them. So importing microbeads seems to escape this legislation through a loop hole. That’s how someone like myself, concerned about environmental issues, could easily and blindly buy a product containing polyethylene.
So it’s an unexpected sad ending to a nice couple of months together. I can’t deny that Heimish All Clean Balm* has some great things about it, but, sadly, it will never be a product that I could repurchase.
I guess for future trips I’ll have to decant my cleansing oils after all.
*Indicates the use of affiliate links that provide a small commission that helps me run this blog.