Every skin care fanatic has a favorite step of their routine—the layer of the ritual that brings them the most joy. And while I love the tender act of massaging in a dense face cream or slipping on an oil at night, there is nothing I appreciate more than washing my face. Yes, it’s a semi-controversial skin care take (as controversial as those can be), but it’s true: I love the ritual of cleaning my skin.
But face washes are a deceptively tricky category. For some time, the reigning options were of the strip-your-face variety. (You know the ones: Those sudsy numbers that left you feeling squeaky and dry.) But now, there are so many that experiment with textures, infuse deliciously hydrating actives, and elevate sensorial experiences—and finally, they’re getting due attention.
There’s no better example of this than the cleansing balm. (Even saying “cleansing balm” feels like slipping into a cashmere sweater.) The subcategory of face washes is marked by their thick, gel-cream texture and hydrating benefits; of course, there are subtle differences between them that make them unique, but that’s the throughline.
Now, if all of the above has you thinking you need to get your hands on one, here are our favorites for you to try. Enjoy, won’t you?