Hot Cloth Cleansers and Balms

I have been addicted to these since I started using Soap and Glory’s Fab Pore Hot Cloth Cleanser. My ritual was to slather it on as soon as I got home, and just leave it there for a while. It smells so good and feels great that it immediately relaxed me as I had a cup of tea. I just love balm-type products in general; my skin absorbs them beautifully and I get good results. S&G’s came with a little muslin cloth, and although I use a Clarisonic in addition, the “hot cloth” part is just so enjoyable. I prefer a thicker, rougher washcloth – the cheaper, the better – and buy them in bulk.


Soap and Glory is revamping their US line, so imagine my disappointment when I could no longer buy this! However, The Ultimelt is on the way, so it gave me an excuse to try out some other brands. Note: I don’t get kickbacks from them, I swear! I love their products.

Boots makes a great one (No. 7 Beautiful Skin Hot Cloth Cleanser) that also comes with a little muslin cloth.  You can buy Boots’ UK line at most Walgreens (which is where I got mine) and a selection of it at Target, such as  Boots Botanics Organic Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm (next on my list) and No. 7 Age Defence Cleansing Balm, although these fly off Target’s shelves – understandably so.

While not a hot-cloth cleanser, I next tried Clinique’s Take the Day off Cleansing Balm, which a friend swears by and urged me to use. Surprise! Allergic reaction. I gave it a few days, hoping my red, itchy, watery eyes were maybe weather-related, but no – it was Clinique. Luckily, Sephora has a great return policy so back this went, quickly.

Sephora makes a very good cleansing oil if balms are too rich – if you don’t know about cleansing oils, don’t fear – they do not make your skin oily or cause breakouts. Shu Uemura started this trend with its signature product back in the 1960s (there are six varieties) but it’s taken decades for other brands to catch on.  Today, you have a choice of Boscia, Josie Maran, Murad, and a host of others at all price ranges and there are entire websites devoted to the cleansing oil ritual. (I’ve never found a better eyelash-glue remover than cleansing oil, and it doesn’t leave a film in your eyes.)


Donna Lethal

About Donna Lethal

Donna Lethal is the author of "Milk of Amnesia" and writes for her own blog (Lethal Dose), Hair Hall of Fame, Dowager Quarterly, Find A Death, & the Valhalla Cemetery chapter in "Weird Hollywood." A native of Lowell, Mass., she's lived in Boston, NY and London before settling here. When not writing, she's hiking, soaking in a Korean salt room or in the high desert with her pit bull.
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