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e.l.f vs Elemis pro-collagen: Which cleansing balm is best?

Both promise to break down make-up, SPF and impurities with ease, but have a huge £34 price difference, so we put them head to head 

Louise Whitbread
Monday 08 February 2021 16:49
<p>We looked at their texture, how well they removed our make-up and how our skin felt after</p>

We looked at their texture, how well they removed our make-up and how our skin felt after

If you wear make-up, cleansing balms are one of the most effective tools you can keep in your skincare arsenal. Nothing is as effective at melting down full coverage foundations, waterproof mascara and even lip stains.

When massaged onto dry skin, a balm will dissolve into an oil and break down make-up, then can be swiftly removed with a lukewarm flannel.

One of the most popular ones on the market is Elemis’ pro-collagen cleansing balm, which has been a cult favourite for a number of years, thanks to its buttery texture, relaxing aroma and effectiveness at keeping skin clean. It’s also one we’ve used for years and there’s little competition when it comes to popularity.

However it retails at £44, hardly a bargain, and we’re always on the hunt for affordable alternatives of luxury beauty products. Budget brands such as The Ordinary, The Inkey List and CeraVe have proven that great skin can be accessible to all, without scrimping on efficacy.

So when beauty brand e.l.f. unveiled its latest launch, a make-up removing cleansing balm costing just £10, we were keen to put the two head to head and see if it's worth making the swap in our skincare routine from a long term favourite to something new and significantly cheaper.

We looked at their texture, how fast they melted down into an oil, how well they removed stubborn waterproof mascara and other heavy duty make-up and how our skin felt after.

With a huge £34 price difference, we wanted to know if it's worth the splurge or an opportunity to save money in your skincare routine.

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Elemis pro-collagen cleansing balm, 100g

Instantly recognisable for its yellow colour, this rich balm is enriched with rose and mimosa wax, elderberry, omega and starflower oil and a host of essential oils. Combined it boasts a fragrant aroma that adds to its luxurious appeal.

It has a buttery texture that melts instantly into an oil on contact with dry skin and feels like a mini spa treatment in your bathroom. Thanks to its thick consistency, a little goes a long way and a 20p size piece is plenty to cover your face and neck and break down every speck of make-up.

The true test of a cleansing balm is its ability to remove waterproof mascara, the most stubborn of products that can leave you looking like a panda for days if not taken off properly.  

With this, make sure you’re careful to massage the balm into your lashes without pulling or being too harsh around the thinner, more sensitive skin under your eye. After five seconds, it dissolves and leaves you looking like a panda.

Once the balm was completely rubbed into our skin, we removed it (along with our make-up) using a lukewarm flannel. With a few sweeps, every trace of product was gone, even a bold, matte red lipstick as well as our mascara.

Once in contact with water, it emulsifies into a gentle cleansing milk which you can then splash off with water, however it’s less effective at getting it all off, and can leave a greasy residue, which if you have oily skin, can lead to a build up of oil sitting on the skin that can then clog pores and cause breakouts. The most effective way is with a flannel, that way you can ensure your skin is completely clean.

After it’s fully removed, our skin felt soft and smooth, with a subtle glow that you often find after having a facial. From start to finish, the experience is a luxurious treat, and the generous 100g tub will last months, as you only need a small amount.

It can be difficult to justify spending almost £50 on a product that will, quite literally, be washed down the drain, but there’s nothing not to love about its performance. It does a stellar job at removing every scrap of make-up in seconds, and the lovely texture is thick, but not sticky, soft but not greasy and skin feels refreshed immediately after, which we feel means you get more than your money’s worth.

e.l.f. holy hydration makeup melting cleansing balm, 56.5 g

The latest addition to e.l.f.’s holy hydration line is this cleansing balm, which is packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid to combat dehydration, plump skin and protect the skin barrier, which can be compromised by harsh winter weather, central heating and over exfoliating.

On first impressions, it’s a much smaller tub, with 43.5g less product than Elemis’ offering and the packaging is very lightweight, which is expected with its affordable price tag, but makes it a convenient cleanser to travel with.

The balm is a translucent, milky colour that melts into a satisfying oil slick and quickly dissolves a full face of make-up after gently massaging into skin.

The vegan formula has a very light scent, but hardly distinguishable and not strong in the slightest. Fragrance can be a common irritant, so the lack of it in this cleanser means it’s unlikely to cause any irritation.

Within seconds our make-up had melted down and we went in with a flannel to remove it, which again was more effective than just rinsing with water.

We used the same amount of product when comparing the two and the texture of this is a much more lightweight consistency that feels gentle and soothing on the skin. It doesn't have the same luxurious scent or feel as Elemis, but it’s still effective at breaking down full coverage make-up, brightly coloured eyeshadows and richly pigmented lipsticks.

When it came to tackling waterproof mascara, there was a slight bit of product left under our eyes once we’d removed the balm that we needed to go back over with a cotton pad, which is worth keeping in mind if your go-to mascara is a longwearing one.

After we removed it, along with our make-up, our skin felt just as smooth and dry patches on our skin felt much more comfortable and there was no tight feeling that lingered.

To sum it up in one word, we’d call it basic. Not in the sense that it’s boring or predictable, but it does exactly what it says on the tin, or tub in this case. While it doesn't come with the luxury spa-like feel that Elemis delivers on, it quickly and effectively removes make-up for a whole lot less.

That said, it’s much smaller in size than its luxury alternative, so you will get through it much quicker and we’d estimate this wouldn’t last longer than three months with regular use. However, for the cost of the Elemis balm, you could get four tubs from e.l.f., which we think is what tips it over the edge and ultimately won us over.

The verdict: e.l.f vs Elemis

e.l.f. has successfully created a cleansing balm that easily removes make-up and is a brilliant budget beauty buy worth stocking up on. While you may get through it quicker, it’s the perfect everyday essential in your skincare routine and will suit all skin types, without any irritation, just be sure to dedicate a few more seconds to massaging it into mascara-coated lashes, especially if it's waterproof.

If you have the money to spare and want to treat yourself to a one off purchase, or perhaps as a gift to a skincare obsessive, Elemis is still a gorgeous option that’s effective and a pleasure to use.

We’ve found all the best French skincare brands you need to know about here

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