I, Sarah Han, treasure my cleansing balms. In fact, I don't consider my skin-care routine complete unless I start with one, before moving onto my second cleanser (double cleansing is life). So when I found out one of my favorite Korean-inspired beauty brands, Glow Recipe, was coming out with the Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm, I audibly squealed.
In recent months, I've also made it a goal to exfoliate more consistently, which means using products with gentle-yet-effective concentrations of acids every day or every other day — for example, I've been using Glow Recipe's Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner religiously to shrink the appearance of my pores and get that glassy skin I crave.
While the toner's exfoliating properties are a little stronger, this new cleansing balm still contributes to my goal since papaya "contains a natural enzyme called papain, which helps gently exfoliate skin and reveals a glowy complexion," Ginger King, a cosmetic chemist and founder of Grace Kingdom Beauty, tells Allure.
I also learned from King that cetyl ehtylhexanoate and sorbitan oleate, two esters that have the same effectiveness of oil cleansing without the extra grease, are the heavy-lifting ingredients that I've been praising for taking off all of my makeup and sunscreen. As for the other key ingredients found in the balm, she says that papaya extract "contains natural vitamin A and vitamin C to further exfoliate and brighten skin" and papaya seed oil helps moisturize skin. Blueberry extract, which is also found in Glow Recipe's Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser, is an antioxidant that protects the product's integrity in this particular formula.
And in conjunction, the cleansing balm and toner make my skin super happy and smooth. And just like the Pore-Tight Toner drew inspiration from the Korean Aqua Peel Facial, the balm draws inspiration from heated, full-body enzyme baths, "a popular spa treatment to detoxify and gently exfoliate the skin that we would get after a long flight to Korea," Sarah Lee, cofounder and co-CEO of Glow Recipe tells Allure.
Lee, and fellow cofounder and co-CEO Christine Chang, also wanted to formulate a product that not only removes makeup and sunscreen, like most cleansing balms on the market but also provides visible skin-smoothing benefits. And let me tell you — I've tried countless cleansing balms over the years, and I don't think my skin has ever felt so baby soft after the first cleanse with Glow Recipe's Papaya Enzyme Cleansing Balm. The peach-hued formula is so plush that it melts immediately into the skin, which minimizes the possibility of any skin tugging.