Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

One of the problems with being a beauty blogger is sourcing samples.  Do you spend your own money on them?  That’s an expensive proposition if you post regularly.   Or do you accept free samples from brands, and compromise your integrity?  It is a tricky one.  I suppose there is always shoplifting.  Luckily as a cosmetic chemist I can often get a pretty good idea about a product just by looking at the ingredient list.  And to prove it, here is a review of something I have never actually tried.

In fact I would be at something of a disadvantage even if I did have a sample because the main function of Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm is as a makeup remover.  I don’t tend to use makeup.  I realise that in the modern world  there isn’t anything that surprising about men in their fifties wearing makeup, but as it happens I don’t.  I prefer the rugged look.  But I have formulated a product intended as a makeup removing cleanser along the same lines as this one.  My solution to not having any makeup to remove was to put lipstick on my arm and see what worked best to remove it.

What that revealed was that the best approach was a non-aqueous fairly thick oil.  The best oil was mineral oil.  This made perfect sense because mineral oil is a very good solvent for oily things like lipstick and other colour cosmetics.  The trick was to come up with a surfactant that enabled the oil and lipstick to be removed easily.  I hit on a fairly obscure one that is made by treating lanolin to make it water soluble.  So this was a blend of the natural and the synthetic and I was pleased with the results.

So it was interesting to look at how the chemists at Clinique – one of Estée Lauder’s sub brands – went about tackling the same problem.  I was expecting to see mineral oil first on the list. In fact they have gone for ethyhexyl palmitate.   This is a mineral oil derivate and is quite similar to mineral oil in most ways.   I can’t think of any reason why you would want to avoid mineral oil but use this instead, but since when has logic had anything to do with beauty purchases?

I have never tried ethylhexyl palmitate out as makeup remover.  I imagine it would work well enough as it is quite similar to mineral oil.  They have combined it with safflower oil, which is quite a heavy oil and again one that I would expect to do pretty well.   There is some much lighter oil in there in the form of fractionated coconut oil – which has the official name caprylic/capric triglyceride.  The rest of the ingredients are a blend of surfactants that make it possible to get the oil off your skin with water once it has dissolved the makeup.

So all in all it sounds like a good product, and it definitely has a great name.  If you are looking for a mineral oil free makeup remover this should do the job nicely.  Let me know if you have used it.


Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polyethylene, PEG-5 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Water, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol

10 thoughts on “Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm”

  1. “I suppose there is always shoplifting.” — hahaha, you’re too funny!


    1. That formulation looks fine to me Rae. I have never tried it but mineral oil is a very good makeup remover so it should be good.

    1. Yes it is, thanks for the correction. (If anyone is wondering, the first draft of this post wrongly stated that Clinique was owned by L’Oréal.)

  2. I actually now use plain baby oil as a first cleanse to remove make up. It’s cheap and removes nicely with a flannel, and I follow it with a gentle foaming cleanser. I’m acne prone, and the mineral oil doesn’t irritate my skin like many other oils. I actually the clinique balm and liked it for a while but something in it didn;t agree with my skin. I think it was the Ethylhexyl Palmitate, which was an ingredient high up in someting else that broke me out in the past.
    I believe mineral oil is quite frowned on in many parts of the beauty world as it isn;t seen as “natural”. Look at Caroline Hiron’s blog if you want to see the type of attitude firmly held by her and her many followers.

  3. I have previously used this make up remover and still have the jar in the back of the make up drawer. I don’t know if many people find this – but it can be quite greasy, so I would definitely want to follow it up with another product as it leaves a residue on the skin (I am quite often lazy and stick to one) and I definitely don’t use this near the eyes. I have worked on cosmetics counters and have come across a few different products and favour Lancôme’s Bi-Facil as it is gentle and doesn’t leave the residue – it seems a little goes a long way. The main ingredients for this are water, cyclopentasiloxane, isohexadecane etc. I received a sample of A-Derma Sensifluid Cleansing Micellar Water – only used this 3 times but by far my favourite products I have used to remove both face and eye make up – containing water, poloxamer 184, PEG-6 caprylic/capric glycerides etc. Anyway – very interesting blog – makes a change from the usual beauty blogs!

  4. I have had a horrible reaction to Clinique’s Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm. My eyes not only became sore, red, itchy and swollen but the reaction developed overnight through my whole body. I have severe aches and exhaustion. This happened twice, as the first time I didn’t know what caused the reaction, and I used it again. I’m puzzled as I’ve used this product intermittently over a year (I normally use L’Oreal’s make up wipes) but I haven’t had reaction until this week. Is it because my eyes were already slightly irritated by dust when clearing cupboards? I’m desperate to work out which ingredient caused it, so I can avoid it in future? Do you know what % of ethylhexyl palmitate has been used in this product? I’d be really grateful for your advice.

    1. Hello Ami, anyone can get a reaction to anything so it is impossible to say what the problem is. The most likely problem is the phenoxyethanol but that is quite a common ingredient so if you are only having issues with this Clinique product then maybe it is something else. I don’t know what the level of ethylhexyl palmitate would be other than it is first on the list. You have probably already worked out that means it is the ingredient that is used at the highest level.

  5. Hi Colin. I have never commented on this before but can I just say that the work you do is great. Your posts are so informative and entertaining. I have been reading for a while after Caroline Hirons recommended you. As with most things she recommends, she was on the money.
    I have used the Take the Day Off balm and I find it excellent. My skin has always been a little troublesome, dry with some sensitivity that may not rear its head for a few weeks into using a product. I am on my second tub of it, as a little goes a LONG way with it. I apply to a dry face and work it from hairline to collarbone. It works like a dream. I never use cotton wool to remove removers. I wipe it off with a facecloth and warm water. It removes any greasy residue that may occur. It removes eye makeup and mascara easily with a few sweeps, leaving me looking like I have black eyes. I have recommended it to friends, also who run sensitive, and they find it great too. I always found in the past that Clinique products did not suit my skin and left my nose incredibly dry and flaky. This is the only one that I use.

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