As someone with finicky, redness-prone skin, I’m hesitant to apply new skin-care products to my face without careful consideration and dedicated swatching beforehand. Because of this, it typically takes me a few days (if not a full week) after receiving a product to determine if it’s gentle enough to work into my regular skin-care routine for testing. The only exception is Tatcha products—anytime one of the brand’s new launches lands on my doorstep, I know I can skip the skepticism altogether. So, when the Tatcha Indigo Cleansing Balm Moisturizing Makeup Remover ($38) arrived last week, I immediately cleared out a spot by my sink… and it’s already earned a spot in my permanent rotation.
The star ingredient in the formula, Japanese indigo, has a fascinating history. “During the Edo period in Japan, samurai wore a layer of indigo-dyed cotton beneath their armor to help heal injuries,” says Rose Sparacio, Tatcha’s VP of Product Innovation. “Known as ‘Japan blue,’ the rich dye has been used for centuries for its protective, skin-calming properties.”
She explains that Japanese indigo “provides soothing support for visibly stressed skin, calming redness for even-toned skin,” while a blend of cleansing lipids in the cleanser “replenish and purify the skin to leave it nourished, never parched.” Together, she says these ingredients work to repair the skin’s moisture barrier, which is the skin’s first defense against both internal and external stressors.
In other words, this cleanser goes above and beyond. While—obviously—the main job of any face wash is to remove dirt, makeup, and debris, it’s even more impressive when a formula can do that and then some. This one has hydrating and soothing properties that go beyond aesthetics to enhance the skin’s ability to retain moisture, leading to a healthier complexion overall.
“Our skin barrier is the shield that protects our skin from the outside world and its physical pollutants such as UV rays, free radicals, and pollutants,” says Sparacio. “Like any form of armor, it needs to be strong enough to not only prevent irritants from penetrating your skin, but also to ensure moisture will not escape. By strengthening your defenses, skin is better able to resist damage while looking its best.”
After just one use, I can confirm that this new cleansing balm is worth the hype. It’s so soft, sinks quickly into the skin, and effortlessly removes even the most stubborn matte lipstick and volumizing mascara. So effortlessly, in fact, that I didn’t have to double-cleanse or aggressively rub my skin to get it clean, which meant significantly less stress on my complexion.
What’s more, it didn’t sting my eyes or leave a bitter aftertaste, which can happen when using cleanser (as opposed to wipes) to remove lip products. Instead, it left my skin looking squeaky clean, plump with hydration, and notably more soothed than other face washes.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. According to Sparacio, 100 percent of panelists in a clinical study of 40 participants showed improved skin hydration after using the Indigo Cleansing Balm as their only skin care for one week.
Beyond how hydrating and soothing the Indigo Cleansing Balm is, I was also impressed with how little I needed to fully rid my complexion of a full face of makeup. At first, I was surprised by how slim the jar of cleansing balm is considering it costs nearly $40. However, when I opened it up and skimmed the included gold disc across the hardened exterior of the balm, I was left with a small swatch of product that was plenty to remove every trace of my makeup—and it hardly left a divot in the balm. As such, I expect this jar to last upwards of two months with daily cleansings, which means it comes out to just over $0.50 per use. Less than a dollar for a ritualistic complexion cleanse? Yeah, I’d say it’s well worth it.
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