Beauty Battle: Cream Cleansers

We pit two similar products — one high-end, one drugstore — against each other to see which one reigns supreme.

One of these will make you cry. Photo by Anne Vickman

It’s time for another Beauty Battle, Bostonistas. And thanks to the recent realization that I have dry skin (not combination, as I once thought), I’ve jumped on the cream cleanser wagon. So this week we’re comparing Burt’s Bees Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream and Boscia’s Soothing Cleansing Cream.

Burt’s Bees Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream
Price: $8.99, available at CVS,

The hype: This drugstore score claims to have 97 percent natural ingredients and says that soap bark is a natural cleansing agent while chamomile and aloe vera moisturize and soften. It’s also paraben-, sulfate-, and preservative-free.

The application: The cream is pretty thick, and has a slightly herbal scent I can’t quite put my finger on — but after reading the label I’m guessing it’s a combination of the witch hazel, rosemary leaf extract, and oils from lemon, jasmine, lavender, and cilantro. It’s not altogether unpleasant, but it’s not my favorite smell. I massage my face as I would with a foaming cleanser, avoiding nothing. Upon rinsing there’s a distinct cooling sensation, which is lovely. Until I open my eyes—and they start to burn. Keeping my peepers open is next to impossible but a blurry glance at the ingredient list reveals menthol. I know it’s natural, but should we really be “gently massaging” it anywhere near our eyes?!

Boscia Soothing Cleansing Cream
Price: $26, available at Sephora,

The hype: Also preservative-, paraben-, and sulfate-free, this cream’s selling points include botanical ingredients like chamomile, carrot root, jojoba leaf, and willowherb, which soothe, elasticize, combat free radicals, and calm inflammation. It also claims to effectively remove makeup.

The application: I’m a bit more hesitant to rub this stuff over my eyes after “The Menthol Incident,” but as it’s supposed to remove makeup I do it anyway. The instructions recommend massaging the cream onto dry skin for one to two minutes before rinsing. The smell is light and fresh, and it’s less viscous than the Burt’s Bees cleanser, making it easier to rub into my skin. After a thorough rinsing, my makeup is gone, my visage feels clean and soft, and my eyes aren’t screaming bloody murder.

Read on for the verdict…

The verdict: In terms of quality ingredients that are good for your skin, I’d say these two are equally matched. But I have to give this one to Boscia — any product with menthol should carry a warning label that indicates eye irritation could occur. Who wants a cleanser with the potential to make you cry?