Frances Prescott Tri-Balm review: cleanser, moisturiser, exfoliator, miracle worker

We try out skincare's new triple threat

We love a multi-tasking product, and Tri-Balm by Frances Prescott is pretty much the definition. It’s a cleanser, moisturiser, makeup remover and exfoliator in one gorgeous-smelling twist-up stick.

If you haven’t heard of Frances, she’s a highly-regarded makeup artist and facialist, and has more than likely worked on some of your favourite famous faces. Tri-Balm is the first in her own line of products that will focus on being British-made, cruelty-free, silicone and sulphate-free, as well as multi-tasking HARD.

We were excited to tri (get it) Tri-Balm, and after a few weeks’ use, we’re ready to call it. Here’s our review.

Smells like heaven, confusing as hell

Tri-Balm arrives in a classy duck egg blue box, and within that is housed in a white cylinder with twist-off lid. The first thing we noticed was the inviting smell — like warm springtime, which we’re guessing is down to the natural oils it contains (blackcurrant, starflower, sunflower, sweet almond, mandarin, geranium and a few others — full ingredients here). The second was that we weren’t entirely sure how to use it.

There are instructions on the box and the website, but they miss out a few key details for the beginner. Like, do you apply the stick to your actual face like a deodorant? Should your face be wet or dry? Is it OK to just start Pritt Stick-ing your face if it’s covered in makeup? HOW DOES ANY OF THIS WORK?

To start with, we played it safe. I usually remove my makeup with micellar water and cotton wool, so I did that. Then I twisted up the Tri-Balm stick, scooped a bit with my fingers and massaged it into my dry face, as I would for the oil cleansing method. After I’d recovered from having that incredible smell right by my nostrils, I swooned again for the way the balm melted effortlessly into my skin.

As with oil cleansers, Tri-Balm emulsifies on contact with water, so I wet my face and massaged it, then rinsed. My skin was left delicately scented, beautifully soft and clean. A strong start.

As a daily cleanser

After a few tries using my initial method, I decided to give the Pritt Stick approach a go. On bare skin, I smoothed the stick across my skin, then massaged it in and removed as before. This worked fine, but I don’t really like applying product directly to my skin because I don’t want to leave any bacteria in the package, so I only did this once. After that, I used clean fingers to get the balm out.

I tried using Tri-Balm in the shower, but I wouldn’t recommend it. As I mentioned, it emulsifies on contact with water, so when the shower spray inevitably got onto the stick, it started melting a bit. This stuff isn’t cheap, so you’ll want to use every last scrap!

Next, I tried using Tri-Balm to remove my makeup too. I think this would work well for people who wear lighter makeup, but I went nuclear with my Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation (essentially concrete) and Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray, so unsurprisingly one round with Tri-Balm didn’t remove it all. Two rounds did, but I’d prefer to use a less expensive product for one of them, so I went back to micellar water to get the war paint off (I use the massive pink Garnier one for sensitive skin).

Tri-Balm definitely moisturises your skin when you use it to cleanse, but I wouldn’t say it’s moisturising enough for me to replace my main hydrating product (the legendary CeraVe) with it — I still needed to apply that after cleansing. Then again my skin does get fairly dry, so people with oilier skin might find it’s enough on its own.

As a face mask

As well as daily cleansing, you can use Tri-Balm as a face mask. To do that, you just smooth a thicker layer onto clean skin and leave it for as long as you like, before removing with water or tissues. I tried this in the bath, and the steam really helped it melt into my skin, which felt like velvet afterwards. A real treat.

The other use for Tri-Balm is as an exfoliant, but it should be noted that this means a gentle, daily, chemical exfoliant rather than an acid-style treatment or rougher physical exfoliator. The pumpkin enzyme in Tri-Balm contains AHAs, vitamins A and C, and zinc — all of which are well-proven effective ingredients, but they’re not going to get the chance to do much in the space of a daily cleanse, so you’ll want to do a weekly mask with Tri-Balm too if you want to see the exfoliating benefits clearly.

Gadgette’s verdict

Frances Prescott’s first product is a roaring success and we’d recommend it to anyone with one (sadly quite large) caveat: it’s really pricey. It only comes in one size (70g) and that costs — I’m sorry — £46. If it makes you feel better, I’ve been using this for weeks now and have barely made a dent in my stick even with weekly masks, so it should last a good while.

However, one of the bigger issues with skincare (particularly here in the UK, where we can’t just return beauty stuff if it doesn’t work) is that you really need to try it for a week or so before you know whether it’s going to work for you, especially if you have sensitive skin like mine. It’d be great if there was a smaller, maybe travel-sized stick of Tri-Balm, or a sampling service, so people could give it a go before committing to something that’s almost £50. My skin is so awkward that if I hadn’t been sent this for review, I don’t think I’d have risked buying it to try it (now I know it works, though, I’ll definitely be repurchasing).

Overall, then, this is an incredible product that smells beautiful and works brilliantly. It multi-tasks effectively and would be ideal for travelling with, since it won’t spill and saves you taking multiple products. It also makes a really indulgent treat or gift for someone you love — I think busy mums would absolutely love this. Until the kids tried to use it to make greetings cards, of course.

Frances Prescott Tri-Balm is available now from the Frances Prescott site or Cult Beauty. We can’t wait to see what she makes next. 

Holly Brockwell
About Holly Brockwell 291 Articles
Tech addict Holly founded Gadgette in 2015, and won Woman of the Year for it. She's firmly #TeamAndroid, has ambitions to become a robot, and beat all other Hollies to her awesome Twitter handle.