The Best Cleansing Oils for Clean, Refreshed SkinJune 14, 2023
Cleansing oils are a triple threat: They remove makeup, clarify the skin and rid it of impurities. The best time to use these special cleansers is at the end of the day to help revitalize your skin after it’s been exposed to outside pollution, free radicals and makeup. Cleansing oils also make a fantastic first step in the double cleansing method, before you use your favorite water-based formula. If you haven’t tried oil cleansing yet or are looking for a new one, check out 14 of our favorites below.
What Is a Cleansing Oil?
Cleansing oils are, as the name describes, oil-based cleansers. They have an oily, liquid-y consistency that feels soft and smooth on the skin. Some oil cleansers have an oil-to-foam consistency, meaning they feel oily when you first apply them but foam up when they’re met with water.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Cleansing Oil?
Oil cleansers can effectively remove makeup, sweat, sunscreen and grime with minimal tugging or rubbing. They usually do a faster job of breaking down makeup and impurities than water-based cleansers, since the oil-based formula works to attract and dissolve other oils. Cleansing oils are gentle and can work for every skin type, including oily skin — they won’t over-dry your skin or leave behind an oily residue once you rinse them off.
“If you use oil-based products or have oily skin, an oil cleanser is necessary to melt the oil away,” dermatology resident physician Dr. Joyce Kim previously told Skincare.com. When used in combination with a water-based cleanser, Dr. Kim explained it can help remove “as much debris as possible” and allow for better absorption of the serums and moisturizers you layer on top of clean skin. Plus, thoroughly cleansing your skin helps prevent clogged pores which can later turn into breakouts. A board-certified dermatologist can help you determine if a cleansing oil is right for you.
How Does a Cleansing Oil Work?
Cleansing oils dissolve oil, such as oil-based makeup, sunscreen, sebum and sweat. If you notice that water-based cleansers don’t always do an effective job at taking off your makeup (particularly if you wear full-coverage foundation or waterproof products), or if your skin is very oily, a cleansing oil may be a great addition to your skincare routine, especially as the first step of the double-cleansing method (more on that below).
How to Use Cleansing Oils
Most cleansing oils can be applied to wet or dry skin, then massaged into the face. If you’re wearing heavy makeup or sunscreen, you may want to take your time massaging the product into your skin, allowing it to fully break down any impurities on your skin. Next, you can wash away the cleansing oil with water and follow with either a water-based cleanser as part of the double-cleansing method, or continue with your usual skincare routine. This is how most cleansing oils work, but you should always double-check the instructions on your cleansing oil of choice to be sure before use.
How to Double Cleanse With a Cleansing Oil
“If you tend to wear heavy makeup every day, and a traditional cleanser is not enough to remove it, then it may help to double cleanse as part of your evening routine to ensure the makeup is completely removed,” says Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist. To double cleanse, start by applying several pumps of a cleansing oil to dry skin, gently massaging the formula in circular motions. Once you notice your makeup coming off, wash your face with lukewarm water and follow with a water-based cleanser, such as the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser. You’ll know a cleanser is water-based if “water” is listed as the first ingredient on the label.
This guide will help you figure out if double cleansing is right for you — in general, the practice is best for removing heavy makeup or excess sebum on oily skin types.
The Best Cleansing Oils
This fragrant cleansing oil emulsifies into a milky consistency that helps melt away stubborn makeup and impurities. Formulated with squalane, primrose oil and lavender essential oil, the non-comedogenic formula leaves all skin types cleansed and soothed. You can get it for 25% off until June 16, 2023, along with all other Kiehl’s skincare products on-site and in-store as part of the Kiehl’s Summer Sale.
This oil’s silky soft texture helps dissolve long-wearing makeup and remove all traces of grime without drying or stripping the skin. With a combination of eight nourishing botanical oils, it helps clean and moisturize skin while minimizing the appearance of pores.
Those with very dry and sensitive skin will love this ultra-gentle cleansing oil, which is allergy-tested, fragrance-free and accepted by the National Eczema Association. The comforting formula removes debris on the face and body without stripping skin of essential oils, and helps protect from the drying effects of water. Inside, you’ll find soothing niacinamide, softening shea butter and mineral-rich thermal water.
Made with oily and blemish-prone skin types in mind, this cleansing oil helps break down makeup and sebum while maintaining skin’s moisture levels. Over time, it helps to tackle blackheads and reduce the look of shine for soft, matte skin.
This oil-in gel cleanser combines both steps of a double-cleansing routine into a single convenient product. The gel consistency melts into a silky smooth oil that polishes away makeup and impurities while maintaining your skin’s moisture barrier. Over time, it helps promote plumper, brighter-looking skin with less visible pores.
Dealing with dullness? It may be a result of environmental irritants. This refreshing cleansing oil helps awaken your senses and your skin with a citrus-and-ginger scent and an antioxidant-packed formula. Your skin will be left feeling refreshed and radiant after use.
Infused with vitamin C and Japanese yuzu extract, this 91% natural-origin formula effortlessly removes makeup and debris. One reviewer with dry, mature skin describes this bestselling cleanser as “liquid gold.”
For a gentle, hydrating wash, look no further than this antioxidant-rich cleansing oil. It removes makeup and leaves your skin feeling supple, hydrated and soft.
Pick up this fragrance-free, cruelty-free and vegan oil cleanser on your mission for glass skin. Made with ginger root extract and botanical oils, it leaves skin silky soft and helps tackle signs of inflammation.
This cleansing oil is a cult-favorite for good reason. It contains olive oil and botanicals and can remove SPF and makeup with ease. The aromatic rosemary scent adds a spa-like ambience to your skincare routine.
Cleanse your skin without stripping or over-drying using thus ultra-nourishing cleansing oil. Avocado oil, which is brimming with fatty acids, and purifying tea tree oil come together to help break down makeup and oils.
This plant-based cleansing oil makes taking off waterproof makeup and sunscreen less of a chore, leaving your skin thoroughly cleansed and refreshed. Suitable for all skin types, it contains moisturizing argan and soybean oils.
With its floral, aromatic scent and silky, elegant texture, this cleansing oil provides an indulgent sensory experience. Made with antioxidant-rich oils, it helps cleanse and hydrate skin while taking off the day’s makeup and grime. Plus, it can double as a leave-on facial oil.
Infused with pumpkin, pineapple, papaya and grapefruit enzymes, this glow-inducing cleanser exfoliates and leaves skin velvety soft. While it’s suitable for all skin types, it’s especially beneficial for minimizing the look of texture and giving your complexion a smoother, more radiant appearance.