It may seem counterintuitive, but the term “oil cleansers” is not an oxymoron. Since oils attract other oils, oil cleansers work to gently but thoroughly soak up the oils in your makeup and skin care products when it's time to wash everything off. The best oil cleansers are all lightweight and noncomedogenic (that means they wont clog your pores), but choosing the right one for you will largely come down to your skin type (more on that ahead).
To get the most out of your oil cleanser, use it as the first step in the double-cleansing process, which should look a little something like this: Massage your oil cleanser gently into dry skin, wipe everything away with a cotton pad, muslin cloth, or clean wash towel, and marvel in that strange satisfaction of seeing how much product you just sloughed off your face. With your skin clear of top-level grime like makeup, sunscreen, excess sebum, and environmental pollutants, your second cleanser can more effectively do its job of cleaning out your pores. Follow your cleansing oil with a great, water-based cleanser, like a gel or foam.
Also, something a lot of people don't know: Oil cleansers are equally effective for cleaning the rest of your body, especially if you find that most soaps and shower gels tend to dry out your skin. And ahead, you'll find a great choice that was designed specifically for use on your body.
Ready to shop? Then scroll on for five of the best cleansing oils you can get right now.
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1. The Best Drugstore Oil Cleanser
This oil cleanser from Neutrogena contains a blend of fine oils designed to break down even the most stubborn, hard-to-remove makeup (I’m looking at you, waterproof mascara) without clogging your pores. Like most of the brand’s products, the Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil is both dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested, which makes it ideal for massaging all over your face — including your sensitive eye area — without worrying about irritation. This cleanser does contain a mild fragrance, however, so if you have allergy-prone skin you may want to skip down to my reactive-skin pick.
2. The Best Oil Cleanser For Reaction-Prone Skin
If you have rosacea or are otherwise susceptible to mysterious rashes, allergies, and inflammation, you’re probably averse to trying new skin care products. Rightly so. But if you do want to try an oil-based cleanser, give this Boscia MakeUp-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil a shot. This cleanser is designed to gently break down makeup, unclog pores, and refresh tired skin, but its gentle, preservative-free formula shouldn't irritate ultra-sensitive types (it's also free of artificial fragrance, gluten, and other common skin-aggravators). Rosehip oil and green tea extract are especially effective for reducing redness and inflammation associated with rosacea, while avocado and olive oils will help keep your skin soft and nourished.
3. The Best Japanese Oil Cleanser
Apparently, one bottle of DHC's cult-classic Deep Cleansing Oil is sold every 10 seconds worldwide. If that’s not endorsement enough, this iconic Japanese cleanser is formulated to suit every skin type, including fickle combination skin. Organic, refined olive oil deeply hydrates dry skin, while rosemary leaf oil, a natural antiseptic, works to detox and balance excessively oily pores. Vitamin E caps off the formula’s botanical trifecta to repair damaged skin and protect it from free radicals. Over 2,000 enthusiastic Amazon reviewers love how this potent but silky oil glides on smoothly, washes away easily, and leaves skin feeling soft, moisturized, and not at all greasy.
4. The Best Korean Oil Cleanser
The double-cleansing method originated in Korea, so there’s certainly no shortage of oil cleansers from Korean beauty brands to choose from. But you’ll find lots of loyalists to the TONYMOLY Wonder Apricot Deep Cleansing Oil, a sweet-smelling oil that emulsifies into a gentle, milky cleanser when activated with a little bit of water. Vitamin-rich apricot seed oil, the hero ingredient, works to break down makeup and surface-level grime. Meanwhile, a fleet of natural oils work to restore hydration, repair damaged cells, and boost collagen production for bouncier, more elastic skin over time.
5. The Best Oil Cleanser For Your Body
A moisturizing shower oil, like this one from French pharmacy brand Bioderma, is an especially smart choice if your skin feels tight and itchy after stepping out of the shower. This silky, fragrance- and preservative-free oil is part of Bioderma’s Atoderm line, which is designed for clinically dry and hypersensitive skin. It doesn’t contain sulfates, the detergent that gives soaps and shampoos their satisfying lather, but which can seriously aggravate dry skin. Instead, this shower oil is packed with deeply nourishing ingredients that restore your skin’s protective barrier at a cellular level, which helps seal in moisture in the long term.