So you've decided to work a cleansing oil into your skin care routine — smart choice! Even smarter is having decided to go the drugstore route, since these straightforward, oil-based cleansers don't require any fancy bells or whistles to get the job done. Still, not all drugstore cleansing oils are created equal: The best drugstore cleansing oils expertly remove makeup, leave your skin feeling nourished but not greasy, and cost well under $30. To save yourself a lot of trial and error, though, stick with any of the six tried-and-true cleansing oils listed ahead, which tick all those aforementioned boxes and then some.
While you can use oil cleansers on their own, most skin types will benefit from using them as the first step in your cleansing routine (aka double cleansing). Per this method, your cleansing oil breaks down all manner of makeup and skin care products (including waterproof mascara and sunscreen) while also helping to draw out excess sebum. Then your second, water-based cleanser — typically a gel or foam — can clean out your pores more effectively and whisk away any impurities that were left behind.
Now that you're informed on double cleansing 101, scroll on to shop six of the best cleansing oils under $30.
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1. The Drugstore Classic
This Neutrogena cleansing oil is among the very few (American) drugstore cleansing oils out there, but it’s a cult classic in its own right. Fans especially love that the consistency is lighter and more fluid than most other oil cleansers, but just a single pump is all you need to remove a full face of makeup — complete with waterproof mascara, no less. According to Amazon reviewers, this leaves all skin types feeling soft, moisturized, and balanced, instead of greasy or filmy. The formula has some added fragrance to it, though, so skip this if you prefer scent-free products.
2. The Best-Seller
People — including over 1,300 Amazon reviewers — really love this cleansing oil from Burt's Bees. This is a better choice if you prefer "natural" skin care products, since everything in here — including some of the scarier-sounding ingredients (hello, isoamyl laurate and polyglyceryl-2 sesquioleate) — is derived from plants. You’ll find some more familiar ingredients in here as well, like sunflower seed oil, rosemary extract, vitamin E, and coconut oil, which all work to soften, calm, and condition your skin. Keep in mind that coconut oil is somewhat comedogenic, so this may not be the best option if you’re prone to breakouts.
3. The Organic One
Burts’ Bees’ cleanser is certainly all natural, but certified organic by the USDA it is not. That distinction is reserved for this Badger cleansing oil, which may very well be the only certified-organic drugstore cleansing oil on the planet (not a fact, merely informed conjecture). The formula couldn’t get much simpler: It’s just sunflower oil, extra virgin olive oil, castor oil, apricot oil, vitamin E, and calendula extract — all organic, of course. Pick up the unscented version if you’re sensitive to fragrance; if not, try one of the argan-, rose-, or sea buckthorn-infused formulas. (Though all fragrances are courtesy of good-smelling plant extracts and oils, not synthetics.)
4. The Fancy One
If you live in America, you won’t find this Caudalie cleansing oil at your local drugstore, but you would if you lived in France. It happens to be another natural-leaning cleanser with a refreshingly short, simple formula: This contains sweet almond oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil, vitamin E, and plant-derived fragrance, along with a couple more plant-based ingredients. Reviewers with all skin types rave about this luxurious-feeling pick. One even said a 10-minute massage with this oil pulled out all their blackheads, which sounds like 10 minutes and $28 extremely well-spent.
5. The One For Face & Body
Oils are just as useful for cleansing everything below the neck, though shower oils feel really good on dry, itchy skin. And as far as oil cleansers for dry, itchy skin go, this one from Bioderma is hands-down the best — it’s from the brand’s Atoderm line, which is formulated specifically for people with very dry and/or sensitive skin. This contains some patented blends that work to keep skin soothed and moisturized for up to 24 hours, and it also helps fortify your skin's barrier for long-term hydration. This is another classic French pharmacy brand, though it can typically be found in American drugstores, too.
6. The Cleansing Balm
Cleansing balms emulsify into oils when they’re mixed with water and massaged into your skin, so they are, at heart, cleansing oils. You’ll find even fewer cleansing balms than oils at the pharmacy — they tend to be favored by luxury and/or Korean skin care brands — so this one from Pond’s, a classic drugstore brand, is extra special. It’s just as effective as a straight-up oil at breaking down all your makeup, sunscreen, and other surface-level grime, but the silky, buttery texture feels especially decadent. Heads up: This would make an excellent alternative to Clinique’s cult-favorite Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm. The formulas are similar, but this Pond’s cleansing balm costs almost a third of the price.