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Cleansing Oils

Cleansing Oils

Cleansing oils have been the talk of the town as of late. Not only do they typically have a robust list of wholesome ingredients, they can also be some of the gentlest ways to rinse your face. Unlike soap or some water-soluble cleansers, oil cleansers can help protect the natural lipid layer of the skin and the good bacteria that live there. Some research shows that a healthy skin microbiome can help keep acne and other skin diseases at bay.

What is it?

A cleansing oil is a cleanser formulated as an oil or oil-based balm which works to effectively remove makeup and dead skin, clear clogged pores and lift excess oil.

Why use it?

Oil dissolves oil, which is why it makes the perfect cleanser. Not only can these cleansers clear your skin, the oils also hydrate the face, leaving it feeling balanced after rinsing, unlike traditional cleansers which can sometimes cause dryness, irritate the skin barrier and lead to overproduction of oil.

How to use and what to expect?

Cleansing oils can be used in two ways depending on the products. Cleansing oils can be applied to wet skin, gently massaged to loosen any unwanted products and then rinsed with water or pat dry with a damp towel. Alternatively, the product can be applied to dry skin, gently massaged in, then rinsed with water.

An oil cleanser may be used on its own, or as part of a double-cleanse – a ritual originating in K-Beauty which has recently become popular in Western beauty culture. The double-cleanse technique involves a two-step cleanse, first using an oil cleanser to lift away makeup and dead skin, then following with a water-soluble cleanser to remove any remaining products or residue, ensuring a more thorough cleanse.

It is also said that cleansing oils have healing properties, important nutrients and  other skin boosting benefits. After rinsing, the skin should feel clean and hydrated. Depending on your skin type and the type of cleanser used, you may find that you don’t even need to use a moisturizer.

Side note:

Gentle reminder that when trying new products, you should always perform a patch test. Cleansing oils, like any other product, can cause irritation to some skin types.











  • Photo: Josh Rosebrook
  • Byrd AL, et al. (2018). The human skin microbiome. DOI:
  • Danby SG, et al. (2013). Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: Implications for neonatal skin care. DOI:
  • Final report on the safety assessment of Ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, hydrogenated castor oil, glyceryl ricinoleate, glyceryl ricinoleate se, ricinoleic acid, potassium ricinoleate, sodium ricinoleate, zinc ricinoleate, cetyl ricinoleate, ethyl ricinoleate, glycol ricinoleate, isopropyl ricinoleate, methyl ricinoleate, and octyldodecyl ricinoleate. (2007). DOI:
  • Kottner J, et al. (2017). The effectiveness of using a bath oil to reduce signs of dry skin: A randomized controlled pragmatic study. DOI:
  • Seon-Hyeong I, et al. (2010). A study on skin conditions by water-soluble cleansers.
  • Verallo-Rowell VM, et al. (2008). Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis.
  • International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2015, pages 371–378; and August 2013, pages 337–345
  • Dermatology Research and Practice, August 2012, ePublication
  • Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, January 2010, pages 1–6
  • Dermatologic Therapy, Volume 17 Supplement 1, 2004, pages 16–25 

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