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For those of us who enjoy wearing makeup a little more than the average person, makeup removal takes a bit longer too. And when it comes to makeup removal, double cleansing with an oil-based cleanser is the best way to do it. And when it comes to double cleansing, cleansing oils offer a quick, convenient, equally nourishing way to dissolve makeup.
If you’ve looked around and landed on oil cleansers to add to your makeup removal routine, I’ve rounded up below some of the best cleansing oils I’ve ever used. If you’re not familiar, here’s the gist. A cleansing oil is an oil-based cleanser that removes makeup and oil from the surface of the skin. It’s used in the first step of a double cleansing routine to break down makeup, and excess sebum on the skin.
Cleansing oils work similarly to cleansing balms but contrary to cleansing balms which come in a solid texture, cleansing oils come in a pump bottle and have a runny consistency. As an advantage, cleansing oils are more hygienic as you don’t need to put your fingers into the bottle every time you need to use it. Now, if you’re wondering what’s out there, below are the best cleansing oils to get started!
Best Cleansing Oils
1. Dermalogica Precleanse Cleansing Oil
This is hands down the lightest cleansing oil I’ve ever used. It feels even lighter than a face oil. It works very fast to dissolve makeup, even waterproof eye makeup and leaves absolutely no residue on the skin. It’s made with a blend of essential oils but surprisingly, the oil has a very subtle, faint scent.
It removes every single bit of makeup from my skin and leaves it fresh as a daisy almost as if I don’t need a second cleanser. It’s non-comedogenic so no need to worry about blemishes either. Whatever type of makeup you’re wearing, you’re going to love this one! No burning, stinging eyes either!
Key Ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, rice bran oil
Size: 5.1 oz/150 ml
Good To Know: Cruelty-free
2. Caudalie Vinoclean Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil
This is made with almond oil and smells like almonds. It also contains grape seed oil, which is rich in antioxidant resveratrol. It’s a bit thicker in texture but that’s why it’s so moisturizing and great for dry skin. I love it in winter when my skin is extra dry.
When removing makeup, the cleansing oil works relatively slowly because I can feel it takes a minute to soften and dissolve my mascara. But it does clean it up in the end. The vegan, non-irritating formula is great for my sensitive eyes from ocular rosacea. Overall, this has been a staple for me as I have zero irritation and zero breakouts from it. The packaging, on the other hand, could be better.
Key Ingredients: Sweet almond oil, grape seed oil
Size: 5 oz/150 ml
Good To Know: Vegan, non-comedogenic
3. Bobbi Brown Soothing Cleansing Oil
And speaking of skin that needs nourishing and moisture, this is another formula with a runny consistency that doesn’t even feel like oil. It gets to work right away and dissolves your makeup. It smells incredibly fresh. It’s made with moisturizing sunflower seed oil and a blend of several nutrient-rich berry extracts.
The only potential problem is that because the formula is very runny, you need to be careful while dispensing the oil as the pump squirts out with pressure and you can spray everywhere. Other than that, it’ll melt away every trace of makeup from the skin.
Key Ingredients: Kukui nut oil, sunflower seed oil
Size: 6.8 oz/200 ml
4. Hanskin BHA Pore Cleansing Oil
Using an oil-based cleanser on oily skin goes against everything we know about managing oily skin. But because oil attracts oil, oil-based cleansers are actually incredibly helpful in separating excess sebum and oil-based makeup from the skin so that your second cleanser works even better!
To that end, if you have oily, acne-prone, congested skin, this is your all-in-one double cleanser. The cult-favorite Japanese cleanser is made with salicylic acid, which is the ultimate exfoliator to clear up clogged pores. So you remove oil-based impurities from the skin but also help exfoliate clogged pores. Plus, it’s incredibly effective in completely removing makeup!
Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, jojoba oil
Size: 10.14 oz/300 ml
Good To Know: Vegan
5. Erborian Black Cleansing Oil
Speaking of oily skin, this is a unique formula that simply proves that there are in fact amazing oil cleansers for people with oily skin! This cleansing oil is made with charcoal powder, which gives the oil its black color. If you have oily skin, then you know about charcoal.
It is one of the best ingredients to have in your products as it helps clear the skin off impurities, purify clogged pores, and reduce excess sebum. The formula helps break down your makeup while the rich blend of anti-inflammatory ingredients helps calm down skin.
Key Ingredients: Charcoal powder, Centella Asiatica extract
Size: 6.4 oz/190 ml
6. Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser
You might think that there’s no reason to go overboard with an oil cleanser as you’re going to wash it down the drain anyway. But you can always try more potent products if you’re following a targeted skincare routine to minimize skin concerns such as signs of aging.
For that reason, I love, love this luxurious natural formula. It’s made with botanicals rich in several antioxidants like vitamin A from sacha inchi oil and vitamin E from green tea seed oil. It’s incredibly moisturizing for the skin and provides a satisfying makeup removal step to prepare your skin for your second cleanser.
Key Ingredients: Green tea seed oil, jojoba oil
Size: 4.1 oz/125 ml
Good To Know: Vegan, cruelty-free
7. Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil
Speaking of botanically rich formulations, this is another favorite that turns cleansing into a ritual. The lavender-smelling formula is one of my favorite Kiehl’s products of all time. It doesn’t hurt that it also contains moisture-boosting squalane and evening primrose oil.
I love taking my time with it while massaging the cleansing oil into my skin because it helps me wind down. If you have very sensitive skin, you might want to skip this as the fragrant essential oils might irritate your skin. But other than that, the formula removes anything from stubborn face makeup to multiple applications of heavy sunscreen.
Key Ingredients: Evening primrose oil, squalane
Size: 5.9 oz/175 ml
Good To Know: Non-comedogenic
8. Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Oil
This is the oil version of Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm and it’s equally effective in instantly dissolving heavy, waterproof makeup! The runny consistency works very fast and doesn’t even require a lot of rubbing to dissolve makeup.
Whether it’s some full overage foundation or water-resistant eyeliner or mascara, the cleansing oil is a hit for sure no matter your skin type! The fragrance-free formula leaves no uncomfortable residue either!
Key Ingredients: Glycerin, vitamin E
Size: 6.7 oz/200 ml
9. Peach & Lily Ginger Melt Oil Cleanser
Oil cleansing was a common practice in K-beauty way before we even heard of oil cleansing. For that reason, many people find Korean cleansing oils to be better and more effective. And Peach & Lily never disappoints in that department.
This cleansing oil has such a fast-acting formula that it makes makeup removal so easy and doable as opposed to time-consuming and daunting. It’s made with anti-inflammatory ginger extract and Centella Asiatica and it has grape seed oil which adds to the rich but runny consistency of the formula.
Key Ingredients: Grape seed oil, ginger root extract
Size: 5 oz/150 ml
Good To Know: PEG-free, vegan, cruelty-free
These are the best cleansing oils I can swear by. Dermalogica Precleanse Cleansing Oil is a hit no matter your skin type because every single person I recommend it to loves it. It works very fast to dissolve your makeup and doesn’t leave a greasy residue on the skin either. If you’re ready to get started, here’s how to properly use a cleansing oil.
How To Use a Cleansing Oil
You need to use your cleansing oil on dry skin. Squeeze out a few pumps of cleansing oil into the palm of your hand and rub your palms together.
Start massaging your skin with both hands starting from your cheeks and then moving toward the chin and then finally upward toward the forehead.
Use the tip of your fingers to massage the eye area to dissolve your eye makeup. Gently massage the eye area and make sure the oil goes in between the eyelashes to dissolve the mascara. To get everything around the eyes, including eyeliner, open your eyes and massage the lower lashline as well.
Once you’re convinced that you’ve got everything, rinse your face with water. Remember that a cleansing oil needs to be washed away. So use your second cleanser like your daily gel face wash to wash everything away.
Finish your skincare routine and apply your serums and moisturizer.