Even if you’re not a fan of oils, the best cleansing oil might just convert you. Not only are cleansing oils able to break down even waterproof mascara, but they can also balance skin and offset dryness — without clogging pores or causing breakouts. Used properly, they can leave skin softer, smoother, and (of course) cleaner in a matter of seconds.
If you have oily or acne-prone skin, the concept of slathering on any oil-based products like cleansing oils might not have much appeal. But there’s some logic here: Thanks to a little concept called double-cleansing, the habit of starting your routine with a remove-it-all oil (or cleansing balm) has gone from a niche Korean skin-care step to a full-on mainstream practice. And yes, it’s something that anyone, regardless of skin type, can get into.
Our Top Picks:
- Best Overall: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, $28
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Avène XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil, $32
- Best Emulsion: Laneige Cream Skin Milk Oil Cleanser, $34
- Best for Eye Makeup: Mario Badescu Cleansing Oil, $16
- Best for Dry Skin: Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, $50
- Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Ultra Light Face Cleansing Oil, $10
- Best Exfoliating: Dermalogica Precleanse, $49
- Best for Mature Skin: Tata Harper Nourishing Makeup Removing Oil Cleanser, $88
“Since oil dissolves oil, they are ideally suited to be used as cleansers,” Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Allure. “Cleansing oils usually contain an oil base, along with a traditional skin-cleansing ingredient called a surfactant, which helps bind to dirt on the skin and remove it without disrupting the skin barrier.” Just make sure you work them onto dry skin, so it breaks down waterproof makeup, sunscreen, and dirt, before rinsing off with lukewarm water or gently wiping it away with a soft muslin cloth.
While oil-based cleansers don’t stay on your face for too long, it doesn’t hurt that most are infused with moisturizing ingredients, like jojoba seed oil, apricot kernel oil, and Centella asiatica extract, which actively nourish skin while giving it a deep clean. Below, check out the best cleansing oils, as recommended by board-certified dermatologists and Allure editors alike, to remove makeup, impurities, and sunscreen.
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