When beauty founder Tata Harper was young, her family passed down their beauty secrets. One of them was the power of using an oil cleanser. You may have heard of double cleansing, but it’s not just another buzzy beauty trend that will die out or get debunked. It’s an ancient ritual that has been treasured for centuries in many cultures. And now, oil cleansers are everywhere.
“Double-cleansing dates back as far as the 14th century and originated in Asia,” Tata Harper told me. “Women would use a cleansing oil to remove their heavy makeup and follow with a foaming cleanser. This practice has been a staple in many Asian beauty routines for centuries and was introduced to me through my beauty-obsessed grandmother and mother in Colombia.”
- What is an oil cleanser?
- Are oil cleansers better than other cleansers?
- Is there a type of oil cleanser for each skin type? Can oily skin use an oil cleanser?
- Is oil cleansing good for pores?
- Who should avoid oil cleansing?
- How often should I oil cleanse?
- What are the best ingredients in cleansing oil? Are there any ingredients to avoid?
- I Tried It — Which Oil Cleansers are worth the hype
- Best Oil Cleanser for Dull or Dehydrated Skin — Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser
- Best Oil Cleanser for Clearing Pores — DAMDAM Silk Rice Cleansing Oil
- Best Oil Cleanser for Sensitive Skin — Wonder Valley Oil Cleanser
- Best Oil Cleanser for Fine Lines — UMA Absolute Anti-Aging Regenerative Oil Cleanser
- Other Oil Cleansers to Try
- Best Oil Cleanser for Breakouts — Susanne Kaufmann Deep Cleansing Oil
- Best Drugstore Oil Cleanser — DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
- Best Anti-Pollution Oil Cleanser — PCA SKIN Daily Cleansing Oil
- Best Brightening Oil Cleanser — Pai Skincare Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil
- Best Hydrating Oil Cleanser — Sonya Dakar Buriti Oil Cleanser
- Best Oil Cleanser for Uneven Texture — MARA Chia + Moringa Algae Enzyme Cleansing Oil
Featured Image by Riley Reed
“Oil cleansing is for everyone.”Tata Harper
Oil cleansers, like many good things, are often underrated or misunderstood. You might be hesitant to add another step to your beauty routine. Or, you might wonder can another cleanser really make a difference?
But once you start oil cleansing, you won’t want to go back. Cleansing is the first step of your routine — you want to make sure you’re doing it right. Otherwise, all the fancy serums and beauty trends won’t make a difference.
The potential benefits of oil cleansing include:
- Lifts excess sebum
- Prevents breakouts
- Gently clears makeup and SPF
- Detoxes clogged pores
- Nourishes skin
- Prevents dryness
- Removes dry, dead skin flakes
To learn more, I spoke to Tata Harper about why we should all start oil cleansing. Then, I tried some of the best oil cleansers for myself. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is an oil cleanser?
Oil Cleansing is the practice of washing your face with an oil-based cleanser rather than a traditional cleanser. It’s commonly utilized in the form of double cleansing which involves using an oil cleanser followed by a more traditional cleanser.
An oil cleanser is amazing for removing that first layer of buildup on your skin like dirt, oil, and SPF. It’s also a fantastic makeup remover that nourishes your skin while cleansing, unlike some other harsh makeup removers that rely on synthetic ingredients to cleanse skin.
Are oil cleansers better than other cleansers?
I don’t think it’s a matter of better or worse, but rather personal preference and skin care goals. I think oil cleansing is most effective when it is used in tandem with a more traditional cleanser to really make sure your skin is clean and you aren’t just going through the motions of washing your face.
Is there a type of oil cleanser for each skin type? Can oily skin use an oil cleanser?
Oil cleansers are suitable for all skin types and actually an excellent choice for oily skin types. It’s a common misconception that using an oil cleanser with already oily skin with exacerbate the issue when it is actually incredibly beneficial in controlling oily skin. When your skin is oily, it’s often a signal that your skin is craving moisture and needs this extra nourishment and care.
Is oil cleansing good for pores?
Yes! Oil cleansing is great for pores because it lifts excess sebum, the oily substance your skin produces that causes acne when not properly addressed. Using a cleansing oil helps dissolve this oily, waxy substance and other debris left on the face from the day.
Who should avoid oil cleansing?
Oil cleansing is for everyone. Oftentimes people with oily skin think that using a cleansing oil will increase their oiliness, but it’s actually the opposite. When the skin is overproducing oil, it means that it is craving nourishment and hydration, which makes using an oil cleanser an excellent choice.
How often should I oil cleanse?
I use our Nourishing Oil Cleanser every single night. It’s my first step in my skincare routine so I can be sure I’m removing all of the build-up that has accumulated on my skin. Oil cleansing is suitable for everyday use and can be used in place of a traditional makeup remover or micellar water.
What are the best ingredients in cleansing oil? Are there any ingredients to avoid?
The best ingredients to utilize in cleansing oils are non-comedogenic carrier oils like Sunflower Seed, Jojoba, and Grapeseed oil. It’s important to include only non-comedogenic ingredients to prevent any clogged pores. Antioxidants like Vitamin E and Green Tea Oil are also amazing ingredients to formulate cleansing oils with because they help to protect the skin from free radical damage and provide additional healing skin benefits. Botanical extracts like our farm-grown calendula help soothe and nourish skin when included in cleansing oils.
I Tried It — Which Oil Cleansers are worth the hype
I’ve been using oil cleansers for years and I’ve developed a small obsession. And, subsequently, a small collection. I oil cleanse with a different cleanser every night depending on my skin’s needs: removing makeup, clearing breakouts, or reviving tight (and admittedly, over-exfoliated) skin. And on a low-maintenance night, I even just treat my skin to a quick oil cleanse and leave it at that. Whether you’re oil cleanser-curious or looking for a new oil cleanser to replace your latest empty, here are some of the best oil cleansers for every skin type.
Best Oil Cleanser for Dull or Dehydrated Skin — Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser
This is the oil cleanser I turn to when my skin looks dull and feels dehydrated. Its blend of vitamins and botanicals makes my skin feel clean, without stripping it. I especially like this for dehydrated skin, since it includes barrier-building ingredients like jojoba oil and squalane, plus antioxidants for brighter, stronger skin. Plus, Tata uses it every single night before bed!
Best Oil Cleanser for Clearing Pores — DAMDAM Silk Rice Cleansing Oil
The name doesn’t lie. The texture of this oil cleanser really is just like silk. Rice water has been lauded for helping hair grow faster and stronger. But it has impressive skin benefits, too. In this softening cleanser, rice bran oil helps clear excess sebum to prevent pore buildup and clear away debris. This also makes it an effective makeup remover, gently melting away makeup without irritation or leaving behind residue.
Best Oil Cleanser for Sensitive Skin — Wonder Valley Oil Cleanser
Olive oil is one of beauty’s buzziest ingredients for a reason. It’s a gentle but powerful ingredient that is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, making it great for cleansing, moisturizing, and softening your skin. I use this when my skin feels extra sensitive because of its honey-like texture. It feels like a cleansing cushion for my skin and turns into a milky emulsion upon rinsing for balanced, gentle cleansing.
Best Oil Cleanser for Fine Lines — UMA Absolute Anti-Aging Regenerative Oil Cleanser
A great benefit of oil cleansing is that they give you an extra change in your routine to target specific skin concerns. As you massage this oil cleanser onto dry skin, I recommend really focusing on the fine lines around your eyes and mouth to help soften and strengthen that skin. Power ingredients like honey and oat deliver all the good stuff to your skin to support collagen and elastin production.
Other Oil Cleansers to Try
Best Oil Cleanser for Breakouts — Susanne Kaufmann Deep Cleansing Oil
Worried an oil cleanser won’t give you the deep clean you need? Whether you follow this up with a foaming cleanser or not, this deep-cleansing oil goes deep into your pores to detox the skin of impurities and rejuvenate acne-prone skin. Vitamin E lifts impurities like acne-causing sebum and sunflower oil supports the skin’s protective layer for more radiant skin.
Best Drugstore Oil Cleanser — DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
This affordable, all-in-one product is a makeup remover, cleanser, and makeup brush cleaner. You can use it as the first step in your double cleansing routine or on its own to dissolve makeup and cleanse your skin with the power of olive oil. You can even use it to gently clean your makeup brushes — which you should definitely be doing more often than you currently are.
Best Anti-Pollution Oil Cleanser — PCA SKIN Daily Cleansing Oil
Every time we go outside, our skin takes a beating. Pollution, free radicals, and sun exposure tear away at your skin, leading to premature aging, dehydration, and sensitivity. To fortify your skin, this cleansing oil is full of antioxidants that fight free radicals and prevent damage from pollution. Enriched with grape seed and sweet almond oils, it also nourishes and hydrates the skin.
Best Brightening Oil Cleanser — Pai Skincare Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil
Pai’s signature rosehip oil is a miracle oil for brightening your skin and making your complexion more even. The lightweight cleanser is suitable for all skin types, making you see a visible difference without harsh ingredients. It is full of reparative ingredients like Omegas 3, 6 and 9, while antioxidant and the superstar ingredient, rosehip, bighten dull skin and address dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
Best Hydrating Oil Cleanser — Sonya Dakar Buriti Oil Cleanser
There’s a difference between hydrated skin and moisturized skin. Buriti oil invigorates your skin with hydrating oils like buriti, grapeseed and avocado oils. Address dry, dehydrated, or mature skin with antioxidants and vitamins C, D, E.
Best Oil Cleanser for Uneven Texture — MARA Chia + Moringa Algae Enzyme Cleansing Oil
Mara’s signature algae enzymes make this a cult favorite brand for a reason. In this cleanser, the gently exfoliating fuit enzymes — papaya, pineapple, grapefruit and pumpkin — work together to lightly exfoliate the skin. Thought an oil clenaser couldn’t be exfoliating? Think again. It ever-so-gently sloughs off flaky, uneven skin to give you a smoother complexion and help maintain your moisture barrier without causing further damage.