- Cleansing oils are designed to remove makeup, oil and other debris.
- Oil-based cleansers are gentler on the skin than other types of cleansers.
- Some oils can clog your pores and increase the risk of breakouts.
If you are new to cleansing oils, the idea of applying oil to your face may sound counterintuitive to maintaining clean and healthy skin. However, oil-based cleansers do have the potential to improve your complexion and offer a number of advantages over conventional cleansers.
What is a Cleansing Oil?
A cleansing oil is a product designed to remove makeup, excess oil and other contaminants from the surface of your skin. It helps keep your skin clean and improves your complexion without disrupting your body’s natural balance of oil.
Just about every major skin care brand now offers at least one oil-based cleanser. These cleansers are typically formulated using a mixture of oils such as argan oil, rice bran oil, rosehip oil, camellia oil and more.
DIY oil cleansing
DIY oil cleansers are usually made with a blend of oils such as castor oil, jojoba oil and hemp seed oil, and may be supplemented with essential oils.
Benefits of Oil Cleansing
Oil cleansing can benefit your skin in a number of ways.
- Keeps skin clean: Oil-based cleansers bind with dirt and oil to keep your face clean and prevent debris from getting clogged in pores.
- Retain natural oils: Oil cleansing cleanses your skin without stripping natural, beneficial oils.
- Moisturizes the skin: Many plant-based oil cleansers are rich in fatty acids, which keep the skin plump and hydrated.
- Easy to use: Oil cleansing is a straightforward process and only takes a couple of minutes.
When double cleansing, always start with a cleansing oil before applying a water-based cleanser. The first cleanse helps remove sunscreen, makeup and other oily debris, while the second cleanse absorbs excess oil and any other pollutants that were left behind.
How do Oil-based Cleansers Work?
Oil-based cleansers have lipophilic properties, which means they naturally bind to other types of oil. That includes the sebum produced naturally by your body, as well as the oils found in other beauty and skin care products. An oil-based cleanser can draw these oils out and dissolve them, after which they can be easily washed away.
Oil-based cleansers vs water-based cleansers
Traditional water-soluble cleansers primarily rely on surfactants to clean your skin. Surfactants are compounds that reduce the surface tension between liquids and solids, which allows you to rinse off surface debris using water. While surfactants help keep your skin clean, they can also disrupt the natural biome of your skin, which may lead to dryness and irritation.
Oil-based cleansers are also often formulated with surfactants, but the surfactants are more of a supplementary ingredient rather than the main active compound. As a result, oil-based cleansers are generally more gentle on the skin. Unlike many water-based cleansers, oil-based cleansers do not lather up when applied.
Should You Be Using an Oil-Based Cleanser?
Whether or not you should use an oil-based cleanser depends on the needs of your skin and your makeup habits. Oil cleansing is especially helpful for people who use a lot of long-lasting makeup, and anyone who wants to incorporate double cleansing into their daily routine.
Generally speaking, people with dry skin benefit the most from using an oil-based cleanser. However, that does not mean that oil-based cleansers should be avoided by other skin types.
Balanced, well-formulated oil-based cleansers can be beneficial for all skin types. Oil cleansing helps hydrate dry skin and keeps oily skin clean without drying it out.
Many people with sensitive skin will benefit from oil cleansing. Products that contain salicylic acid can be useful for managing acne, while those with rosacea and other inflammatory skin conditions should avoid ingredients such as fragrances and simple alcohols.
Who should avoid cleansing oils
People with oily skin should avoid cleansing oils that do not contain surfactants or emulsifiers, as they can be too heavy on the skin and may contribute to breakouts.
How to Choose an Oil-Based Cleanser for Your Skin
For best results, it is important to choose an oil-based cleanser based on the specific needs of your skin.
People with oily skin should avoid pore-blocking oils such as avocado oil, coconut oil and olive oil. Look for oil-based cleansers that contain tea tree or peppermint oils, which have natural astringent properties.
Dry skin types should look for nourishing oils such as argan oil, camellia oil or shea oil, which help keep the skin hydrated and moisturized. Avoid lemon and tea tree oils, as they can be overly drying on the skin.
Those with combination skin face the challenge of finding a cleansing oil that helps balance both dry and oily patches. Many people report good results from using sunflower oil and vitamin E, which help remove impurities while maintaining hydration.
If you have acne-prone skin, you will want to use an oil-based cleanser that is free of common irritants and acne triggers. For example, many oil-based cleansers use mineral oil, which is believed to clog pores and cause breakouts. You should also be wary of fragrances, which can irritate skin, cause inflammation and increase the risk of a breakout.
Oil Cleansing at Home
While homemade mixtures can be effective, it may require some trial and error to find the blend that works for your specific skin. For example, some people are able to achieve good results with castor oil and olive oil, while others find these ingredients tend to be too heavy on the skin.
Here are some example oil cleansing recipes:
- Oily skin: 1 tbsp hazelnut oil, 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- Dry skin: 2 tbsp grapeseed, 1 tsp lavender essential oil
- Combination Skin: 1 tbsp rosehip oil, 3 tbsp rosehip oil
How To Use An Oil-Based Cleanser
The process of oil cleansing is more or less the same as using any other cleanser.
To use an oil-based cleanser:
- Wash your hands with a gentle soap and dry them thoroughly.
- Apply a few drops of oil to your hands.
- Gently massage the oil into your skin, paying special attention to your forehead, chin and T-Zone. Do not wet your face before applying the oil.
- Wet your hands with warm water and continue massaging the oil into your face. You will notice the cleanser begins to turn a creamy white as it washes away impurities.
- Rinse the oil off.
- Dry by gently patting your skin with a soft, clean towel.
- Follow up with a water-based cleanser if you wish to double cleanse.
Oil cleansing should be the very first step in your daily skin care routine. It can be safely used twice a day.
Alternatives to Oil Cleansing
While many people enjoy the effects of oil cleansing, it is important to remember that there are other options for maintaining clean, healthy skin.
Water-based cleansers work by rinsing away impurities from the outermost layer of skin. They can vary significantly in terms of ingredients, efficacy and harshness.
Featuring a creamy texture and strong moisturizing properties, cream cleansers are formulated to be gentler and more hydrating than your average face wash.
Face wipes are designed to quickly remove makeup and other contaminants from the surface of your skin. However, most dermatologists agree that face wipes tend to leave a lot of residue behind, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. In addition, many face wipes contain allergens that can irritate the skin.
Available in a variety of formulas and consistencies, clay masks help draw out oils and impurities from deep within your pores. Clay masks can be used once or twice a week, though they may be too harsh for people with sensitive skin.
Oil-based cleansers are an effective way of removing oil and other unwanted debris from the surface of your skin. They are generally gentler on the skin than other types of cleansers and are suitable for a wide range of skin types. While it is possible to make your own homemade cleansing oil, it may take some time to find a formulation that works well for your unique skin.