The Best Cleansing Oils to Use For Double-Cleansing Your Skin
Updated: Jan 29
The anti-aging way to cleanse.
K-beauty’s double-cleansing method consists of a two-step process. You begin with an oil followed up by a water-based foam or gel cleanser. If you have never tried a cleansing oil, you are — among other things — missing out on the best makeup remover of your life.
When used as a pre-cleansing step, they dissolve the makeup, dirt, and residual pollutants on your face. This leaves debris loosened and ready to be cleansed away during the second round of cleansing and rinsing. In addition to providing incredibly efficient and gentle (i.e. non-stripping) makeup removal, the blend you choose can also balance, purify, anti-age, or hydrate your skin in the process.
If you're a self-care junkie, adding a gentle pre-cleanse to your regimen is the perfect opportunity to practice some facial massage. The deeper cleanse that the two-step process provides can prevent breakouts, but does so without compromising the integrity of the skin barrier. Over the long-term, a cleansing oil is a great way to fend off the same signs of age that can be exacerbated by overly harsh, corrosive ingredients often found in cleansers, like sulphates.
Dr. Lamees Hamdan, founder of Shiffa Beauty, strongly believes in double cleansing even if you don't use an oil as the first step. "I am a FIRM believer in cleansing your skin intelligently before you go to sleep," she begins, "which means not using harsh cleansing products." She reveals that you can also use your regular cleanser twice just to make sure no makeup or grime is left behind. Her line's cleanser, Shiffa Aromatic Facial Cleanser ($80), is gentle enough to fit the bill, and balances the skin gently with tea tree oil.
To use a cleansing oil, massage one-to-two pumps onto your face to loosen up your makeup and get the skin's micro-circulation flowing. If your oil contains exfoliating enzymes or acids, you may choose to let it sit for a couple minutes longer to make the most of the pore-purifying effect. Some blends emulsify into a milky lather that can be rinsed with water, but traditional oils are best removed with a wash cloth soaked in warm water. Your skin will feel extra soft before you proceed with the following steps in your regimen.
Protecting the skin's moisture barrier is absolutely worth it. Barrier function is what protects skin from moisture loss, sensitivity, and premature signs of aging like wrinkles and creasing. In addition to being ultra-potent sources of skin nutrients and vitamins, oils contain lipids that help to strengthen and "patch" any deficits in your skin barrier. This preserves plumpness and moisture, but also keeps environmental irritants and aggressors out — helping to prevent skin reactions and sensitivity, from breakouts to eczema.
If you have a combination or oily skin type, you might be hesitant to bring oil into your regimen. However, there are balancing oil blends that actually cue the skin to stop over-producing sebum — especially when they contain CBD. Look for balancing oils such as squalane and tea tree oil to help moderate slick skin types.
If you are considering adding an oil cleanser to your regimen, here are our top picks to check out.
There is something about the comprehensive nourishment provided by mixed oil blends that the skin responds incredibly well to. Votary is an esthetician-founded, UK beauty brand offering this cleansing oil blend to go along with their hero product, the Super Seed Oil. This precious, nutrient-packed combo is made from various seed oils (apricot kernel, sunflower, raspberry, chia, grapeseed, pumpkin) and other natural ingredients (hemp, parsley, carrot) — and even comes with it's very own wash cloth. Luxury skincare lovers should try this line.
The editor Sara Spruce-Feichner recommends this rosehip cleansing oil, which is packed with anti-aging vitamin A. The line is known for their cult-favorite rosehip oil which leaves skin unbelievably soft and is one of green beauty's best anti-aging retinol-alternatives (other than bakuchiol).
This new launch from the clean, vegan skincare line features chia, moringa, and balancing squalane oil. It is infused with their signature algae blend (i.e. antioxidant and anti-pollution protection) and four gently exfoliating fruit enzymes from papaya, pineapple, grapefruit, and pumpkin. This is essentially like a superfruit smoothie for the face, with healing chlorophyll, restorative omegas, and vitamins galore. Massage it in and let it sit for a few minutes to score an extra-deep cleanse.
Purify Cleansing Oil, $58
This completes the holistic skincare line's trio of new cleansers. It is gluten-free, vegan, and pure as can be, made from ingredients sourced from the high-altitudes of Tibet. As the soothing buckthorn and sunflower seed oils emulsify, a pineapple-sourced enzyme, bromelain, cleanses pores and exfoliates, as soothing guava imparts anti-inflammatory benefits, and tea tree oil prevents breakouts.
Hint: The gentle but mighty Clarify Cleanser is incredible for breakout-prone skin.
First of all, if you're a fan of crystals, you will love the celebrity esthetician Angela Caglia, whose crystal face masks and beauty tools are some of the most beautiful self-care props you can find. Her luxe cleansing oil, which is packed with skin-loving Marula, neroli, black currant, and Moringa oils, is anti-aging, balancing, and skin-strengthening. Not only do these ingredients strengthen the skin barrier, but the oleic acids in Moringa are a little-known secret for preventing breakouts.
One of my favorite fashion bloggers, @districtofchic, uses this luxury green line which is based out of Washington D.C. It's made with brightening cherry seed and nutrient-rich peach kernel oils, as well as soothing lavender and spearmint.
The luxury clean beauty line is all about wellness, making this makeup remover (and lash conditioner) a great addition to your skin regimen. Coconut oil and jasmine effortlessly remove all traces of cosmetics — just be sure to follow up with the second cleanse because coconut oil can be occlusive.
This is a favorite in the luxury niche. Camellia oil is a J-Beauty secret full of omegas 3, 6, and 9, oleic acid, and vitamins A, B, D, and E. Following up with The Rice Polish Foaming Enzyme Powder leaves you with a pearly glow.
Pore Cleansing Oil, $25
If you are concerned about breaking out, you can choose an oil cleanser infused with exfoliating acids like AHA, BHA, or PHA. The K-Beauty brand above makes blends with all three types, but PHAs are the gentlest. You can always follow up with an exfoliating toner or serum, so there's no need to go too heavy-duty with acid-infused oil cleansers. Most of the ingredients in this K-Beauty oil are EWG 1 (i.e. ranked the safest rating), although one falls in the 1-3 range.
Apricot oil, sunflower seed oil, and jojoba seed oil send vitamins, minerals, and omegas into the skin. The safflower oil it contains is a potent source of linoleic acid, which helps prevent breakouts. If you're a K-Beauty fan, this is worth a try.
One Love Organics
Even if you have a sensitive skin type, the anti-inflammatory pumpkin seed oil makes this free radical-fighting pick appropriate. The enzymes provide gentle purification, but for an even deeper cleanse, follow suit using the brand's new Botanical A Facial Cleanser (our favorite).
This line is uber-popular and reasonably priced, while squalane is one of the best naturally-balancing oils to apply to the skin (especially if you get breakouts) since it very nearly mimics the skin's natural oils. While you can rinse it off in a cleansing oil, it is also great to apply directly to the skin, body, and hair in a topical form. For the face, go for Indie Lee's cult-favorite Squalane Facial Oil, while Monastery Lapiz Matte Body Oil is excellent for the body.
Dual Action Pre-Cleansing Oil, $39.99
The interesting thing about this medical-grade skincare line's pre-cleansing oil is they recommend following up with the line's clay mask. Thus the oil cleanser dissolves sebum and other sources of impurities before the detoxifying clay mask draws them out. This is esthetician Joanna Czech's pick, but isn't as clean of a formula as the indie companies in this list.
One of the OG luxury clean beauty brands creates this alfalfa, Sancha Inchi, and squalane oil blend featuring vitamins A and E.
Sunflower, avocado, castor seed, and lavender oil combine to get a perfect five-star rating at Credo Beauty.
Ayurveda fans need to try this clarifying oil cleanser infused with anti-inflammatory turmeric, exfoliating papaya (which includes a hyperpigmentation-fighter, papain), soothing lavender, and castor oil.
Want to learn expert skincare tips? Read this.
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