If you have oily or acne-prone skin, the concept of slathering on any oil-based products like cleansing oils probably doesn’t make much sense. But we promise 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 has gone from a niche Korean skin-care step to full-on mainstream practice. And yes, it’s something that anyone, regardless of skin type, can get into.
“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.
And unlike traditional makeup-removing wipes (or even micellar waters), cleansing oils are some of the gentlest products that will still ensure every last trace of waterproof mascara and foundation is removed. No tugging required. In fact, you can give yourself a nice, relaxing massage with a cleansing oil — which is a perfect way to end a long, exhausting day.
While cleansing oils 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 23 of the best cleansing oils, as recommended by board-certified dermatologists and Allure editors alike.
Ready to feel more confident when reading your beauty products’ ingredient labels? Enter, the Allure Ingredient Index. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the most in-demand (and under-the-radar) ingredients in your favorite skin-care products.