Facial cleansing oils are a big beauty trend—and these dermatologists are on board. Here are their guidelines for choosing the best cleansing oil for you, plus a few of their top picks.
Washing your face with oil has become a wildly popular trend, encouraged by celebs and beauty experts alike. But is it for everyone?
“The theory behind oil cleansers is that they’re thought to remove bad excess oil because they have similar chemical properties as skin oil, which allow them to interact,” says Arielle Nagler, MD, a dermatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. “This is in contrast to washing with water, which separates from oil.”
Amy Kassouf, MD, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, clarifies that many cleansing oils are better suited for people with dry skin who could use a little more moisture, rather than people who naturally produce a lot of oil. “Generally speaking, sensitive, dry skin will do better with this type of cleansing than oily skin types.” She also reminds her patients that not all oils function the same way, and many of them have either pro- or anti-inflammatory properties.
So, what can you do to choose the right one? Be sure to research products carefully before use and if your skin does not improve in the way you want it to, reassess your skincare routine, Dr. Kassouf says. Here, six different cleansing oils to try based on what you’re looking for.
Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil
If you’re looking for a makeup-remover and cleansing duo with high quality ingredients, try Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil. Debra Jaliman, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, recommends this one because it contains camellia and rice bran oils. These traditional Japanese oils are commonly used for their anti-aging, softening, and deep hydrating benefits from the combination of antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamin E in them.
bareMinerals Oil Obsessed Total Cleansing Oil
This hero moisturizes, softens, and smooths dehydrated skin for an overall healthier complexion. If you have dry or combination skin and are mainly looking to use an oil-based cleanser for hydration purposes, bareMinerals Oil Obsessed Total Cleansing Oil will be your go-to.
Simple Hydrating Cleansing Oil
Looking for a lightweight, thin oil to cleanse your skin? Try Simple Hydrating Cleansing Oil. While it will still leave your skin feeling moisturized and fresh, it won’t leave an oily residue because it’s so lightweight. “Using a simple oil as a cleanser may act as a solvent to remove or dilute other oils,” Dr. Kassouf explains. “This allows dirt to be wiped from the surface without removing the natural oils.”
Neutrogena Ultra Light Facial Cleansing Oil & Makeup Remover
If you have naturally oily, acne-prone skin, that doesn’t mean cleansing oils can’t benefit your skin too—you just need to be more wary of the type of oil you’re using. Dr. Nagler recommends making sure the product says “non-comedogenic” on its label. “What you don’t want are products that will clog your pores,” she says. “But using the right oil cleansers may remove some of the bad oils that are essential in the development of acne.” For a non-comedogenic, dermatologist-tested cleanser that won’t clog pores, try Neutrogena Ultra Light Facial Cleansing Oil & Makeup Remover. Dr. Nagler also suggests alternating your oil treatment with a more traditional, gentle cleanser a couple nights per week, and avoiding products with exfoliating beads or other physical exfoliation modalities that can exacerbate acne.
Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil
Dr. Nagler recommends using a cleansing oil that also contains natural anti-oxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C. For a product rich in these fatty acids, try Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil. Like most of the cleansing oils on the market, this product will effectively remove makeup and other impurities on the skin while still leaving it feeling moisturized and smooth. But again, Dr. Nagler warns that people with dry skin will derive more benefits from using cleansing oils because the baseline moisture on their skin is lower than others.
Anjou Coconut Oil
For a natural, organic oil cleanser that tons of women swear by, try coconut oil. “Individual oils vary with their ability to clean off other oils and debris from your skin,” Dr. Kassouf says. “But coconut is one of the best.” She recommends daily cleansing for those with dry or normal skin. We like Anjou Coconut Oil. Ah, the many beauty uses for coconut oil.