A quick Q&A to give you the low down about cleansing oil


While the term ‘cleansing oil’ might not be particularly appealing and probably puts you off if you already have oily skin, it could be just the boost your beauty routine needs. 

  • What is a cleansing oil?

A cleansing oil is a type of facial cleaner that is formulated using oil. When water is added to the oil cleanser, it emulsifies, allowing it to be easily rinsed off without leaving a greasy residue.

  • What does an oil cleanser do?

 Oil-based cleansers can deconstruct oil-soluble substances like makeup, environmental pollutants, excess sebum (oil), and residual product build-up.  It is designed to dissolve and lift away dirt, makeup, and impurities from the skin in a way that also provides hydration. Even if you don’t wear makeup, oil-based cleansers remove any SPF residue and daily pollutants. 

Oil cleansers soften skin, allowing targeted ingredients from moisturisers and serums to penetrate your skin better. 

Woman washing her face in the bathroom. Source: Pixabay
  • Is an oil cleanser good for oily skin?

If you have an oily skin type, your skin is more likely to attract surface debris and bacteria, leading to redness and breakouts. Oil cleansing gently lifts and breaks down this excess oil and surface debris to give oily skin a more thorough and gentle cleansing option. 

Alternatively, those with dry skin or sensitive skin have an impaired moisture barrier that can be improved by using an oil face cleanser before moving on to a gentle cleanser and exfoliant.

Generally, oil-based cleaners can benefit all skin types, especially when followed by a second cleanser.

  • A second cleanser? Is one not enough?

While using an oil cleanser by itself is possible, the cleanser would have to have surfactants to remove the leftover oil residue properly. Even if you do a double cleansing routine with an oil cleanser alone, it means that you will not be using a cleanser with targeted ingredients for your specific skin type. To get a full deep clean, the best way to wash your face is by using an oil-based cleanser to break down the day and follow with a cleanser that accommodates for your skin type.

  • So, which cleansing oil is best? 

Always use products that avoid synthetic fragrance or problematic essential oils to avoid reactivity on dry skin or sensitive skin conditions. Many people with oily and acne-prone skin conditions don’t realise that there are oils out there that help benefit their skin concerns and that using products with a fatty acid like linoleic acid helps balance surface lipids. Using cleansing oils containing Grapeseed Oil, Primrose Oil, or other non-pore-clogging oils like Argan Oil is excellent for oily and acne-prone skin types, and especially for dry and sensitive skin. Those with mature skin can address signs of skin ageing using oil face cleansers containing Apricot Kernel Oil, a skin-softening oil that leaves skin feeling clean, looking brighter, and more supple.

Visit Dermalogica for more skincare tips.