While the words "oil" and "cleanser" might sound incompatible, oil cleansing is a Korean beauty trend that's taken the skin care world by storm. But, what makes oil cleansing so good for your skin? Dermatologists say that it comes down to its ability to cut through sunscreen and makeup, leaving the skin clean, without stripping the protective barrier or causing dryness.

Keen to know more? Keep reading for a closer look at how to use oil cleanser in your everyday routine, the benefits of oil cleansing, and what makes it so good for your skin.

The Benefits of Oil Cleansing

Oil attracts oil. This is what makes oil cleansers so brilliant at removing other oil-based products like sunscreen and makeup. Oil cleansing is also effective at removing sebum from the pores and tackling stubborn blackheads and whiteheads.

Another characteristic of oil cleansers is that they help to lock in hydration, which is beneficial for all skin types—even blemish and acne-prone skin. Not convinced? There's a common misconception that blemished and oily skin should be dried out, but this actually causes the skin to overcompensate and create even more oil.

The American Association of Dermatology recommends keeping moisture levels topped up to prevent acne-prone skin from becoming dry and irritated. This is even more important if you're using treatments that contain Salicylic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, or the prescription treatment Isotretinoin, as these can all dry out your skin.

Common Oils Used in Oil Cleansers

Oil cleansers may contain one or a mix of many moisturizing ingredients, including apricot kernel oil, centella asiatica, anti-inflammatory sunflower seed oil, grapeseed oil, and jojoba seed oil.

Regardless of oil type, oil cleansers contain high-quality ingredients made specifically for the skin. Even gentle oils can cause skin reactions if you have an unknown allergy, though, so it's always a good idea to do a patch test before you introduce an oil cleanser into your daily routine.

How to Use Oil Cleanser

Begin your cleansing routine by gently applying your oil cleanser of choice to the face and neck in small circles with your fingertips. Unlike with a traditional cleanser, you'll want to massage it into dry skin for about a minute before adding a touch of water with your fingers, creating a light, milky lather. At this point, rinse off your cleanser with lukewarm water and gently pat your face dry with a soft, clean towel.

Dermatologists recommend using an oil cleanser in the evening as the first step in a double-cleanse routine. This allows you to take full advantage of your oil cleanser's ability to easily remove makeup and sunscreen. The EltaMD Oil-In-Gel Cleanser combines the effectiveness of a traditional cleanser with the benefits of an oil cleanser and, when applied first to dry skin, effortlessly lifts away environmental pollutants, water-resistant sunscreen, long-wear makeup, sweat, and excess sebum - all in one step.

Is Oil Cleansing Suitable for All Skin Types?

Because oil cleansers contain an oil base and surfactants to hold onto dirt, they don't strip the skin of essential lipids and help retain moisture. This makes them suitable for all skin types, especially those prone to dryness and sensitivity. This also makes oil cleansers a great alternative to harsher soap-based cleansers that can leave your skin feeling depleted and dry.

An oil cleanser makes a luxurious and relaxing addition to a skin care routine, whether you use it alone or as part of a double-cleansing ritual. Just remember to follow with your usual serum and moisturizer—and sunscreen if you're using it in the morning. Updating the products you use to get the most out of what the skin care world has to offer will help you look as good as you feel.


  • Catherine Hufton

    Catherine Hufton is a UK-based freelance journalist and writer who has worked for some of fashion's most iconic companies and written for the world's best known magazines and newspapers. Beginning her career at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion over 12 years ago, she has created content for L'Oréal, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph and more.

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