Using an oil to wash your face may sound counterintuitive. But perhaps the simplest way to understand why you need to add a cleansing oil to your regime is that ‘like dissolves like’.
Oils are lipophilic so they absorb other oils. This means that cleansing oil attracts grease and make-up and then cleverly removes them from the skin when mixed with a little water.
Plus, you actively nourish while giving a deep clean.
Cleansing oils are more hydrating than face washes because they contain fewer (if any, depending on the product) foaming agents or detergents.
Instead, they are packed with soothing oils and humectants that respect the lipidic (fatty) layer of your skin so it never feels tight or uncomfortable.
And who doesn’t love the spa-worthy feeling of using an oil at the end of the day?
To that point, don’t just slap on your cleansing oil. Use it as part of the double cleanse that is a trademark of Korean skincare.
This first calls for an oil cleanser to dissolve surface dirt.
Apply a warm, damp washcloth to your face for about 20 seconds. Then really massage the cleansing oil into your skin to purge pores of pollution, foundation and other unspeakable nasties. Not even the best mascara or the best foundation will stand a chance.
After that, emulsify with a little water and use the clean back of the flannel to wipe the oil off.
The second cleanse can either be with a cleansing oil, milk or gel to rid the skin of grime lurking under your make-up.
Before you get to the application, though, you need to select the right cleansing oil for your skin type.
Scan the label – those with heavier oils such as sunflower are great for dry skin.
bareMinerals Oil Obsessed Total Cleansing Oil, £23, Lookfantastic
Those who describe their skin type as normal will fare well with a no frills version like DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, which uses olive fruit oil as a base.
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, £19.20, Lookfantastic
Those with sensitive skin should opt for cleaning oils with calming calendula.‘Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser is a really gentle formula, which will ensure your skin is left soft and refreshed, without causing irritation,’ says Consultant Dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible Dr Anjali Mahto.
Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser, £71, Cult Beauty
However, if your skin is prone to acne, Mahto advises caution.
‘I don’t like to use oils or oil cleansers on acne-prone skin,’ she says. ‘They can be comedogenic, so I’d avoid it if you’re prone to breakouts and blackheads.’
Keep scrolling for more of the Marie Claire approved cleansing oils to snap up…
I can't get enough of this cleansing oil. It smells incredible without being too rich; easily dissolves impurities, make-up, SPF, the works; and doesn't overload my combination/sometimes oily skin (though it's suitable for all skin types). It's a bit like having an ultra-express spa treatment every evening, and comes with a great textured cleansing cloth to wipe the whole thing off when you're done.
The body shop offer some of the best cleansers on the high street, with the Camomile Cleansing oil a firm favourite in the offices. Efficient and bang for your buck, this one takes off all of your make-up gently with the comforting smell of chamomile to help you wind down at the end of a long day. The Sumptuous Cleansing Butter from the same range is also excellent.
Truth: Elemis make some of the best cleansers the world has to offer. Rich in skin beneficial Omega-9, this glorious formula cleanses and softens the skin without stripping it, for a radiant-lookign complexion all year round.
Shiseido’s cleansing oil is so fluid that it’s almost water-like, but don't let that fool you; its cleaning power is exceptional. As well as being an great cleanser, it has a really comforting smell, like fresh laundry in an airing cupboard.
Nice price point and nice ingredients. Made with 100% natural grape seed oil and added vitamin A and E, this dissolves impurities without stripping or irritating the skin. It even tackles water-proof make-up, while leaving your face touchably soft.
Ok, at first glance this ‘oil’ is more like a balm. But when you massage it onto dry skin, it swiftly transforms into an oil rich in safflower seed oil that’s easy to move around the face without tugging or rubbing. It’s the perfect travel-friendly option if you still want the benefits of oil cleansing but don’t want to carry liquids in case of spillage.
A cult classic that you'll often find in a make-up artist’s kit. Infused with a blend of botanical oils - kukui nut, white water lily and goji berry extract, to name a few - it deep cleans and is even kind enough to use on eye make-up without leaving you with blurred vision afterwards.