By now, everyone knows about oil cleansers. But if you — like me — have oily skin, you may believe that you are forever barred from using them.
This is not true. Every skin type — yes, including oily skin — can benefit from oil cleansers.
Why? Let us consult the K-beauty skin care angels. What we think of as "oily" skin is often dehydrated skin that is overreacting — which takes the form of producing too much of the skin's natural oils that have been stripped from it.
If you have oily or combination skin, this creates a vicious cycle: You cleanse and tone ALL the oil off your skin. Your face freaks out and makes even more oil to compensate. *You* freak out in turn, and use even more astringent skin care products to remove the grease. Repeat forever.
But it doesn't have to be this way. I put dozens of oil cleansers to the test to find out which ones were actually the best for oily skin — and these made the cut.
I'm telling you about this very luxurious Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil ($48, Sephora) right at the beginning, because if I didn't, its tribe of devotees would be after me. Seriously. This oil is that well-regarded. It's got the ingredients to back up the $48 price tag too.
Rice bran oil is at the top of the ingredients list, which should tell you something about how gentle this baby is. If you were ranking your oils from heaviest to lightest, coconut would be at the top and rice bran would be down at the bottom. Which isn't to say that Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil doesn't have other very gentle oils. It does!
Like its name suggests, camellia oils. Two kinds! The two variations of camellia oil (Japanese and green tea) are, as you beauty insiders already know, like rubbing pimple kryptonite into your skin. It's antimicrobial, skin-calming, skin-conditioning, UV-absorbing, and anti-oxidizing.
This oil is the best for oily skin. Girl, you're good.
Skinfood is a well-regarded and affordable K-beauty skin care line that specializes in taking ingredients we associate with food and using them on skin. The Egg White Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil ($24, Skinfood) is a brilliant makeup remover that also packs a one-two punch of pore tightening via egg whites. Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil also has licorice extract, which is a good acne bacteria fighter.
I have no problem with "lazy and easy" face washing. That's actually my favorite part of this cleansing oil ($16, CVS).
Now, the "all kill" element of the title is up for debate. Perhaps we're killing all bacteria. Makes sense, because this cleansing oil has antimicrobial ingredients and blesses skin with extra protection in the form of seaweed extract.
When it comes to oil cleansers, you have got to check the label. For oily skin, pores tend to be larger — so pore-blocking comedogenic oils like coconut, olive, and avocado are to be avoided. Instead, look for apricot seed, camellia, and rosehip.
Shu Uemura ($48, Shu Uemura) is a long-standing beacon in beauty and skin care, because the Japanese beauty line pays the utmost attention to its ingredients. Shu Uemura Porefinist has zero breakout-inducing oils, and even has salicylic and glycolic acids to smooth out imperfections and fight off future pimples.
Though mineral oils are not so good for your face, the M Perfect BB Deep Cleansing Oil makes up for it with its strong ingredient list.
You've got grapeseed oil (which wins major points for clearing skin). Grapeseed oil has wound-healing properties, which means picked zits can repair faster. It's also got tea tree oil, which, for anyone in the know, means it’s got strong pimple-fighting power.
A note about BHAs, aka beta hydroxy acids. Though not as well known as alpha hydroxy acids, BHAs are every oily-skinned person's friend, delivering pimple-fighting properties with smoothing properties. Which is why the Hanskin Cleansing Oil and Blackhead (BHA) ($22, Sokoglam) is so good. For $22, you're getting a face oil that has salicylic acid, citric acid (can be tough on sensitive skin, but good for minimizing pores), and camellia and grapeseed oil!
Missha Near Skin pH Balancing Cleansing Oil ($22)
Like a handstand, good skin is about balance. And y'know what's really good for balancing your skin? A pH-balancing face oil like Missha Near Skin ($22, Missha US).
For $16, it's an excellent value — especially considering the oil touts a pH of 5. Skin care professionals suggest that healthy skin should have a pH of around 5.5, so this oil will bump you back into balance again.
Now, you'd assume that oil cleansers are hydrating *in general* just because they are oil-based. But oil doesn't mean hydrating. Instead, hydrating ingredients mean hydration.
Simple Hydrating Cleansing Oil ($8, Target) has vitamins E and A for extra hydration with a side of anti-aging. How's that for amazing? Then to top it all off, this cleansing oil has our fave, grapeseed oil.
If you wear face makeup and need to thoroughly remove foundation and powder without stripping your face, the Shiseido cleansing oil ($33, Sephora) is what you want. It strikes a delicate balance of the oil-removing benefits of oil cleansers, plus the gentleness that Shiseido is known for.