Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Oil Cleansers

Reading Time: 6 minutes

There’s no arguing the importance of a properly cleansed face, and, in my skincare routine, that includes an oil cleanser.

As part of your double cleanse or as a stand-alone cleanser, oil cleansers can help to give you clean, soft, and smooth skin.

Many people are hesitant to use oil cleansers, especially if they have oily skin. But I’d like to share my positive experience with oil cleansers. So today, I’m breaking down everything you need to know.

I’m sharing:

  • What an oil cleanser is
  • The benefits of oil cleansers
  • The different types of oil cleansers
  • What I personally look for in an oil cleanser
  • How to use oil cleansers
  • Oil cleanser recommendations for sensitive skin

What is an oil cleanser?

An oil cleanser is, as the name suggests, an oil-based face wash. It’s formulated with different oils and emulsify when combined with water.

Benefits of Oil Cleansers

The biggest reason oil cleansers are great is that they remove oil-based products. Oil can lift oil-free, oil-based, waterproof formulas off your skin and lashes. That’s why so many makeup removers include oil. 

The second biggest reason oil cleansers are great is that they can help balance the skin and lock in hydration. Using oils in place of traditional cleansers can help protect your skin barrier. 

They’re also compatible with many other cleansers when you double cleanse. Oil cleansers draw out oil-based impurities such as sebum, SPF, makeup, and pollutants on your face. So when you finally use your water or cream-based cleanser, it can get into your pores without any interference.

Oil cleansers have other benefits too. An article in Healthline reports that:

  • 2010 study of 28 university students found evidence that suggests cleansing oil can benefit dry and/or mature-looking skin.
  • 2017 study of 60 adults and children found that bath oil, used every other day for a month, seemed to promote better skin barrier function and relieve dry skin more effectively than oil-free cleansers.

Types of Oil Cleansers

When it comes to oil-based cleansers, there are two different types: cleansing oils and cleansing balms

So, what’s the difference between them? The short answer is texture and packaging

Cleansing oils are liquid-based and generally come in a bottle, preferably with a pump. Cleansing balms have a solid, buttery-like texture that comes in a jar or tube.

So, which one is better – a cleansing oil or a cleansing balm? I don’t think that one is better than the other because it really comes down to personal preference. To help you decide, I’ve laid out a few pros and cons of each.

What I Look for in an Oil Cleanser

When choosing a cleansing oil and/or cleansing balm, I first check the ingredients for two things:

  • Hydrating Ingredients: Good oil cleansers should include emollients and humectants to bring moisture to your skin. Oils are nutrient-dense and feed the skin cells, so quality is essential. Ingredients like squalane, fatty alcohols, and shea butter are great examples.
  • Fragrance-free or Low-fragrance: In a cleanser, the fragrance isn’t as problematic as it would be in a leave-on product. But it’s still best to limit your exposure to fragrance, especially if you have sensitive skin or a skin condition like eczema. Fragrance is a common skin irritant for many.

Then, I test how well it emulsifies. I can usually do this on my hand at the store.

Let me take it back a step to explain this a little further. Cleansing oils have two phases:

  • First, they’re an oily consistency that you massage on dry skin to remove all that surface debris we talked about earlier.
  • Then, when you add water, they turn into a milky consistency and ideally rinse off effortlessly with water, leaving behind no residue.

So, when I evaluate an oil cleanser, I rate how easy it is to emulsify into that milky consistency and rinse off without leaving any of the product or residue behind.


clean skin club face towels discount code

I remove my oil-based cleanser by dampening a Clean Skin Club Face Towel to gently remove the cleanser. You can rinse the cloth and repeat if necessary. The light steam and gentle buff from the Clean Skin Club Face Towel will get your skin clean. If you decide to try them, use my code “BEAUTYINCOLORBLOG” to get 20% off your order.

How to use an oil cleanser in your skincare routine

There are two ways to use oil cleansers: As a stand-alone cleanser or as a part of your double cleanse.

As A Stand-Alone Cleanser

Using an oil cleanser as a stand-alone cleanser essentially means:

  • applying the oil cleanser to dry skin, 
  • massaging it into the skin for 30-60 seconds,
  • removing it with warm water or a damp washcloth, and 
  • continuing with the rest of the skincare routine

As Part of A Double Cleanse

During the double cleanse, you start the same way as before. But, you follow the oil cleanser with a gentle water/cream-based cleanser to remove any lingering residue, and then continue with the rest of your skincare routine.

Related Article: What is Double Cleansing?

The Best Oil Cleansers for Sensitive Skin & Eczema

If you have sensitive skin, the best oil cleansers contain non-fragrant plant oils. These are rich in lipids, which essentially help remove what you don’t want on your skin, like makeup and sunscreen, while also replenishing your skin.

If you’re looking for an oil-based cleanser to add to your routine, there are countless options out there. Here are some fragrance-free oil cleansers that have been great for my eczema-prone skin.


Want to change up the way you wash your face? Oil cleansers might be worth a try.

Do you use oil cleansers?
If so, leave your recommendations below.

Dana Signature FOunder of Beauty In Color

Leave a Reply