Cleansing Oils That Won't Leave Your Skin Greasy
Even if you've already fully embraced oils in other areas of your life — your aromatherapy ritual, your cuticle care, your salad dressings — you might still be on the fence about washing your fash with cleansing oils. One of the aims of regularly cleansing your skin is to regulate excess oil production, and doing so with an oil-based formula might not seem really counterproductive.
Believe it or not, though, there's a logic to facial cleaning oils. Oil-based cleansers work on the principle of one like substance dissolving another similar like substance (i.e. oil helps dissolve oil in this case), says Hadley King, M.D., a New York-based dermatologist. In other words, massaging a cleansing oil into your skin can help dissolve excess oil along with any makeup or grime, which you can then rinse away. (Related: How to Find the Perfect Face Oil for Your Skin)
An oil cleanser can be especially helpful if you have dry or sensitive skin since it's generally less likely to strip skin of its natural oils than water-based cleansers, says Dr. King. Oil cleansers are one way to give your skin fatty acids, which are key to help lock in moisture. For those who want to get the most from fatty acids in their skin care, Dr. King generally suggests looking for oils that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, in particular. "Oleic acid, or omega-9 fatty acid, is naturally found in human sebum," says Dr. King. "Our sebaceous glands create it to coat the skin, providing moisture and a protective barrier. But oleic acid can be disruptive to skin barrier function." Linoleic acid, aka omega-6 fatty acid, on the other hand is a fatty acid your body needs but isn't able to produce on its own, explains Dr. King. "Linoleic acid helps to support and repair the skin barrier, increasing skin's moisture and increasing elasticity and softness," she says.
Yes, cleansing oils can be a godsend for people with dry skin, but even people with oily skin can benefit from a facial oil cleanser. The key is to choose a formula that's labeled as non-comedogenic (which means it won't clog your pores), says Marisa Garshick, M.D., F.A.A.D., a New York-based dermatologist. Common examples of noncomedogenic oils you might find in skin-care products include jojoba, castor, and sweet almond oils, says New York-based aesthetician and Alpha-H facialist Taylor Worden.
A lot of people like to use an oil cleanser as part of a double-cleanse routine. That means cleansing with an oil-based cleanser first, then immediately washing the face again with a water-based cleanser in hopes of ending up with cleaner and healthier skin than a single pass with only one type of product might achieve. (Related: Products and Tips to Deal with Itchy, Dry Skin On Your Face)
While cleansing for a second time after using an oil cleanser might be preferable in some instances, it's not always necessary, according to Dr. King. "Using only a cleansing oil (and not double-cleansing) would be a reasonable option for dry skin using a noncomedogenic oil cleanser," she says. In this scenario, you should massage the oil cleanser onto dry skin and massage for a minute, then remove it with a gentle cleansing cloth such as one made of bamboo or muslin, she says. "For those with oily or acne-prone skin who want to use an oil cleanser, I would recommend a double cleanse, following the oil cleanser with a water-based cleanser." Note that a double cleanse can be beneficial for anyone who's washing off heavy or long-wearing makeup, adds Dr. Garshick.
The Best Cleansing Oils
Long story short, cleansing oils deserve just as much recognition as their water-based counterparts. Now that you know the how and the why of oil cleansers, here are some of the best products to choose from.