Cleansing oils are a great compromise between convenience and oil cleansing. I’ve tried a bunch more from Dermalogica, Shu Uemura, Hylamide, Erno Laszlo and Simple since my last review, so here are my thoughts.
Cleansing Oils vs Oil Cleansing
First, what’s the difference between cleansing oils and oil cleansing? Simply swapping the two words around makes a big difference!
Cleansing oils are oils that contain surfactants (emulsifiers) – in other words, they’re much like a mixture of oil and soap. When you apply them to your skin they act like oils, but when you add water, the soap part helps the oil dissolve in the water and rinse off your skin (they’ll look a bit milky at this stage – that’s the tiny oil droplets hanging out in the water!).
Oil cleansing involves using plain oils, without surfactants. To get the oil off your skin, you either have to add a separate cleanser afterwards, or you have to use more oil to wash the dirty oil off.
Both methods are great for removing makeup and sunscreen. However, cleansing oils are generally easier to rinse off, since the surfactant is already mixed thoroughly in the oil. I’d still recommend double cleansing by following the cleansing oil with a cleanser (exception: if you weren’t wearing anything too heavy on your skin to begin with, and the cleansing oil is compatible with your skin). Even though cleansing oils should theoretically come off when you rinse with water, sometimes they aren’t formulated with quite enough surfactants for complete removal. There are tons of reports of cleansing oils breaking people out, so it’s a good idea to test it on a small area of skin before using it too liberally before a big event!