Best Cleansing Oils / Oil Cleansers

This is a little embarrassing to share, but makeup wipes used to be my entire skincare routine. That was up until I moved to the United States. Here I began to experience skin problems I had never encountered and started to learn how to care for my skin. As a makeup lover that was just using a few wipes to take it off and call it a day, I believe that using oil cleansers made a significant difference. No surprise there–I was finally cleansing my skin the proper way.

In the video below, I talk about what the purpose and benefits of using an oil cleanser (vs. any other beauty/kitchen oil), and I share my top picks. I have tried quite a few products over the past years, and these are the ones I have enjoyed the most. I do plan to continue to try more and will update the post as I find new products that work well. I hope you enjoy the video, and please leave comments to share your recs or ask questions.

MY TOP PICKS (NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

KRISTINA HOLEY X MARIE VERONIQUE – PURE + E.O. FREE OIL CLEANSER, $40 (4 oz/120 ml)

This oil cleanser contains a very mild surfactant that makes the removal process easy, and beta-glucan to strengthen the skin barrier (studies show that it helps in the treatment of dermatitis, eczema, bed sores, wounds, and burns). I recommend this to people with delicate, easily irritated skin. I repurchased this one because it’s the only one that removes my Coola Stick Sunscreen (mentioned in this post) effortlessly.

Pros:

  • Breaks down any makeup and sunscreens easily, even stubborn makeup and thick sunscreen
  • Free of potentially irritating ingredients
  • Includes ingredients that help to protect/repair the skin barrier

Cons:

  • The scent may be unpleasant to some people (because it’s fragrance-free, it gets its scent from the ingredients)
  • Packaging is not travel-friendly (I have pumped some product in a different bottle when I needed to carry it with me)
  • Requires wiping it with a cloth (I cannot just splash my face with water to remove it)

Full Ingredients List: Carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, Prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernel oil, decyl polyglucoside (polyglucose), sucrose cocoate, mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) from non-GMO sources, elderberry phytocyde (Sambucus nigra) fruit extract, xanthan gum, pre/probiotic complex, Beta glucan, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) oleoresin, superoxide dismutase (SOD)

The Kristina Holey + Marie Veronique Oil Cleanser is cruelty-free. Shop here.

NAZAN SCHNAPP – RINSE AWAY OIL CLEANSER*, $80 (100 ml)

I would not call it exactly a “rinse away” oil cleanser, because I cannot simply rinse it off by splashing water on my face. However, in contact with water, this oil turns into a milk, which is a pleasant texture for massaging the skin. With a damp face cloth, I am able to remove all of the product with no issue. Because of its rich texture, I think that people with dry skin would enjoy this product–as long as they have no issues with essential oils (keep in mind that the essential oils that make the fragrance are not listed). I actually enjoy its scent and have not experienced any irritation.

Pros:

  • Pleasant scent (from a blend of essential oils)
  • Breaks down makeup well
  • Oil texture turns milky in contact with water and works well for massage

Cons:

  • Significantly more expensive than the other oil cleansers that I like
  • Contains essential oils (some people are sensitive to some of them)
  • Requires wiping with a cloth (I cannot just splash my face with water to remove it)

Ingredients List: Camellia oleifera (Camellia) Seed Oil*, Shea Butter Ethyl Esters, Polyglyceryl-4 Oleate, Plukenetia volubilis (Sacha Inchi) Oil*, Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil*, Oryza sativa (Rice) Bran Oil*, Prunus armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil*, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Oil *, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Oenothera biennis (Evening Primrose) Seed Extract*, Rubusidaeus (Raspberry) Seed Extract*, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Extract*, Borago officinalis (Borage) Seed Extract*, Sambucus nigra Fruit Extract, Alkanna tinctoria (Alkanet) Root Extract, Cymbidium grandiflorum (Orchid) Flower Extract, Tocopherol, Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Aroma**, Citronellol, Geraniol, Nerol, Linalool, Limonene. *Ingredients from organic farming **Blend of essential oils

The Nazan Schanpp Oil Cleanser is cruelty-free, and vegan (PETA certified). Shop here.

KAHINA GIVING BEAUTY – OIL CLEANSER*, $59 100 ml

This is easily one of the best on the market. It does the job well and can be rinsed off with water. On lazy evenings, I apply a few pumps to my face and begin to massage, and then I hop in the shower and rinse it off (massaging the skin while rinsing helps to remove it better, but the cloth isn’t necessary). Sometimes I don’t even follow with a second cleanse, because this oil cleanser does not leave residue on the skin. I love it.

Pros:

  • Very effective and quick at breaking down makeup and sunscreen
  • Rinses off clear
  • Contains soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients like Calendula and Turmeric Root Extract
  • The rich texture feels great while massaging the skin

Cons:

  • Contains essential oils, which are problematic for some people. I haven’t had any issue with it, though my skin is delicate

Full Ingredients List: Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, isoamyl laurate, Argania spinosa (argan) oil*, polyglyceryl-2 sesquioleate, polyglyceryl-2 caprate, Daucus carota (carrot) seed oil, Panicum millaceum (millet) seed extract*, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract*, tocopherol, Calendula officinalis (calendula) flower extract*, Curcuma longa (turmeric) root extract*, Citrus aurantium amara (neroli) flower oil*, Pelargonium graveolens (geranium) leaf oil*, Tanacetum annuum flower oil, Hypericum perforatum (St. Johns Wort) leaf extract, Santalum spicatum (sandalwood) wood oil, bisabolol, citronelol†, geraniol†, linalool†, farnesol†, limonene†
* Ingredients from Organic Farming
†Naturally occurring compound in essential oils; not an added ingredient
100% of the ingredients are from Natural Origin; 76.84% are from Organic Farming

The Kahina Oil Cleanser is gluten-free, cruelty-free, non-gmo and vegan. Shop here.

MAYA CHIA BEAUTY – THE GREAT CLEANSE NOURISHING SUPERCRITICAL CLEANSING OIL*, $42  (3.4 oz/100 ml)

This oil cleanser is everything I hoped the May Lindstrom Pendulum Potion would be. I loved that cleansing oil texture and scent so much, but I did not appreciate that it did not contain any mild surfactant (used to make the product emulsify) that would allow it to come off easily. This Maya Chia oil cleanser has a similar, soothing, earthy scent, and a silky texture, but comes off like a dream.

Pros:

  • Effective at breaking down makeup and sunscreen
  • The silky texture is perfect for a face massage
  • Rinses off easily, though I prefer to use a cloth to wipe it
  • Pleasant, soothing scent

Cons:

  • Contains essential oils, which are problematic for some people. I haven’t had any issue with it, though my skin is delicate

Full Ingredients List: Salvia Hispanica (Supercritical Chia) Oil, *Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Oil, *Prunus armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, *Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Di-PPG-2 Myreth-10 Adipate, *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Essential Oil, *Anthemis Nobilis (Roman Chamomile) Flower Essential Oil, *Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Essential Oil, *Citrus Reticulata (Mandarin) Essential Oil, *Salvia Sclarea (Clary Sage) Essential Oil, *Jasminum Grandiflorum (Jasmine) Absolute, Tocopherol (Non-GMO Vitamin E) *Organic or Wildcrafted (when available)

The Maya Chia Cleansing Oil is gluten-free, cruelty-free, non-gmo, and vegan. Shop here.

ONE LOVE ORGANICS – VITAMIN B CLEANSING OIL $42 (4 oz/120 ml)

I am pretty sure that no one is surprised that I included this one. It’s been my go-to and only oil cleanser for years before more options became available. It’s a simple formula that does the job well, but it does require wiping with a cloth in order to be removed properly.

Pros:

  • Effective at breaking down makeup and sunscreen
  • Smells like piña colada
  • Contains mild exfoliating ingredients like papaya and pumpkin

Cons:

  • Contains essential oils, which are problematic for some people. I haven’t had any issue with it, though my skin is delicate.
  • Requires wiping with a cloth

Full Ingredients List: helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, caprylic/capric triglyceride, di-ppg-2 myreth-10 adipate, polyglycerol-3 beeswax, carica papaya (papaya) seed oil, cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil*, tocopherol, ascorbyl palmitate, papain*, lecithin*, fragrance/parfum *Ingredients from Organic Farming

The One Love Organics Cleansing Oil is cruelty-free and Eco-Cert certified. Shop here.

*first bottle was gifted

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  • Lilly Day

    Hi Lilly,
    Thank you for your post :) I love your blog for a long time now but I don’t usually publish any comments…(actually, your blog is my favorite green beauty blog, I love discovering your routine and your new products – can’t wait to try the new Maya Chia hydrating mist !).
    I’m currently using the Kahina oil cleanser, which is pretty great and like you wrote, comes off easily without leaving any residue on the skin (I like using a Konjac sponge to remove the oil on my skin). I was quite disappointing with The Pendulum Potion from May Lindstrom wich, despite of the lovely smell, really stung my eyes, no matter how I applied it.
    My next oil cleanser would probably be the Great Cleanse from Maya Chia though I really enjoy Tata Harper cleansing oil which doesn’t sting and comes off easily.
    Have a nice day :)

  • leighlennox

    Thank you for the post, Lilly! I really love oil cleansers and I appreciate your thorough reviews. I know I had mentioned before one of my favorites, the Sahajan oil cleanser. I just wanted to add (if you looking for more to try) that Moss skincare has one (Revele) which I really liked. It ended up being too expensive for me ($75 for full size bottle), but it does have a smaller bottle for purchase ($30). It smells like rosemary oil if I’m remembering correctly, and it is the type that rinses clean with water. Thanks again!

  • Cas

    Hi Lily, do you ahve any recommened products to sooth irritated skin? I’m interested in the yuli nectar, B3 soothing, but not sure, any thoughs? Thanks!

    • Hi Cas, the YÜLI Ambrosia serum would be my first choice. My favorite combo is Ambrosia followed by a few drops of Squalane oil. Whenever I try other products and my skin gets irritated, even if only slightly, I go right back to those two products and they do the trick every time. Do you know how your skin got irritated? Was it a product? the weather? a food you ate? etc. It would be helpful to know.