The 11 Best Cleansing Oils For Rosacea, Congested Skin, Dry Skin + More
Oil cleansing is certainly a hot topic in the beauty space, riddled with questions like: Uh, won’t my pores become clogged with oil?
It’s understandable; many traditional cleansers on the market contain surfactants and foaming agents with the promise of removing excess oil from pores. So why would you willingly massage oil into your skin?
Well, it turns out oil cleansing can actually balance the skin’s oil production: Oil dissolves oil, so they can actually remove excess sebum, as well as daily dirt and grime.
"Oil cleansing really helps dissolve dirt, makeup, sunblock, and blackheads. In fact, I especially like oil cleansers for oily, congested skin," says Britta Plug, holistic esthetician and mbg Collective member, who created this quick video showing how to oil cleanse the right way (hint: you should be using a washcloth!).
Best part? Oils provide a deep cleanse without compromising the skin barrier (like those stripping traditional cleansers referenced above).
Your skin produces natural oils, so you’re essentially giving your skin what it already loves, even protecting the natural lipid layer while you’re at it.
And if you’re somewhat nervous about using an oil from your kitchen (fair!), there are plenty of product options, instead.
These nourish the skin no matter if your skin type is dry, oily, acne-prone or super sensitive. Here they are below:
One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil
A solid first step in any evening skin routine: This cleansing oil can melt the makeup and sebum off your skin in one go (remember: makeup is usually oil-based, so it doesn’t easily slide off with water). Plus, the papaya enzymes keep your complexion looking bright.
Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil + Makeup Remover, One Love Organics ($42)
de Marmiel Pure Calm Cleansing Dew
Cactus is having a well-deserved moment in beauty, due to its ability to lock in moisture (the same way the plant is able to withstand sweltering desert heat). Prickly pear cactus is the star of this formula, along with raspberry oil and ferulic acid to leave your skin looking smooth and hydrated.
Pure Calm Cleansing Dew, de Mamiel ($96)
White & Elm Deep Pore Oil Cleanser
Those with oily or acne-prone skin, listen up: This deep cleansing oil is practically made for you. Sunflower, castor, hemp, and avocado oils are able to penetrate deep into pores and unclog grime and bacteria. Chamomile also makes an appearance to soothe inflammation; no need to shy away, no matter your skin type.
Deep Pore Oil Cleanser, white & elm ($18.95)
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
This is the star product of this cult-favorite beauty brand, and for good reason: It contains Flor de Aceite (aka, the essence of organic olive oil before the olives are pressed) to hydrate and soften the skin, along with vitamin E for even more antioxidant protection. Prepare to see your most stubborn of makeup swirling down the drain, even *gasp* waterproof mascara.
Deep Cleansing Oil, DHC ($15)
Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Oil
Coconut oil doesn’t work for everyone (for those with acne-prone skin, it can clog pores), but if it works for you, it certainly works like a charm. This number is paired with argan oil for an extra dose of fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties--it’s quite the nourishing duo.
Facial Cleansing Oil, Burt’s Bees ($15.99)
Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil
Another Japanese beauty number to add to the list, this star product contains camellia oil, a non comedogenic oil that’s richer in oleic acid (a good-for-you fatty acid) than even olive oil. The result? Silky-soft skin without a stitch of oily residue.
Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, Tatcha ($48)
Biossance Squalane Antioxidant Cleansing Oil
Squalane has its fair share of benefits (for both skin and hair), but it reigns supreme on the oil cleansing front: Squalane actually makes up 13 percent of our sebum, making it a natural, skin-loving oil. No surprise Biossance made squalane the star in their hydrating cleanser, as their entire range features the impressive ingredient.
Squalane + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil, Biossance ($30)
Trilogy Rosehip Transformation Cleansing Oil
Rosehip oil is beloved in the beauty industry for its ability to brighten skin and reduce the appearance of scarring; some even compare it to retinol, as it contains a natural precursor to vitamin A (although, it’s not an exact comparison as rosehip hasn’t been shown to promote cell turnover in the same way as retinol does). In Trilogy’s formula, it gently dissolves debris and grime from your skin without stripping it of moisture.
Rosehip Transformation Cleansing Oil, Trilogy ($25.50)
Savor Beauty Coconut Jasmine Pre-Cleanse Oil
A truly sensorial experience, Savor Beauty’s pre-cleanse oil is reminiscent of a luxurious spa day. Coconut oil, lavender, and jasmine help the skin feel refreshed, and it all smells like a toasted coconut treat. Divine.
Coconut Jasmine Pre-Cleanse Oil, Savor Beauty ($32)
In Fiore Lustra Illuminating Cleansing Essence
This 100% natural oil contains a cocktail of rich ingredients: Namely, avocado, grape seed, jojoba, castor, and arnica flower oils to plump and hydrate the skin. Massage it into the skin, and you’ll practically feel the fatty acids and antioxidants at work.
Lustra Illuminating Cleansing Essence, In Fiore ($125)
Pai Skincare Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil
Another rosehip number (it’s a fan-favorite), Pai’s formula was created especially with sensitive skin in mind. It’s super calming, yet slides off makeup and grime with ease. Plus, it’s a gorgeous, sunset-orange color. Feel free to use it alone on dry skin, or even add a few drops of water to transform it into a light, milky texture.
Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil, Pai Skincare ($29)
How to find the right oil cleanser for your skin type
Let's say you've read through the list, and you're still having trouble deciding what one's for you: After all, it's not a one-cleansing-oil-fits-all situation. There are basic guidelines that can help you find a cleansing oil product that supports your specific skin type:
- All skin types can benefit from added antioxidants. "Antioxidants scavenge dangerous free radicals, which would otherwise damage cells, contribute to inflammation, and accelerate aging," says Dr. Adams. One antioxidant ingredient she loves to see in cleansing oils: green tea, which has anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and acne-fighting properties. Most skin types can also benefit from hydrating, not-too-heavy oils such as avocado, olive, sunflower, sesame, jojoba, argan, and hemp seed.
- People with very dry or eczema-prone skin may benefit from a richer cleansing oil with argan oil and coconut oil. Though not appropriate for oily skin, coconut oil is an effective moisturizer and "decreases staphylococcal colonization on the skin, a bacteria that contributes to skin infections and eczema," explains Lauren E. Adams, M.D., a dermatologist with White Plains Hospital Physician Associates who's board-certified in lifestyle medicine. "Argan oil is rich in antioxidant vitamin E and fatty acids needed to maintain the skin barrier." Pass on oils that predominantly contain castor oil, though, which can be drying.
- People with oily and congested skin should steer clear of cleansing oils listing heavier oils such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter high up on the ingredient list, as they can be pore-clogging, says Plug. (Cleansing oils labeled "non-comedogenic" shouldn't clog pores.) One oil you should look for: sunflower seed oil, which acts like a magnet to draw out congestion and dissolve blackheads.
- People with active acne, rosacea, or very sensitive skin should avoid strong fragrances, even from natural essential oils, as these can be irritating, says Plug. For these skin types, you don't want to do the traditional warm washcloth removal method either since that may cause further irritation. Instead, choose a cleansing oil that emulsifies (one that gets a little bit creamy, but not foamy, when you work it), apply it with your fingers, and rinse with warm water.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.