Here Are The 4 Best Cleansing Oils For Every Skin Type

Contributing Health & Nutrition Editor By Stephanie Eckelkamp
Contributing Health & Nutrition Editor
Stephanie Eckelkamp is a writer and editor who has been working for leading health publications for the past 10 years. She received her B.S. in journalism from Syracuse University with a minor in nutrition.
Collage of clean natural or green cleansing oils

Image by mbg Creative

If you've stepped into a Sephora lately, you know that cleansing oils are the cool new kids on the natural skin care block. But after years of being programmed to think we need all the suds to remove the grit and grime off our face, and that oil equals acne, it can be nerve-wracking to take the plunge.

So, just to be sure, we asked a few holistic skin care pros: Can everyone, regardless of their skin type, benefit from an oil cleanser? The answer: a resounding yes! If you pick the right one.

"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!).

Turns out, cleansing oils have a similar chemical composition to the oil and debris that develops on the skin, so they're highly effective at dissolving and washing away these substances in a way that's non-irritating, explains Lauren E. Adams, M.D., a dermatologist with White Plains Hospital Physician Associates who's board-certified in lifestyle medicine.

That said, our experts warn that 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 Dr. Adams. "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. 

4 cleansing oils for every skin type.

Want even more guidance? With these four oil cleansers, we've got every skin type covered:

For all skin types: Josh Rosebrook Herbal Infusion Oil

This well-balanced oil cleanser features antioxidant-rich green tea, antimicrobial neem, a variety of anti-inflammatory herbs, and nourishing oils including olive, sunflower, jojoba, and hemp seed, making it great for nearly any skin type. Several reviewers have said it helps reduce acne and redness while hydrating.

Herbal Infusion Oil, Josh Rosebrook, $24

For very dry, eczema-prone skin: Burt's Bees Facial Cleansing Oil

This super-affordable cleansing oil features a base of coconut oil, argan oil, and vitamin E, three ingredients known for their skin-nourishing properties. It also contains the lesser-known Abyssinian oil, which is anti-inflammatory and easily absorbed by the skin.

Facial Cleansing Oil, Burt’s Bees, $16

For oily or congested skin: Laurel Clarity Oil Cleanser

With a combination of sunflower, safflower, and sesame oils, this cleanser "really helps dissolve blackheads in skin that's thick, oily, and congested," says Plug. "The results are dramatic." Other skin-friendly ingredients like black cumin seed oil and turmeric help tamp down inflammation. 

Clarity Oil Cleanser, Laurel, $48 

For super-sensitive skin: Pure + E.O. Free Oil Cleanser

One of Plug's favorites, this fragrance-free, emulsifying cleansing oil is "completely clean and nontoxic and doesn't have anything potentially irritating in it," which makes it great for skin with active acne or rosacea. In addition to a base of safflower and sunflower oils, it also contains probiotics to help heal the skin's barrier and a dose of antioxidants from elderberry.

Pure + E.O. Free Oil Cleanser, Marie Veronique, ($40) 

And are you ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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