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Best cleansing oil 2023: Effortlessly remove makeup, dirt and other impurities

Qin Xie
24 Jan 2023
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Looking to step up your skincare routine? We reveal the best cleansing oils to buy in 2023

The best cleansing oils can effectively and delicately remove even the most stubborn traces of makeup and surface pollutants from your skin. Oil adheres to oil, which is why oil cleansers work better than other types of cleansers at removing pore-clogging makeup.

To use an oil cleanser, simply massage the product into dry skin to loosen makeup, dirt and other impurities. Then apply warm water to transform the cleansing oil into a milky emulsion and rinse it away.

Cleansing oils are not just for cleaning your face at the end of the day; you can also use them in the morning, either on their own or as part of a double cleansing routine. A double cleanse involves using a cleansing oil to dislodge impurities followed by a water-based cleanser best suited to your skin type for a deeper clean.

Read on to discover how to choose the best cleansing oil for your skin type. We’ve also put together a comprehensive buying guide to help take your skin from drab to fab.

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Best cleansing oils: At a glance


How to choose the best cleansing oil for you

According to Rebecca Nicholls, global learning and development specialist at Jurlique, when you are looking for a cleansing oil, you should read the label to ensure it’s best for your skin type.

 That means looking out for any ingredients that you have a known sensitivity to or any you would prefer to avoid. It’s also worth looking out for any specific product features, such as suitability for removing waterproof makeup.

In some cases, it might be worth looking out for specific base oils. Dry skin types benefit from rich oils like sunflower seed oil, olive oil and caster oil, whereby oily or combination skin types may prefer lighter cleansing oils, such as jojoba oil.

Are there any skin types that should avoid cleansing oils?

Although people with drier skin tend to favour cleansing oils, anyone can use them, including those with naturally oily skin. As Sarah Brown, founder of Pai Skincare, explains: “While oil cleansing may seem counterintuitive to those suffering from acne, breakouts, or oily/unbalanced skin, the practice of using natural oils and oil-enriched facial care products has been shown to reduce the occurrence of acne blemishes and breakouts.”

Sarah adds that choosing a suitable cleansing oil depends on your skin type and if it’s sensitive to specific ingredients. Always check the ingredients list before using a cleansing oil for the first time.

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Are there any specific ingredients you should avoid?

The general advice is to avoid cleansing oils that contain silicones, petrolatum, mineral oil, paraffin wax, PEGs, synthetic glycols, parabens, formaldehyde donors, GMOs, and artificial colours.

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The best cleansing oils to buy in 2023

1. Jurlique Nourishing Cleansing Oil: Best for all skin types

Price: £32 | Buy now from Sephora

Made in Australia using natural seed oils, Jurlique’s nourishing cleansing oil is designed to rehydrate the skin as it cleans. The gentle formula contains ingredients like calendula (soothing sensitivity), lemon balm (rebalancing skin’s natural oils) and yarrow (smoothing lines and wrinkles) to help address some of the most common skin concerns.

We loved the velvety consistency of this oil and the refreshing citrus scent (from natural essential oils) that hit us as we worked it across the face. It’s gentle enough to be used around the eye area and worked a treat for removing eye makeup, including waterproof mascara. The oil quickly emulsified and washed off when we added water, leaving no residue but perfectly soft skin.

Key details - Size: 200ml; Designed for: All skin types; Scented: Yes

2. Evolve Beauty Kalahari Dream Cleansing Oil: Best for combination skin

Price: £20 | Buy now from Evolve Beauty

Rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin E and other antioxidants, Kalahari melon seed oil is known for its anti-ageing properties. Evolve Beauty’s Kalahari Dream cleansing oil – made in small batches in the UK – features it as a key ingredient, alongside pink indigo for reducing inflammation and squalane for promoting hydration. The result is an all-natural and lightweight oil that’s also 80% organic.

We loved the sweet and fruity melon scent of the oil and how easy it was to apply to the skin – a couple of pumps are all you need. Our makeup came off effortlessly, and although the manufacturer suggests you may need to follow up with a cleansing cloth, we didn’t feel the need.

Key details - Size: 100ml; Designed for: Normal to combination skin; Scented: Yes

Buy now from Evolve Beauty


3. Pai Skincare Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil: Best for sensitive skin

Price: £33 | Buy now from Pai Skincare

Designed for sensitive skin, British beauty brand Pai Skincare’s Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil makes organic rosehip fruit extract its star ingredient. The skincare favourite is known to have a myriad of anti-ageing properties, including vitamin C and vitamin A antioxidants, which work to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

This floral-scented oil comes in eco-friendly packaging that’s fully recyclable. It feels light to use and glides onto dry skin with ease. The oil can be applied to the lashline to remove eye makeup, although we found it takes a bit more effort to remove some waterproof products. Once water is applied, the product emulsifies quickly and rinses away all traces of makeup.

Key details - Size: 100ml; Designed for: Sensitive skin; Scented: Yes

Buy now from Pai Skincare


4. Athletia Treatment Cleansing Oil: Best anti-ageing oil

Price: £42 | Buy now from Selfridges

Japanese beauty brand Athletia’s skincare products contain two hero ingredients: leaf and stem extract from the Angelica keiskei plant and leaf extract from the Perilla ocymoides plant. While lesser known in the western world, both are used widely in Japan for their anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties. Their addition to this cleansing oil means that when used regularly and over time, you should see your skin becoming firmer and smoother.

We found the luscious oil a pleasure to use – it has a delicate citrus scent and easily massages into the skin. It doesn’t dissolve makeup quite as readily, though. With water, the oil emulsifies quickly and rinses off without any residue. We were left with a clearer complexion.

Key details - Size: 150ml; Designed for: All skin types; Scented: Yes

Buy now from Selfridges


5. Naya Everyday Cleansing Oil: Best for dry skin

Price: £26 | Buy now from Naya Glow

German brand Naya’s Everyday Cleansing Oil has been formulated for combination to dry skin, but it’s also suitable for sensitive skin. One of its star ingredients is cacay oil, which is rich in fatty acids and vitamins A and E, making it a favourite for anti-ageing beauty products. This cleansing oil also contains bisabolol, extracted from chamomile, and pomegranate seed oil, both of which reduce inflammation. And unlike some of the other cleansing oils in our lineup, this cleansing oil is entirely fragrance-free.

We found it the most effective at removing makeup – barely any effort was involved, and certainly no rubbing. However, it doesn’t emulsify well at all, meaning you must follow up with a cloth or a second cleanser to remove it from your skin. Because of that, we’d only recommend it as part of a two-step cleansing routine.

Key details - Size: 50ml; Designed for: Combination to dry skin; Scented; No

Buy now from Naya Glow


6. The Jojoba Company Activating Cleansing Oil: Best repairing oil

Price: £21 | Buy now from Lloyds Pharmacy

The Jojoba Company Activating Cleansing Oil is one of the richest cleansing oils we tried. The product contains sunflower seed oil to fight premature ageing, Australian jojoba extract for skin repair, and mandarin extract to help reduce the appearance of acne and scars. While it contains essential oils that give it a citrus scent, the smell is so delicate that you barely notice it.

When we tested it, we found the oil incredibly rich and didn’t need as much product as the manufacturer recommended. It quickly removed all traces of makeup, but unlike some of the other cleansing oils we tried, it didn’t emulsify so well. It meant that we had to follow up with a cleansing cloth to completely remove the oil. The upside is that our skin felt really soft afterwards.

Key details - Size: 125ml; Designed for: All skin types; Scented: Yes

 Buy now from Lloyds Pharmacy


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