A Beginner’s Guide to Using Oil Cleansers for the First Time

A Beginner’s Guide to Using Oil Cleansers for the First Time

If you’re even loosely plugged into the skincare world, chances are you’ve heard of oil cleansers at some point. They’ve been around for a while, often used as a popular option during double-cleaning routines. But of late, they’ve really picked up steam, with far more skincare brands releasing versions of the product. So, if you’re learning about oil cleansers for the first time now, welcome! The water is warm.

We’ve done some reading in the space and also spoke with Nicola Kropach, General Manager of Aesthetics Rx, to get a better idea. Here’s what we learnt about oil cleansers along the way.

First things first: What’s an oil cleanser?

I mean, you’ve probably deduced a fair bit from the name, it’s an oil-based facial cleanser. But there’s obviously a little more to it than that.

First of all, you’re not just using any old oil on your face. There are different types and some will work better for certain skin types than others.

Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Centre, told SELF that:

“There’s a big difference between applying a cosmetically formulated cleansing oil versus rubbing canola from your kitchen onto your skin.”

He also stressed that if you are acne-prone, it’s important that you look for cleansers that are a little lighter, like those with grapeseed, argan, lavender, or coconut oils.

“Heavier oils such as avocado, on the other hand, should probably be avoided if you already are oily,” he said.

Kropach explained to us over email that you shouldn’t assume that using an oil-based cleaner will leave your skin oily, however.

“Cleansing oils work on the principle that oil dissolves oil,” she shared.

“These types of cleansing formulations are designed to help dissolve excess sebum that can build up on the skin’s surface where it can trap dirt, grime, makeup, and oxidised impurities which may lead to congestion and blackheads.”

What’s so good about them?

Well, keeping this as simple as possible, Kropach shared that there are five key benefits to using a cleansing oil. These are that: cleansing oils “balance sebum and excess oil on the skin’s surface”; they “prevent Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL)”; they “decongest” the skin; have “anti-inflammatory” properties and “repairs and restores a healthy skin barrier”.

They also feel pretty luxe, which is a plus.

Who should use an oil cleanser, and when?

If you’re wondering which skin types can use oil cleansers, Kropach said that, in theory, all skin types can benefit from using this kind of product – as long as it’s high quality. Keep the rules we touched on above in mind (about which oils are best for acne-prone skin), and you should be fine.

But if you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to speak with a skincare professional or dermatologist for specific advice on your best routine.

In terms of how to use oil cleansers, Kropach suggests introducing them as part of a double cleanse routine.

“…it is a good idea to use the oil cleanser as the first cleanse, and then use your regular cleanser to complete the double cleanse. This ensures that no oil is left on the skin,” she said.

She also pointed out that if you wear makeup, an oil cleanser is particularly good at removing hard-to-clean products.

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