Why a Cleansing Oil Is Essential for Dry and Sensitive Skin


Particularly during the bone-dry winter season, washing your face with a cleansing oil is one of the most—if not the most—significant steps in a conscious skin-care regimen. Foremost, because it’s essential to strike that delicate balance of lifting off every last bit of dirt and makeup while preserving any natural oils. And yet, over-cleansing will leave skin borderline sandpapery and parched.

“The squeaky-clean feeling you may experience after using foaming cleanser or traditional bar soap is actually harmful,” explains Manhattan dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D. “Stripping the skin of essential oils may disrupt the skin barrier, leading to dryness and inflammation.” This is where oil-based cleansers, which contain the same purifying ingredients as a traditional formula, but with higher levels of natural emollients that help soothe and hydrate, come into play. And contrary to what you’ve heard, they’re not too heavy or greasy. “These oils are light in consistency and will not make you break out,” says Dr. Zeichner. “In fact, oil dissolves oil, making cleansing oils ideal for a variety of skin types, including patients who have oily or acne-prone complexions.” Fortunately, the latest generation of cleansing oils are designed to address specific skin needs for a more individualized face-washing experience.

From a clean-beauty classic to the cult-facialist favorite, here are 10 cleansing oils that will keep your skin thoroughly clean and quenched all winter long.

True Botanicals Pre Cleanse Oil

True Botanicals Pre Cleanse Oil

True Botanical’s silky cleanser is a potent mix of oils, namely soothing jojoba seed, hydrating apricot kernel, and Ayurvedic favorite healing sesame seed, that work together to melt away makeup and grime to squeaky-clean effect.

Mara Beauty Chia + Moringa Algae Enzyme Cleansing Oil

Mara Beauty Chia + Moringa Algae Enzyme Cleansing Oil

To brighten up dullness and even out texture, Mara Beauty’s Algae Enzyme cleansing oil blends algae ingredients, like spurulina and kelp, with fruit enzymes—papaya, pumpkin, pineapple, and grapefruit among them—to gently exfoliate and hydrate skin.

Epara Cleansing Oil

Epara’s natural cleansing oil targets hyperpigmentation for medium to deep skin tones, harnessing the healing powers of moringa seed, marula, and argan oils, as well as licorice root and plankton extracts, to help fade dark spots over time.

La Mer The Cleansing Oil

With just a few shakes, La Mer’s oil-based detoxifying cleanser—infused with its signature Miracle Broth and natural pearl powders—turns into a milky emulsion that lifts away stubborn pigments and dirt with ease.

Sonya Dakar Buriti Purifying Cleanser

Sonya Dakar Buriti Purifying Cleanser

Breakout-prone skin types will benefit from L.A. superfacialist Sonya Dakar’s Buriti Purifying cleanser, which features healing and moisture-retaining grapeseed and avocado oils that leave skin luminous.

SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil

SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil

For a more youthful-looking glow, SK-II’s cocktail of vitamins, amino acids, and minerals work to combat dullness and diminish fine lines. Of course, its formula wouldn’t be complete without the Japanese brand’s Pitera essence, which helps restore the skin’s barrier to improve tone and texture.

Biossance Squalene + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil

Biossance Squalene + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil

Thanks to its hero ingredient squalene, which mimics the body’s natural hydrating oils to lock in moisture, Biossance’s smooth, antioxidant-packed cleanser is soothing and replenishing for extremely dry skin.

Payot Milky Cleansing Oil

Payot Milky Cleansing Oil

This French oil-cleansing favorite—infused with nourishing avocado, borage, and carrot oils, as well as collagen-stimulating organic silicium—turns to a silky milk as it removes makeup and draws out impurities.

Kaike Melt Oil Cleanser

Kaike’s Melt cleanser seeks to keep things in balance by replicating the skin’s sebum layer with an antioxidant-loaded mix of oils including linoleic acid-rich grapeseed and anti-inflammatory hemp.

Pai Light Work Rosehip Fruit Extract Cleansing Oil

Pai Light Work Rosehip Fruit Extract Cleansing Oil

Pai’s lightweight yet robust organic cleansing oil is supercharged with rosehip oil, which is packed with essential fatty acids, as well as vitamins A, E, C, and D for a multitude of benefits including brightening and reducing inflammation.

Make Beauty Pre-Cleanse Fluid

Make Beauty Pre-Cleanse Fluid

Double cleansers, take note: Make’s pre-cleanse fluid—made from cacay oil, bioactive green algae, and omega-rich chia, jojoba, evening primrose and rice bran—is a powerhouse elixir for washing away stubborn makeup and SPF while ensuring skin stays hydrated and supple.

Tatcha The Camellia Cleansing Oil

Tatcha The Camellia Cleansing Oil

The hero ingredient of Tatcha’s beloved silky oil cleanser is camellia oil, one of Japan’s most cherished ingredients. Made from the seeds of the flowering plant, it’s packed with antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamins A, B, D, and E, to support skin health as the day’s remnants are melted away.

Erno Laszlo Phelityl Pre-Cleansing Oil

Erno Laszlo Phelityl Pre-Cleansing Oil

With its unique moisturizing, pH-balanced complex, and a slew of natural essential oils including avocado, jojoba and grapeseed, this rich oil cleanser repairs and protects the lipid barrier as you rinse away every last trace of oil, dirt, and makeup.

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