An Oil for an Oil: Four Excellent Oils to Cleanse and Balance Skin

oil cleansers

by Sonja on August 28, 2009

After years of dealing with oily skin, I was horrified by the idea of putting oil on my face. But once I learned that many oils are actually excellent for removing makeup gently and balancing oily skins, I’ve been enamored with oils. It’s the best way I know of for removing makeup – even stubborn mascaras. Cleansing with oil is a pretty simple concept. Like dissolves like. Oil dissolves oil – whether it’s the natural oils from your skin or the oil in the makeup or skin care you apply. And unlike many foaming cleansers, cleansing oils won’t strip away the natural oils in the skin so they help keep skin balanced and are good for all skin types. A word of caution: not all oils are created equal. If you have oily skin and/or are prone to breakouts, you probably want to steer clear of anything containing mineral oil, because it’s known to leave a residue on skin that can clog pores. Companies tend to use it because it’s cheap. It’s also a petrol by-product so it’s not nice on the environment.

Oil Cleanser Tip

Apply oil onto dry skin. Oil and water don’t mix so wetting the face first will cause the oil to bead up and be ineffective in cleansing.

My Favorites

I have a few favorites that I love to use, including a new one from Bobbi Brown. They all work exceptionally well and contain no mineral oil. Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil. Bobbi Brown just introduced her new Cleansing Oil. It is fabulous. She’s included olive and jojoba oils to condition and soften skin and ginger root extract to sooth and calm. It’s already getting rave reviews from customers. I’m not at all surprised. Also good to know: Bobbi Brown products are not tested on animals. It’s available at Bobbi Brown counters and for $38 (6.7 ounces). Boscia Makeup-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil. The Boscia Cleansing Oil is unique, because it leaves skin feeling cool and refreshed with the addition of peppermint and eucalyptus. It also contains rose hip, green tea, and golden palm oils to unclog pores and refine skin texture. It contains no preservatives, parabens, sulfates, GMOs, phthalates, alcohol, animal ingredients, or synthetic fragrance or color. Boscia products are not tested on animals. The oil is available for $21 (4.06 ounces) at Sephora,, and Villainess Datura Slick!. This cult favorite is a little powerhouse. Slick! contains rosehip oil to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, jojoba oil to soften pore blockages, castor to draw out impurities, grapeseed to repair tissues, cherry kernel oil, orchid extract, and vitamin E for anti-oxidant protection, and all sorts of other good stuff to beautify. Villainess seeks to use ecologically sound ingredients that haven’t been tested on animals. Slick! is available for $10 (one ounce) or $18 (two ounces) at


Simple and Economical

Alicia Moody, one of the lead aestheticians at International Orange day spa in San Francisco, says you can also keep things really simple and just use jojoba oil alone. You can easily find a bottle for not a lot of money at most any health food store. For instance, you can get a four-ounce bottle of Desert Essence Pure Jojoba Oil for $10-$12 on

Do Tell

Do you use an oil cleanser or straight oil to cleanse your skin? Does the thought of using an oil on your skin freak you out? Do tell. P.S. Check out the Beauty Resources page for some amazing beauty deals from, Bobbi Brown,, Sephora, and more.

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erin August 28, 2009 at 8:07 am

this is very interesting. i’ll have to check it out. my skin is super sensitive to all sorts of products.

Rachel August 28, 2009 at 8:31 am

I have oily skin, and use DHC deep cleansing oil to pre-wash and remove makeup. Then another cleanser after. It works soooo well! And my eyes/contacts aren’t irritated like they are when I use drugstore make up remover.

rae August 28, 2009 at 9:06 am

My skin has NEVER been better! I use 2/3 castor oil, 1/3 camellia oil, and a few drops of tea tree oil… and I only have to cleanse like this every 2-3 days… amazing. No dryness, no shiny spots, no breakouts unless I do something stupid like forget to wash my face after using sunblock. Also SUPER cheap — one set of oils could probably last more than a year for me, so I split them with my sister! Probably about $4-$6 a year…

Sonja August 28, 2009 at 9:19 am

❤ erin, definitely give it a try. Sulfates in foaming cleansers can be very harsh on the skin so these might work better for you.
❤ Rachel, good call out! I used that years ago but forgot about it, because it’s not as easy to find as it use to be sadly.
❤ rae, thanks for sharing your recipe! That’s amazing that you’re only spending $4-6 a year on cleanser. Wow!
.-= Sonja´s last blog ..An Oil for an Oil =-.

Ashe Mischief August 28, 2009 at 9:27 am

Like many of you, I’ve got super oily skin, and I’ve toyed with the idea of using an oil cleanser… I tried it one night with an olive oil combo, but found it was just all right (as I didn’t have castor oil around). It’s something I want to try more and more though… it’s great to see so many options available, both for homemade and commercial…
.-= Ashe Mischief´s last blog ..IFB Presents: Links á la Mode =-.

Carla August 28, 2009 at 9:59 am

Historically, I have oily, acne prone skin but when I actually moisturize, its not an issue! To cleanse my face, I either use the oil cleansing method or real, traditional organic cold cream (not the drugstore type). It has worked wonders.

When I clean with oil, I use olive oil and a little avocado oil. Castor oil is a little drying for my skin.
.-= Carla´s last blog ..Things you dont need to buy – reducing waste =-.

Connie August 28, 2009 at 10:18 am

I love the DHC cleansing oil - been using it for years! I now have my 18yo daughter using it to remove make-up as well.

Sonja August 28, 2009 at 11:06 am

❤ Ashe Mischief, you would probably be better off with a lighter oil, like jojoba or maybe even grapeseed. Olive oil is pretty thick and may have been too rich for your skin.
❤ Carla, it’s so true. When we have oily, acne-prone skin we tend to try to get rid of all the oil and then end up stripping the skin of oils and triggering even more oil!
❤ Connie, I love that you’re passing along such a great beauty secret!

Katie August 28, 2009 at 11:07 am

I don’t use oil for cleansing, and I think I should try it soon, but I wanted to leave a quick note talking about using oil as a body moisturizer instead of lotion. Many lotions are full of drying agents and harsh chemicals… I used to have body breakouts and scaly dry spots until I stopped using lotion and switched to pure jojoba oil. When it comes to skin, I think natural is always better.

Tami August 28, 2009 at 11:38 am

I have the Dessert Essences jojoba oil and I love it. It’s cheaper than anything else and it’s the best….and the Boscia one is great too for heavy duty makeup removal.
.-= Tami´s last blog ..CosMedix - Chirally Correct Skin Care =-.

Christina August 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I tried the Shu A/O cleansing oil lately, I know a lot of people don’t like it because it has mineral oil as a base, but it worked wonders for me. The problem is I’m through with my little bottle and I’m balking at spending 70 on a cleanser…I think I’m holding out for their F&F sale. Hoping they have one soon!

It cleared up my skin amazingly great at first and then I started breaking out after about 2 weeks, I’m just not sure whether it was from the cleanser or the fact that I switched foundations and added powder. Issues.

Alicia August 28, 2009 at 12:31 pm

I have to try this. I usually only use it for stubborn mascara, but never on my whole face.
.-= Alicia´s last blog ..i like to greet the sun each morning and walk amongst the stars at night =-.

The Tilted Tulip August 28, 2009 at 3:33 pm

I use the Desert Essence Jojoba oil exclusively-no lotion or make-up remover-and absolutely LOVE IT! It has made my skin so much softer than lotion ever did. The key is to use it directly after showering, otherwise it seems to not work very well. Also, a little goes a long way.

Lastly, you can buy it at Trader Joes for $6.95 a bottle. SO fabulous!
.-= The Tilted Tulip´s last blog ..Freshly Tilted =-.

The Tilted Tulip August 28, 2009 at 3:35 pm

PS Jojoba oil is also great for just-shaved legs right out of the shower.
.-= The Tilted Tulip´s last blog ..Freshly Tilted =-.

Hilary August 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm

My favorite is Virgin Coconut Oil - Nutiva brand which is meant for cooking. Usually I still wash with an organic bar soap but it’s a great nighttime moisturizer and also great for removing waterproof mascara. And it’s great for sunburns too.

Leia August 28, 2009 at 7:33 pm

I love oil cleansing! I use plain ol’ olive oil. It works wonders! :)
.-= Leia´s last blog ..Confessions of an Underweight Girl =-.

Sonja August 28, 2009 at 8:04 pm

❤ Katie, I agree. I do think sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. I’ve never been keen on oils as a moisturizer all over. But one of my friends adores them. For me, I stick with a lot of really moisturizing lotions & body butters with natural ingredients, like the new Liz Earle Superskin line for body. Love it!
❤ Tami, I haven’t tried jojoba oil on its own. Glad to know it works well for you. I do adore the mintiness of the Boscia cleanser.
❤ Christina, yeah, I freaked out a little when I learned that about mineral oil and the shu cleanser. It works so well to cleanse but I don’t want to risk using something that might clog my pores. Hope you figure out what caused you to break out. That stinks. BTW, I’ve been using a Sampar Prodigal Pen Blemish Corrector. OMG, it works so well as a spot treatment. I put it on before bed and they’re gone by morning! Amazing!
❤ The Tilted Tulip, yes! It’s totally the right price. Thanks for letting me know about TJ’s. I didn’t know they sold it there. Will have to try it on my legs. Thanks!
❤ Leia, I thought they’re had to be someone out there using olive oil. Good to know that it works so well. Thanks for sharing!

Carolyn August 28, 2009 at 9:08 pm

I stopped conventionally washing my face about 4 years ago after more than a decade of frustration with my horrible skin. I tried everything that was out there, and been to 3 dermatologists. None of it made a difference, so why not save some money and ditch it all. So, I started removing makeup with Jojoba oil and loved how it felt and used it exclusively until this summer when I discovered Shu Uemuras cleansing oil. I was buying gel eyeliner at Sephora and wondered how to remove it and thats what the sales lady suggested. I LOVE it.
.-= Carolyn´s last blog ..Todays outfit- Vintage mod strawberry dress =-.

alison saner August 29, 2009 at 7:14 am

I have been using Shu U for a couple of months now. I love how it makes my skin feel…I had no idea that it has mineral oil in it! I probable will switch to either the Jojoba or olive oil when this bottle is gone.
So tell me me (Shu is emulsified so come off with H2O) how does one get these other oils off?

Sonja August 29, 2009 at 11:52 am

❤ Carolyn, I wish I’d discovered oil cleansing when I was younger and had challenging oily, acne-prone skin. I probably would’ve been able to manage it all so much better.
❤ alison, as I understand it, the oil mixes with the oils and makeup on your face. When you add water, all the oils emulsify and wash off with the water. But I was told, with mineral oil, all the oil doesn’t come off. A light layer stays on the skin, which is what can clog pores. You can wash that off with a non-oil cleanser. But if you like the shu and it’s not causing you to break out, then you should be okay. However, you might find that you get the same results with jojoba or olive. Plus you might get better results, because those natural oils can actually nourish the skin.

Radiant Skin Concepts August 29, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Thanks for this comprehensive tips. Would it work the same for men’s skin care as well?

Marte August 30, 2009 at 3:17 am

I have used olive oil in the past, but walnut oil also seems to work well, and it smells much better.
(Mineral oil is super-icky! It somehow manages to dry my skin out AND leave a greasy feeling.)

Michele August 30, 2009 at 12:24 pm

I just blogged about this too! I love the concept and I love how my skin looks and feels after just one week of use!
.-= Michele´s last blog ..Wheels up! =-.

Sonja September 1, 2009 at 1:38 pm

❤ Radiant Skin Concepts, you’re very welcome. Oils will definitely work well for men, too. They’ll wash away the natural oils without stripping the skin.
❤ Marte, nice. I never thought of walnut oil. Very cool. The mineral oil does leave a residue, which some people like but it’s better to wash it off if you’re prone to breakouts.
❤ Michele, absolutely. Oil cleansing rocks!

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