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Here’s why you should be using a cleansing oil, according to experts

Remove makeup and cleanse your face at the same time!
Woman washing her face in front of the mirror
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How to use cleansing oils | Best overall derm picks | More expert and editor faves | FAQs | Meet the experts

Cleansing oils are becoming more prevalent in modern skin care routines, thanks to the rising popularity of a Korean beauty practice known as double-cleansing.

For those with oily or acne-prone skin, the product might sound like a bit of an oxymoron. After all, cleansers are thought of as light and sudsy, while oils are heavier and take some time seeping into the skin. The reality of how cleansing oils work, though, is not exactly what it seems.

To get some clarity around this elusive product, we asked dermatologists about the benefits of cleansing oils, along with how to incorporate them in your daily routine.

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How do you use a cleansing oil?

When using cleansing oil, New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Hadley King recommends applying a full pump directly to dry skin and massaging it in for one to two minutes, followed by removing it with a gentle cleansing cloth. If desired, you can follow it up with a water-based cleanser.

That process is also recommended by Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology. "In general, I tend to recommend double cleansing by starting with an oil cleanser first, which aids in replenishing the skin's natural oils without over-cleansing or disrupting the skin's barrier," she says.

Best dermatologist-recommended cleansing oils

Best cleansing oil for acne-prone skin:

Size: 10.14 fl oz | Key ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, lavender oil, rosemary leaf oil, jojoba seed oil, squalane, glycerin

Gmyrek recommends this cleansing oil if you have acne-prone skin. “It contains PHA or polyhydroxy acid, which is an exfoliant that will keep pores open and remove dead skin cells,” she says.

Best cleansing oil for your entire body:

Size: 33.8 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, niacinamide

Levin recommends this cleansing oil that is suitable not only for your face, but your whole body! For the best results, apply on wet skin, rinse it off and lather up with your favorite moisturizer. The brand touts hydration for 24 hours after application.

Best cleansing oil for dry, itchy skin:

Size: 13.52 fl oz | Ingredients: Thermal spring water, glycerin, jojoba seed oil

A favorite of Levin's, this fragrance-free cleansing oil is meant to help soothe severely dry skin and alleviate itching. One reviewer on the brand's site raved, "This cleansing oil is my saving grace. It protects my skin from drying and calms down my irritated skin."

Best non-comedogenic cleansing oil:

Size: 6.7 fl oz | Key ingredients: Milk oil, jojoba seed oil, glycerin

"I like this because, as a cream oil cleanser, the consistency is easy to apply and use. The jojoba oil will not clog pores but leave the skin moisturized," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Robyn Gmyrek.

Best cleansing oil for removing makeup:

Size: 3 fl oz | Key ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, argan oil, sweet almond oil, shea butter, cocoa seed butter

This balm is made with a blend of oils that include sweet almond, argan, sunflower seed and castor to keep your skin moisturized. "[It] transforms from a balm to an oil cleanser while you use it, which makes it great for removing makeup," says King.

More expert and editor-recommended cleansing oils

Cocokind Organic Facial Cleansing Oil

Size: 2 fl oz | Key ingredients: Avocado, tea tree, coconut and lavender oils

Associate social media editor Dani Musacchio loves this cleansing oil so much, she's already finished her own bottle! She uses it as the first step in her double cleansing routine and says "it removes all my makeup while leaving my skin feeling so soft."

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

Size: 6.7 fl oz | Key ingredients: Olive fruit oil, rosemary leaf oil

Editorial director Adrianna Brach has been using this cleansing oil since her beauty editor days. "I come back to it every time," she says. "It removes makeup so nicely!"

Be Well Company Natural Facial Cleansing Oil

Size: 1 fl oz | Key ingredients: Tea tree, coconut, argan, olive, rosehip, avocado and jojoba oils

Social media video producer Anita Chomenko has been using this cleansing oil on and off for a few years, favoring the tea tree scent. "It feels refreshing, clean and smells like a spa! I especially love using it in the winter; I think it adds extra moisture so my skin," she raves.

Biossance Squalane + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil

Size: 6.76 fl oz | Key ingredients: Squalane, lavender oil, oat oil, rosemary leaf extract, sunflower seed oil

Deputy editorial director Ali Deabler is a fan of this cleansing oil from Biossance. "It makes my face feel very soft and it’s gentle enough to double cleanse with, or just as a rinse in the morning," she says.

One Love Beauty

Size: 4 fl oz | Key ingredients: Sunflower, pumpkin and papaya seed oils

Editor Julie Ricevuto is a fan of this cleansing oil and says it not only smells great, but makes her skin feel nourished after use. "It feels so luxurious and sensorially-pleasing to me that I look forward to taking off my makeup with it every night!" she raves.

Carter + Jane The Everything Oil Neroli No. 18 Cleanser

Size: 4 fl oz | Key ingredients: Sesame seed oil, olive squalene, essential oils

“This organic, plant-based cleansing oil will dissolve excess oil, dirt and makeup while moisturizing the skin,” says King. “It is also rich in antioxidants.”

Meet the experts