Cleansing Oils 101


I remember my first foray into cleansing oils. I was a college student staying with a friend during the summer at her grad student co-op. TSA had lost my bag with all my skincare products so when night time came, my friend shared her products with me and I was immediately drawn to the chic bottle of Shu Uemura Cleansing Beauty Oil. “Wait, what is this? An oil… to cleanse your face?” I asked – keep in mind this was a time before people were putting face oils on their skin much less cleansing with them – “Yes, it’s an oil but trust me, it’s really good and cleans well just try it!” my friend reassured.

To my surprise, the oil felt soothing and not greasy, cleansing and not messy. I became a convert and upon returning to work at Neiman Marcus, I immediately got a bottle for myself.

I imagine this is an experience that many who have discovered cleansing oils may share. Now, it seems that every brand has a cleansing oil and for those of you not acquainted with cleansing oils, I put together this little guide to help.


Cleansing Oils: What are they?

Let’s start at the beginning. Cleansing oils are not new, they’ve been around. In Fiore (who has their own LUSTRA Cleansing Essence) purports that oil cleansing is steeped in practices traced to antiquity, as chronicled in beauty rituals in ancient East Asian, Egyptian, and Greek civilizations.

In modern times, it was first prominently used as a dutiful makeup remover by makeup artists on fashion shoots and for performances. The oils are able to dislodge water-proof makeup including mascara and stains that water-based cleansers have a hard time removing and where strong soap-based cleansers may agitate skin. The oil’s powerful performance in removing makeup yet gentle nature (as only mild gliding on the skin is necessary), resulted in them becoming the go-to medium for makeup removal.

However, in the 90’s and early 00’s, the skincare game was dominated by “oil-free” products and any oil based product brought to mind a product that would be heavy, greasy, and skin-clogging, so cleansing oils remained an industry secret. Micellar Water, a suspension of oils in water was introduced as it was thought to be more easily accepted by the mainstream oil-phobic shopper, despite their performance being a literal watered down version of pure cleansing oils.

Although we now place them in their own category of cleansers, functionally it’s more accurate to class cleansing oils as makeup removers. Cleansing oils dislodge surface level impurities and are great for removing makeup and sunscreen. The oils can also be massaged around bare skin to help dislodge trapped and oxidized sebum on the skin surface, including pore-clogging blackheads.

Can any skin type using cleansing oils?

Yes, with caveats. As I stated before, cleansing oils should be thought of as make-up removers or what some people like to call the “first step cleanser”. It’s not a product that I recommend using as the sole cleansing step because it works on a surface level so you aren’t giving your skin that deeper level of daily cleansing maintenance.

As a first step cleanser/makeup remover, even those with acne prone skin and sensitive skin will benefit because cleansing oils work very gently, are good at removing surface level impurities that can contribute to irritating skin, and the oils do not strip skin which is really ideal for the skin barrier. Bonus: if the oils come from good plant oils, skin receives a wonderful addition of antioxidants and vitamins.

Do follow through with an actual cleanser, which can be a cream or gel, that cleans deeper and you’ve got a great system in place.


What types of cleansing oils are there?

I categorize cleansing oils as those that emulsify with water and those that do not. There is no clear-cut winner because there is a trade-off: purists may prefer straight oil blends that are filled only with the good stuff (see May Lindstrom Pendulum Potion) even if they’re harder to wash off, while the performance-minded may prefer cleansing oils (like One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil) that have emulsifiers that rinse cleanly.

I prefer cleansing oils that emulsify with water for an easy rinse to make sure no residue is left on my skin. I do not want there to be an excess layer of oils that can block the penetration of essences and serums that follow cleansing. Pure oil blends also require muslin cloth, steaming and/or hot water to wash off, a process that I believe to be too abrasive for daily cleansing that it could actually sensitize skin. With that said, if you have a great 2nd cleanser (I swear by YÜLI Halcyon Cleanser), you can do a casual rinse and follow with your second cleanser to get everything off.

How do you determine if a cleansing oil is good or not?

Always read the ingredients list. I like my cleansing oils to be made from high-quality plant oils, so if I see a cleansing oil made from mineral oil or plant oils that are not organic, it’s a no go. You might as well buy a bottle of organic Sweet Almond Oil or Olive Oil instead.

Also, if you have a preference between emulsifying cleansing oils versus pure cleansing oils, check the ingredients to make sure the product is the type you like by looking for emulsifiers which typically have a non-botanical name. It also helps to read the “how to” to see if things like muslin clothes are required to get an idea of how easy the oil is to rinse.

If you are able to sample the cleansing oil, find an oil that has a nice “bouncy” texture where you can glide it around your skin without it pulling or tugging. That weighty texture also helps nourish skin and is a good indicator that the oils have a larger molecular size so they stay on the skin surface which is good in an oil cleanser as you do not want the oils to sink into your skin.

 

What are your favorites?

Similar to face oils and juicing, for cleansing oils, I will only buy clean formulas made from organic plant oils.

Jose Rosebrook, May Lindstrom, In Fiore oils are where I’d steer you toward if you want a pure oil that does not emulsify. You can’t go wrong with any of their formulas which use high-quality organic plant oils, just play around and see which texture or scent suits you.

Now, onto the emulsifying oils that I prefer to use: the green community long-standing favorite, One Love Organic’s Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil is one that I’ve tried, loved and repurchased. It’s a nice hefty weight, made from sunflower and papaya seed oil, smells like pina colada, and emulsifies for easy and fuss-free removal.

I’ve purchased Tata Harper’s Nourishing Oil Cleanser which I honestly thought was going to blow all other oil cleansers out of the water but it left me surprisingly disappointed. The oil is great, it smells wonderful, feels fabulous, and even has this ability to soften skin. Where it falls short is how it emulsifies, upon contact with water, the cleanser congeals with the surface impurities (sunscreen and makeup) into a sticky almost rubbery white film on the skin surface that is nearly impossible to rinse off without the help of a cloth and second cleanser that foams. I don’t think this is a case of a product not working with my skin or individual preference, the formula falls short in delivering the cleansing experience because I can’t imagine anyone would find the stubborn rubbery film desirable.

A new release from Kahina Giving Beauty, the Oil Cleanser, is one I’ve been testing for the last two weeks and it’s been an absolutely flawless experience. The oil’s subtle fragrance reminds me of the Kahina Giving Beauty Essaouira Perfume Oil which is one of my favorite oil perfumes (bright, fresh and crisp). I used 3 pumps and it cushioned my skin with soothing sunflower, argan, carrot seed and calendula oils. Although I was done, I kept massaging the oil on my skin as it just felt so good. Upon rinsing off, the entire formula just melted off with water. The packaging is also gorgeous as you get to see the beautiful oils. I’m not going to beat around the bush here, Kahina Giving Beauty’s Oil Cleanser is hands down, my favorite cleansing oil.


If I left anything out or if you have a question about cleansing oils/any of the products I mentioned, please leave a comment!


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Best of Green Beauty Box 2017 – The Detox Market: REVIEW

The Detox Market is one of the leading purveyors of organic, clean beauty and every year they’ve been introducing a limited edition year-end box that features only their customer favorites. The 2017 Best of Green Beauty Box features 9 of their top-selling, customer favorites: 6 full sizes and 3 travel sizes. This is one of my favorite assortment of products that have a collective retail value over $310 – when you purchase these in The Best of Green Beauty Box, it is only $149 which is basically 50% off (and The Detox Market gives you free shipping). Here’s a breakdown of exactly what you get:

  • Odacité Green Ceremony Cleanser (Full Size | $55 value): The new Odacité cleanser was the first product I used from the box. It’s a powder to foam matcha cleanser that calms my skin while removing all impurities. The foam comes from an ingredient called baby foam derived from coconuts and is a very gentle cleansing agent. The instructions say to use a full dropper (that comes with the cleanser) but I only need half a dropper full of powder and it’s more than enough for my face. I like to leave the cleanser on and feel my skin soaking in this beautiful green tea matcha which is really anti-inflammatory. The cleanser washes off clean with water and also comes with a cool muslin cloth if that’s your preference. Super fun, lovely concept and totally enjoyable product.
  • Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator (Travel Size | $22 value): What more needs to be said about this mist that virtually everyone loves from UK beauty girls including Caroline Hirons to other brand founders who swear by this including May Lindstrom and Rose-Marie Swift? I love the Ylang Ylang -Marshmallow scent, the gentle lightness of the mist and the wonderful herbal ingredients.
  • MV Skincare Rose Soothing and Protective Moisturizer (Full Size | $135 value): The fact that a $100+ moisturizer is currently out of stock should tell you how good it is. I love luxe beauty but very rarely spend that much on moisturizer, yet this Australian brand totally nailed it. The smell is just gorgeous thanks to Bulgarian Rose Otto. It’s excellent for sensitive skin and for skin that becomes sensitive due to dryness as the moisturizer soothes and protects. What makes this more than marketing is that the founder is actually a licensed holistic skin therapist. The texture is on the heavier side that feels comforting especially during winter yet it is never greasy. As the $149 Box features the full size of this $135 moisturizer, I really consider it a steal.
  • The Beauty Chef Collagen Inner Beauty Boost (Travel Size | $16 value): The Beauty Chef makes my favorite ingestible products. They always feature very vibrant, nutrient dense plant based superfoods that taste great. The promotion of collagen helps increase skin firmness and elasticity that is lost with age and this booster features probiotics, maqui berries, acai berries, blueberries, papaya, and antioxidant rich grape-seed extract for beauty from the inside out. I consider this the bonus “treat-yo-self” product to an already jam packed Beauty Box of goodness.
  • RMS Beauty Vintage Cake Liner (Full Size | $24 value): Let me be honest, I’m not the buyer for this product. I’m not a huge make-up girl and for me, it’s all about skin care. But that’s the beauty of these boxes, letting you try something you’d ordinarily not buy. RMS Beauty is one of the top organic make-up lines out there and I was really happy this was included. I use this as eye shadow and as my sister says in her Amy Schumer voice, “it’s amazing for the smokey eye”. The pigment is unreal considering it’s an organic product and I’m absolutely delighted to have this for evenings when I have an event to attend.
  • LILY LOLO Natural Vegan Mascara (Full Size | $20 value): The first natural mascara I tried was the original Ilia Mascara and it left me unsatisfied, so I went back to my tried and true Dior. Upon trying Lily Lolo’s natural AND vegan mascara, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it really enhanced my lashes. It’s wearability is similar to the mainstream high-end brands, and I did not run into any problems with smudging or flaking. At the same time, it came off easily with a gentle cleanser unlike traditional mascaras that are notoriously tough to remove. Total winner, super grateful it was included in the box.
  • Soapwalla Sensitive Skin Cream Deodorant (Full Size | $16 value): Soapwalla is kind of OG status in the world of green deodorants so I really looked forward to trying their baking-soda free formula on an original. I’m one of the many who cannot tolerate baking-soda deodorants which has kept me away from natural deodorants. After a week of use including holiday travels (and all the stress and anxiety that produces), I can say that this deodorant works. The ingredients absorb excess sweat and whisk away moisture, while the lovely essential oils keep you feeling fresh. The cream jar formula makes reapplication a bit weird but is nothing that a private bathroom stall can’t fix.
  • Rahua Shampoo + Conditioner (Travel Set | $16.70 value): I reviewed the Rahua Shampoo a while back (check it out here). I loved everything about it except I found it a little drying, which makes this set with the conditioner perfect.  The Rahua Conditioner really enhances the entire experience and gives hair luster. My strands feel so much stronger and healthier. The set is a really good intro for those who are new to organic haircare, and are a really chic option to pack for travels.
  • Davids Natural Toothpaste (Full Size | $7.95): I did not even know that luxury, organic toothpaste existed. This is a marvel. A dental product that is cleaner than brands like Tom’s with a packaging that looks even more premium (in my opinion) than Marvis. Not only are the ingredients clean, they’re organic and sourced from the US. It is fluoride-free, and also does not contain the nasties that can cause dermatitis around the mouth. The toothpaste leaves my mouth feeling really clean and fresh far longer than other natural toothpastes I’ve used. I feel that it has also helped with my enamel as traditional toothpastes are too corrosive. A very luxe bonus is the inclusion of a roller to squeeze every last bit of toothpaste out of the mint-green tube. This was quite a welcomed discovery to me.

The Best of Green Beauty 2017 Box is so well put together with really exceptional products that cover every category from skin, makeup, hair, deodorant to oral hygiene and ingestibles. I know only a limited number of these boxes are made every year so I highly recommend ordering one if any of these products draw your interest as the pricing is truly exceptional.

As the value is already offered at around 50% off, there are no discount codes. But if you’d like to purchase any individual products (linked above), you can use the code TREAT for the next 48 hours to take 10% off your order.

SHOP: The Detox Market