If you’ve never used one before, cleaning your face with oil may seem counterintuitive, but it is a really effective way to dissolve make-up (even waterproof mascara) and grime without stripping moisture from the skin and leaving you with that squeaky-clean, tight feeling that many foaming cleansers do. They also suit all skin types, being brilliant for removing excess sebum from pores for oily, breakout-prone skin and conditioning for dry areas.
All of our favourites below are used in the same way: massage one or two pumps (depending on how much make-up, if any, you’re wearing) into your skin, splash with a little water to emulsify, then remove with warm water and a flannel.
1. Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Oil: £22, Clinique
The balm version of this is one of my all-time favourite products, and the oil doesn’t disappoint either. It gives a super-effective, deep clean that doesn’t require you to go back over your face again to remove the last traces of foundation, makes light work of mascara and is far cheaper per ml than many we tested.
2. Votary Cleansing Oil: £45, Liberty
Votary is the brand on every skincare aficionado's lips right now, and we love its all-natural blend of apricot, rose geranium and sunflower and rose oils. It feels thinner and more refined than most, without that slightly olive oil-like gloopiness, and comes with a flannel for proper cleansing. It's our favourite for morning cleansing, and we also love the luxe, dark green glass bottle and rose gold label.
3. Superfacialist by Una Brennan Vitamin C+ Skin Renew Cleansing Oil: £10.99, Boots
Una Brennan’s offering easily holds its own against its more expensive competitors. It smells gorgeous and our tester, who suffers from breakouts and dry patches, found that it improved the condition of her skin and left it feeling clean and refreshed. Sadly, it doesn’t come with a pump, but at this price we’ll let it off.
4. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil: £21.50, Feel Unique
It was a Japanese brand that first brought oil-based cleansers to the mass market in 1967, and DHC was one of the first to make it big in the UK. This cult favourite is our go-to for evening cleansing, making light work of eye make-up, foundation and SPF. Its scent is distinctively olive oil-like, so it hasn't got the luxury feel of other brands, but darn is it effective.
5. Elemis Nourishing Omega Rich Cleansing Oil: £29.50, timetospa
This is almost worth buying just for the sweet, fresh scent, which I can only describe as reminding me of lemon drizzle cake. As for the rest, it is made of a blend of 90 per cent natural oils, including winter rose oil, which is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-9, and melts make-up off the skin.
6. Mac Cleanse Off Oil: £18.90, Debenhams
Fittingly for a brand that is primarily known for make-up, Mac’s cleansing oil deals with a full face like nothing else. It takes off everything, including red lipstick and waterproof mascara, with minimal pressure. A great choice for minimal effort make-up removal after a night out.
7. Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Replenishing Cleansing Oil: £25, John Lewis
I love Elizabeth Arden, and not just because the brand’s gold packaging appeals to my magpie tendencies. We found that the brand’s oil is particularly good for tired, dull skin or skin that is starting to show signs of ageing as its omegas and vitamin E help restore moisture and suppleness. Proper TLC for your face.
8. Origins Clean Energy Gentle Cleansing Oil: £23.50, Origins
Our tester found that Origins’s option turned the chore of cleansing into something of a treat, easily removing eye make-up and leaving sensitive, dry skin feeling nourished and looking healthier after three days’ use. The only downside is that the bottle doesn’t come with a pump so application can be a little messier than most.
9. Fresh Seaberry Skin Nutrition Cleansing Oil: £32, Fresh
Fresh’s oil has serious nourishing powers, with omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9 from seaberry, nigella, camellia seed, cranberry seed and grapeseed oils, leaving skin soft and plumped. Our tester, who has sensitive skin and usually struggles to find products that suit her, had no problems whatsoever with it.
10. Givenchy Clean It Silky: £24.50, Feel Unique
From a slightly less obvious brand choice for skincare, this lightweight, fresh-fragranced oil feels totally luxurious and calming on the skin. Cranberry oil and vitamin E help to retain moisture and the cucumber-like scent makes the cleansing process thoroughly refreshing.
If budget is your concern, Superfacialist by Una Brennan holds its own against the pricier, bigger-name brands, while Votary is the ultimate luxury option. But for a mid-price, get-the-job-done oil that also nourishes the skin, Clinique’s Take The Day Off is a solid choice.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing
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