Your weekly health and beauty check-up

Under the microscope: Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil (£25 for 150ml,

In theory British women are inclined to view products containing oil with extreme suspicion, working on the old assumption that oil equals grease equals spots. In other cultures, such as India and Japan (the home of the pioneering Shu Uemura skincare and cosmetics brand), cleansing with oil is seen as key to keeping skin soft and young-looking, as it soothes and moisturises without drying. Now an expanding range of oil cleansers are being sold in the UK.

In practice If you are used to lathering up with a squeaky-clean facial wash, slathering your face in oil can feel a little strange at first. It can also feel a little messy – anyone who wears mascara will also find themselves looking frighteningly like Gene Simmons of Kiss fame mid-cleanse. The oil emulsifies with warm water and can be rinsed off, although a final wipe with a wet cotton pad or damp muslin cloth to remove any residue and gently exfoliate leaves skin feeling cleaner.

Observations Skincare guru Shu was a firm believer in the cathartic power of the nightly wash, and there is something comfortingly ritualistic in the oil cleansing process. My skin felt far less tight, needed less moisturiser and as a result held make-up better.

Analysis Using oil is one of the gentlest cleansing methods around. Not only does it avoid stripping the skin of its own natural oils, the lubrication means that there is no dragging of cotton-wool pads or pulling of the skin – a major factor in the appearance of ageing.

Prescription Both oily and dry skin types can benefit from these products, so if you can overcome your grease phobia and make sure you rinse thoroughly, you can look forward to soft, supple skin.

Further experiments Weleda's bargain Almond Facial Oil doubles as a moisturiser for very dry skin (£7.95 for 50ml, If oil still feels strange, try a cleansing balm – Eve Lom's is a cult classic that exfoliates too (£48 for 100ml,