If you have oily or combination skin, the idea of putting any oil-based products on your face probably sounds absurd.
But thanks to the double cleansing routine championed by Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam, starting your beauty routine with a cleansing oil has gone from a niche skin care step reserved for heavy makeup users to a mainstream practice that’s suitable for anyone.
If you’re new to cleansing oils and are thinking of trying one, you’ve come to the right page. Here’s everything you need to know about this unique cleansing formula and the 25 best cleansing oils of all time to treat your skin to.
What are cleansing oils?
Cleansing oils usually contain an oil base, along with a traditional skin-cleansing ingredient called a surfactant, which helps bind to dirt on the skin and remove it without disrupting the skin barrier.
In other words, they are basically face washes, except that cleansing oils use water-soluble “good” oils to dissolve your makeup and wash it away to create a nice, clean canvas for your subsequent skincare products to do their job.
Unlike traditional makeup-removing wipes (or even micellar waters), cleansing oils are some of the gentlest products that will still ensure every last trace of waterproof mascara and foundation is removed – no tugging required.
Another plus point about cleansing oils? They won’t dehydrate your skin because they’re incapable of removing water. Instead, many are packed with good-for-your-skin ingredients, such as olive oil, jojoba seed oil, apricot kernel oil, and centella asiatica extract to actively nourish skin while giving it a thorough clean.
Just keep in mind to pick an appropriate product according to your skin type – you can easily figure it out by reading the label or speaking to a beauty advisor to find something that’s suitable for your skin.
How to use cleansing oils
All you really need to do is to work the formula onto dry skin so it “attaches” itself to makeup, sunscreen, and dirt and breaks them down – before rinsing off with lukewarm water or gently wiping it away with a soft muslin cloth.
In fact, we love giving ourselves a nice, relaxing massage with a cleansing oil every evening – it’s a perfect way to end a long, hard day. Whether your face is makeup-filled or just sunscreen-laden, gently massage a pump of cleansing oil all over your dry face for at least 30 seconds – taking care to carefully rub your lashes to get rid of any mascara – and rinse.
Want a deeper clean to get the gunk out of your pores? Try the 60-second cleansing rule by esthetician
Nayamka Roberts-Smith of LABeautyologist.
According to Nayamka, massaging an oil-based cleanser or balm on your face for 60 seconds gives the ingredients sufficient time to get to work and help to soften the skin, dissolve sebum blockages, and break down all of the day’s pollution and grime. Watch her video to learn more about this cleansing method!
Thereafter, you can either follow with the rest of your skin care routine or give your face one more round of cleansing (a.k.a double cleansing, get it?) with a gentle face wash that’s water- or gel-based.
Ready to give cleansing oils a try? Here are 25 best gentle-but-effective cleansing oils in Malaysia that will give you the softest, cleanest skin of your life.
Best cleansing oils that are budget-friendly
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
Not only has this oldie-but-goodie from Japanese beauty brand DHC been around for almost three decades, the cleansing oil is also what most beauty editors consider as one of their desert-island products.
That’s because the hero ingredient, antioxidant-rich olive oil removes makeup so gently and thoroughly that it actually makes you want to wash your face every night. Doesn’t hurt that the oleic acid from the olive oil, together with hydrating vitamin E and rosemary oil, also conditions your skin while clinging onto and removing pore-clogging oil and dead skin cells.
You’ll appreciate the silky smooth and lightweight texture too, as it just glides easily on the face and doesn’t actually feel like oil on your skin. No wonder this has a strong reputation for being one of the best cleansing oils in the market.
Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Cleansing Oil
Some inexpensive oil cleansers may resort to mineral oil for a cheap cleanse, but not this one from Hada Labo. The formula uses high purity olive oil to cut through the day’s grime, and also contains two types of hyaluronic acid to effectively hydrate your skin on multiple levels and optimise skin’s moisture balance.
Bioré Cleansing Oil
Unlike conventional cleansing oils which require a dry skin surface, Bioré’s version is an advanced Japanese formulation which does not emulsify upon contact with water so you don’t have to worry about rendering the cleansing oil ineffective if you accidentally wet your face or while in-shower.
It effortlessly dissolves impurities and long-wearing makeup so no excessive rubbing is needed, and leaves no greasy film on your face while maintaining the skin’s natural moisture balance. This is definitely one of the best cleansing oils you can find that won’t break your bank.
Simple Kind To Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil
Cleanse and soothe your skin at the same time with this comforting blend of pure grape seed oil and a healthy dose of vitamins A and E that removes even the toughest makeup without irritating the skin. Your skin will just be left thoroughly cleansed, hydrated and soft.
Simple Kind To Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil retails for RM44.50 at major pharmacies such as Watsons and Guardian as well as online at Shopee. It is also available on Hermo, but is currently out of stock at the time of writing.
Nutox Cleansing Oil
Made with sweet almond and organic grapefruit oils, this formula lifts away waterproof makeup, pore-clogging muck and whiteheads instantly without stripping away the natural moisture from your skin. The added bird’s nest extract helps slow down signs of ageing.
Nutox Cleansing Oil retails for RM42.50 at major pharmacies such as Watsons and Guardian as well as online at Shopee. It is also available on Hermo, but is currently out of stock at the time of writing.
Neutrogena Deep Clean Cleansing Oil
The water-activating formula in this refreshing cleansing oil transforms it into a soft white cleansing emulsion that easily washes away makeup and gunk.
On top of that, it also has a botanical skincare complex that helps to lock in your skin’s moisture balance in your skin, so your face stays nourished and moisturised.
Dear, Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil
Formulated with a few skin-loving vegetable oils such as black bean, black sesame, and blackcurrant seed, this mild cleansing oil aids in sebum regulation and skin cell regeneration while preventing dehydration and ageing.
Thanks to the addition of vitamin E, the formula also helps to keep your skin firm and supple.
Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Oil
Harnessing the cleansing powers of antioxidant-rich green tea, this Innisfree formula melts away traces of light makeup and impurities without disrupting skin’s hydration levels or leaving behind any greasy residue.
Fancl Mild Cleansing Oil
Formulated with the sensitive eye area in mind, this formula uses a fusion of vitamin C, cocoa butter as well as carefully selected plant extracts, including rose hip and squalane, with the brand’s Smooth Cushion Oil technology so that even the most stubborn makeup can be eliminated with minimum effort and without stripping the natural oils from your skin.
Fancl Mild Cleansing Oil retails for RM97 on Lazada, but is currently on sale for RM74.60 at the time of writing.
The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil
If you’re looking for something on the lighter side, this water-based cleansing oil may just be it. The formula uses a combination of rice water, soapwort as well as moringa, jojoba and rice bran oils to trap all the dirt and heavily pigmented makeup, purifying your skin and making it feel pillow-soft. One of the best cleansing oils in Malaysia now? You bet.
The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil retails for RM54 on all The Face Shop stores and online.
Caudalie Make-Up Removing Cleansing Oil
One pump of this lightweight cleansing oil is enough to get every bit of makeup off after a long day, but it’s the 100% naturally derived plant oil blend, which includes grape seed, that offers long-term hydration benefits.
For skin that’s more prone to dryness, simply mix the formula with the Caudalie Foaming Cleanser for a pampering foamy cocktail that nourishes, deeply cleanses, and removes makeup in one single step.
Caudalie Make-Up Removing Cleansing Oil retails for RM99 at all Caudalie and KENS stores as well as online at Ken’s Apothecary.
Best cleansing oils that are splurge-worthy
Shu Uemura Anti/Oxi+ Pollutant & Dullness Clarifying Cleansing Oil
We can’t possibly write a list of the best cleansing oils without mentioning Shu Uemura, the OG cleansing oil maker. The Japanese beauty brand is known for its incredible line of high-end cleansing oils and this green bottle of magic potion is one of its bestsellers worldwide.
Powered by antioxidant-packed green tea, pollutant-removing moringa, and polishing papaya, the formula is capable of ridding skin of muck, micro-sized pollutants (like PM2.5 particles) as well as the most waterproof makeup, so you’ll only be left with smooth, healthy skin.
Shu Uemura Anti/Oxi+ Pollutant & Dullness Clarifying Cleansing Oil retails for RM144 (150ml) and RM327 (450ml) at all Shu Uemura boutiques.
Bobbi Brown Soothing Cleansing Oil
This cleansing oil, infused with a blend of botanical oils, is formulated to gently whisk away long-wearing eye makeup and surface impurities. Kukui nut, white water lily, and goji berry extracts help the skin feel instantly soothed while jasmine flower provides sufficient nourishment.
Bobbi Brown Soothing Cleansing Oil retails for RM185 at all Bobbi Brown boutiques and online at sephora.my.
Need a cleansing oil that breaks down layers of heavy-duty mascara and foundation in a snap? You’re looking at it right here.
Formulated especially for oily skin, this Dermalogica formula dissolves dirt, makeup, and residual product with rice bran, borage seed, kukui, and apricot oils, while olive and vitamin E oils offer long-term skin-conditioning benefits such as moisture retention and environmental protection without clogging pores or leaving an oily after-feel.
Laneige Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil
Struggling with open pores and blackheads? Trust this pore-purifying formula to clean them out with a mix of natural virgin coconut oil and mugwort extract that helps to remove heavy makeup, dirt, impurities, and sebum while refining pores.
Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Oil
Cleverly named, this Clinique formula does just what it says it will – that is, melt away all traces of makeup, sebum, and debris. You’ll appreciate how the glycerin-infused cleansing oil glides off with water as easily as it’s applied, with no residue left in sight once you’re done cleansing. This is definitely one of the best cleansing oils you can find at the moment.
Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Oil retails for RM142 at all Clinique and Sephora stores as well as online at sephora.my.
Origins Modern Friction Cleansing Oil with Radiance-Boosting White & Purple Rice
For skin that looks positively luminous after cleansing, this gentle, look no further than this dual-phase cleanser that’s infused with radiance-boosting white and purple rice to help illuminate skin as it peters out dirt, makeup, and impurities while gently exfoliating skin.
Origins Modern Friction Cleansing Oil with Radiance-Boosting White & Purple Rice retails for RM145 at all Origins and Sephora stores as well as online at sephora.my.
Fresh Seaberry Skin Nutrition Cleansing Oil
Thanks to seaberry (also known as sea buckthorn) and camellia seed oils, this omega-rich cleansing oil effectively cleanses skin while nourishing and retaining skin’s moisture levels for a healthier, more, radiant complexion.
The addition of orpheus flower extract offers skin another layer of protection so that it’s left feeling soft and supple. No wonder so many people consider this to be one of the best cleansing oils out there.
Fresh Seaberry Skin Nutrition Cleansing Oil retails for RM197 at all Fresh and Sephora stores.
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil
This lightweight cleansing oil is a must-have for any nighttime skincare ritual for two reasons: one, it’s awesome at taking off makeup with its concoction of pure botanical oils and is gentle enough that you can even use it around your eyes.
Two, it doubles as aromatherapy, thanks to lavender essential oil in the formula – one whiff makes us instantly feel calm and relaxed.
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil retails for RM150 (175ml) at all Kiehl’s stores and online. There’s also a travel-sized 85ml version that retails for RM73.
Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil
This delicate formula is chock full of skin-loving ingredients, such as coix lacryma-jobi seed, tangerine peel extract, and apricot kernel oil, which you can count on to gently clear out gunk from your pores.
After all of the day’s makeup and buildup are completely gone, your face will feel oh-so-soft and velvety to the touch.
Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil retails for RM160 at all Sulwhasoo boutiques and online at Lazada.
Biossance Squalane + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil
In the beauty industry, squalane is considered one of the most effective facial oils – it’s super hydrating (but never heavy) and gentle enough for sensitive skin – so it’s only fitting that it makes for a great cleansing agent, too.
This cleansing oil pairs sugar cane-derived squalane with several other antioxidant-rich ingredients, like evening primrose and sunflower seed oils, to hydrate and refresh your face while breaking down makeup. Best cleansing oil you can find in Malaysia? Definitely one of the top contenders!
Biossance Squalane + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil retails for RM136 on sephora.my. There’s also a travel-friendly version retailing for RM47 for 25ml.
Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil
A cleansing oil from one of the world’s most trusted Japanese beauty brands, this lightweight formula thoroughly melts away even waterproof makeup and dirt without drying out the skin or making it feel tight.
Simply use it on wet or dry skin prior to using your favourite cleanser for a clean, dewy complexion.
Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil retails for RM115 at all Shiseido stores and counters.
Dior Hydra Life Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser
Made with sweet almond oil and saponins, this nourishing cleansing oil transforms into a rich milk when it comes into contact with water and gently lifts away makeup and debris without much tugging. This is no doubt one of the best cleansing oils you can find in the market.
Plus, how can you not fall in love with the sunny-hued bottle that instantly adds a boost of chic to any bathroom vanity cabinet?
Dior Hydra Life Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser retails for RM160 at all Dior boutiques and online at sephora.my.
Boscia MakeUp-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil
This ultra-gentle cleansing oil (which is infused with antioxidant-rich jojoba leaf and vitamin E) re-balanced sebum production and leaves angry, irritated skin totally calm and soothed, courtesy of the formula’s star ingredient: anti-inflammatory willow herb.
Boscia MakeUp-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil retails for RM160 at all Sephora stores.
Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil
Silky soft skin is the only thing you’ll get when it comes to this cleansing oil that takes care of impurities and tough makeup without stripping skin’s natural moisture, thanks to its omega-rich key ingredient: Japanese camellia oil, which is jam-packed with good-for-your-skin oleic acid than even olive oil, and also a great source of vitamins A, B, C, D, and E.
Translation: it’s a really great skincare ingredient, and super hydrating for even the most parched of complexions.
Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil retails for RM200 at all Sephora stores and on sephora.my.