Moisturiser and facials oil aside, another way to nourish uncomfortable, cracked winter complexions is to switch to a cleansing oil. Where gel and foam formulations can be drying and creams can be messy (and require wiping off which can irritate your skin further), oils hydrate and soothe the skin. They also make excellent cleansers because oil attracts grease and dirt, kind of like a magnet. This is based on the principle that ‘like attracts like’ so dirt, sebum and oil-based makeup (like foundation and mascara) is broken down by the oil and swept up in the massage motion of application. The new wave of cleansing oils also emulsify with water- meaning they turn into a milky liquid and everything washes away - leaving you with nothing but comfortable, nourished, springy skin.
Our Brisbane-based Beauticater Gracie Clough went to work with eight cleansing oils to find out the top performers and help you work out which would suit you the best.
For the skincare aficionado - SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil
"The transparent formula of this lightweight oil feels like velvet when massaged in, and quickly and effectively dissolves stubborn make up - making it an essential product for long-lasting make up lovers. On contact with water it transforms into a lovely milky emulsion that made my skin seem more radiant and somehow more clear. The floral fragrance was subtle scent and rosey. Oh, and it helps that the sleek pearly bottle looks so gorgeous on my bathroom vanity."
For the traditionalist - Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil
"Known by many as the original cleansing oil (Japanese makeup artist Shu Uemura launched the first version of this in 1967), this medium-weight oil comes tailored to a range of skin concerns (from ageing to sensitive). It’s incredibly satisfying to use, melting off my stubborn waterproof mascara in seconds and transforming into a milky emulsion when I added water. It was seriously that fast. And then it rinsed away swiftly, leaving no residue, just a comfortably hydrated complexion. No wonder one bottle is sold every seven seconds."
For unabashed oil lover - Cosmedix Purity Solution Cleansing Oil
"My skin is particularly dehydrated this week so having checked out the ingredients list, I reached for this option. It has the most dreamy cocktail of oils including antioxidant-rich Argan, Moringa and Olive Oils. With a medium consistency, (not too watery, not too oily) the warm yellow colour of this cleanser compliments the very botanical, natural scent that accompanies it. After rinsing it left my skin feeling ultra supple. A must for lovers of a dewy complexion."
For the oil skeptic - Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Oil
"Although my skin is typically dehydrated, I am prone to breakouts from time to time. This clever product mimics the wonders of cleansing oils yet it contains no actual oils in it. This makes it perfect for all skin types – particularly those with skin that can’t make up its mind and is both dry and breakout prone. Makeup lovers needn’t be fooled by this product’s water solubility; the clear, fragrance free oil briskly dissolves all products on the skin (including my stubborn lipstick!) It left my skin feeling balanced and fresh."
For the urbane - Philosophy Purity Cleansing Oil
"This product felt light to apply, but I found it delved deep to not only remove my makeup, but also give my pores a thorough cleanse. The angelic fragrance of this product made me feel relaxed and soothed, so I found it to be perfect to use just before catching some beauty sleep or straight after coming home from a stressful day. It combines a simplicity of ingredients and sensorial luxury to deliver a comforting cleansing oil for glowing skin. This rich combination of oils is one of my favourite ways to give dull winter skin the flick."
For the opulence-seeker - La Mer The Cleansing Oil
"With a blend of top shelf, super luxe ingredients La Mer’s take on the category is the ultimate cleansing oil indulgence. It contains La Mer’s legendary Miracle Broth, a mixture of gentle ingredients including fermented sea kelp, that is supposed to make skin more energised, radiant and hydrated. While the scent is relatively plain – it’s not offensive or overpowering. After using it, and watching my makeup rinse satisfyingly down the drain, my skin felt nourished, detoxified and it positively glowed. The product looks the part, too. If the iconic pink and green packaging isn’t enough of a status symbol, the oil’s gorgeous mesmerizing mermaid-esque pearl shimmer is sure to impress."
For those wanting to stop the clock - Jurlique Purely Age-Defying Nourishing Cleansing Oil
"Unlike most other cleansing oils that are used on dry skin, this oil requires you to dampen your hands with water before massaging the product onto your face. I enjoyed the water-like consistency of this oil and how milky the product becomes upon application. I could feel my make up instantly vanish as soon as the product hit my skin, meaning this oil requires minimal massaging – so is great for sensitive skin. This product is packed with botanical anti-aging ingredients such as Castor, Sunflower, Blackcurrant and Sesame oils; creating a scent that left me feeling uplifted and happy."
For the workaholic - Sanctuary Spa Ultimate Facial Cleansing Oil
"After being exposed to skin damaging pollutants after a day in the city, I reached for this cleansing oil as it contains a blend of vitamins and essential fatty acids. The essential fatty acids help to neutralize everyday free radical damage. The medium consistency of the oil deeply moisturised and cleaned my skin – but I did have to work the product in for a while to remove my stubborn eye make up. After a stressful day, the oil’s rich botanical scent deeply relaxed me and I felt like I had spent a day at the spa - as the name suggests."
Story by Gracie Clough