How Oil Cleansing Changed My Skin + My Top Picks

It took me ages to figure out my skin. As a teen I decided it was time for grown-up skincare – none of this baby cream cleansing nonsense, so I picked a brightly coloured, freshly scented foaming cleanser off the shelf and started rubbadubbing away each night. My skin felt a little tight but hey, that was normal, right? Then I started seeing these red patches, which soon turned into white blotches all over my T-Zone.

Horrified, I went to see a doctor who explained that I had eczema, and that I needed to be much MUCH gentler when cleansing. He prescribed this horrible oily balm situation that I was supposed to use – and obviously didn’t because I felt like a grease ball after each shower. For years I struggled to get that balance, either sitting with skin that felt dehydrated – literally oily and incredibly dry at the same time.

When I got into the beauty business I finally started to understand the why what and how of it all, which allowed me to build a skincare routine that actually worked. I learned that you needed moisturisers with ingredients that deeply hydrate and that strengthen that protective lipid barrier, and I learned when to use what.

But cleansing remained a bit of a mystery. I’d been using cleansing milks since my teens but to be frank I wasn’t a huge fan – It was like they didn’t rinse properly and they left this warmish residue behind.

Then a couple of years ago I was first introduced to oil cleansers and I was hooked! Not only did it take makeup off like a dream, it gently cleansed without stripping my skin. Since then many brands have released cleansing oils and balms onto the market and I’ve been thrilled to discover better and better technology to make the whole experience as effective and pleasing as possible.

If you struggle with dehydrated, combination or dry skin I highly recommend you try one and see if it helps. If you have oily, acne prone skin, chat to your skincare specialist first.

I prefer oil to milk cleansers – in other words ones that emulsify when you add water. They are much easier to remove. It is up to you though.

With all of these oils, it works best to apply it to dry skin, work all your makeup off and then add water to emulsify before rinsing.

Keen to try it? Here are 4 of my favourites

Skin Creamery Oil-Milk Facial Cleanser

R375 for 200ml, skincreamery.co.za

This cleanser by local brand Skin Creamery is efficient and ultra-luxurious. It has been formulated with a blend of certified organic oils and melts makeup in a jiffy. It is also suitable for all skin types, without any harsh alcohol or soaps that can cause irritation and dehydration.

Dermalogica PreCleanse

R635 for 150ml, dermalogica.co.za

This deep-cleansing oil cuts through makeup and daily build-up in no time. It is super effective and smells absolutely incredible, with a blend of botanical oils and no artificial fragrances or colours. They recommend it for even oily skin types. It works as the first step in the Dermalogica double cleanse routine (although I have used it on its own too).

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil

R650 for R175ml, kiehls.co.za

This baby doesn’t come cheap but if you want to treat yourself I can definitely recommend it. It works through stubborn makeup like it’s nobody’s business, and it smells insanely good – pretty much exactly like their iconic Midnight Recovery Oil. It is free from soap, sulfates and mineral oil, with pure botanical oils that gently cleanse your skin.

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Replenishing Cleansing Oil

R535 for 200ml, redsquare.co.za

It is suitable for all skin types but will especially benefit dry and dehydrated skin, with apricot, safflower and olive oils that dissolve oil and debris while replenishing your skin barrier. I absolutely love it.


Anything to ask or add? Pop your thoughts in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you.

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