Oil cleansing is actually my favorite step of the skincare process. My face usually feels dry and gross after a day of wearing sunscreen and makeup, so smoothing an oil cleanser over it just feels goooood. In fact, a couple of months ago, based on the advice of other bloggers, I started letting the oil sit on my skin for a minute, then gently give myself a facial massage. I bet it’s how fancy people feel at spas.

Oil cleansing not only removes the stuff on the surface of your skin like makeup and sunscreen, but can help keep keep your pores clean as well. After some light massaging with dry fingers, you then splash water on the oil, which emulsifies it, turning it a milky white. This allows it to rinse off easily.

Since I started the oil massage, my skin has really improved; cleaning out my pores this way has become especially important since I’ve stopped using a BHA.

Because I’m me and I LOVE buying crap, I’ve used a number of different oil cleansers–both in oil and balm form–to find the ones I like best. I mainly use a straight-up oil cleanser when I’m home, but like to have a balm around for traveling. I’ve separated the following reviews into cleansing oils and balms, and *spoiler alert* will go from least favorite to most favorite.

Cleansing Balms

The claims: Cleansing balms begin as a solid balm, and with the warmth of your fingers, melt into an oil. The basic claim of any oil cleanser is to emulsify and rinse away makeup and sunscreen.

 

Heimish All Clean Balm

IMG_2442
Love the packaging. That’s about it.

Cosdna analysis

The (Personal) Evidence:

First, the scent of this balm is overwhelming and unpleasant. I think its eucalyptus, and  it really is difficult to get past. The texture of the balm is also off-putting: it’s quite waxy. A friend described it as melted chapstick and that seems pretty accurate. I don’t want to use it near my eyes.

The product spreads on the skin ok, but, as perhaps you can see in the photo on the left, it feels…chunky? It’s not grainy, per se, but it never feels smooth. It emulsifies ok (photo on the above right), but the problem is when I wash it off. It feels like it doesn’t all come off. It’s like there’s a film or waxy residue left on my skin. Every time.

No thank you.

You have ONE job, cleansing balm, and that’s to make.

my.

skin.

*clean*.

I’m so happy I just got a small sample of this to try and that I didn’t invest in a full tub. I know there’s a lot of love out there for this product, proving that when it comes to skincare, YMMV.

So, will I buy this product again?

Rating Scale: 

  • Did you not read the review? Yes, of course. I will spend all of my money on this product!
  • Yes. I enjoy this product enough to purchase again in the future, especially if it’s on sale.
  • Meh. Maybe. I mean, I bet there are other, better things out there. I’d use it if someone gave it to me.
  • No. I won’t use this again and will probably bad-mouth it to others.
  • Hahahahaha. Nope. Noooooooope. Not even if you paid me.

The Verdict: Hahahahaha. Nope. Noooooooope. Not even if you paid me.

In fact, I’m in full on “love to hate” this product. I’ll tell you how much I loathe it without being asked. hahaha.

 

Banila Co. Clean it Zero

IMG_2439
Bright, happy packaging mimics how I feel when I use it.

Cosdna analysis

The (Personal) Evidence: 

The scent on the Banila Co. Clean it Zero (original) is a lovely light fruity, floral scent. It’s not overwhelming and is quite relaxing. The texture is soft and smooth, quickly melting down to become a thicker oil. You can see how much thinner it is than the Heimish in the top right picture. It is easy to spread and feels nice on the skin.

You don’t really need much, and the container comes with a lovely little spatula that sits in a thin plastic cap inside the regular cap. (FWIW, the full size Heimish does as well.)

IMG_2444
Adorbs! And perfect for not losing the spatula.

For a balm, the Clean it Zero emulsifies nicely, although not as quickly as a regular oil cleanser. Still, I find it washes off cleanly, which is the most important thing. I feel comfortable using this on my eye makeup as well, although I’ve recently switched to using Leader’s Green Tea Lip and Eye Remover rounds for that. Still, if I’m traveling and trying to conserve space, this does a fine job.

I have traveled with the the Banila Co balm, and it doesn’t melt or get all over my other products. Even better, it doesn’t count towards my liquids, which frees up room for all of my other steps, and I need all of the room I can get! hahaha haha haha….no, really. I need all the room I can get.

I want to point out that there are several different versions of this product, including the Banila Co. Purity, which is made for sensitive skin. The “original” Clean it Zero that I’m reviewing here is mineral oil based, which can be comedogenic for some.

So, will I buy this product again?

Rating Scale: 

  • Did you not read the review? Yes, of course. I will spend all of my money on this product!
  • Yes. I enjoy this product enough to purchase again in the future, especially if it’s on sale.
  • Meh. Maybe. I mean, I bet there are other, better things out there. I’d use it if someone gave it to me.
  • No. I won’t use this again and will probably bad-mouth it to others.
  • Hahahahaha. Nope. Noooooooope. Not even if you paid me.

The Verdict: Yes. I enjoy this product enough to purchase again in the future, especially if it’s on sale.

 

Cleansing Oils

The claims: Like balms, the basic claim of any oil cleanser is to emulsify and rinse away makeup and sunscreen. However, regular cleansing oils begin as oils and are often not as thick as the oil formed from cleansing balms.

 

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

IMG_2441

Cosdna analysis

The (Personal) Evidence: 

I’ll start again with the scent: it’s not great. It’s a generic oil smell–sort of what I would expect in a cooking oil. I know scent shouldn’t really matter as long as it works, but honestly, since oil cleansing is the first step in my routine, I like to have something to look forward to.

This is a thicker cleansing oil, which is great in theory because you can let the oil sit on your face for a bit without having to worry it will drip off. However, this is so thick I find it more difficult to spread on my face. There’s some tugging on my skin, which I don’t get with other oil cleansers.

IMG_2436
Maybe the yellow color is what makes me think of olive oil whenever I look at it?

I find that this emulsifies well and cleans off makeup just fine. Still, this oil cleanser just doesn’t excite me. After my first use, I had to force myself to use it, and that’s never a good sign. On days when I’m exhausted, I need to look forward to my routine.

So, will I buy this product again?

Rating Scale: 

  • Did you not read the review? Yes, of course. I will spend all of my money on this product!
  • Yes. I enjoy this product enough to purchase again in the future, especially if it’s on sale.
  • Meh. Maybe. I mean, I bet there are other, better things out there. I’d use it if someone gave it to me.
  • No. I won’t use this again and will probably bad-mouth it to others.
  • Hahahahaha. Nope. Noooooooope. Not even if you paid me.

The Verdict: Meh. Maybe. I mean, I bet there are other, better things out there. I’d MAYBE use it if someone gave it to me.

Skinfood Black Sugar Perfect Cleansing Oil

IMG_2440
It’s very striking packaging, and comes with a clip to help prevent accidental pumps.

Cosdna analysis

The (Personal) Evidence: 

Like most Skinfood Black Sugar products, this smells heavenly. It’s sweet and smells a bit like sugar and lemons. In terms of texture, the oil is quite smooth but very, very thin. I feel like a lot of product drips into the sink as I attempt to get it from my hands to my face.

IMG_2438

As you can tell from the photo, this is ruuuuuunny. Still, it does a moderately fine job taking off makeup and my sunscreen. I end up using a bit less oil than I normally do because it’s so runny, so I find I have to do a bit more rubbing to get it to work. This seems counter-intuitive and kind of annoying. Ugh.

The best part is that it emulsifies easily and rinses clean. There’s no film or residue left behind. If it were slightly thicker, this would get a much higher rating from me.

So, will I buy this product again?

Rating Scale: 

  • Did you not read the review? Yes, of course. I will spend all of my money on this product!
  • Yes. I enjoy this product enough to purchase again in the future, especially if it’s on sale.
  • Meh. Maybe. I mean, I bet there are other, better things out there. I’d use it if someone gave it to me.
  • No. I won’t use this again and will probably bad-mouth it to others.
  • Hahahahaha. Nope. Noooooooope. Not even if you paid me.

The Verdict: Meh. Maybe. I mean, I bet there are other, better things out there. I’d use it if someone gave it to me.

SW Basics Oil Cleanser

Cosdna analysis

IMG_2443
Simple, basic packaging for a product with simple, basic ingredients.

The (Personal) Evidence:

So, first, this is not an Asian beauty product. SW Basics is a company out of Brooklyn, NY. Still, I’ve been using this product for over a year and would like to spotlight it.  To be clear, I only use this in the morning, as trying to use it at night would be awful; I’d go through a box of cotton pads in a week.

This is a very runny oil that I use on a cotton pad. (I wasn’t about to try pouring this on my hand. It would have been a disaster.) I give it a quick sweep around my face as a first step in the am to get off all the gunk from the night. I follow it with a foaming cleanser in the shower.

This definitely helps keep my skin soft and clean. It’s perfectly gentle for the morning, when I don’t always like splashing water on my face immediately upon waking up. It’s a super simple formula and great for anyone with finicky or sensitive skin.

So, will I buy this product again?

Rating Scale: 

  • Did you not read the review? Yes, of course. I will spend all of my money on this product!
  • Yes. I enjoy this product enough to purchase again in the future, especially if it’s on sale.
  • Meh. Maybe. I mean, I bet there are other, better things out there. I’d use it if someone gave it to me.
  • No. I won’t use this again and will probably bad-mouth it to others.
  • Hahahahaha. Nope. Noooooooope. Not even if you paid me.

The Verdict: Yes. I enjoy this product enough to purchase again in the future, especially if it’s on sale.

I’m already on my 3rd bottle of this, but given that I have some other gel cleansers I’m trying that might make this product obsolete (and are much cheaper), I may try some time without this to see how it goes.

 

Illi Total Aging Care Cleansing Oil

IMG_2451
Understated, yet elegant. It makes me feel fancy.

Cosdna analysis

The (Personal) Evidence:

My love affair with the Illi Total Aging Care Cleansing Oil began with the scent. The “hanbang” sticker on the bottle makes you think it’s going to be ginseng or herbal when in reality it has a light floral, almost powdery scent that is delicate, not overpowering.

(The overall packaging is a great design. The cap turns to lock and unlock, which is a really nice feature, as well as a clip to make sure it won’t leak if you travel with it.)

I can spread it around on my face without losing half of it running down my arm or dripping into the sink like the Skinfood, but the Illi cleansing oil spreads very easily on my skin, with no tugging or pulling, unlike the DHC. In terms of consistency, I’m like Goldilocks here: the DHC is too thick, the Skinfood too thin, and the Illi is just thick enough.

I only need 1 1/2 pumps for my whole face.  The oil emulsifies quickly and washes away without leaving a film or residue, leaving my skin feeling soft and smooth.

I know this sounds like a pretty average cleanser so far. So, what makes the Illi Total Aging Care Cleansing Oil so special? Well, even though it smells delicate, this oil is a workhorse. It is the *only* oil cleanser I’ve ever used that has dislodged clogs in my pores. Now, I’m not talking about sebaceous filaments. I’m talking about large, noticeable brown clogs on my forehead that would not go away and that I’d had for months. (Gross to read about, but worse to look at!)

I had tried my Cosrx BHA on them (when I was still happily using it) and it did nothing. Two weeks into daily use of my Illi cleanser and—I’m not exaggerating—the clogs came out, one by one. And with that, Illi had a customer for life.

Still, skincare is all about YMMV, and this cleanser definitely won’t work for everyone. The biggest trigger ingredient, like the Banila Co. Clean it Zero, is mineral oil.

So, will I buy this product again?

Rating Scale: 

  • Did you not read the review? Yes, of course. I will spend all of my money on this product!
  • Yes. I enjoy this product enough to purchase again in the future, especially if it’s on sale.
  • Meh. Maybe. I mean, I bet there are other, better things out there. I’d use it if someone gave it to me.
  • No. I won’t use this again and will probably bad-mouth it to others.
  • Hahahahaha. Nope. Noooooooope. Not even if you paid me.

The Verdict: Did you not read the review? Yes, of course. I will spend all of my money on this product!

 

I love oil cleansing and find it to be one of the steps that has helped my skin the most. What is your favorite oil cleanser or balm? Let me know in the comments. (And let me know if you love one of the ones I don’t!)

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