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The 10 Best Oil-Based Cleansers, Tested & Reviewed

from Farmacy Green Clean to Addiction Tokyo

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best oil based cleanser
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I think we can all agree that while putting on makeup can be fun, taking it off is less so. (Cue the stubborn eye makeup that lingers even after you’ve gotten out of the shower.) When it comes to makeup remover, you’re not in want of options. There’s face wash, bar soap, towelettes, micellar waters and my childhood staple, petroleum jelly. But one of the most effective ways to remove your makeup is using an oil-based cleanser (especially if you wear heavy makeup). Oil-based cleansers dissolve the oil on your face that holds onto your makeup, giving you a more thorough clean. After chatting with NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Ryan Turner and doing extensive testing, I’ve rounded up ten of the best oil-based cleansers, ranging from Burt’s Bees to Drunk Elephant, Kora Organics and The Ordinary. May your face be squeaky clean.

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The 10 Best Oil-Based Cleansers at a Glance

1

Best Overall Oil-Based Cleanser

Addiction Tokyo All-Day Reset

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2

Best Double-Duty Oil-Based Cleanser

Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup Melting Butter

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3

Best Drugstore Cleansing Oil

Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil

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4

Best Oil-Based Cleanser for Double Cleansing

Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm

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5

Best Oil-Based Cleanser for Acne-Prone Skin

Kora Organics Milky Mushroom Cleanser

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Meet the Expert

  • Dr. Ryan Turner is a board-certified, New York City-based dermatologist who specializes in cosmetic, general and surgical dermatology, and is the founder of TRNR Skin. Turner is also an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the former director of dermatologic and laser surgery at Montefiore Medical Center. Dr. Turner received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School.

How I Vetted the Best Oil-Based Cleansers

To cull this list of the 10 best oil-based cleansers, I spoke with Dr. Turner about the features and ingredients he would consider when shopping for one himself. Then, I researched the internet’s most loved products, looking at data from Google Trends and forums to see what people were raving about. Ultimately, I put together a list of 17 oil-based cleansers for consideration, testing 12. Fellow PureWow editors and our testing team evaluated the cleansers based on efficacy, ease of use and scent. Here are our top 10.

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Best Overall Oil-Based Cleanser

1. Addiction Tokyo All-Day Reset

What We Like

  • effectively removes makeup
  • pleasant, clean scent
  • no need to double cleanse

What We Don’t Like

  • contains mineral oil (petroleum)

Addiction Tokyo

“[I have combination skin and used the Addiction Tokyo cleansing oil to take off my makeup.] The scent was very pleasant, aromatic but clean. With a few swipes, everything glided right off, including eyeliner and mascara,” says tester Claire Ngozi. [I thought it was] very gentle, not drying and didn’t sting. Hands down one of the best cleansing oils I have ever used.” The lightweight formula is packed with sesame, olive and jojoba oil. It rinses away easily and can even be used to remove false eyelashes.

Fast Facts

  • Key Ingredients: olive, jojoba and sesame oil
  • Size: 5oz, 8.4oz

Best Double-Duty Oil-Based Cleanser

2. Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup Melting Butter

What We Like

  • doubles as exfoliant
  • magnetic scoop
  • Pleasant scent

What We Don’t Like

  • pricey

Drunk Elephant

This is one of my favorite oil-based cleansers because it also doubles as an exfoliant. Every cleanser comes with a small vial of Bamboo Booster, which is great for giving the lips (or my entire face) a quick scrub. The scent is a light, pleasant kiwi/strawberry combo, and the balm leaves my face feeling soft and hydrated. My only gripes are that the tube of exfoliant is so small it’s almost impractical to offer it at all, and at $38 per jar, it’s definitely one of the pricier options on this list.

Fast Facts

  • Key Ingredients: marula, baobab, kalahari melon, mongongo and ximenia oil
  • Size: 3.88oz

Best Drugstore Cleansing Oil

3. Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil

What We Like

  • gentle on sensitive skin
  • packed with antioxidants
  • affordable

What We Don’t Like

  • those with nut allergies should proceed with caution

Burt's Bees

“I’ve been on the lookout for a skin-cleansing product that gets the job done and is gentle on my sensitive skin. I want (more than) a few things from my cleanser: Something that doesn’t feel sticky on my hands or face, that’s hydrating and gentle on my skin and that works quickly so I can go to sleep as soon as humanly possible. Bonus if it’s affordable but still feels a little luxurious. I [used the cleansing oil to] wash off a face full of Friday night makeup. I was immediately impressed with the way the oil felt in my hands, light and silky, but not greasy. It contains a blend of coconut oil (rich in vitamin E) and argan oils (rich in antioxidants, aka “liquid gold”) that hydrate skin as you cleanse. As I thoroughly massaged the lightly fragranced oil onto my face, I watched my makeup melt right off and rinse down the drain. Sooo satisfying (just me?). After drying off, my skin felt soft, smooth, hydrated and clean.” - PureWow Senior Editor, Branded Content, Kelsey Paine

Fast Facts

  • Key Ingredients: coconut oil, argan oil
  • Size: 6oz

Best Oil-Based Cleanser for Double Cleansing

4. Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm

What We Like

  • affordable
  • pleasant scent
  • easy on the eyes

What We Don’t Like

  • no product spatula included

Versed

Versed is one of my favorite skincare brands because they make great products at accessible price points, all while upholding strong commitments to the environment. The Day Dissolve balm is so calming, thanks to the gentle eucalyptus scent. It’s also gentle on the eyes, never stinging mine even though I’m thorough when taking off mascara. Versed advises using it as part of a double-cleanse routine, but I think it stands on its own.

Fast Facts

  • Key Ingredients: jojoba oil, avocado oil, eucalyptus, clove leaf
  • Size: 0.6oz, 2.3oz, 4.6oz

Best Oil-Based Cleanser for Acne-Prone Skin

5. Kora Organics Milky Mushroom Cleanser

What We Like

  • good for everyday use
  • ideal for those who struggle with acne
  • beautiful design

What We Don’t Like

  • expensive

Kora Organics

“I liked the scent of Kora Organics’ cleanser, which contains no artificial ingredients. It does have a more organic smell to it (think mushroom) that I like. This wasn’t the best makeup-removing product, but what pleasantly surprised me is that it cleansed my bare skin so well.  I ended up using it like a cleanser rather than a makeup remover. This product contains an alpha hydroxy acid, so the first couple times I used it my face turned a bit red and stung. (I don’t get much acne, but my skin is on the drier side.) The glass bottle is elegant, which was a nice touch. When using the cleansing oil, note that you must shake it well before hand as it will separate.” - Hope Lundblad, tester

Fast Facts

  • Key Ingredients: silver ear mushroom, apple seed oil
  • Size: 0.34oz, 1oz, 5oz

Editor’s Pick

6. Farmacy Green Clean

What We Like

  • keeps skin hydrated
  • doesn’t sting eyes
  • great for makeup removal

What We Don’t Like

  • some skin types may find it a little drying

Farmacy Beauty

“I’ve been using this cleansing balm all year long and I haven’t wanted to use anything else to remove my makeup. Once applied, it feels so gentle on my skin, and I’m able to use it all over my cheeks, brows and even lashes without feeling any sting. I also appreciated how my skin felt after the product was washed off. When it comes to other makeup removers, they often strip away my natural oils and leave me with super dry skin. That’s never been the case with Farmacy Green Clean. Instead, I’m left with dewier, softer skin than before.” - PureWow Associate Editor Chelsea Candelario

Fast Facts

  • Key Ingredients: ginger root oil, turmeric extract, moringa extract, papaya enzymes
  • Size: 0.4oz, 1.7oz, 3.38oz, 6.8oz

Best Scented Oil-Based Cleanser

7. Monastery Cleansing Oil

What We Like

  • delicate, pleasant rose scent
  • nourishes dry skin

What We Don’t Like

  • expensive
  • those with nut allergies should use with caution

Monastery

“The Monastery cleansing oil has a definite rose scent, and I like that it’s rather natural and not overly sweet. I only use cleansing oils in the morning, so I have no makeup to remove, but it leaves my skin feeling refreshed. It’s a great option for a gentle cleanser because it doesn’t further dry out my already dry skin—though sometimes the cleanser does leave it feeling just a touch oily. That may bother some people, but I actually like that for some extra nourishment.” - PureWow Assistant Editor Natalie LaBarbera

Fast Facts

  • Key Ingredients: rose oil, hazelnut oil
  • Size: 1oz, 2oz

Best Affordable Oil-Based Cleanser

8. The Ordinary Squalene Oil Cleanser

What We Like

  • affordable
  • gentle on the eye area
  • leaves skin soft

What We Don’t Like

  • contains macadamia oil, so those allergic to nuts should use with caution
  • doesn’t remove waterproof mascara

The Ordinary

At $11, The Ordinary’s Squalene cleanser is hard to beat. Tester Rachel Peng reported that the cleanser removed all her makeup—except waterproof mascara. However, it is gentle on the eye area, winning it back some points. “Afterwards, mskin felt softer and wasn’t red or dry,’ she says. “[Unlike other products which often use a pump, this one had a] flip-top cap, and the product comes out easily, though you still have good control over how much you want to use.” Peng does note that though the directions say to rub the oil on a dry face, she found that adding a drop of water helped it spread over her skin more easily.  

Fast Facts

  • Key Ingredients: squalane
  • Size: 1.7oz, 5oz

Best Oil-Based Cleanser for Eye Makeup

9. Decorte AQ Cleansing Oil

What We Like

  • removes stubborn eye makeup
  • delicate scent
  • beautiful packaging

What We Don’t Like

  • may leave a faint residue

Decorte

“I have combination skin, which tends to be oilier in the spring/summer and dry in fall/winter. I typically get blackheads and redness around my cheekbones. I used the Decorte AQ cleansing oil as a makeup remover. There is a light scent, a cross between woody and floral. The cleanser has a thicker consistency compared to the other cleansing oils I’ve used, so it requires you to work it in a bit more. I wear a notoriously stubborn mascara that not all makeup removers can handle completely, but this oil did the job.” – Rachel Peng, tester

Fast Facts

  • Key Ingredients: olive oil, ginseng root extract, royal jelly extract
  • Size: 6.7oz

Best Refillable Oil-Based Cleanser

10. Fig.1 Micellar Oil Cleanser

What We Like

  • incredibly effective in removing eyeliner
  • leaves skin feeling soft and hydrated
  • refill option reduces plastic waste

What We Don’t Like

  • smell is a little waxy

Fig.1

Fig’s Micellar Oil Cleanser left my skin feeling soft and hydrated. It also completely dissolved my stubborn eyeliner, which was a pleasant surprise. Usually, I have to really scrub, and it doesn’t fully come off until I finish double cleansing. The brand prioritizes refillable products, and I love their eco-friendly initiative: When you buy the refill of this oil-based cleanser, it comes without a pump so you re-use your previous one. Pumps are notoriously difficult to recycle, so while this is a seemingly small consideration, it adds up.

Fast Facts

  • Key Ingredients: grapeseed oil, squalane
  • Size: 3.4oz

What to Consider When Shopping for Oil-Based Cleansers

“There’s really no difference between [solid and liquid oil-based cleansers. It really comes down to] user preference,” Dr. Turner explains. He adds that balms are easier to travel with because they are solid, so you avoid the risk of leaks and losing your cleanser at security. Aside from that, he says, “There’s [no difference] in terms of advantages or disadvantages.

That means that all oil-based cleansers function in the same way, by dissolving oil on our skin, which clings to makeup. As Dr. Turner previously cautioned when talking to me about cleansing balms, you should massage the oil-based cleanser into your skin for no more than 30 seconds. Otherwise, you run the risk of drying out your skin.

People with oilier skin should opt for a lighter formulation, preferably something that doesn’t include heavy-hitting plant butters like shea butter. Meanwhile, those with dry skin might benefit from them. Generally, Dr. Turner counsels steering clear of coconut oil, which can clog pores.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Oil Cleanser Is Best?

It depends on your skin type and needs. On this list, I believe Addiction Tokyo All-Day Reset ($31) is the best liquid option and Farmacy Green Clean (from $8) is the best solid option based on testing, evaluation and research.

Are Oil-Based Cleansers Good?

Yes, they can be more effective at removing your makeup as opposed to simply using a face cleanser. Because oil attracts oil, the oil-based cleanser will dissolve the oil on your face that is holding onto your makeup, so you get a deeper clean.

What Brands Have Oil-Based Cleansers?

All the brands on this list make oil-based cleansers, including Drunk Elephant, Versed, Burt’s Bees, Farmacy, Addiction Tokyo, Kora Organics and The Ordinary.

Who Needs Oil-Based Cleansers?

If you wear a lot of makeup, oil-based cleansers are a quick, gentle and effective way to remove it. People who double cleanse also often start with an oil cleanser as the first step in their routine. Oil-based cleansers can work for all skin types; it’s a matter of finding the one that best suits your skin.


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