Q & A: Should I use an oil cleanser/cleansing balm?

I get asked for advice a lot. Like, almost constantly.

It’s cool with me because I know some stuff. I like sharing that knowledge, and I’m always up for making recommendations or just generally talking about beauty stuff. I especially like talking about beauty products and trends that may have escaped the notice of people who don’t obsessively read beauty news or watch hours of YouTube beauty videos. One of these trends is K-beauty.

I know that this isn’t exactly a new trend: Sephora has been carrying and promoting Korean beauty inspired products for the past four or five years. With the exception of sheet masks, it’s taken a few years for this trend to trickle into drugstores and Ulta.

One of these trends is oil cleansing. I can only think of a couple well-known drugstore brands that offer oil facial cleansers, namely Burt’s Bees, and Boot No7, and they don’t seem to be terribly popular products. Only recently have cleansing balms made it to the drug store, and there’s really only one, from Yes To. Also, they don’t seem to be formulated for or marketed to people with oily skin, which is weird to me since oils can be beneficial for all skin types.

So, should you use an oil or balm cleanser? Maybe.

First, the difference between an oil and a balm is really only the form it comes in. Balms are a solid oil and generally come in a tube or tub, and oils are liquid and typically come in a bottle with a pump. There’s very little difference once it’s on your face.

If you wear a lot of makeup, especially waterproof or long-wearing makeup, an oil or balm might be a good addition to your evening cleansing routine. Using oil helps break down waterproof makeup so more of it comes off of your face and eyes, and that’s a good thing. Some oils leave a slightly greasy residue which is why double cleansing (using an oil then a foaming cleanser) is a thing, but in the end, you’re removing a lot more gunk from your face than just using a makeup wipe.

If you have oily skin, I highly recommend using some kind of oil cleanser. I realize it seems like you’d be making the problem worse, but oils can help keep your skin balanced, actually resulting in less oil being produced. Again, double cleansing is helpful, but I use an oil almost every night. I hate the way it feels (because you’re putting oil in a place where it doesn’t feel like oil belongs), but overall my skin looks and feels better when I use it. Here are some of the ones I like the most:

Julep Love Your Bare Face Cleansing Oil

This is the cleansing oil I generally take traveling with me because it comes in a mini and for awhile it was available with a konjac sponge and carrying case from Julep. It’s thick but doesn’t feel like you’re slathering your face with canola oil. It smells good. It makes my face feel soft and melts even my favorite waterproof mascara.

The Face Shop Natural Rice Water Light Cleansing Oil

If you’ve never heard of The Face Shop, you’re not alone. This is an affordable Korean brand that markets unisex bath, body, and cosmetics, and in the last few years has become more available thanks to Amazon and Asian sites like YesStyle and Style Korean.

Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Oil

Ok, I know that Clinique isn’t a very exciting or innovative brand. I know that when I think Clinique I think about my mom dragging me to the makeup counter where she’d spend approximately 3,000 years (in kid time. In adult time it was probably 15 minutes) talking to sales ladies and buying facial soap that smelled a little like an old sofa.

They haven’t adapted or changed very much in the last 30ish years, but their products are good quality and relatively inexpensive. Their oil cleansing line, which includes this oil, a balm, and a solid oil stick for removing those matte liquid lipsticks we all love to hate, is one of my favorites.

e.l.f. Hydrating Gel Melt Cleanser

This is a product I use in the winter when my skin is feeling a bit more dry than normal. It still takes off my makeup in its entirety, but it also helps with tight, itchy winter skin. It’s more hydrating than I need on the regular, but if you have normal to dry skin I imagine this would be a good, and cheap, option for you.

IT Cosmetics Bye-Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

This balm has a special place in my heart, as it’s the first one I ever used. I received it in an IT Cosmetics bundle and really didn’t know what to do with it for the longest time. It has the consistency and smell of straight coconut oil, which I’m not crazy about, but I loved the way my face felt when I used it. I ran out a really long time ago and have hesitated to replace it because it doesn’t last that long when you use it daily, and it’s kind of expensive, but I do love it.

Do you use cleansing balms or oils? Which are your favorites?

2 thoughts on “Q & A: Should I use an oil cleanser/cleansing balm?

Add yours

  1. I’m so glad you said what you did about oil/moisture actually balancing oily skin. Unfortunately, unless you’ve went to “beauty” school, most people don’t know this. I had no idea myself until I went to school and learned. Even with acne, you’re much better off moisturizing your skin instead of drying it out. The dryer you make it, the harder your oil glands pump to make up for it. I used to have such oily skin and crazy acne, and personally, a good water-based moisturizer works best for me. It keeps skin very well moisturized without clogging pores, so you get the best of both worlds. If you change up your routine to where you’re moisturizing, you’ll notice big results with time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I give my mom all the credit for this. She started nagging me to moisturize when I was in middle school, even with oily skin, and it was a damn good thing. I might look my age if she hadn’t 😂


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