Cleansing Oils: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Most people start their skincare routines with a cleansing wash or facial scrub. But while these are great starting points, there’s another type of skincare cleaner you might consider trying out: cleansing oils. Cleansing oils are gentle but effective tools that can help you remove makeup and facial oil.

Don’t know what a cleansing oil is or how it works? This guide will break down everything you need to know about these effective oils and show you how they can help with your skincare routine.

Cleansing Oils: An Overview

In a nutshell, cleansing oils are skincare products fairly similar to other facial cleansing washes and similar solutions. But they’re made differently from other water-soluble cleansers, which normally have a foaming, gel, or cream-like texture. 

You see, classic cleansers like Suki Skincare’s Purifying Foaming Cleanser are made with ingredients that can interact with makeup, surface debris, and dead skin cells, and facial oil that helps that debris to be rinsed away with water.

In contrast, cleansing oils disintegrate and remove dead skin cells and facial oil without needing water to rinse the debris away. As a result, cleansing oils provide different benefits and are ideal for different skin types compared to traditional facial cleansing products.

Benefits of Cleansing Oils

Since cleansing oils are distinct products from regular facial cleansers, they provide similar and unique benefits to those who use them. These include:

  • Very quick and easy makeup removal. Most makeup products use oil and powder. The oil is attracted to the cleansing oils you rub on your face. This essentially dissolves the makeup product and allows you to remove it more easily than you would with a regular cleanser. This may be helpful for those with sensitive skin who don’t want to scrub at their face to remove makeup at the end of a long day.
  • Easy sunscreen removal for similar reasons. Most sunscreen products also use oils and certain minerals to defend your skin against sun damage, but cleansing oils can help you get rid of sunscreen without using water. 
  • Smooth skin sensations. As cleansing oils don’t open your pores or require harsh scraping, using them can leave your skin feeling particularly smooth and supple in comparison. This makes sense since any oils rubbed into your skin should make things feel smoother and silkier. 
  • Compatibility with most facial cleanser products. You can effectively “double cleanse” your skin if you use both products correctly and you don’t have overly sensitive or oily skin. Cleansing oils can be used to get rid of makeup and surface-level debris while cleansers can do a slightly more thorough cleansing job inside your pores, clearing the way for a toner product . 

How Do Cleansing Oils Work? 

As solvents, cleansing oils don’t have the same dehydrating effect that even the best foaming cleansers sometimes produce. Most cleansing oils contain ingredients that dissolve other oils, makeup products, dead skin cells, and certain types of dirt.

The oils used in cleansing oils are lipophilic – this just means that they are molecularly attracted to other oils. Fortunately, this means that facial oil called sebum, and many other oil ingredients that are used in makeup products naturally combine with cleansing oil.

As you rub cleansing oil onto your face, the oils and the cleansing product bind with the other oils on your face. When you rub the oil away, everything comes off, not just the stuff in the cleansing oil. Furthermore, separating the oils from makeup products means that the other makeup ingredients (like powders or coloring ingredients) dissolve or dissipate and fall away.

As you can see, facial cleansing oils can still thoroughly clean your face. They just do so in a different way compared to regular facial cleansers.

A Cleansing Oil You Can Count On

Ultimately, the best facial cleansing oils will have known fragrant, all-natural plant oils as their active ingredients. That’s because these oils contain glycerides, which are molecules that can hydrate and soothe the skin as well as attracting facial oil and makeup oil.

Take Suki Skincare’s Cleansing Oil -- as an all-natural product, it can remove makeup and other impurities on your skin, plus cleansing your skin just as well as a water-based cleanser. It can also hydrate your skin and leave your skin feeling moisturized and smooth.

Active ingredients like linoleic acid derived from sunflower, grape, and sunflower seed oils and moringa oil work in conjunction with one another to deliver a gentle and effective experience. This cleansing oil is a fantastic cleansing solution and doesn’t disturb or overly irritate your skin.

Cleansing Oils’ Effects on Different Skin Types

Because cleansing oils work differently from regular facial cleansers, different skin types may be more suitable to use with them than others. All skin can use cleansing oils by default and no cleansing oil should leave an oily residue at the end.

However, those with overly oily skin can experience issues with cleansing oils if the cleansing oil in question doesn’t have any emulsifiers or surfactant oils. These oils can exacerbate oiliness issues and make your skin more prone to acne outbreaks. Suki’s Cleansing Oil doesn’t fall under this category. 

Other than that, feel free to use cleansing oils regardless of skin type! Some people have an easier time using cleansing oils compared to traditional facial cleansers since they don’t require as hard a scrubbing motion compared to water-based products.

How Should You Use a Cleansing Oil? 

You can use a cleansing oil either by itself or in conjunction with a water-based cleanser.

To use the oil either by itself or as part of a thorough facial skincare routine:

  • Apply a small amount of the cleansing oil to wet skin and gently massage it over your face and eye areas
  • Get it anywhere that you have makeup to start its work
  • You can then rinse away the oil after a minute or so and pat your skin dry with a soft and clean towel

If you like, you can then rinse your face again or move on to using a water-based facial cleanser. If you decide to use cleansing oils with other facial skincare products, you should use cleansing oils before a water-based cleanser. This ensures that the water-based cleanser gets rid of any remaining oil and other impurities before you use toner. Remember, the order in which you use your skincare products is important if you want to get the best results.

Since cleansing oil is gentle and shouldn’t overly irritate your skin, you can use it twice per day (the same frequency of a thorough or complete skincare routine). Of course, be sure to follow the directions of any cleansing oil product to make sure you are using it correctly.

Which is Better: A Cleansing Oil or Cleansing Wash/Scrub?

Neither is really better than the other since the products are designed to clean different things.

Cleansing oils are really great at getting rid of makeup and facial oil called sebum. It can also get rid of some surface-level debris and dead skin cells. 

But water-based cleansers, like washes and scrubs, are much better at getting into your pores and getting rid of deeper dirt and debris that collects or accumulates over the course of a day. Basically, cleansing oils are a little more specialized and are meant to be used for surface level cleaning.

Water-based cleansers are meant for deeper cleaning and are more general. You can, for example, have a pretty thorough skincare routine if you just use a cleansing wash and skip the cleansing oil.

But if you use a lot of makeup, there’s no replacement for a cleansing oil. A great oil just makes it a breeze to remove that stuff at the end of the day. For this reason alone, cleansing oils are valuable additions to any holistic skincare routine.

Are There Side Effects from Using Cleansing Oils? 

Not normally. As mentioned, those with overly oily skin could have issues if they use a cleansing oil without any emulsifiers or surfactant oils. However, other types of cleansing oils shouldn’t cause any allergic reactions.

It’s always a good idea to "spot check" an oil's effects before you incorporate it fully into your routine, however. Everyone's skin is different, and your skin might require that certain products be used or certain ingredients be avoided. If you try our Cleansing Oil, for example, dab a couple of drops onto your skin and see if anything happens before regular use. 


In the end, we feel that cleansing oils are an important part of many skincare routines. They're also utterly crucial if you use a lot of makeup. 

We’d definitely recommend trying out our Cleansing Oil, which is, always, made with all-natural ingredients and can leave your skin feeling hydrated and clean. 

Let us know if you have questions about the cleansing oil or if you need help with some other part of your skincare journey. We’re here to help!


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