The oil cleansers I’m using this winter for my sensitive skin

There’s no arguing the importance of a properly cleansed face, and that includes an oil cleanser.

As part of the double cleansing process or as a stand-alone cleanser, oil cleansers help to give you clean, soft, and smooth skin. They draw out oil-based impurities such as sebum, SPF, makeup, and pollutants on your face. So when you finally use your water-based cleanser, it can get into your pores without any interference.

After all, properly cleansing your face is the only way to ensure your skin is ready to better receive all the other products you use, so they can do their job and deliver all the brightening and anti-aging properties you hope for.

As someone who is the least loyal to face cleansers, I enjoy rotating a handful of oil cleansers each season. And this time of year can be pretty tricky given my dryer-than-usual, sensitive skin is more prone to irritation and flakiness.

So, here’s what I look for in an oil cleanser and the current oil cleansers in my stash this winter season. All but one of these was mentioned in my Winter Skincare Routine post.


When choosing a cleansing oil and/or cleansing balm, I first check the ingredients for two things:

  • Hydrating Ingredients: Good oil cleansers should include emollients and humectants to bring moisture to your skin, instead of silicones and mineral oil. Oils are nutrient-dense and feed the cells of the skin, so quality is essential. Ingredients like squalane, coconut oil, fatty alcohols, and shea butter are great examples.
  • Fragrance-free or Low-fragrance: In a cleanser, the fragrance isn’t as problematic as it would be in a leave-on product like a serum or moisturizer. But it’s still best to limit your exposure if possible, especially if you have sensitive skin. I mean, fragrance is the number one irritant in skincare.

Then, I try to test how well it emulsifies. I can usually do this on my hand at the store.

Let me take it back a step to explain this a little further. Cleansing oils have two phases. First, they’re an oily consistency that you massage on your face to remove all that surface debris we talked about earlier. Then, when you add water, they turn into a milky consistency, and ideally rinse off effortlessly with water and leave behind no residue.

So, when I evaluate an oil cleanser, I rate how easy it is to emulsify into that milky consistency and rinse off without leaving any of the product behind.


I remove my oil-based cleanser with a warm, moist cloth. I actually use my Clean Towels. I drape the warm, damp Clean Towel over my face for 5-10 seconds. Then, use the cloth to gently remove the cleanser. You can rinse the cloth and repeat if necessary. The light steam and gentle buff from the Clean Towel will get your skin clean and also give you a mild exfoliation. If you decide to try them, please use my code “BEAUTYINCOLOR” to get 20% off your order.


Pai Skincare Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil

Now, this cleansing oil gives a pleasant experience! I briefly discussed this oil in my 2019 Best In Beauty List. It melts into your skin and doesn’t leave your face feeling like a grease slick. It has a beautiful light scent, which comes from the rose geranium oil, jasmine oil, and orange peel oil. And the skin healing and repairing properties of rosehip oil, castor oil, and olive oil are excellent for sensitive, congested skin. As someone who lives in New York City, that’s always good news.

I only need 2-3 pumps to easily cover my entire face and neck. After massaging it onto my dry face, I’ll add a little water to create a light milk, and then rinse it all off. It melts away makeup and rinses off with no residue. My eyes usually react fast if they’re not happy with what I’m using, but with this oil cleanser, they don’t seem to have a problem.

A bottle of this oil cleanser is $56, which is a pretty penny for an oil cleanser. But, you get 4.9 oz. in the bottle. And because you only need a few pumps, it lasts a long time. You can purchase the Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil at many stores, including Free People, Follain, and, of course, on Pai‘s website. They also have a travel-size bottle (0.95 oz.) for $28.

INGREDIENTS: Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil* – Olive Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil* – Sunflower Oil, Polyglyceryl-4 Oleate – Naturally Derived Emulsifier, Ricinus, Communis (Castor) Seed Oil* – Castor Oil, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Extract* – Rosehip Fruit Extract, Jasminum Grandiflorum (Jasmine) Flower Extract* – Jasmine Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Peel Oil* – Lime Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil* – Orange Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Oil* – Geranium Oil, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Oil* – Basil Oil, Tocopherol – Natural Vitamin E, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract* – Rosemary Oil

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

This cleanser demonstrates what I enjoy most about oil balms. It’s SO luxuriously creamy! It literally glides like butter.

This oil balm contains a blend of grapeseed, olive, and seaberry oils, which are all nourishing oils full of antioxidants. It also emulsifies extremely well, washes off easily, leaves no residual film, and smells fantastic! This balm removes most of my makeup and doesn’t irritate my eyes.

The product also comes with its own plastic spatula, so I don’t have to use my fingers to scoop out the product. I really appreciate this for sanitary reasons. However, the spatula has “GLOW DEEPER” engraved on it, which is a nice touch but can be a little bit of a pain to clean when the oil balm gets stuck in between the engraving.

This oil balm is $38 for 3.17 oz., which makes it TSA-friendly. And you can purchase the Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm at Soko Glam, and, of course, on Then I Met You‘s website.

INGREDIENTS: Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, PEG-20 Glyceryl Trii-sostearate, PEG-8 Isostearate, Cera Microcristallina (Microcrystalline Wax/Cire Microcristalline), Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Ceresin, Synthetic Wax, Orbiignya Oleifera Seed Oil, Diospyros Kaki Fruit Extract, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Ethylene/Propylene Copolymer

Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm

Now, this oil balm is very rich and somewhat thick. I mean, it definitely has a more solid texture than typical buttery balms when I scoop it out of the jar. However, as soon as I start to massage it on my face, it turns buttery soft. It contains manuka honey (hence the name), which works to protect the skin barrier, and it also contains peptides, which help accelerate cell renewal and promote smoother skin. You do have to wash your face thoroughly to make sure it doesn’t leave any film, though. 

I will say that I’ve appreciated this balm this during the colder months when my winter-parched skin is extremely dry and sensitive. It’s left my skin soft, supple, and less irritated. 

I purchased the travel-size container (0.88 oz.) for $22. But, the full-size jar (2.8 oz.) sells for $62. A little really does go a long way. You can definitely scoop out less product than you’d typically scoop out for one use in other oil balms. Purchase this at Dermstore and on Naturopathica‘s website.

INGREDIENTS: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Jojoba Esters, Glyceryl Behenate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Wax, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Aqua (Water/Eau), Sucrose Laurate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Parfum (Fragrance)*, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Mel (Honey, Miel), Pentapeptide-48, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Acacia Decurrens Flower Wax, Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Tocopherol, Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract, Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Lactobacillus, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Polyglycerin-3, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Phenethyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Maltodextrin, Benzyl Alcohol.

FROM THEIR WEBSITE: Natural fragrances are oils are made in a laboratory, but rather than being made from synthetic materials, they are created by isolating one of the natural aromatic components from a complex, intricate scent. Natural fragrances, like the proprietary blend found in Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm, are blends of isolates that are extracted through the same processes that are used to get essential oils but must technically be listed as “fragrance” on the ingredients.

HoliFrog Kissimmee Vitamin F Therapy Balmy Wash

Now, this has been my favorite new oil balm. It really is a textural experience! First, let’s talk about the fact that it comes in a squeezable tube, which I think is a genius way to package an oil balm. I don’t have to worry about scooping anything out or the product getting exposed to air. It comes out like a salve, has a buttery-soft consistency, spreads wonderfully, and removes all of my makeup! It contains great ingredients, as well. Vitamin F, aka Linoleic Acid, is the star ingredient, which is rich in skin-regenerating essential fatty acids. It also contains a blend of plant oils like cranberry, moringa, and papaya, which guarantees your face is left clean but NEVER stripped or dry. It’s actually recommended for those with dehydrated or dry skin. So, it’s been perfect for me! 

And finally, this is the only cleansing oil/balm in this post that is entirely fragrance-free! And when I say this, I mean it. It’s entirely free of essential oils, which are notoriously sneaky skin sensitizers. Holifrog has officially been added to my list of fragrance-free skincare brands!

This balmy wash is $42 for 2.5 oz., which also makes it TSA-friendly. You can purchase the HoliFrog Kissimmee Vitamin F Therapy Balmy Wash at many places, including Dermstore, and, of course, on Holifrog‘s website.

INGREDIENTS: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Wax, Polyglyceryl-3 Caprate, Beeswax, Silica, Jojoba Esters, Moringa Oleifera (Moringa) Seed Oil*, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Schinziophyton Rautanenii (Mongongo) Kernel Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Kernel Oil, Oleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Garcinia Indica (Kokum) Seed Butter, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Brassica Oleracea Acephala Extract, Spinacia Oleracea (Spinach) Leaf Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Olive Oil Polyglyceryl-6 Esters, Tocopherol, Hydroxystearic/Linolenic/Oleic Polyglycerides, Polyglyceryl-6 Pentaoleate, Polglyceryl-4 Oleate, Toluene Sulfonic Acid

So, that’s the round-up of all the oil cleansers currently in my stash! A few of them will be emptied in the next month or two.

Do you double cleanse? If so, what’s your favorite oil cleanser? Leave any recommendations below.

Shop My Winter 2020 Oil Cleansing Stash

HoliFrog Kissimmee Vitamin F Therapy Balmy Wash
Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm
Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil
HoliFrog Kissimmee Vitamin F Therapy Balmy Wash
Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm
Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil
HoliFrog Kissimmee Vitamin F Therapy Balmy Wash
Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm
Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil

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