The 6 Best Korean Oil Cleansers


Few products have revolutionized my skin-care routine quite like oil cleansers. Leveraging the “like attracts like” principle, oil cleansers efficiently lift all the oil (plus makeup and sunscreen) you don’t want on your face, while leaving your skin's natural oils right where they belong. They’re deeply nourishing, too. My skin feels just as soft after an oil cleanse as it does after a spackling with moisturizer. And since these miracle products originated in Korea — the global epicenter of innovative skin care — the best Korean oil cleansers are among the best oil cleansers out there, period.

And there are a lot of Korean oil cleansers to choose from. Some are clarifying, others are brightening. Some smell like fruit, others smell like nothing at all. Some are thick like a balm, others are as fluid as micellar water. Use them as the first step in your double-cleansing routine to effectively remove all the makeup and skin care products from your skin, then follow up with a water-based cleanser, like a gel or a foam. For an extra lovely treatment, massage your oil cleanser into your skin with a jade roller, if you have one (or with your clean fingers, if you don't).

Whatever the formula, any of these six Korean cleansing oils are guaranteed to keep your skin balanced, hydrated, and, perhaps most crucially, completely gunk-free.

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The Best Brightening Oil Cleanser

For centuries, Japanese people and Koreans have been using rice water in their skin care regimens for its brightening, smoothing, and softening effects (rice is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and amino acids, which help achieve all of the aforementioned things). That’s the key ingredient in this Face Shop cleansing oil, and its cult following confirms that this lightweight cleanser visibly brightens your skin while providing a thorough cleanse. If you’re using this in your double-cleansing routine, you can follow it up with the brand's equally popular Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam. Otherwise, any other water-based cleanser will do.


The Best "Clean" Korean Oil Cleanser

This Aromatica Natural Coconut Cleansing Oil contains just 12 ingredients. Nine of them are naturally derived, and all of them are vegan. Some of the star ingredients in this formula are sunflower oil, coconut oil, apricot kernel oil, and olive oil, all of which happen to be some of the best natural, non-comedogenic massage oils. Other oils derived from plants, like lavender, help tone down redness and inflammation, while also providing a very subtle, floral scent. Even more credentials: This EWG-certified cleanser is free of minerals, parabens, silicones, and synthetic fragrances, and it’s fetched an almost-perfect rating on Amazon. (I love its luxe, deep golden color, too.)


The Best Oil Cleanser For Sensitive Skin

The “real barrier” in this Atopalm Real Barrier Cleansing Oil Balm refers to the brand’s patented formula that mimics the skin’s natural lipid barrier, which is responsible for locking in moisture and staving off inflammation. In other words, applying either this cleansing oil (or any other Atopalm product) does for dry, sensitive skin what it’s not doing enough of on its own. Of course, this milky balm-oil hybrid also cleans your skin really well, thanks to shea butter and a few nourishing botanical oils. Vitamin E further protects vulnerable skin from environmental aggressors, while chamomile oil and allantoin help calm redness. Many more skin-soothing ingredients show up in this formula, and it’s totally free of common irritants like sulfates and mineral oil.


The Best Lightweight Cleansing Oil

What one person loves about oil cleansers — namely, that they’re oils, so they have a pretty rich consistency — may be what drives another person away. Don’t let that drive you away! Just try this Neogen cleansing oil. It uses micellar technology, so the consistency is more along the lines of a micellar water: light, refreshing, fluid, and not at all gloopy or sticky. The formula also contains cica, a super popular ingredient used in Korean skin care for its soothing, hydrating, and reparative benefits.


The Best Exfoliating Oil Cleanser

This Hanskin Pore Cleansing Oil is formulated with a PHA (poly-hydroxy acid), a mild chemical exfoliant that sweeps away dead skin cells for an extra-deep clean and clearer, brighter complexion. It’s billed as a blackhead cleanser in particular, but it’s a safe choice for anyone looking for a more intensive clean, plus a little bit of resurfacing action.


Another Popular, Inexpensive Korean Cleansing Oil

This Tonymoly Wonder Apricot Deep Cleansing Oil is a pretty foolproof entree to the world of cleansing oils: It’s effective at removing all manner of makeup, it leaves your skin feeling comfortable and soft, it has a light, fruity scent, and reviewers say it works on all kinds of skin types. (Plus, it’s just $16!) Despite the fragrance, users with sensitive skin confirm that it’s not at all irritating.