Korean cleansing oils achieve what your skin needs at the end of a long day – they remove all the dirt, and makeup off your skin while keeping it smooth and supple.
Usually, cleansing oils are the first step of double cleansing which is followed by your water-based cleanser, and together they are the perfect combo!
Double-cleansing routine provides the perfect balance for the skin – they cleanse the skin, remove makeup, dirt, and excess oil accumulated during the day without leaving it dry or dehydrated.
How does double cleansing work? Does it work for oily skin too?
Getting rid of oil with a cleansing oil might seem strange, but it actually works because of a simple rule in chemistry: “oil dissolves oil.” This means that things with similar properties can dissolve each other. So, when you apply an oil cleanser on your skin, it’s attracted to the oils and the greasy, grimy stuff on your face, like makeup and the natural oils your skin produces.
Are Korean oil cleansers better than others?
I know, skincare is individual for all of us. Meaning that, what works for me might not work for someone else, and vice versa.
So, just like other cleansing oils, Korean oil cleansers do what they are supposed to do: getting rid of the dirt, SPF, makeup residue that sits on the top of your face throughout the day. However, they do it more effectively due to several reasons:
- First of all, just like with other K-beauty products, Korean cleansing oils boast innovative formulas that include ingredients like calendula oil, jojoba oil, ginseng that are gentle even on the most sensitive skin.
- They also they not only cleanse they skin, but also nourish it inside out. They aim to dissolve makeup, dirt, and impurities without leaving the skin feeling tight or dry.
- And finally, there is a Korean oil-based cleanser for every skin type out there. Korean oil cleansers are often designed to cater to different skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin. The formulations aim to address specific skin concerns without causing irritation!
Now that we have dissected things we know about Korean cleansing oils, it is time to move on to the main part!
Here are top picks for the best Korean cleansing oils:
1. Best Korean cleansing oil overall: Manyo Pure Cleansing Oil
- Removes eye make up without stinging the eyes
- Gentle on sensitive skin
- Leaves the skin supple and soft
- Works for all skin types
- Creates a film when cleansing eyes
This one is by far my personal favourite for a number of reasons. First of all, this Korean cleansing oil is totally suitable for the most sensitive skin, like mine. It also works really well as a cleanser by removing 99.74% of pollution and dust from the skin’s surface, which is very impressive!
If you have sensitive eyes, you know finding the right cleanser can be a struggle. The good news is this one doesn’t sting your eyes at all, and removes mascara and eyeliner with no problem.
Infused with argan kernel oil known for its nourishing power, jojoba seed oil that is sensitive-skin friendly, other oils like grapeseed oil and rice bran oil, this oil cleanser cleanses the skin without leaving it dry or patchy.
2. Best Korean cleansing oil for oily skin: Innisfree Green Tea Hydrating Cleansing Oil
- Works for acne-prone skin
- Removes even heavy foundation and mascara
- Packed with antioxidants
- Has coconut oil that can be irritating
- Slightly scented
Another Korean cleansing oil that totally removes makeup, sunscreen, and extra oils, all while keeping your skin happy and not parched. This lightweight cleansing oil by Innisfree is packed with green tea that’s full of antioxidants, so your skin feels all smooth and moisturized once you’re done cleaning up.
The Jeju Green Tea extract is known for its hydrating properties and removes the feeling of tightness and dryness of the skin. While getting rid of excess oil in oily skin, you have to make sure that you don’t dry it out. So, this Korean oil based cleanser does what it is supposed to do for oily/combo skin: it cleanses the pores and leaves the skin supple and soft.
Also, the brand Innisfree offers innovative beauty solutions powered by the finest natural ingredients responsibly sourced from Korea’s Jeju Island. Thus, the Jeju green tea extract.
3. Best Korean cleansing oil for sensitive skin: IUNIK Calendula Complete Cleansing Oil
- Doesn’t leave on oily feel
- Suitable for all types, especially sensitive skin
- Has a smell
This one is perfect for sensitive skin due to the Calendula and Jojoba oil in its formulation which are the sensitive skin goodies!
In addition, the IUNIK Calendula Complete Cleansing Oil blends other plant oils like Sunflower, Canola and Macadamia Nut oils together which provides helps control pores and balance the skin. If you have sensitive skin and looking for a Korean oil based cleanser that removes eye liner without causing eye irritation and gets rid of SPF and even the stubborn makeup, this one is for you!
Although it is free of any added fragrances it does have a floral scent to it which might be a deal breaker for some. As the first step of double-cleansing, can be followed by the IUNIK Centella Bubble Cleansing Foam as the last step.
4. Best Korean cleansing oil made for blackheads: Klairs Gentle Black Cleansing Oil
- Cruelty-free and vegan
- Great for cleansing oily skin and blackheads
- None to report yet
It is no secret that Dear Klairs is one of the best-selling Korean skincare brands out there, and this is for a good reason. The Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner has been a favourite of many people with sensitive skin, including me. Another summer staple for after-sun care has been the Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream which is honestly one of the K-beauty holy grails.
So, Klairs did it again and made their way to this list as well. This award-winning Korean oil cleanser is made from ingredients such as Black bean, Black Current Seed, and Black Sesame Oil. What’s more is that the formula also packs the sensitive skin must-have ingredients: Shea butter and Jojoba oil! They help nourish and repair skin with vitamin E.
This might be the perfect oil cleanser for you if you are dealing with oily skin and blackheads.
With its hypoallergenic formula, it strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier while melting all the excess oil, dirt and makeup away. In addition, it provides additional skin support as it is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
5. Best Korean cleansing oil with ginseng: Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Cleansing Oil
- No added scent
- Gentle on the skin
- Removes eye makeup easily
- Some people might not like the mild scent of ginseng
As one of the hottest Korean brands currently in the market, Beauty of Joseon offers an oil cleanser that is set to be another hit. We all remember their amazing rice sunscreen that had us obsessed throughout past summer, and their Glow Deep Serum was one of my favs too!
Powered by the Micellar cleansing technology, this oil cleanser uses micellar particles that are made of water and oil. When they touch the skin, the oil components act like a magnet to pull in and soak up impurities, dirt and leftover makeup. The result? Cleansed skin with moisture delivered deep within the skin!
The key ingredients here are Soybean oil (50%) and Ginseng seed oil (0.1 %). The former is a skin-friendly oil extracted from Glycine Soja that includes oleic acid, linoleic acid, and linolenic acid. It gently dissolves impurities without clogging the pores and acts as a conditioning agent to smooth the skin. Studies show that Ginseng has great antioxidant and ant-aging effects on the skin.
6. Best Korean cleansing oil with Centella: SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Light Cleansing Oil
- Works for sensitive skin
- Formulated with Centella Asiatica
- Doesn’t leave a greasy feel
- Has a pore-tightening effect
- Bergamot oil might be irritating
SKIN1004 is an award-winning skincare brand from Korea. Their star ingredient, Centella Asiatica, is derived from Madagascar and are hypoallergenic with sensitive skin in mind.
The oil cleanser infused with Centella (Cica), Sunflower seed oil, and Jojoba oil among other ingredients. It is a mild, soothing, extra-light and non comedogenic cleanser that provides a non-sticky, and soft finish. It emulsifies with water in no time to create a milky consistency that washes off SPF, makeup and dirt accumulated during the day.
The only caveat is the Bergamot oil – Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil in the formulation, which can be irritating for some. So, doing a patch test before using it would be great just to be on the safe side!
7. Best Korean cleansing oil with tea tree: Pyunkang Yul Deep Cleansing Oil
- Has Hyaluronic Acid and other hydrating ingredients
- Has a hydrating finish
- No fragrance
- Good for redness
- Nothing yet
Beside their staple product, Essence toner, Pyunkang Yul also came up with great cleansers, and their deep cleansing oil is one of them.
Just like the brand’s other products, this cleanser is formulated without any fragrances, alcohol, or parabens. It packs hydrating agents like Centella Asiatica, Hyaluronic Acid, Tea tree, Panthenol and Allantoin in addition to Jojoba and Sunflower oil among other oils. This is truly a universal K-beauty oil cleanser suitable for all skin types, especially dry, sensitive skin.
Unlike other cleansing oils with some scent, this one doesn’t have any light scent or fragrance. Also, little goes a long with with this product. According to the reviews by Yesstyle, it removes waterproof mascara easily too!
8. Best Korean cleansing oil with rice: The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Face Light Facial Cleansing oil
- Has a non-sticky and soft finish
- Suitable for all skin types
- Very lightweight
- Has a mild scent
- Can irritate super-sensitive eye area
Formulated with Rice bran oil and Jojoba oil, this Amazon favourite oil cleanser by THE FACE SHOP works for every skin type, including acne-prone skin.
Historically, rice bran and rice flour have been hailed in Asian skincare as a miracle ingredient thanks to its brightening properties. Rice bran is known for its oil-absorbing qualities one study shows that Phytic acid in rice helps with acne and post-acne complications.
If you want to get one step closer to the Korean skincare quintessential look – glass skin, this cleanser will be of great help along the way! And, the best part – it is only under 15 bucks!
9. Best exfoliating Korean cleansing oil: Hanskin Pore Cleansing Oil PHA
- Great for oily skin and large pores
- Has salicylic acid
- Has an herbal scent
If you are looking for an oil cleanser that is also a mini-facial, you have come to the right place.
Another Korean brand, Hanskin has developed oil cleansers with exfoliating benefits with all skin types in mind. This oil cleanser comes in many forms, with PHA, BHA, and AHA infused options. If you are dealing with large pores, acne and oily skin, the BHA one is your best bet. If your skin is on the sensitive side, go with the PHA one. Those of you with combo skin will love the AHA Pore cleansing oil.
The best thing about these cleansing oils is while gently rinses away heavy makeup, this cleansers will smooth skin texture and improve the skin overall! Plant-based oils like sunflower oil and jojoba oil in the formula will help achieve the supple and soft feel.
How to choose the best Korean cleansing oil?
Factor in your budget prior to any purchase. Whether you intend to indulge or have a constrained budget, Korean oil cleansers are available across a wide spectrum of price ranges. Most Korean oil cleansers are budget-friendly, you can find many under 25 bucks!
Cleansing oils are presented in two primary formats – liquid cleansing oils and cleansing balms. Liquid cleansing oils hold the dominant prevalence and offer a simpler application. However, both versions are equally potent and work for every skin.
Oils in the formula:
For those with oily or acne-prone skin, opt for oil cleansers featuring a higher concentration of linoleic acid, known for its lighter nature. Linoleic acid can be found in argan oil, grape seed oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, jojoba oil, rice bran oil, rosehip oil, and hemp seed oil.
If you have sensitive skin, you simply HAVE TO opt for non-comedogenic oils, and you should avoid oils with fragrances that can irritate the skin.
Best oils for sensitive skin in cleansing oils are:
- Jojoba oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Sunflower oil
- Rice bran oil
- Rosehip oil
Avoid fragrant essential oils such as bergamot, lemon, Eucalyptus, peppermint, sandalwood, coconut oil (yes, it can break you out) and olive oil in your skincare to prevent any potential irritation.
How to use Korean cleansing oils?
As a general rule, oil cleansers should be used as a first step or your double-cleanse routine followed by your go-to water-based cleanser.
Step 1: Dispense Oil Cleanser
Dispense an appropriate amount of oil cleanser into your palms. Usually, a pump or two is will be enough. If the oil cleanser is thicker, rub your hands together to warm the oil slightly, making it easier to spread on your face.
Step 2: Make sure you get all the gunk out
Gently massage the oil onto your dry face using circular motions. Focus on areas with makeup, sunscreen, or impurities. The oil will help dissolve these products.
Step 3: Rinse off!
Rinse your face thoroughly with lukewarm water. The milky emulsion will help carry away the dissolved makeup, sunscreen and dirt.
Step 4: Follow with a second cleanser
While oil cleansers are great for removing makeup and sunscreen, they should be followed by a water-based cleanser to remove any remaining traces of oil and dirt. Proceed with your regular water-based cleanser (foam or gel cleanser) to thoroughly clean your skin.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Are oil cleansers considered safe?
Indeed, oil cleansers are formulated by using oils that are generally suitable for various skin types, ensuring their safety for use on the skin. These cleansers utilize plant-derived oils that lack harmful components and chemicals, which could potentially disrupt the skin’s pH balance and cause damage. Best oils used in Korean oil cleansers are jojoba, sunflower seed oil, calendula, rice bran oil, grapeseed oil that are considered non-comedogenic, meaning they don’t lead to acne.
How do cleansing oils work?
Cleansing oils work with water to dissolve excess oil, residual makeup, sunscreen and dirt. Their mechanism involves forming an emulsion with water, effectively dislodging impurities and facilitating their removal, ultimately aiding in the unblocking of pores.
How to apply cleansing oil?
To apply cleansing oil, distribute it across your face, neck, lips, and eyelids. Gently massage for approximately a minute. Proceed to combine with water, generating a foamy mixture, before rinsing off using warm water.
How do Korean oil cleansers and milk cleansers differ?
Both Korean oil cleansers and milk cleansers are advantageous for oily skin. Korean oil cleansers, characterized by their oil-based composition, excel at eliminating dirt and oil buildup while upholding the skin’s harmonious equilibrium. Conversely, milk cleansers, falling under the water-based category, comprehensively cleanse the skin while concurrently moisturizing it, all without leaving any residual residue.
Why is a double-cleansing routine better for skin?
A double-cleansing routine is more effective for skin because it thoroughly removes both oil-based impurities like makeup and water-based impurities like dirt. This prevents clogged pores, enhances the penetration of skincare products, and supports overall skin health. It’s suitable for various skin types and is a key part of the Korean skincare regimen known for its clear and radiant complexions.