Who Said Oil & Water Don’t Mix?

oil cleansers - Defining Delphine

It wasn’t a conscious decision. I just looked around one day and realized all my cleansers – hair, body and face – were oils.

oil cleansers - Defining Delphine


It’s no secret I love balm cleansers, the decadent, non-drying, face massage in a jar that’s gangbusters at breaking down surface junk on your face. Beautycounter makes a great one ($75), but it’s expensive. For a similar but easier-on-the-wallet product I rely on Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm ($28.50).

Oil face washes are a slightly lower-maintenance species than the balm, and have become my recent addiction. You apply an oil cleanser to dry skin and it immediately melts away makeup including stubborn waterproof eye makeup, as well as the biggest loiterer, sunscreen. Then, you rinse with warm water – hands or a moist cloth, up to you.

The allure of oil cleansers is that they don’t strip your face of moisture: good news for those of us with dry skin and for all of us heading into summer heat. And, they don’t disrupt the acid mantle of skin. The acid mantle is the slightly acidic film on our top layer of skin that helps fight bacteria and keep moisture in.  The oil in the cleanser binds to impurities and pulls them off the skin without pulling moisture from pores. Oil cleansers are designed to leave an ever so slight hydrating deposit on skin which I love; if you don’t like that feeling, simply follow with another basic cleanser. Oil cleansers are far more effective at breaking down makeup and sunscreen chemicals than other cleansers, be they milk, gel, foam, clay or micellar water. And I find them to be quicker on and off than a balm.

I’ve been switching between two very affordable ones: L’Occitane Shea Cleansing Oil($22) and The Body Shop’s Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil ($19). The camomile has a more liquid texture and the fragrance is quieter. Both have lots of plant-based natural oils that hydrate skin and neither has mineral oil, an ingredient I strongly recommend you avoid (that is the oil that DOES cause breakouts).


Moving on to the other oil cleansers in my collection, I recently stumbled on L’Occitane’s Almond Shower Oil ($25) while partnering with them for an event here in Chicago. Those who read DD regularly know I have unreasonably favortism for anything almond scent. But beyond the smell, the texture of this product is like a science experiment every time you shower – and that’s super fun. It starts as an oil as you spread it onto skin, but it then transforms into a foamy cleanser when it mixes with water, making it a fantastic double agent: cleanser AND shaving cream.


If I’ve used several styling products on my hair to achieve a certain hairstyle, those products will often defy shampoo and linger in the form of greasy residue at my roots. This is called “build up” and it ain’t pretty. I’ve asked a lot of stylists what the best method is for attacking this problem, and I’ve gotten several underwhelming answers: 1. “clarifying shampoo”. Ok, it does have much stronger/harsher cleansing agents than a regular shampoo but it fades my expensive color and strips moisture. 2. “shampoo twice”. Ok but who has time for that? 3. And most recently: “Use an cleansing oil shampoo”. Though I was skeptical about this recommendation I decided to give it a go. This stylist was onto something. You know the saying “fight fire with fire”? It holds true for greasy hair. Fight grease with oil (close enough). I love Shu Uemuera’s Cleansing Oil Shampoo for intermittent use to get the build-up out. It’s expensive ($57/13.4 oz) but a little goes a long way and it is definitely gentler on color than clarifying shampooing or over-shampooing.

Get in on oil. I’m telling you, it’s a party.

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