If you had told me five years ago that, despite the multitude of beauty breakthroughs over the past century, people in 2009 would be washing their face with oil, I would have dismissed you as a lunatic. However, despite how silly it may seem to rid your face of oil by covering it in oil, a plethora of oil-based cleansers have recently hit the market, many of which have been getting rave reviews.
So how exactly is oil going to clean your face? To break the science down into the simplest terms possible, like dissolves like. The oil in the cleanser knocks out the oil shining up your skin by bonding with it and breaking it down. When you wash off the cleanser, the oils on your face will go right down the drain with it.
Unlike many traditional cleansers, oil-based cleansers generally do not contain harsh chemicals or detergents, which can cause irritation and breakouts. Despite the fact that oil is generally thought of as the mortal enemy of blemish-free skin, olive oil
, a component of many of these cleansers, is actually non-comedogenic, meaning that it won't clog pores or trigger breakouts. Olive's Organic Botanicals Facial Replenisher with Carrot Seed
, available through the Truth In Aging store
, is one of the olive oil-infused cleansers that appeared on our radar earlier this year, which has since won rave reviews from both Copley and reader Terri.
Another slick skin treatment that's recently become a questionable beauty darling is castor oil
, which is most often used as a laxative or as a method of inducing labor. However, unlike olive oil, castor oil has harsh detergent properties, due to its high concentration of ricinoleic acid. Although the amount of ricinoleic acid is diluted when the castor oil is applied as recommended, which involves mixing it with other types of oil, it can still leave skin dry and dehydrated.
A popular potion that seems to be popping up in every fashion magazine known to man is Shu Uemura's Cleansing Oil, a favorite of Madonna and other celebrities. Despite the brand name and pretty packaging attached to this product, the main component of this formula is none other than plain old mineral oil. While there are countless message boards and magazines touting the miraculous, skin-smoothing qualities of this cleanser, the ingredient list raises some red flags. Mineral oil, the first ingredient listed on the cleanser's information page, can be irritating to skin, while another component, propylene glycol
, is not only classified by the National Library of Medicine as an irritant, but is listed as slightly hazardous on the Material Safety Data Sheet.
While some oil-based cleansers may contain a high percentage of natural ingredients, it's important to read the label before assuming that any of these products are natural or irritant-free. Without more extensive scientific testing, it's impossible to say if these products really do soften skin or reduce wrinkles, but there are many supporters of oil-based cleansers that insist that they do. In the end, remember that, just like bell-bottoms and feathered hair, beauty trends come and go, so if your current skincare regimen works for you, stick with it, regardless of what the Queen of Pop is doing.