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6 of the Best Japanese Cleansing Oils in 2020

In the world of Japanese skincare, you may find that there’s a greater emphasis placed on the cleansing step. This would make sense given Japan’s general affinity towards cleanliness in general. In fact, the Japanese language uses the same word for both “beautiful” and “clean”:

The Japanese refined the art of facial cleansing centuries ago. Geisha wore thick ivory-white makeup that required an oil as an emollient to loosen up the foundation before rinsing away. This is the origin of the famous “double cleansing” method that is popular in both Japan and Korea today.

Even if you don’t have any makeup to remove, a Japanese oil-based cleanser can be a great addition to nearlyany skincare routine. In particular, those with oily skin may benefit since oil is lipophilic, allowing it to dissolve other oils. Secondly, oil-based cleansers are typically better at retaining the skin’s moisture compared to other types of cleansers. 

Although the Japanese likely practiced double cleansing first, Korea helped to popularize it as it became the first step of the multi-step K-beauty routine. However, we still feel that the Japanese oil-based cleansers have some advantages over their counterparts. They have been developed over the course of centuries (for example, Shiseido was founded in 1872) and they are relatively inexpensive. Some of them are meant to be a part of a double-cleansing routine while others can be used by themselves.

Before we dive into some of our favorite picks for Japanese cleansing oils, let's review some of the most common questions centered around this critical first cleansing step.

How do you use Japanese cleansing oils?

The proper way to use a cleansing oil is to use 1-2 pumps of product, rub around with your hands, and apply to dry skin. Once your hands touch your face, gently massage the cleansing oil all over the face in circular motions. Spend a little extra time on the areas where you are wearing extra makeup or waterproof makeup, such as waterproof mascara and/or eyeliner. Make sure you massage the oil on your face for a minimum of 30 seconds up to a minute to ensure the oil has enough time to break down your makeup, oil, sweat, etc. Once you are done massaging, gently rinse off and move on to using your cleanser if you are doing a double cleansing routine. If not, you can move onto your first skincare product, such as an essence, toner, oil, or serum (depending on how many steps you have in your skincare routine).

Do you wash off cleansing oil?

Yes, after you massage the cleansing oil all over your face, please make sure to wash it off. Massaging with fingers allows the oil to break down makeup, grime, and debris on your face - you want to make sure you wash that off and that it's not left on your skin, otherwise it could cause breakouts.

How often should you use cleansing oil?

At the minimum, we suggest using cleansing oils any time you wear makeup to really ensure that the makeup is cleansed off the face. But cleansing oils are gentle enough to use every day, even if you aren't wearing makeup, and can benefit skin since it is so great at removing impurities, such as oil, dirt, bacteria, etc, that can later cause acne and blackheads.

Can I oil cleanse everyday?

Yes! We strongly suggest oil cleansing every day (especially if you wear makeup daily) as it's a surefire way to remove everything off your face as sometimes cleansers are unable to get off everything.

Does oil cleansing remove blackheads?

Oil cleansing is not going to directly remove blackheads, but it will remove sebum and dead skin cells from the face - both of which do cause blackheads. Over time, using a cleansing oil could reduce the amount of blackheads, but for a full removal of blackheads, we suggest using a strong peel, exfoliant, or nose strip for the best results.

Cleansing oils are easily found in Japanese drugstores and convenient stores but sometimes can be tricky to find outside Japan. Whether you practice a double cleansing routine or not, here are the 6 best Japanese oil-based cleansers you can buy right now (and they’re shipped from the U.S.!).

6 of the Best Japanese Cleansing Oils in 2020

As an ideal “first step” cleansing oil to remove makeup, Senka’s All Clear Oil Makeup Remover uses lightweight and nutritious rice bran oil that leaves skin soft. It has the perfect consistency that allows it to easily gather up makeup and dirt without drying out the skin. Hyaluronic acid and silk essence help to further aid in moisturization.

2. FANCL Mild Cleansing Oil - $26

If we could only use one cleansing oil, FANCL would be at the top of our list since it’s very gentle and non-irritating. FANCL miraculously has a shelf-life of 3 years, despite being made with no preservatives, no parabens, no fragrance, and no added colors. Just make sure that you use it within 120 days of opening since it is kept fresh via sterile-clean manufacturing and an advanced sealing process. We found FANCL to have an extremely pleasing feeling to the skin and left the skin smooth while still being strong enough to loosen heavy makeup. It’s also a great general cleanser, even if you don’t have any makeup to sweep away.


3. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil - $28

Perhaps the most popular Japanese cleansing oil, it’s easy to see why the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil is so highly-regarded once you try it. The key ingredient is highly refined and purified olive oil that gives it its rich color. This makes it bind very easily to waterproof mascara, sunscreen, makeup and daily grime without clogging pores. Vitamin E helps to protect the skin from free radicals and rosemary leaf oil creates a refreshing aroma.


4. Shiseido Tiss Deep-Off Face Cleansing Oil - $13

Another popular first-step / makeup remover, Shiseido Tiss Deep-Off is a bit more lightweight than the DHC but still very effective. The great thing about the Shiseido Tiss Deep-Off is that it’s suitable for all skin types since it uses mineral oil as its base. Don’t be fooled by misconceptions surrounding mineral oil: Shiseido uses a cosmetic-grade purified mineral oil because it’s fragrance-free and very rarely causes any allergic reactions.


5. Shiseido TISS 2 Way Off Oil Cleanser and Makeup Remover - $15

Another product from the Shiseido TISS Series: the 2 Way Off Oil is made for those with busy lives (or perhaps for anyone who doesn’t want to clutter up the bathroom with too many products). It’s both an oil cleanser and makeup remover. Furthermore, the second step in the double-cleanse routine is made optional when using it.


6. Minon Amino Moist Milky Cleansing Gel - $22

Minon Amino Moist Milky Cleansing Gel combines an oil-based cleanser with a milky gel that's supercharged with amino acids to hydrate and nurture your skin. This 2-in-1 makeup remover and facial cleanser is strong enough to remove makeup and dirt, keep the skin barrier hydrated, and gentle enough to use on sensitive skin.