Oil cleansers: Oil be good
Possibly because we regarded it as the enemy all through adolescence, many of us persist in regarding as utter insanity any suggestion of applying oil to our faces. Yet oil can do wonders for the skin, working gently but intensely to replace the moisture that ageing and the environment can deplete. The understandable fear, however, is that an oily cleanser will loosen muck and make-up, but not lift them away, leaving behind a film of grease and a grubby feeling instead. Not so, we found, with the selection here.
These cleansers go on in a satisfyingly slippery fashion, they can be massaged into the skin without effort and they liquefy make-up marvellously, but what really makes them winners is the ease with which you can remove them.
You apply cleansing oils to dry skin with dry fingers, but once water is added a good one will turn thin and milky, and rinse off to leave your skin soft and clean, but not squeakily so. Further, the oil under your fingertips is conducive to a bit of at-home facial massage, a practice that many skincare gurus suggest is just as important as the products you choose.
Lancome Huile Eclat, €24.50, Lancome counters nationwide
Aimed at normal-to-combination skin types, this is a surprisingly light formulation. It does a great cleansing job and rinses remarkably well. With a slightly floral fragrance of Rose de France, it manages that balance between feeling luxurious and light at the same time. "Not at all heavy," said a panellist. "I followed the instructions to add water, and I let it turn milky and massaged more until it thinned, which definitely boosts how well it washes away. And my skin felt lovely afterwards."
Best for Dry Skin
Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil, €40, Brown Thomas Dublin and Cork
With olive and jojoba oils and ginger root to soothe the skin, this was the most bland of the lot, which, in this context, is a compliment. More suitable for dryer skins as it's richer than some of the others, it still rinsed away well, and left a clean feeling. "My skin felt cushioned afterwards," a panellist said. "I can see how it'd make a lovely winter cleanser, when you're feeling that bit more raw."
Best for Oily Skin
Shu Uemura High-Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil, €33, see www.shuuemura.co.uk
The Asian skincare market has long boasted a huge range of cleansing oils, and this Japanese brand produces ones to suit every skin type. This particular blend works on combination skin to balance and clean without stripping the skin's oils and aggravating the complexion further. "Using this on my oily skin felt wrong at first, but the results said otherwise," one panellist said. "My skin was calmed and clean -- something I've found difficult to achieve with other cleansers."
Best Unexpectedly Zingy
Origins Clean Energy Gentle Cleansing Oil, €23, Arnotts; Clerys; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
It's the grapefruit, orange and lemon extracts that give this cleansing oil its zing, though they are present in a non-irritating form. On the oil front, this boasts olive, sunflower, sesame and safflower, which combine to create a nice, bland cleansing base. "This make is the best morning cleanser of the oils I tried, as the fragrance is nicely energising, but it still has the comfort factor," said one panellist. "A pity it doesn't have a pump, though, as I was terrified of dropping it."
Chanel Huile Confort, €35.50, Chanel counters nationwide
Of all the cleansing oils we tried, this one had the potential to last the longest, as you needed to use only one pump to give your face a good, deep cleanse. The silky oil smoothed luxuriously over the skin and shifted even waterproof make-up. It goes on well, and comes off even better. "I was really impressed with how far this went," a panellist said. "It totally weaned me off using a separate eye-make-up remover along with my cleanser."