Truth be told, there are some nights we’re lucky to wash our face at all. (We know, we know.) So, with the recent surge of so-called “pre-cleansers” on the market (designed to pave the way for your cleanser to really do its job by helping to cut down on makeup and dirt), the idea of double-cleansing can seem like a bit of a stretch. But, just like you’d have to give a particularly messy dish a quick rinse before it’s loaded into the dishwasher, using an oil-based pre-cleanser can serve as that extra bit of elbow grease that ensures our regular washing routine can really get the job done.
Whether you can benefit from this added skin-care step depends on your lifestyle. According to Dr. Debra Jaliman, a New York-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules, those who apply and reapply sunscreen while at the beach (which should be all of you) are prime candidates for pre-cleansing benefits. Adds Dr. Molly Wanner, a Massachusetts-based dermatologist and instructor in dermatology at Harvard Medical School, oil-based cleansers, typical for pre-cleanser formulations, are also helpful in removing makeup — making them a helpful extra step for those who sport daily face paint (whether at Kardashian levels or otherwise).
But, these products can also serve the low-maintenance girl, too. “Pre-cleansing can lead to fewer breakouts if you're not good in your cleansing routine,” Jaliman points out. No matter your cleansing M.O. — from religious to barely there — read on to find a pre-cleanser that works for you.
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We love the way this formula emulsifies with water, creating a lather so rich it feels like a cleanser on its own.
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Antioxidant-rich vitamins A, C, and E combine with 13 essential oils to create a formula that requires no immediate rinsing. Instead, spread a dime-size portion of the pre-cleanser on the skin to dissolve dirt, then follow with your normal cleansing method.
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“Oil-based cleansers are most helpful for those with dry skin,” notes Wanner. This balm formula contains 17 botanically based oils (including almond, elderberry, geranium, and orange), which, combined with rose wax and mimosa, make for a spectacular-smelling way to wash.
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The lovely floral scent of this cleansing oil is so comforting it’s no surprise that it’s also used as a massage oil. We love that its light formulation doesn’t feel greasy on our skin even though it packs the power of camellia oil, a fatty acid richer than olive oil that contains vitamins A, B, and E.
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Though this organic cleanser is more milky than oily in texture, its use of sesame, avocado, and jojoba seed oils make it a great, synthetic-free pre-cleanser for those who simply don’t like the feeling of oil on their face.
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This fantastic, no-frills pre-cleanser breaks down makeup and grime with the best of ‘em and wields a wallet-friendly price, to boot.
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When used as a pre-cleanser, this plant-based formula leaves our skin feeling soft and fresh with no oily residue. Bonus: When pumped on a Q-tip, it also serves as a mistake-erasing wonder for cleaning up the wayward effects of a not-so-perfectly drawn cat-eye.
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Brightening products can sometimes make the face feel tight. But, the oil in this generously sized bottle help wash away makeup and brighten skin without the puckery aftermath.
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The cocktail of oils in this cleanser (including lemon and jasmine) smells so good, we wish we could bottle it as perfume. Don’t let the delicate scent fool you: After letting this pick sit on our skin for 15 seconds, it lifted a fierce face of makeup with a quick rinse.
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“Oily skin and acne-prone skin can benefit from this extra step,” notes Dr. Jaliman. For those afraid to add more oil to an already slick complexion, this water-based cleanser removes makeup and oil without the shine, and according to Wanner, salicylic acid helps combat blemishes and remove sun spots.
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When choosing a pre-cleanser, Jaliman suggests to look for oils like olive oil, apricot oil, barrage seed oil, and vitamin E oil. This particular formula contains olive oil and vitamin E, and it easily removes liquid liner without forcing you to tug at the skin.
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After a day at the beach, we’re typically ready to wipe our sweaty, sunscreen-y faces clean. When applied with cotton pads, this oil-free formula cleared our complexion of the zinc-heavy residue without stinging or tingling.
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