A Review of 15 First-Step Korean Oil (and other) Cleansers

korean oil cleansers review 15 cleansers

About a year ago I started fan-b. As I wrote my About page at the time I made sure to outline my approach to the topic of Korean beauty products:

I’m approaching this blog not at all as an expert, but as someone with very oily skin, crazily annoying blemishes, and a makeup stash badly in need of new things. I’ve found some amazing products while exploring the world of Korean beauty products, but I have a lot more to find and try. Hopefully we can go on that journey of discovery together.

That was a sincere statement, and one that was necessary since I’m not Korean nor a paragon of beauty–and I lack expert training in…well, honestly, any subject outside of history and, like, identifying boyband members by their eyebrows alone.

Around the time fan-b launched I published a review of several cleansers (I’m not linking to it because I’m in the process of doing a new, vastly more fab low-pH cleanser super review now). I said that I wanted to find a great cleanser that would not require me to use an oily first-step cleanser. Readers recommended giving oil cleansing a shot, so I did. I’ve never looked back since.

When I thought about what to do for fan-b’s first anniversary, I had a few different ideas, but it seemed most in keeping with my philosophy of “learning while blogging” to share what I’ve learned about this important skincare step that I wrote off one year ago.

Review style

This obviously isn’t a review of a single product or even 15 individual reviews of each cleanser I tried (although there are brief reviews, full ingredient lists, and shopping links for each cleanser deeper in the post). What I want to do here is place a lot of products in context and talk about them in relation to each other. In some cases, especially when a product is really good or really bad, I want to read a full review of just that product. But in most cases, what I really need to know is “what’s the one product of x type that’s going to be best?” I think that even partially answering that question for first-step cleansers requires pretty significant financial resources (hence this is a special project for the blogiversary) and a different kind of review style, which I’m trying to do with this post.

15 First-Step Korean Oil Cleansers Review: the Products

Since this review is so long and has whole sections of comparison, I’ve created anchor links to each of the products I’m reviewing. If you see a hyperlink in a product name within this review, it will zoom you to the section of the page where I give the ingredients, photos, and review of that product.

Oil Cleansers
Leejiham Dr’s Care Cleansing Oil
Laneige Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil
Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil
Clio Make Up Away Cleansing Oil
Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil

Cleansing Balms
Su:m37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm
The Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm
Banila Co Clean It Zero
TonyMoly Peach Punch Sherbet Cleansing Balm
Clio Makeup Away Cleansing Balm

Pool, Gel Oil, and Dual Cleansers
A.H.C Climax Water Pool Cleanser
The Yeon Jeju Hallabong Energy Gel Oil Perfect Cleanser
Caolion Mool Pool Deep Cleansing
Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel
Leejiham Facial Dual Cleansing Essence
Goodal Trans Foam Cleansing Oil

Why I’m all about oil cleansers now

When I walk in the door some days, I can feel it–the sunscreen/bb cushion/waterproof liner/random NYC dust soup. By late in the day, it’s what I think of as FaceWaste and it is truly gross.

The quickest way to get FaceWaste off fast without being harsh about it is to add oil. The oil mixes with one’s natural oils, makeup, and stuff picked up from the air, loosening everything up. A good oil cleanser, when mixed with FaceWaste will dilute the nasty stuff and then help it all emulsify upon being mixed with water, creating a milky liquid that rinses away cleanly without a lot of work on your part. At that point, my face is often so clean I can relax a bit and then pick up with step two of my cleansing (a low pH foam cleanser) in the shower later on.

The thing that sold me on oil cleansing was the change it produced in my skin. With less garbage clinging to my skin after using a cleanser, my skin got a bit clearer and my pores got a bit smaller. I stopped getting blemishes in places not governed by my terrifying hormones. I’m convinced that for skin as deeply troubled as mine, each positive change makes only an incremental step in the direction of great skin, but hey I’m willing to walk that road. Cue the 80s classic.

How to use oil cleanser

Here’s the most important thing about using an oil cleanser: when you first put it on, pretend you’re a cat. As in, don’t go near water. Slather it on 100% undiluted and just smush it into your face for a bit. Pretend you’re a top star getting a face massage; I do a lazy Tanaka massage.

For an oil cleanser, two standard pumps of oil usually give me the right balance between no drip or mess and enough lubrication to do a quick massage without pulling on my skin. For balms, an almond-sized piece tends to do the trick. I always end up using an olive-sized squirt of gel-oil cleanser (which is inevitably too much, but the squeezing gets me hype and ready to make bad decisions). Pool cleansers (we will talk about this–it’s not what you may think it is!) require just a peanut-sized drop to work for your whole face and more is counterproductive. Wow, it’s time for lunch, why is everything suddenly about food??

Once you have moved your oil around and really pampered your skin add some water. I like to massage in a bit of water at a time for the sake of getting everything off without a mess. I rinse until the water washes away clear, paying particular attention to my hairline, which can trap the foamy oil-water unless I’m careful.

When I’m really smart, I’ll start my oil cleansing at the sink, do the massage, and then hop into the shower to emulsify the oil, rinse it off, and apply my foam cleanser. No mess, no stress, very clean aww yeah.

Oil Cleansing Method vs. Two-Step Cleansing

Just to clarify: what I use is not the oil cleansing method, called OCM by some practitioners, but rather a two step process of oil cleanser followed by a foam or gel cleanser that works as the FaceTrash cleanup crew. One of the reasons I like to use a second cleanser is because I’ve found some great low-pH cleansers that protect my moisture barrier and prepare my skin for the acids I’ll put on right after cleansing–acids need a nicely acidic environment in which to do their thing or else they’ll blow a lot of their firepower on just getting your skin down to neutral or slightly acidic rather than actually exfoliating.

What makes a first step cleanser great?

While testing the 15 products over the course of the past many months, I thought a lot about what I ultimately want out of a first step oil cleanser. My wishlist:

  • it feels good when I first rub it into my skin
  • it smells good enough that I want to use it
  • it’s effective at removing my base makeup and getting started on my point makeup (eyebrows, eyelids, and lashes–which I cleanse later with a dual-layer silicone waterproof makeup cleanser to avoid getting oil all over my contacts)
  • it emulsifies and rinses away completely when the oil-makeup sludge meets water
  • it does not leave my skin feeling stripped, dry, tight, or irritated
  • it does not leave a waxy or coated feeling on my skin after it’s supposed to be rinsed away

The overall findings: classic oil cleansers on top

korean oil cleansers review oil cleansers

My list of demands resulted in oil cleansers outperforming the other first-step cleanser genres by quite a bit. Although cleansing balms have been hot as hell these days, I found that oils simply did a better job of washing away FaceWaste more completely (and this is something that I especially notice due to sometimes having a gap between my first and second cleansing steps). Although my second cleanser will come through and wash away most of any residue, it’s still gentle and can’t remove every last bit without the hard work of an oil. I want my cleanser to have the best shot at reaching my actual skin and helping it, not removing traces of my oil cleanser residue, so I lean toward stuff that leaves my face really clean, but not tight or stripped.

The best cleanser I’ve used is Leejiham Dr’s Care Cleansing Oil. What sets this cleanser apart is the thin feeling of the oil on one’s skin, allowing it to glide and mix with FaceWaste more effectively; the level of frothy emulsification between the oil and water, leading to a cleaner rinse; and the feeling of total cleanliness after use, without a sensation of one’s skin being stripped. It’s not cheap, it contains both mineral oil and Ethylhexyl palmitate (they cause breakouts in some people), and the scent isn’t particularly luxurious (it’s a cross between medicinal and herbal, but the modern version of those things, not the hanbang Sulwhasoo version). But if you have oily skin and want to get the perfect level of clean really fast, this is awesome. Do I think it’s worth $32 or so? Maybe to me, but there are very good oil cleanser options for a fraction of the price such as Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil, which is a bit thicker, smells like green apple candy, and costs about 1/3 of the price of the LJH oil. If you’re looking for fragrant oils that leave skin soft, Laneige Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil, Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil, and Clio Make Up Away Cleansing Oil are in the $20-30 range and would be good choices for those who want oils suitable for dry, less troubled skin due to the moisture they leave behind.

Perhaps it’s time to burst the balm bubble…

korean oil cleansers review balm cleansers

Additionally, the balm claim to fame–less messy and better for travel–didn’t really convince me. I don’t find oil cleansers particularly drippy (keep in mind that I only use two pumps) and my attempts to bring balm cleansers while I was traveling resulted in a huge mess when oil seeped out of the Banila Co sample jars I was using, creating an oily film on the inside of the ziplock bag transporting them. This happened more than once and with two different balms. Keep in mind that balm cleansers are meant to liquify, so it’s possible that changes in pressure and temperature liquified my balm in the air–but that means it’s not a great choice for travel. At least not in the standard sample containers. On the other hand, highly liquid things like toners traveled great on the same trips, which makes me think that oil cleanser may not be such a bad option when one is on the road.

In addition to the questionable practicality of balm cleansers, I didn’t particularly like that all of them left my skin feeling a bit coated. The best of the bunch, Su:m37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm, melted well and felt almost like a standard oil. The next tier of balms, The Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm and Banila Co Clean It Zero, melted less completely and left a greater sensation of a micro coating on one’s face. The bottom tier of balms, TonyMoly Peach Punch Sherbet Cleansing Balm and Clio Makeup Away Cleansing Balm struggled to mix with FaceWaste well, didn’t emulsify in a very satisfying way, and left a significant sensation of leftover balm on my skin–which is really unfortunate because they both smelled divine.

On top of this, polyethylene, a plastic that is not readily biodegradable without special treatment, appears in the balm cleansers, but none of the other products I’m reviewing. In fact, polyethylene is the only ingredient that appears in all five of the balms, suggesting that this waxy resin is a significant part of what helps oil become solid yet melt on contact with skin. Remember the campaigns to end the use of plastic microbeads in beauty products (in the US)? Yeah, those beads are made of polyethylene. Polyethylene beads are non-toxic to humans, but they’re an environmental problem because they’re too small to be filtered by water treatment plants and they end up picking up pollutants, meaning that when fish and other stuff that lives in the sea eat them, they’re scarfing down a bunch of polluted plastic.

I have more questions about polyethylene in balms than answers at this point. Since the polyethylene in the balm is more…liquidy than microbeads, does this make it more or less harmful to the environment? And is this polyethylene, when it ends up in my drinking water, but it’s had time to pick up pollutants, still non-toxic to me? These are honestly questions that I’m not able to answer, but I’m concerned and hope anyone with expert knowledge in the field (whatever field this even is) can weigh in.

No matter the eventual verdict on the issue (or non-issue) of polyethylene in balm cleansers, I think Asian Beauty can offer better options.

edit 151023: Microplastics including polyethylene are ending up in sea salt. (thank you to @kindofstephen for tweeting this article)

New options for not-so-oily first-step cleansers: gel-oil and pool

korean oil cleansers review gel-oil and pool cleansers

The real surprise here is the effectiveness of gel-oil and pool cleansers. Gel-oil cleansers melt into something like an oil when in contact with one’s skin. They can be great for travel due to their viscosity, but expect to pay a premium for the novelty, use more of the product per cleanse (there’s something about the gel and its non-drippiness that makes me use way too much), and sacrifice certain cleansing aspects when using them. The Yeon Jeju Hallabong Energy Gel Oil Perfect Cleanser was the better of the oil-gel cleansers due to its intense citrus scent and ability to melt into something almost resembling a straight oil cleanser, but the formula left my skin feeling a bit dry. The Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel was not nearly as successful, failing to melt thinner than a gel and smelling less pleasant to me (it smells like an attempt to make a better-grade floral hand soap imo).

Pool cleansers are a different beast entirely: they’re intended to remove all oil, dead skin, and makeup (including waterproof lip and eye makeup) and they are designed to cover both cleansing steps–meaning you can skip the foam. They actually thicken when it’s time to mix them with water, as long as you don’t use too much of them (the trick is to use about half the amount of pool cleanser as you would an oil cleanser). I’ve successfully used pool cleansers as a first step like an oil cleanser followed by a foam second step to adjust my pH level and get fully clean. Their portability (due to being very viscous to the point of being stringy), lack of oil (which can irritate some skin types and cause breakouts), and perfectly clean feeling post-rinse makes pool cleansers the fun option for no-drip, travel-friendly first-step cleansing that I’m recommending. I don’t find them as effective at liquifying all makeup as standard oil cleansers (possibly due to the fact that the formula firms up on one’s skin, preventing a longer cycle of agitation), but they’re quite effective once you get a knack for using them. Caolion Mool Pool Deep Cleansing is the classic pool cleanser, but I found A.H.C Climax Water Pool Cleanser, with its superior emulsification ability and impressive ingredient list (along with a lower price tag), to be a better option.

All-in-one is no fun: a dual cleansing nightmare

Dual cleansers that contain oil and attempt to cover both cleansing steps have been disastrous in tests, including the dual cleanser I review here that I found to be the worst of the 15 products, Leejiham Facial Dual Cleansing Essence. By attempting to kill two birds with one stone, the dual cleanser seemed intent on killing my skin by stripping it of all oils and causing irritation. A sample of a similar product by Caolion produced the same effect and a test of Goodal Trans Foam Cleansing Oil had to be halted due to the crazy skin irritation it produced.

So here I am, one year after claiming that I wanted a cleanser that does everything all at once, pledging my allegiance to the two-step cleansing method and sending my brand new dual cleanser to the bin.

The gentle, oily truth: unless you have a skin issue triggered by a cleanser ingredient, what matters is oil cleansing, not the product you use to do it

Having tried a whole lot of first-step cleansers over the past year, I think it’s important to say that what matters is not which first-step cleanser you use (unless you have specific ingredients or formulations that you need to avoid), but that you use one. The recommended cleansers will probably get your skin really clean and feel nice to use. Some of them may feel a bit more luxurious to you and therefore make oil cleansing more enjoyable or make it easier to do every day. There’s a chasm between using a first-step cleanser and not using one, but the divide decreases markedly between the products you actually use in that first step.

I see lots of people who love the feel of luxe cleansers, but also many who try the recommended products and end up saying “that’s it? I was expecting more.” The truth is that you’re putting these products on in order to wash them off almost immediately. Unless your skin is sensitive to certain ingredients, most of these recommended cleansers will probably do a very good job. Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing OilThe Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm, and A.H.C Climax Water Pool Cleanser can all be found for under $20 before shipping costs are factored in and they’re really good. Samples of oils poured into airless pumps like the ones I used for the Laneige oil can help you get premium products for less. Even if you spend lavishly on beauty products, you probably face decisions about where to invest your money–unless you desperately want/need a certain first step cleanser, deploy those resources to buy stuff that will stay on your face for hours. Repeat after me: it’s not which first-step cleanser you use, but the fact that you use one that makes the difference.



Cleansing Oils

Top pick:

Leejiham Dr’s Care Cleansing Oil 180ml

Leejiham Dr's Care Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Leejiham Dr’s Care Cleansing Oil

Ingredients

Korean ingredient list: 에칠헥실팔미테이트, 미네랄오일, 피이지-20글리세릴트리이소스테아레이트, 토코페릴아세테이트, 감초추출물, 마치현추출물, 마카다미아씨오일, 스쿠알란, 위치하젤껍질/잎/잔가지추출물, 호호바씨오일, 블랙윌로우껍질추출물, 정제수, 향료, 부틸파라벤, 프로필파라벤. (from the product box)

My translation: Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Mineral Oil, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Squalane, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Bark/Leaf/Twig Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Water, Fragrance, Butylparaben, Propylparaben. (done using the KCIA Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary)

CosDNA analysis. Ethylhexyl Palmitate rates 4 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger and 1 out of 5 as a potential irritant; Squalane rates 1 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger; and Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil rates 2 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger and 0-2 out of 5 as a potential irritant.

2015 renewal version (renewal version is 155ml) Korean ingredient list: 에칠헥실팔미테이트, 미네랄오일, 피이지-20글리세릴트리이소스테아레이트, 감초추출물, 마치현추출물, 위치하젤껍질/잎/잔가지추출물, 블랙윌로우껍질추출물, 마카다미아씨오일, 호호바씨오일, 스쿠알란, 토코페릴아세테이트, 에칠헥실글리세린,  정제수, 향료, 페녹시에탄올. (from the LJHMall Korea website)

My translation: Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Mineral Oil, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Bark/Leaf/Twig Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Squalane, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Water, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol. (done using the KCIA Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary)

CosDNA analysis. The same triggers appear. Ethylhexyl Palmitate rates 4 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger and 1 out of 5 as a potential irritant; Squalane rates 1 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger; and Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil rates 2 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger and 0-2 out of 5 as a potential irritant.

Leejiham Dr's Care Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Leejiham Dr’s Care Cleansing Oil

Review

Leejiham Dr's Care Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Leejiham Dr’s Care Cleansing Oil mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

In a field of cleansers that smell divine this one just smells…effective. It smells “unisex” and practical, slightly sharp, and maybe a wee bit like fruit and herbs, but fruit and herbs mixed with fatty oil (not bad, but not particularly good either)? In any case, you’re not buying this for the scent, let’s just make that clear.

So how does a regular cleansing oil that doesn’t smell particularly delicious beat out a field that includes some of the most coveted luxury first-step cleansers in the game?

THAT CLEANSE. To me, this oil is the fastest, most effective, and least irritating path from a feeling of absolute disgustingness to gloriously clean skin with zero residue. The three cleansing photos tell the tale: this thin oil liquifies makeup and other FaceWaste, emulsifies like no other candidate when water is added, and then washes away completely–without leaving a residue or feeling of tightness due to over-cleansing.

While testing all of these cleansers I kept coming back to this one. One benefit this product has is a great bottle design. The pump makes it easy to dispense with zero fuss and the bottle is sturdy and weighted well, meaning that unlike the Innisfree bottle, it didn’t end up on the floor all the time when I put it on my sink. If you’re busy, tired, and just need to make sure that oil cleansing happens, these are legitimate considerations! ahaha

Since I bought this oil (I bought it for $22 with free shipping at HKC’s end-of-2014 sale) the oil formulation has been renewed and the size changed from 180ml to 155ml. Will I buy it again? Absolutely. Will I buy it again before using up the million years worth of cleansers left over from this test? You know it.

Where to buy it

HKC Plaza: $32 (free shipping from Singapore) | KoreaDepart: $32.23 + shipping | Amazon: $37.08 + shipping | LJH USA: $42 (free shipping from California)

Recommended:

Laneige Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil 250ml

Laneige Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Laneige Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil (I tested a 25ml sample that I poured into one of these fun travel airless pumps.)

Ingredients

Isopropyl Palmitate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, PEG-8 Isostearate, Dextrin Palmitate/Ethylhexanoate, Glyceryl Behenate/Eicosadioate, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Artemisia Princeps Leaf Water, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Lippia Citriodora Leaf Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, 1,3-Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance. (provided in Korean and English in the Hwahae app)

CosDNA analysis. Ethylhexyl Palmitate rates 4 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger and 1 out of 5 as a potential irritant; Butylene Glycol rates 1 out of 5 as an acne trigger.

Laneige Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Laneige Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil

Review

Laneige Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Laneige Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

Damn, this is a fineass oil. It smells like a cross between the practical, fatty herby LJH oil and a straight up perfume divided by 1,000. The scent is pleasant, but it isn’t as powerful as those in the Innisfree or Clio oils. If you’re sensitive to fragrances but able to tolerate them a bit, this might not be a bad one to test.

Laneige makes fabulous oil cleansers, wow. My sole eye and lip makeup remover is Laneige’s Lip and Eye Remover Waterproof, which is so effective that I’m not even looking for another one.

This cleansing oil is thin (slightly thicker than the LJH), it mixes with FaceWaste beautifully, thins quickly once oil is added, and it removes makeup well. It lacks the total makeup removal and emulsification power of LJH and it leaves my face feeling moisturized and soft (which I don’t want). If you have dry skin, this oil would be a great choice.

The Laneige oil isn’t cheap, but the 250ml bottle is bigger than any others in this category, so keep that in mind when considering your options.

Where to buy it

RoseRoseShop: $27.72 + shipping | KoreaDepart: $30.07 + shipping | TesterKorea: 31,500 won + shipping | Amazon: $32.91 + shipping | eBay (I recommend iamlove-shop): $34.98 and up

Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil 150ml

Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil

Ingredients

Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Triethylhexanoin, Polyglyceryl-10 Dioleate, Hydrogenated Poly(c6-14 Olefin), PEG-8 Glyceryl Isostearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Cyclohexasiloxane, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Orchid Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Camellia Japonica Leaf Extract, Opuntia Coccinellifera Fruit Extract, Butylene Glycol, Fragrance. (provided in English on the bottle)

CosDNA analysis. Butylene Glycol is the lone potential trigger identified, rating 1 out of 5 as an acne trigger.

Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil

Review

Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

I bought this oil exactly one year ago yesterday–my first ever cleansing oil purchase–and I still like it quite a bit. The scent is distinctive: like a STRONG sour apple candy. If you’re looking to make oil cleansing fun and you don’t mind the powerful smell, boom, here’s your oil.

The oil is thicker than some of the others in this category, meaning that it doesn’t quite slice through makeup, emulsify, or rinse as cleanly. But if you’re using a separate silicone remover for waterproof makeup, this one should be fine.

The attractive thing about this cleanser is the price, of course. I bought mine for 13,000 won plus shipping, which is really affordable considering its effectiveness and how long oil cleansers last. If you’re on the fence about oil, here’s a good starter cleanser.

Where to buy it

TesterKorea: 10,400 won + shipping | RoseRoseShop: $10.30 + shipping | KoreaDepart: $10.82 + shipping | eBay (I recommend iamlove-shop): $13.93 and up | Amazon: $16.21 (free shipping from Korea)

Clio Make Up Away Cleansing Oil 200ml

Clio Make Up Away Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Clio Make Up Away Cleansing Oil (I tested a 20ml sample)

Ingredients

Mineral Oil, Peg-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Cetyl Caprylate, Water, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil, Cardiospermum Halicacabum Flower/Leaf/Vine Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Unsaponifiables, Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil, Lactobacillis/Rice Ferment Filtrate, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Glycine Max (Soybean) Seed Extract, Lactobacillus Ferment, Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate, Octyldodecanol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, CI 15985, CI 42090, CI 17200, CI 14700, Fragrance. (provided in Korean and English in the Hwahae app)

CosDNA analysis. Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil and Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil both rate 2 out of 5 as potential acne triggers, CI 17200 rates 1 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger.

Clio Make Up Away Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Clio Make Up Away Cleansing Oil

Review

Clio Make Up Away Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Clio Make Up Away Cleansing Oil mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

This Clio oil has an incredible fragrance–I’m not even sure how to describe it, but the cleansing balm has the same smell. It’s a blend between fruity and floral with maybe some amber? What I can say with certainty is that it’s a smell coming from fragrance and not the oil. This oil doesn’t really smell much like oil at all. Like the Innisfree Apple Juicy oil, this product has a powerful yet pleasant scent that could be useful for those who need to adjust to the concept and scents of oil cleansing.

This oil is very thin, like the LJH oil, which makes it ideal for moving easily to remove makeup and emulsifying with water. I found this oil to be very effective, although the emulsified solution was a tad thin for my taste (I like the mixture to be almost frothy so that I can see that everything is being removed). Unlike the LJH oil, this left my skin feeling very slightly moisturized.

Where to buy it

eBay: $13.00 + $3.99 shipping | Club Clio USA retail stores in NYC (see the fan-b kbeauty in NYC map for locations)

Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil 200ml

Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil (I tested a 50ml sample)

Ingredients

Isopropyl Palmitate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Peg-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Peg-8 Isostearate, Prunus Armeniaca (apricot) Kernel Oil, Spirodela Polyrrhiza Extract, Coix Lacryma-jobi Ma-yuen Seed Extract, Castanea Crenata (Chestnut) Shell Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Pinus Koraiensis Seed Oil, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Prunus Mume Fruit Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Germ Extract, Squalane, Dextrin Palmitate, Glyceryl Behenate/Eicosadioate, Butylene Glycol, Fragrance. (from the Sulwhasoo US website)

CosDNA analysis. Isopropyl Palmitate rates 4 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger, Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil and Sesamum indicum Seed Oil rate 2 out of 5 as potential acne triggers, and Squalane and Butylene Glycol rate 1 out of 5 as potential acne triggers.

Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil

Review

Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

This oil has a sharp, herbal, hanbang (traditional East Asian medicine/beauty) scent. I am neutral on the scent.

This was one of the thicker oils that I tested, just thinner than the Innisfree oil. Like the Innisfree oil, not all (but most) of the makeup was removed. The luxury feeling from this oil comes from the feeling of softness and moisture left on my skin after I used it. That said, unless you’re into the hanbang aspect or need to avoid certain ingredients, the Laneige oil is more effective as a makeup remover, offers similar softening/moisturizing properties, and is more cost-effective.

Where to buy it

TesterKorea: 30,000 won + shipping | RoseRoseShop: $31.68 + shipping | KoreaDepart: $33.28 + shipping | eBay: $39.99 and up (unless you buy sample packets) | Amazon: $45.90 (free shipping)

Cleansing Balms

Top picks:

Su:m37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm 100ml

Su:m37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
Su:m37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm

Ingredients

Hydrogenated Polydecene, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Triethylhexanoin, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Polyethylene, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, PEG-30 Sorbitan Tetraoleate, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Kluyveromyces/Lactobacillus/Apricot Kernel Oil Ferment Filtrate, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Myristica Fragrans (Nutmeg) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Eclipta Prostrata Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Citral, Citronellol, Limonene, Geraniol, Linalool. (my translation)

CosDNA. Zero acne or sensitive skin triggers.

Su:m37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
Su:m37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm
Su:m37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
Su:m37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm

Review

Su:m37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
Su:m37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

This smells like concentrated apricots and mandarin oranges–absolutely delicious. It’s a grainy sherbet texture that melts quickly and almost completely into oil, making it better than most balms at removing makeup. The issue with this balm, like other balms (but less pronounced), is the slight feeling of a coating left on one’s skin after it’s washed off.

korean oil cleansers review

The pretty glass jar and brilliant magnetic spatula actually detract from the usefulness of this balm for me, actually–I’m terrified of my husband or me whacking it off the counter and sending it into a million tasty glass shards that will be eaten or stepped on by our curious cats. Additionally, I took this balm with me on work trips (in Banila Co sample jars! ahha) and it melted enough to leave an oily residue all over the travel jars I was using and the ziplock bag I remembered to put them in (high-five to myself for that one).

I bought this for about $27 total thanks to a free shipping coupon from 11st (here’s the facebook post I made about the coupon–the coupon is no longer in effect, but similar deals pop up on 11st seasonally). I see this elsewhere for $40 and up. Ehhh…

Where to buy it

KoreaDepart: $37.94 + shipping | eBay: $39.99 | TesterKorea: 38,000 won + shipping | Amazon: $51.97 (Prime shipping)

The Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm 100ml/3.3oz.

The Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm korean oil cleansers review
The Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm

Ingredients

Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Polyethylene, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ceresin, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rose Flower Oil, Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Imperata Cylindrica Root Extract, and Fragrance. (provided in English on the box label)

CosDNA analysis. Butylene Glycol is the lone potential trigger identified, rating 1 out of 5 as an acne trigger.

The Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm korean oil cleansers review
The Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm
The Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm korean oil cleansers review
The Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm

Review

The Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm korean oil cleansers review
The Face Shop Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

I’m excited about The Face Shop’s Seed Fermentation Cleansing Oil Balm, mainly because it offers fermented balmy goodness at a fraction of the Su:m37 price. The balm smells like citrus fruit, but less strong than the Su:m37 balm. It has a waxier texture in the container, which means it takes a bit longer to melt down into oil and it doesn’t melt as fully. It’s just as effective as the Su:m37 balm in terms of makeup removal. The scent and texture prevent it from taking the very top spot, but this is a legitimate contender for the crown.

The packaging is a plus: the hard plastic jar can take some knocks and the cylindrical shape with no narrower mouth means that all of the product can be scooped out without hunting for it. There’s no logical place to put the spatula, which means that I leave mine jammed in the balm, no a big deal, but at that point I may as well use my fingers.

I consider this balm to be one of the most slept-on products in kbeauty: if the brand making this exact product were something more high-end you’d hear about this balm a lot more. Scoop that deal, kbeauty fans.

Where to buy it

RoseRoseShop: $11.80 + shipping | KoreaDepart: $11.46 + shipping | eBay: $15 and up | Amazon: $24.71 and up

Recommended:

Banila Co Clean It Zero 100ml

Banila Co Clean It Zero korean oil cleansers review
Banila Co Clean It Zero

Ingredients

Mineral Oil, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, PEG-10 Isostearate, Polyethylene, Butylene Glycol, Water, Rubus Suavissimus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, Bambusa Arundinacea Stem Extract, Aspalathus Linearis Leaf Extract, Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Leaf Extract, Angelica Polymorpha Sinesis Root Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Malpighia Glabra (Acerola) Fruit Extract, Epilobium Angustifolium Leaf Extract, BHT, Butylparaben, CI 16255, CI 15985, Fragrance. (from the Peach and Lily website–I received this container in the P&L Seoulcialite box)

CosDNA analysis. Butylene Glycol is the lone potential trigger identified, rating 1 out of 5 as an acne trigger.

Banila Co Clean It Zero korean oil cleansers review
Banila Co Clean It Zero
Banila Co Clean It Zero korean oil cleansers review
Banila Co Clean It Zero

Review

Banila Co Clean It Zero korean oil cleansers review
Banila Co Clean It Zero mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

The classic, famed Banila Co Clean It Zero is pretty middle-of-the-road in these tests. It has the grainy sherbet texture of the Su:m37 without its melting abilities. It lacks the makeup removal prowess of either the Su:m37 or Face Shop balms. It smells fine–kind of rose-floral-sharp. The just ok scent mixed with the just ok makeup removal properties didn’t really thrill me; once I received other balms, I didn’t reach for this one much. It’s perfectly good, but I don’t consider it the best.

Where to buy it

KoreaDepart: $13.84 + shipping | TesterKorea: 14,400 won + shipping | RoseRoseShop: $17.82 (free shipping) | Amazon: $18.19 (Prime shipping) | eBay: $18.18 and up | Peach and Lily: $18Memebox USA: $19

Recommended with reservations:

TonyMoly Peach Punch Sherbet Cleansing Balm 80g

TonyMoly Peach Punch Sherbet Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
TonyMoly Peach Punch Sherbet Cleansing Balm

Ingredients

Mineral Oil, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Polyethylene, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, PEG-10 Isostearate, Tocopheral Acetate, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Prunus Persica (Peach) Fruit Water, Prunus Persica (Peach) Fruit Extract, Water, BHT, Fragrance, CI 16255. (provided in English on the box label)

TonyMoly Peach Punch Sherbet Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
TonyMoly Peach Punch Sherbet Cleansing Balm
TonyMoly Peach Punch Sherbet Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
TonyMoly Peach Punch Sherbet Cleansing Balm

Review

TonyMoly Peach Punch Sherbet Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
TonyMoly Peach Punch Sherbet Cleansing Balm mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

I’m going to be honest: the main reason I’m recommending this is due to the scent. Holy mother of Jongin, what is TonyMoly up to that they can make this juiciest-of-all-peaches scent? Like the delectable hand cream, this balm is mouth-wateringly, obscenely delicious. And the packaging looks like a fine booty LOL.

The problem here is the texture of the balm. It melts fine, it cleanses fine, but it leaves a significant coating on my skin that I find really unpleasant.

So I like it…but not all the way.

Where to buy it

KoreaDepart: $12.85 + shipping | Amazon: $21.49 (free shipping) | eBay: $20.94 + shipping

Not recommended:

Clio Makeup Away Cleansing Balm 70g

Clio Makeup Away Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
Clio Makeup Away Cleansing Balm

Ingredients

Cetyl Caprylate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polyethylene, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Fragrance, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Rice Ferment Filtrate, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Glycine Max (Soybean) Seed Extract, Lactobacillus Ferment, Ethyl Hexanediol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract. (provided in Korean and English in the Hwahae app)

CosDNA analysis. Zero acne or sensitive skin triggers.

Clio Makeup Away Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
Clio Makeup Away Cleansing Balm
Clio Makeup Away Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
Clio Makeup Away Cleansing Balm

Review

Clio Makeup Away Cleansing Balm korean oil cleansers review
Clio Makeup Away Cleansing Balm mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

This smells exactly like the Clio cleansing oil (fruity, floral, amber blend) except with a significant oil/balm half to the scent.

I gotta tell you…this balm is a mess. It’s way too waxy and solid, it fails to melt down well at all, and therefore it just doesn’t do a good job at removing makeup. It leaves a bit of a coating on one’s face and I find it just unpleasant to use. This product should be reformulated or pulled in favor of greater exposure for the actually good Clio cleansing oil.

Where to buy it

TesterKorea: 15,840 won + shipping | RoseRoseShop: $15.68 + shipping | eBay: $18.70 + shipping and up | Club Clio USA retail stores in NYC (see the fan-b kbeauty in NYC map for locations)

Pool, Gel Oil, and Dual Cleansers

Top picks:

A.H.C Climax Water Pool Cleanser 150ml

A.H.C Climax Water Pool Cleanser korean oil cleansers review
A.H.C Climax Water Pool Cleanser

Ingredients

Water, Dipropylene Glycol, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, 1,3-Butylene Glycol, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Glycine Max (Soybean) Seed Extract, Saponaria Offinalis Leaf/Root Extract, Hovenia Dulcis Fruit Extract, Dioscorea Japonica Root Extract, Sapindus Mukurossi Fruit Extract, Viola Tricolor Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract, Eclipta Prostrata Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Meal Extract, Panicum Miliaceum (Millet) Seed Extract, Hordeum Distichon (Barley) Extract, Secale Cereale (Rye) Seed Extract, Ginko Biloba Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Camellia Japonica Leaf Extract, Eruca Sativa Leaf Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Sprout Extract, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Sprout Extract, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Leaf Extract, Quillaja Saponaria Bark Extract, Soluble Collagen, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Sodium Polyacrylate, Soldium Citrate, Carbonated Water, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol. (provided in Korean and English in the Hwahae app)

CosDNA analysis. 1,3-Butylene Glycol rates 1 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger, Carbomer rates 1 out of 5 as a potential irritation trigger, and Triethanolamine rates 2 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger.

A.H.C Climax Water Pool Cleanser korean oil cleansers review
A.H.C Climax Water Pool Cleanser

Review

A.H.C Climax Water Pool Cleanser korean oil cleansers review
A.H.C Climax Water Pool Cleanser mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

One of the best things about doing this test was trying my pool cleansers again and discovering how great they are. Pool cleansers are these incredibly viscous, not-oily cleansers that have been popular in Korea for a bit, but have received virtually no attention outside of Korea. I think that the main problem is that people just don’t know how to use them yet and get disappointed when they don’t work as well as they could.

Here’s the secret with pool cleansers: less is more. Less product used will result in a vastly better cleanse. For your whole face, as little as one drop can be enough. For months I tried using my pool cleanser like an oil cleanser, but I realized a few weeks ago that that’s actually way too much product. Pool cleansers are designed to actually thicken once mixed with your makeup–signalling that you’re ready to emulsify and rinse, but they can only do that if you use the right amount. Here’s a how-to video from competitor Caolion:

These cleansers are designed to remove all of your makeup, including waterproof makeup in one step. As in, you don’t have to use a foam cleanser afterward. I still do for the sake of lowering my skin’s pH and making sure that every damn thing is off my face, but the results back up this claim.

Given that the formula thickens on one’s face, I’m not sure that I’d use this if I had super sensitive skin–the friction may set off some issues.

What excites me about pool cleansers is that they offer a good, effective option for first-step cleansing for people who have issues with lots of the oils in regular oil cleansers. This cleanser left my face feeling soft and smooth, but it left zero residue–it was the best of all possible worlds. I happen to like the feeling of oil cleanser now and the oil helps me get in a daily massage (my jaw is hilariously crooked, leading to Abraham Lincoln-levels of facial asymmetry–I’m hoping that some massaging helps to loosen my poor muscles a bit?), but if I didn’t I’d be all over this every day.

The A.H.C. pool cleanser beat out the Caolion cleanser because it’s thicker, more effective, and cheaper. This is the #1 most slept-on product in kbeauty, in my opinion: if it sounds interesting to you go buy it before the price goes wild.

Where to buy it

KoreaDepart: $17.72

The Yeon Jeju Hallabong Energy Gel Oil Perfect Cleanser 150ml

The Yeon Jeju Hallabong Energy Gel Oil Perfect Cleanser korean oil cleansers review
The Yeon Jeju Hallabong Energy Gel Oil Perfect Cleanser

Ingredients

카프릴릭/카프릭트리글리세라이드, 트리에칠헥사노인, 세틸에칠헥사노에이트, 글리세린, 피이지-20글리세릴트리이소스테아레이트, 정제수, 콜레스-10, 부틸렌글라이콜, 트리에탄올아민, 토코페릴아세테이트, 만다린추출물 (0.1%), 알로에베라잎추출물, 브로콜리추출물, 귤껍질추출물, 키위추출물, 레몬그라스추출물, 아보카도열매추출물, 펜틸렌글라이콜, 아크릴레이트/C10-30알킬아크릴레이트크로스폴리머, 1,2-헥산디올, 향료, 카프릴릴글라이콜, 페녹시에탄올, 디소듐이디티에이(from the product box)

My translation: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Triethylhexanoin, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glycerin, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Water, Choleth-10, Butylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Fruit Extract (0.1%), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Cymbopogon Citratus Extract, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Fruit Extract, Pentylene Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, 1,2-Hexanediol, Fragrance, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA. (done using the KCIA Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary)

The Yeon Jeju Hallabong Energy Gel Oil Perfect Cleanser korean oil cleansers review
The Yeon Jeju Hallabong Energy Gel Oil Perfect Cleanser

Review

The Yeon Jeju Hallabong Energy Gel Oil Perfect Cleanser korean oil cleansers review
The Yeon Jeju Hallabong Energy Gel Oil Perfect Cleanser mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

This gel-oil smells incredible: like mandarin oranges. It squirts out as a gel, but becomes more like an oil as you massage it into your skin. It never fully becomes an oil, but it’s close, and the cleanser is effective at removing makeup. One issue would be the price vs. how much I end up using; the squeezy tube always results in me dispensing too much product, which isn’t great considering the price of this stuff.

I find that this leaves no residue, but it does make my skin feel a tad tight or like I’ve used a citrusy toner or something. Given that I have oily skin and I notice this, I’m guessing that it would not be a good choice for people with dry or sensitive skin.

This product is virtually impossible to find using the regular online shops, but it can be found at The Yeon’s retail stores in NYC.

Where to buy it

The Yeon’s retail stores in NYC. (see the fan-b kbeauty in NYC map for locations) I think I paid around $28 + tax for this.

Recommended:

Caolion Mool Pool Deep Cleansing 75ml/150ml

Caolion Mool Pool Deep Cleansing korean oil cleansers review
Caolion Mool Pool Deep Cleansing

Ingredients

Dipropylene Glycol, Water, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, 1,3-Butylene Glycol, Sorbitol, PEG-20 Glyceryl Isostearate, Betaine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Citric Acid, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Allantoin, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Origanum Vulgare Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Thymus Serpillum Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice. (provided in Korean and English in the Hwahae app)

CosDNA analysis. 1,3-Butylene Glycol rates 1 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger.

Caolion Mool Pool Deep Cleansing korean oil cleansers review
Caolion Mool Pool Deep Cleansing

Review

Caolion Mool Pool Deep Cleansing korean oil cleansers review
Caolion Mool Pool Deep Cleansing mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

This pool cleanser is thinner than the A.H.C. version and I find it to be slightly less effective. It smells like nothing and travels really well since it’s viscous and you only need one drop per day (it was my first-step cleanser when I went to Lake Michigan last summer–it worked despite me using too much of it at the time). The main issue I have with these cleansers is making sure that I only dispense one drop–my bottle of Caolion Mool Pool has a flip top, which resulted in me using too much for months!

I believe that Caolion is the original maker of pool cleansers, and the price reflects the originality. I think that A.H.C. does pool cleansers better, so…just get that one unless it’s not available or one of the A.H.C. ingredients is a problem for your skin.

Where to buy it

KoreaDepart: $19.28 for 75ml / $24.30 for 150ml + shipping | eBay: $26.99 for 75ml

Not recommended:

Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel 150ml

Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel korean oil cleansers review
Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel

Ingredients

Ingredients: Water, Diglycerin, Methyl Gluceth-20, Decyl Glucoside, Lactobacillus Ferment, PEG-75, C11-15 Pareth-12, Ethoxydiglycol, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Butylene Glycol, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Extract, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Oil, Epilobium Angustifolium Extract, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Eclipta Prostrata Extract, Undaria Pinnatifida Extract, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Allantoin, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Acrylates/Vinyl Isodecanoate Crosspolymer, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Leaf Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Potassium Hydroxide. (from Sephora’s website)

Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel korean oil cleansers review
Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel

Review

Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel korean oil cleansers review
Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

I got a sample of this cleansing oil-gel from Sephora (which sells the brand), and it’s not very good. It smells sharp and rose-ish (not great), it doesn’t melt down to anything like an oil (not great), and it doesn’t do much to remove makeup (not great). I can’t think of why you would need to buy this. Just don’t, please.

Where to buy it

Sephora: $28 (but seriously, don’t)

Leejiham Facial Dual Cleansing Essence 185ml 

Leejiham Facial Dual Cleansing Essence korean oil cleansers review
Leejiham Facial Dual Cleansing Essence

Ingredients

Water, Dipropylene Glycol, PEG-20 Glyceryl Isostearate, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, 1,3-Butylene Glycol, Denatured Alcohol, Methyl Gluceth-20, PEG-32, Honey Extract, Boswellia Serrata Resin Extract, Bromelain, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Flower Extract, Lilium Tigrinum Extract, Magnolia Kobus Flower Extract, Convallaria Majalis Extract, Tilia Europaea Flower Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Sodium Citrate, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Octanohydroxamic Acid, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Glycol Stearate, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance. (provided in Korean and English in the Hwahae app)

CosDNA analysis. 1,3-Butylene Glycol rates 1 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger, Alcohol rates 5 out of 5 as a potential irritant.

Leejiham Facial Dual Cleansing Essence korean oil cleansers review
Leejiham Facial Dual Cleansing Essence

Review

Leejiham Facial Dual Cleansing Essence korean oil cleansers review
Leejiham Facial Dual Cleansing Essence mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

This dual cleanser, which is supposed to be applied as an oil cleanser and massaged in and then turn into a foam cleanser once water is added in order to cover both steps was a disaster. It doesn’t do a great job of removing makeup and it made my skin feel really dry and tight (keep in mind that I have oily skin that can handle quite a bit of abuse). Between the results for this dual cleanser and the Goodal dual cleanser that follows, let’s put aside the notion that the two steps should be compressed. Good things take time and these “convenience” cleansers seem like they have the potential to cause time-consuming skin issues. Blech.

Where to buy it

LJH Korea (with the help of Avecko–here’s my post about how to shop using Avecko): 17,600 won + Avecko handling + international shipping

Tests halted due to reaction:

Goodal Trans Foam Cleansing Oil 100ml

Goodal Trans Foam Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Goodal Trans Foam Cleansing Oil

Ingredients

Water, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids, Olea  Europaea (Olive) Fruit  Oil, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit  Extract, Saponaria Officinalis Leaf/Root  Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Pueraria Thunbergiana Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Paeonia Lactiflora (Peony) Root Extract, Cnidium Officinale Root Extract, Monascus Extract, Soluble Collagen, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Macadamia (Macadamia Integrifolia)  Seed  Oil, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed  Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hexylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Ethylhexylglycerin, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol. (provided in English on the box label)

CosDNA analysis. Olea  Europaea (Olive) Fruit  Oil rates 2 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed  Oil rates 2 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger and 0-2 out of 5 as a potential irritation trigger, and Hexylene Glycol rates 2 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger and 1 out of 5 as a potential irritation trigger.

Goodal Trans Foam Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Goodal Trans Foam Cleansing Oil

Review

Goodal Trans Foam Cleansing Oil korean oil cleansers review
Goodal Trans Foam Cleansing Oil mixed with bb cream, black waterproof liner, and highly pigmented red lipstick for 30 seconds; emulsified with a bit of water for 20 seconds; and removed with a tissue.

Goodness gracious, what even is this mess?? I tried this cleanser shortly after it arrived and I kept wondering what on earth was causing my face to feel dry, hot, and almost cracking after using it. Once I did this test I realized that perhaps this cleanser is just not good at all? It changed from oily gel to really watery once it hit my skin and then refused to do much in terms of makeup removal. Aish. I didn’t include it as an official candidate because I couldn’t do a complete test of this due to my skin’s response to it, but just no no no.

Where to buy it

TesterKorea: 14,400 won + shipping | eBay: $28.99 and up | Memebox USA: $30 (free shipping) | Amazon: $30.99 + shipping

So this review is 10,00 words and now I’m going to collapse. ahahah


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