In 2015, I published a review of 15 first-step, mainly oil cleansers. Once I hit publish on that beast, I thought I’d never have to review another oil cleanser again (in part because I wasn’t sure how long I’d keep beauty blogging — I tend to lose interest in things and wander off).
In the meantime, plenty of the products I reviewed (including some I liked) have been discontinued and some formulations have changed. A bit more of my review is claimed by the sea each year. But I’m still here, skincaring.
What hasn’t changed is my love for the unlikely winner of the cleanse-off: Leejiham (LJH) Dr’s Care Cleansing Oil. I’m just about done with my second bottle and frantically ordering my third. I’ve changed out a lot of products and found better options many times over for some old favorites, but I still look sadly at this perfect cleanser — for. my. skin. —when I’m forced to test another one.
I feel like a product that has survived the fanserviced-b product deathmatch against over 20 challengers deserves its own standalone review, especially as I order yet another bottle.
Leejiham (LJH) Dr’s Care Cleansing Oil Review
About the brand: LJH is a Korean dermocosmetics brand that mainly makes skincare.
What it is: an oil-based, first-step cleanser. Use this to remove makeup and sunscreen, then use a second-step, water-soluble cleaner.
Where to put it in your routine: in the first cleanser slot. Need a basic outline of when to use your products? Here you go:
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Ingredients: 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. CosDNA analysis.
Ingredient breakdown: 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. Despite all of these triggers my skin loves it.
Consistency: this oil is super runny and thin, allowing it to have great slip on my skin, even when I’m wearing a ton of makeup and have dead skin flakes that need to be exorcised. The thin consistency allows it to mix with everything and then the emulsifiers help it to immediately turn cloudy and even thinner once water is added, meaning every single thing on my face gets off FAST and without any stray makeup hanging around or oily residue.
What type of skin might like this: oily and normal skin that doesn’t react to any of the product’s ingredients. Had I known the ingredients before testing this, I’d probably have never tried it — I’m actually glad that I went in blind at first (and that’s ok for me because I don’t have any known acne-related ingredient triggers in oil cleansers).
Packaging: the oil comes in a hard plastic bottle with a standard oil cleanser pump. I’m always paranoid about breaking the pump because my bottle accidentally gets banged around a lot over the course of its life, but it actually holds up for me.
Smell: 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.
Price: about $25 or so including shipping for a bottle, depending on where you buy it and the shipping mode you select. This oil used to be available in a 180ml size, but the 2015 reformulation changed the ingredient list slightly and introduced a 155ml size.
Value: this isn’t the cheapest cleansing oil on the market. That said, I find that liquid oil cleansers last way longer than balms. So it’s a more expensive option in a very budget-friendly category.
What’s not good: it’s harder to buy. The ingredient list looks pretty horrifying due to having tons of acne triggers. It’s not the cheapest.
What’s good: this is the best first-step cleanser I’ve ever used. I sort of groan when having to test others because this cuts through makeup, oil, and disgustingness with zero problems. It leaves no residue. It emulsifies like a champ. It doesn’t irritate my skin at all.
Will I repurchase it: I’ve bought two bottles, used both, and I’ve ordered my third.
2018 Reformulation now available via Amazon:
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