Although all skin types can benefit from using an oil-based cleanser, "oily skinned individuals are often reluctant to use it," says Francesca Fusco, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai School in New York City. Indeed, people with dry skin often benefit the most from oil-based cleansers because face washes with oil help the skin retain moisture. "An oil-based cleanser deposits lipids on the skin, which help hold on to water," explains Baumann. "As an added bonus, some oils—especially safflower oil—are rich in linoleic acid that the skin needs to make ceramides, which naturally help prevent dehydration." Oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed oil, and those rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, such as olive oil, are also beneficial because they have anti-inflammatory properties.
Another upside to using oil-based cleansers? You'll no longer need to use makeup remover in addition to your regular face-washing regimen. Since makeup is often made of oil (and lipids dissolve lipids), an oil-based cleanser will easily remove stubborn makeup and sunscreen.
The downsides of oil cleansing
Oil-based cleansers do not leave skin with that squeaky-clean feeling that many people are accustomed to. Instead, skin will feel smooth and hydrated. "You may even be able to skip moisturizer," says Baumann. However, if your face still feels greasy, you may be tempted to re-wash your face with a standard cleanser.
And while olive oil is considered noncomedogenic (meaning it won't clog pores), some people may still experience breakouts. If you already have oily skin or are prone to pimples, washing your face with an oil-based cleanser may not be the best method for you. Though oil-based cleansers can remove oil from the surface, they can't control hormones, which can also contribute to oil production.