Exfoliating oils will brighten and quench dry skin *without* rubbing it raw

January 27, 2020 at 02:00PM by CWC


Each and every winter,  we all inevitably face the same skin-care conundrum: How can you exfoliate your skin without drying it out even more than the combination of heaters, dry air, and cold weather already are?

It’s important to slough off dry skin cells all year long, but there’s a fine line between ridding your complexion of debris and compromising your skin barrier or making your face even more dry. This is where exfoliating cleansing oils come in, which have both exfoliating and nourishing properties in a single formula.

Oil cleansers, generally, are known for their abilities to rid the skin of dirt and oil (think of it as a “like dissolves like” situation). They’re particularly helpful for people with dry, flaky skin because, as board-certified dermatopathologist Gretchen Frieling, MD puts it, they “help clean the skin without leaving the face stripped of its natural oil and moisture.” And adding a physically exfoliating element into the mix, she says, “can be a great alternative for people who experience irritation from oil-free cleansers and harsher physical exfoliants.”

These oil cleansing products are gentle, yet effective, and offer the quadruple-whammy of removing makeup, clearing pores of excess oil and debris, wiping away dead skin cells, and nourishing skin. In other words, they’re giving your double cleanse a run for its money. Got oily skin? Despite what you might think, these cleansers can work for you too. In fact, they tend to help dissolve oils from your face while they cleanse, so most will leave you feeling clean and happy instead of oily and greasy. Try one out for yourself—especially right now, when your dry skin could really use the support—by way of one of these product picks.

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Mara Chia + Moringa Algae Enzyme Cleansing Oil, $58

This multi-tasking cleanser does it all, including cleansing, brightening, and hydrating the skin. It’s made with fruit enzymes (which have a teeny, tiny granule texture) to exfoliate, and chia and moringa oils, plus marine botanicals and squalane, to leave skin nourished. Its exfoliating element is so gentle that it works for all skin types, but is still efficient enough to get the job done without much scrubbing required.


Photo: Mara

La Mer Exfoliating Oil, $125

If you like your exfoliants to be a little more intense (but not so intense that they’ll strip your skin), La Mer’s option is a perfect pick. It’s made with sugar and salt crystals, which help with the scrubbing, plus sea kelp fibers and the brand’s iconic “Miracle Broth” elixir oil, for a quenched, healthy glow.

Photo: La Mer


Hanskin Pore Cleansing Oil, $28

Not a scrub person? Try this chemical exfoliant oil, which uses ultra-gentle polyhydroxy acids to get rid of dead skin cells. This is your best bet for dealing with blackheads, which the combo of oil and PHAs will help pull from beneath the surface.

Photo: Hanskin

To keep dry skin happy and healthy all winter, derms say to look for these ingredients in your moisturizer. And if you’re only feeling dry in certain areas? Here’s how to spot treat dryness like a pro

Author Zoe Weiner | Well and Good
Selected by CWC