March 20, 2013

Spring Sakura ob for Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils

Does cleaning your face with oil sound counter-productive and strange? If so, I understand. I felt much the same way until a few years ago, when I first discovered the traditional Oil Cleansing Method. It turns out that when done right, cleaning your skin with oil is an incredibly effective way of removing impurities and clearing pores, while maintaining the natural PH balance of skin (and therefore the skin barrier that allows us to retain moisture).

It took me some experimenting with a few different products and methods to land on what works best for me. For one, I had to forgo the traditional method of using hot water and a washcloth to remove the oil. It's far too rough for my sensitive, redness-prone skin. Instead, I found cleansing oils that emulsify with water, which are massaged onto dry skin, then moistened and massaged a little more, and then rinsed cleanly off. Discovering these was a complete game-changer for my skincare, and I have been loyal to oil cleansing ever since.

I've tried a few different brands over the years, and have coveted the Shu Uemura oils for nearly as long. After all, the Shu version is one of the originators; the first one was introduced to the Japanese market it 1967, based on an oil cleanser Mr. Uemura discovered while working in Hollywood during the 1950s. I was ridiculously thrilled to be offered the chance to review part of the ob for Shu Uemura set.

There are six different cleansing oil formulations currently available, with four being offered in the limited edition ob packaging. I received the following three to test:

Cleansing Beauty Oil Premium A/O Advanced Formula (green bottle/box) for aging concerns, Whitefficient Clear Brightening Gentle Cleansing Oil (blue bottle/box) for dull skin, and Pore Clarifying Gentle Cleansing Oil (pink bottle/box) for combination and oily skin.

ob for Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils spring 2013

ob for Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils spring 2013

The boxes and bottles have artwork that represents three different, mythological tales.

The pink is the story of Sakura Hime, the Cherry Blossom Princess, who sleeps through the seasons, only to awaken to Spring and to dance the flowers to life. The green is the story of Midori Hime, the Forest Princess, who nurses wounded animals (and humans) back to health. The blue is the story of Umi Hume, the Ocean Princess, who is sweet by nature but fights to protect her realm.

I think the art and the stories are sweet and lovely, but if the style is not your cup of tea, all of the oils are also available in the regular, unadorned packaging.

ob for Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils spring 2013

ob for Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils spring 2013

But lets move on from form to function, shall we? I should mention first that all of these oils contain mineral oil as the primary cleansing oil. I have no problem using mineral oil on my skin, but if that is a concern for you...well, this may not be for you. (Personally, I think that allergies and preferences aside, the concerns about mineral oil are not at all in line with actual scientific data on its effects and performance. But that's a rant for another time.)

I tested each of these oils for a period of four days each, morning and night, to get a decent idea of how they work.

Pore Clarifying Gentle Cleansing Oil (pink bottle/box) for combination and oily skin.

Contains sakura leaf extract for its anti-inflammatory effect, salicylic acid for exfoliation, and cherry extract for more exfoliation.

This is my personal favourite. Let me be clear: I LOVE THIS. SO MUCH. You-will-pry-this-out-of-my-cold-dead-hands love.

 It is extremely light-weight, slips right over the skin, and has a faintly floral fragrance. The pore-cleansing effects were immediately visible - when I towelled off my skin, I saw that the clogged pores had diminished drastically, and overall the pores looked cleaner and smaller. This is honestly the only cleanser I've ever used that has had such a dramatic and apparent effect on my pores. It's like a little micro-hoover went around sucking out all the ooky stuff.

This also took off my makeup with ease, and left my skin feeling silky-smooth, though still in need of moisturizer.

Whitefficient Clear Brightening Gentle Cleansing Oil (blue bottle/box) for dull skin.

Contains prune extracts to lower melanin transfer from lower layers of the skin, algae and vitamin C to brighten skin.

This was similar to the Pore Clarifying Gentle Cleansing Oil in terms of overall texture and performance. It removed makeup and cleaned my skin as thoroughly. I did not notice that the pore-clearing effect was quite as strong, though my skin felt just as smooth afterwards. I actually like the scent of this a little more - it's a fresh, watery, very faintly floral. I would love to have it in perfume form.

I can't really speak to the long-term brightening effect, as I did not test it long enough, but my skin did look refreshed.

Cleansing Beauty Oil Premium A/O Advanced Formula (green bottle/box) for aging concerns.

Contains ginko leaf extract for its antioxidant and micro-circulation properties, and green tea extract to revitalize skin.

This is a heavier, cushy-feeling oil, which is expected as it is rich in a variety of plant oils, including jojoba and macadamia. Both of those are excellent for moisturizing dry skin, especially jojoba, which is the closest oil to our natural skin oils. If you have dry, dehydrated, mature skin, I think this is probably the ideal cleansing oil for you. After using it, my skin felt softened and like I needed less moisturizer than usual. I prefer the pore-busting effects of the other two oils, but for skin that needs some pampering to go along with the deep-cleaning, this is perfect. If you have oilier skin, or are prone to clogged pores, this may be too rich. I will be passing it on to my mom, who will revel in its skin-loving qualities.

It has a more herbal scent, which is in line with the concept of a Forest Princess, but which was my least favourite of the three.

Overall, I am SO happy that I had the chance to try these guy out, and I am especially blown away with the Pore Clarifying/Cherry Blossom Princess Cleansing Oil. Combined with my BHA/AHA exfoliating regimen, it is going to kick ass and take names over the next few weeks!

Availability: On the Canadian Shu Uemura website, as well as the US one, though it seems the Premium A/O is not currently up with the ob packaging. Prices range between 79$ CAD and 98$ CAD.

Pros: Cleans skin and takes makeup off like nobody's business, with various levels of pore-clearing strength. Doesn't leave skin feeling stripped, with a range of options for dry to oily skin. Ridiculously cute packaging.

Cons: Contains mineral oil, which for some is a deal-breaker. The scents may be a problem if you're sensitive, or if they're not your preference. I can't think of anything else - just make sure to pick the right formula for your skin type.

So what about you guys? Have you tried cleansing oils? Are you already fans of the Shu versions, or are there other staples in your beauty closet?

(The items were sent to me by the brand to consider for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)


  1. I love Shu Uemura honestly and I love how it has three different cleansing oils but since it contains mineral oil I have to pass and I do not like cleansing oils with scents. Also the price is a bit high for my personal liking.
    I have tried SkinFood's cleansing oil and in the end just never really liked oils.
    But excellent review :D

    1. Thank you! :D

      It took a fair bit of trail and error to get on the oil cleansing train, but I am a convert now. A soapmaker friend actually introduced me to the concept of emulsifying oils when she developed one for her line. It's not for everyone, though. I can't get into the dry-oil craze either, for that matter. Maybe it's just a question of finding the right product?

  2. LOL @ "pore-busting"

    Ugh, you make me want these so badly but I need a job first. x___x

    I had no idea there are now 6 different oils. I'm using an old Laura Mercier cleansing oil right now which works really well, though I double cleanse with another product to make sure there's no residue left. (Sometimes I'll skip and just use toner.) I'm definitely less afraid of oils than before, though.

    1. Now I'm picturing lipid fisticuffs. :P

      Are you close to the Sephora in TO that has a Shu gondola? Or does you Holts have it? Samples, baby, samples. :)

      It took me a reeeeaaaally long time to get comfortable with the idea of oils on my skin. Once you've done OCM though - where you're basically just rubbing olive oil onto your skin - with no ill-effects (except for more redness from the hot water and washcloth), the rinsable sort are easy-peasy.

  3. Anonymous23.3.13

    "ooky stuff"....hahahaha! That stuff may be gross, but who among us doesn't secretly relish seeing what comes off our skin?! Personally, I love that they have one for anti-ageing concerns, but as my skin runs combination, that would definitely be too much for me. The brightening version sounds interesting too, but the pore-buster has my name on it! Sigh.....that want list of mine is soooooo long now....

    Love how you broke everything down AND included the stories behind the artwork, which are too precious for words, by the way!

    1. I totally agree with you about the satisfaction level. :D I have a Boscia mask sample to try and it's one of those peel-off-OMG-WAS-THAT-IN-MY-SKIN kind. I can't wait, lol!

      The stories are so sweet, and I love how well they tie into the qualities and effects of the oils, and sort of reference current trends in Japanese youth culture and fashion. Like Midori - it's a whole fey-hippie style. It's so fascinating to me.

  4. I agree mineral oil is the deal breaker for me. My favorite is Fancl, another Japanese brand but with no mineral oil

    1. Ohh, interesting! Where can one find Fancl?

  5. Yea, OK, I need that pore-busting one BIG TIME! I always wanted to try the Shu oils but never really had a chance. Now that they've got that online site.... ~oh dear~

    1. I'm still blown away by what a difference it's made for the pores on my nose. I was told that the best results are had when it's used in combination with the Clarisonic. I can just imagine!

      Have you used other cleansing oils, Toya?


Hi! Thank you for your comment, I love to hear back from you guys. =) I try to respond back to every comment within a few days.

Please don't use this comment form for self-promotion, though. It's bad blogger etiquette. And we don't wish to upset Emily Post. ;)