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.
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.
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.)