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Should you be cleansing with an oil?

Your “Dry” skin is defined by a lack of oil, which is why your skin often feels tight or rough to the touch—especially after cleansing. Sure you’re using moisturizer to supplement your skin with the essential oils it needs, but you can get a leg up on hydrating your skin by starting your skincare regimen with an oil-based cleanser.

The main benefit of oil cleansing is that the cleanser itself deposits lipids on the skin—which is a big help for “Dry” types. These lipids, or fatty acids, help skin hold onto water. 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. Other oils that are rich omega-3 fatty acids (such as flax seed) have anti-inflammatory properties, and olive oil in particular has antioxidant benefits as well.

Oil-based cleansers work differently than foaming cleansers. Oils actually surround dirt and product residue before water washes them away, leaving necessary fats intact. (Foaming cleansers, on the other hand, contain detergent-like surfactants that dissolve oil and dirt and pull lipids from the skin cells.) Cleansing oils are much better for dry skin than foaming cleansers because they protect the lipids that dry skin needs to remain hydrated. In addition, oils are able to remove stubborn makeup and sunscreen, so you also get the benefits of a makeup remover in the same bottle. And unlike other cleansers, it’s best to apply cleansing oil with a cotton ball, and then rinse three times with warm water to remove all of the residue. And best of all, you can skip the moisturizer after cleansing with oil (unless you are super dry)—just don’t forget the sunscreen!

If you’re considering making the switch to an oil cleanser, check out the ones from Shu Uemura. They offer six formulas to suit a variety of skin needs, and if you’re lucky you may be able to scoop up one of their limited-edition bottles!

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