I used to live with a girl who was manically obsessed with cleansiness and organization and who, following a trip to Italy, came back with a suitcase full of not only cashmere tights and Schoko-Bons, but also pens, containers, and storage tools she had purchased from a “Japanese, brand-less store” called Muji. This was my first introduction to Muji, a few years before Muji opened their first US flagship store in SF, and I’ve been obsessed ever since.
Muji is what I want to be when I grow up. I’m totally convinced that by buying their functional yet minimalist goodies, I will somehow turn into someone who has all her shit together in the most tasteful manner. Yet, it’s taken me years to finally give their skincare line I try. I guess because my skin is so problematic, I was worried Muji’s products would prove ill-suited for my skin, and I’d have to face the fact that Muji is less perfect than I had built it up to be in my head.
A few months ago, I spotted this cleansing oil while shopping for furniture, considered how unhappy I was with the cleanser I was then using, and figured why not? The rest is, as they say, history.
At a Glance
MUJI OIL CLEANSING (SENSITIVE SKIN SERIES)
Size: 200ML, but also available in travel size (50ml) and extra large (400ml)
Price: $15.50 at Muji stores and online.
Packaging: Transparent, plastic pump bottle
Fragrance: Smells like olive oil
Color: Pale yellow
Texture: Thick, viscous oil
UPDATE: There are multiple versions of the sensitive skin cleansing oil and Muji makes it extremely difficult and confusing to figure out which is which. Read more here.
Acne Triggers & Irritants: Olive oil (2), Octyl Palmitate (4), Sorbitan Oleate (3), Tocopherol (2), and Butylene Glycol (1) flagged as acne triggers; Octyl Palmitate (1) and Tocopherol (2) are potential irritants
Full Ingredients: Olive Oil, Octyl Palmitate, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polysorbate, Sorbitan Oleate, Water, Pentylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Glycosyl Trehalose, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Glycerin, Polyquaternium-51, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Purslane (Portulaca Olearcea) Extract
Somewhat unfortunately, this cleansing oil is a great example of how ingredients are only one variable in how well (or poorly) a product performs. At first glance, there are two major issues with the ingredients of this oil.
First, this cleansing oil contains quite a few acne triggers as identified by cosdna. Secondly, the main ingredient is olive oil, which despite the fact that it is all natural and edible, has somewhat of a challenged reputation in skincare. In particular, this study comparing the topical effects of olive oil and sunflower oil demonstrate that 4 weeks of applying olive oil topically caused a significant reduction in stratum corneum integrity and induced mild erythema in volunteers with and without a history of atopic dermatitis.
And so, at first glance, we seem to have an oil that may cause/exacerbate acne and/or damage skin’s natural barrier. Yet, as someone with super dry, acneic, easily inflammed, and occassionally sensitive skin, I have not experienced any issues with this oil on either the acne or irritation front. I think there are two important thing to keep in mind when looking over these ingredients: Cosdna is NOT a perfect guide – I think I’ve mentioned before that my two main acne triggers both have a rating of 0 – and also in cleansers the effects of constituent ingredients are diminished because the product does not stay on your skin for long enough to do much of anything. If you have very acne-prone skin (and even if you don’t because there’s no telling what your skin might react to), patch test thoroughly and introduce this into your routine carefully. But as a whole, I think this is a fantastic oil, despite its ingredients.
Pic 1: hand with foundation, 2 types of eyeliner, lip crayon, and a bunch of eyeshadows. Pic 2: hand with makeup and a few drops of cleansing oil. Pic 3: oil cleansing has dissolved all makeup except a bit of eyeliner. Pic 4: hand after oil has been rinsed off. Notice the trace amounts of eyeliner from pic 3 has fully come off.
All I want from oil cleansers is for them to remove makeup thoroughly and rinse off cleanly without doing something bad to my skin, which sounds simple enough, right? The five cleansing oils I’ve tried prior to this one would either cause my skin to breakout, not remove makeup fully, leave behind cleanser residue after rinsing, or dry my skin out. By the time I had gotten around to trying this oil, my expectations for oil cleansers were basically nonexistent – if it didn’t break me out, I could live with it.
Happily, the Muji Gods are merciful and kind! This oil not only checks all of my requirements, but exceeds them!
Makeup comes off with remarkable ease. I don’t wear eyeliner frequently, but when I do I require one that can withstand my constant eye rubbing, which means they tend to be difficult to remove. The Muji oil can get all my eyeliner off with the gentlest of rubs, no tugging required!
Texturally, this oil does not feel like any other cleansing oil I’ve tried. It is thick and behaves and feels almost as a thick gel might behave. If you frequently struggle with oil dripping on your floors, running into your eyes, or just overall not staying in place, you must try this oil. It’s not so thick that it’s hard to apply – I actually use less of this oil than I do with most cleansing oils I’ve used if that is any indication – but once you’ve spread it around your face, it stays put pretty well.
Not only does this oil washes off fully, without leaving a trace of residue, and does so in such a lovely manner. Upon contact with water, this oil seems to BLOOM, becoming a bit thicker and creamier at first before giving way to a thinner milky, liquid texture. The whole experience of cleansing with this oil, from beginning to end, feels very luxurious!
The area of the (gross looking) oil X makeup mixture that is whitish is where it has come in contact with water. As mentioned, this oil turns milky when it emulsifies.
My only complaint with this oil is that it smells a bit like olive oil. I don’t mind the smell, but I also don’t love it, and I can’t help feeling this oil deserves to smell as remarkable as it performs. Other than this, this oil would be as close to reaching holy grail status as anything else I’ve ever tried. If you’ve read my blog a lot, you may have noticed I never use the phrase Holy Grail because to me, something labelled as such needs to be so perfect and impossible to improve upon that I declare my undying loyalty to it. I’m not quite there with this oil. There are two other cleansing oils I have my eye on before I’m willing to settle on this category, but it’s very, very close to that point.
I love this oil. It’s a easy and pleasant to use cleansing oil that does everything a cleansing oil should.
Disclaimer: Product purchased by me. No affiliate links are used.