Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil

I feel like it's my personal mission to try every single cleansing oil that hits the drugstores. Why? I have no idea. Well, I take that back. I guess I'm always searching for something that might compare to my beloved holy grail DHC Cleansing Oil, so I pretty much won't stop buying drugstore versions until I find it.

To date, I've reviewed for you the Garnier cleansing oil, The Body Shop chamomile cleansing oil, the DHC cleansing oil and I thought I reviewed the Eclos cleansing oil, but it turns out that I haven't (I like that one quite a bit though, and I think it's one of the closest formulas, performance-wise, to the DHC cleansing oil for me). I have NOT tried the new Simple cleansing oil or the new Burt's Bees cleansing oil, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

Which brings us to this new cleansing oil from Neutrogena...

Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil
(retail: around $8.99, 4.0 oz.)

I picked this up at Walgreens shortly after I posted about it back in June and I've been testing it ever since.

Before I get into this review, I want to mention something to new readers or those who may be new to cleansing oils. I have very oily skin, and I know it seems counter-intuitive to use an oil for cleansing when your skin is already oily. But I have had such great luck with cleansing oils, and I find that some of them actually HELP with curbing oil production. How? Well when oily skin is stripped of all its moisture (by harsh cleansers, etc.), the skin can sometimes overcompensate by producing even MORE oil. If you've ever used a harsh cleanser and noticed that your skin felt extra oily a few hours later, that's exactly what I'm talking about. You skin was more than likely overcompensating for the moisture that was stripped due to that cleanser. So finding a good cleansing oil that completely, yet gently, cleanses the skin may actually help you to maintain an even balance, even if you have oily skin.

Moving on...

Standard pump dispenser


Sorry that I didn't take a photo of this oil on my hand, but there's really nothing to see here. It looks just like baby oil (clear, colorless) and the consistency is on the thin side (not as thick as olive oil--more like jojoba oil). 


If you're new to cleansing oils, make sure both your hands and face are completely dry during application. You only use water AFTER you have applied the oil, to help emulsify and then to rinse.


Those who avoid mineral oil in their skincare are going to want to skip this one, since mineral oil is the main ingredient. Also note that this formula contains small amounts of rosemary leaf extract and green tea leaf extract (Camellia Oleifera Leaf). Rosemary oil can be problematic for some, but it seems that most experts agree that rosemary leaf extract is a good antioxidant for the skin, and of course it is widely-agreed that green tea leaf extract can be very beneficial to the skin. Now whether or not your skin can benefit from small amounts that are applied and then rinsed away is a whole other issue, and one I'm certainly not qualified to debate. 

No country of origin listed on the bottle

I always try to tell you where the products I review here on the blog are made (I know that's very important to some of you), but the country of origin is not printed on this bottle, and I couldn't find this info on the Neutrogena website or the Ulta website.

After using this product every night for over a month now, I can tell you that I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I like it. Is it as good as my beloved DHC cleansing oil? No. But it's closer than any other drugstore cleansing oil I've tried to date.

I had it in my head that, because of the mineral oil, this was going to be a difficult formula to rinse and that my skin would have an oily residue after rinsing. That was my assumption based on the fact that this is how all of the other cleansing oils containing mineral oil have performed for me (including several Korean and Japanese cleansing oils I've used over the years). But there's something in this Neutrogena formula that allows for a very clean rinse, and that was so surprising the first time I used it. It rinses much cleaner for me than the Garnier cleansing oil, and almost as clean as the DHC. In fact, I would say that if your skin is on the dry to very dry end of the spectrum, this MIGHT leave your skin feeling a tad dry/tight. I say that because there have been a few times where, after using this product, my oily skin felt almost on the verge of feeling a tiny bit dry/tight (but not quite).

As for makeup removal, I find this product easily breaks down all of my makeup almost immediately upon contact (my favorite thing about cleansing oils!) and that includes stubborn mascara. I always use Benefit They're Real Mascara as my test since that mascara is very stubborn, and this cleansing oil breaks it down like buttah, no problem. Now, if you're wearing waterproof mascara, waterproof eyeliner, long-wear foundation, primer, the whole nine yards, be prepared to do some serious massaging during application. Cleansing oils take some time to work into the skin, and this one's no exception. I personally find the whole process very relaxing and gratifying, but if you're the type who wants to remove everything as quickly a possible and be done with it, just keep in mind that you do need to devote some time to working this product into the skin and massaging it into every little part of your face before rinsing.

Speaking of rinsing, this product does emulsify a bit when you mix it with water (which should be done only during the final rinse stage). There's no foam or anything crazy like that, but it does feel a little milky once it mixes with the water. When I'm rinsing this product off my face, it doesn't rinse as cleanly as say, a foaming cleanser, but it does rinse away cleaner than the Garnier cleansing oil, as I mentioned above. I feel almost no trace of oil after I'm done rinsing, and after I pat my face dry with a clean towel, my skin feels soft and clean, with no oily, sticky, or greasy residue.

I've tested the efficacy of this cleanser by applying some of my Simple Micellar Water with a cotton pad to my face after cleansing. In almost every case, this cleanser passed the test, leaving no lingering makeup residue behind. There were a couple of times that I did see some lingering foundation near my hairline, but I think that was mostly due to user error (I get lazy when I'm super tired) than anything else.

I also want to mention that I don't see any lingering mascara or eyeliner under my eyes when I use this cleanser, which is something I cannot say for the Garnier or The Body Shop cleansing oils, which both leave me with slight raccoon eyes after cleansing.

As for the fragrance of this cleansing oil, the first time I used it I thought, "Oh, how fun! This smells like candy!" But the more I used it, the more it reminded me of something else. My boyfriend said it sort of reminded him of cherry cough syrup (which totally bummed me out because cherry cough syrup is one of the most disgusting things on the planet to me), and I do no agree with him. It took me a while to place it, but I swear this cleansing oil smells exactly like Classic Cherry ChapStick to me. And I love that scent, so I love this too. It's not strong though, in case you're worried about that. By the time I'm done rinsing, I really can't detect the scent at all.

I also want to mention that, after over a month of use, I haven't noticed any irregular breakouts or irritation, and this cleanser hasn't made my face feel or look more oily than usual (again, I have oily skin to begin with), nor has it dried out my skin.

FINAL VERDICT: This cleansing oil totally exceeded my expectations. If your skin is normal-to-oily and you're looking for a cleansing oil that can remove all of your makeup without leaving any oily residue behind, then you might want to consider giving this one a shot (if you don't mind mineral oil in your skincare). I'm hesitant to say that this will be a good fit for those with dry to very dry skin, only because there have been a few times where my skin ALMOST felt a little dry/tight after use. My skin has never actually felt dry, tight, or parched after using this cleanser, but I can see that if I had dry skin to begin with, this might be an issue. Other than that, I think this might be my favorite drugstore cleansing oil yet, because it doesn't leave any oily residue behind and it really removes my makeup like a champ. Plus, it smells like Cherry ChapStick, and that's never a bad thing (to me, at least).

Do you already own the Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil? If so, how has it been working for you? Do you agree (or disagree) with my assessment? I'd love to hear from you.

The products featured in this post were purchased with personal funds. For more information, click here.
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34 comments

  1. Oh, I'm glad you mentioned the green tea leaf. I'm allergic to green tea in food & drinks & I find that it can even be problematic for me in skincare. Hives. I'll have to pass. Thanks for the review, G!

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    1. Aaaah, well I'm so glad I could help!

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  2. Not a fan of anything scented on my face. Pass

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    1. I totally understand. I can use skincare with fragrance only if it's not knock-your-socks-off strong, so luckily this one isn't! :)

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  3. How does it compare to the eclos one? I'm a fan of the eclos one but it's not as accessible as I'd like...I can only find it at ulta.

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    1. To me, it's very, very similar in terms of its effectiveness at removing makeup. I prefer the scent of the Neutrogena (that's just personal preference though, of course) but I do feel that the Eclos is probably a little bit more gentle if your skin is dry or very dry. That's really the main difference to me, aside from the fragrance. Hope that helps!

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    2. That's what I was going to ask, Karen, so thank you, and thank you, G, for the review.

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    3. You're so welcome, Jammies!

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  4. Bummed that it smells like Cherry (even cherry chapstick), but I'm going to give this a try! I really enjoy the Garnier Cleansing Oil, so maybe I'll like this one even with the smell! Thanks for the heads up.

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    1. You're welcome! I'd love to know what you think if you try it!!

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  5. Sounds like a big winner, nice! And I don't have a problem with mineral oil, so this really sounds great to me.

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    1. Sounds like it might be a good fit? I'd love to know what you think if you try! :)

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  6. Thanks for the review! I have dry skin but I've been wearing Revlon Colorstay foundation this summer and am finding it hard to remove with my usual Olay cleansing cloths, this might be a solution.

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    1. You're welcome, rosarita! Since you have dry skin, I'd be really curious to know how this one works for you!

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  7. How timely! I ran out of makeup wipes last night and am going to Ulta when I get off work this morning. Now to decide between this one and Eclos...

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    1. I think it comes down to scent (the Eclos is more herbal...I get lavender and rosemary, while the Neutrogena is more candy like). And also, if you have dry skin, the Eclos may be a bit more gentle. I'm curious which one you end up with!

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  8. I picked up the burt's bees one a couple of weeks ago at ulta, and I love it. It's been great on non clarisonic nights. Saw this one too, but neutrogena products haven't been great for my skin in the past.

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    1. Ooooh, that's great to hear! Thanks for the feedback. Can't wait to try it!

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  9. Thanks for this in depth review. I've only tried the Garnier cleansing oil so far, and I really like it. But I'm in search of a formula that rinses a little bit more cleaner, so the Neutrogena may be a better fit for me.

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    1. You're so welcome, Wendy. I'd love to know how you think this one compares, if you try it!

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    2. It's wonderful....doesn't smell as good as the Garnier stuff, but really does the job, and my dry skin feels wonderful the next morning, still moist and fresh. I haven't been able to ind Garnier in quite a while, so this is wonderful to have. And for me, it totally works for dry older skin!

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  10. Garnier has pretty much been HG for me since you reviewed it. I will definitely have to give this a go when I shop for cleanser next. G, did you notice if the bottle leaks? Garnier leaks enough this have to store it on folded tissues and I don't travel with it.

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    1. No leaking for me, Robin! :) And I would love to know how you think this one compares to the Garnier if you try!

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  11. Does leaves a film on your face?

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    1. Nope! I talk about that in detail in my post (toward the bottom) if you'd like more info. :)

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  12. Thanks for the review! I would love to know what you think of the Simple cleansing oil.

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    1. You're welcome! As soon as I get my hands on it, I'll test and review! :)

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  13. Pretty sure I'm a permanent convert to the cleansing oil concept. Standing over the sink, I don't want to have to rinse away suds (I have used other makeup removers that are creamy like St Ives, etc, those are fine). I like massaging on the oil and taking as long or as little time as I feel like with that. Then I rinse with one of those wonder cloth things that you can get at Bed Bath and Beyond (boo hiss that the 2nd one I bought was smaller in size than the 1st).

    I've probably said this before in my comments, but Boscia's seems to be my HG. But I also like to try the others out and save the Boscia one. I've got the Garnier and Eclos, and they are fine, I just prefer the Boscia. I would gladly try any of the other drugstore ones if I could remember to look for them/find them...

    So keep it coming on the cleansing oil info/reviews! You are my resource!! :D

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  14. A few years ago I tried the "oil cleansing method" where you make your own mix of castor oil and another oil such as grape seed, almond, olive, etc. What is really surprising is that castor oil is actually very drying, it really digs into the pores and does a great job of cleaning the gunk out! I tried ratios of 75% almond and 25% castor, and even less castor but still it made me really irritated and peely. I have a friend who has more oily acne prone skin and she's been using this method with great results. If I have a period where my skin seems "congested," I'll do a little oil cleansing and it seems to help a lot. It sounds like the cleansing oils are a marketed pre made version of the oil cleansing method. I've given up trying new cleansers and moisturizers because my skin just won't tolerate much of anything, but these are a nice alternative for some people!

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  15. I just noticed in the latest Ultra catalog that Pacifica now has a cleansing oil! I sampled a mini tube of their Sea Foam Coconut face wash and loved it. I only use the oil route on heavier MU days and the only ones I've used are dhc (was a rippy packet from years ago when it came with the catalog,) Josie Maran, and eclos. I do love everything about the eclos (that whole line smells divine.) I need to try the dhc again, as I didn't use it properly. It was many years ago and I just brought it in the shower and used it on a wet face...d'oh!

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  16. Have you tried the L'Occitane immortelle cleansing oil? I like it better than DHC.

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  17. Great review! I am combination/dry, and not a fan of mineral oil so I will avoid for now. I would LOVE to see you end this series of cleansing oil reviews with a ranking Best to Least for a quick visual in the re-cap. Kind of like Top Gear when they do the road test.

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  18. Is there any problem with this if it gets into your eyes? I wear contacts and am somewhat concerned about how this stuff is if it gets into your eyes or onto your contact lenses.

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