Cheapie but Goodie: Garnier Cleansing Oil/Comparison to Asian Cleansing Oils

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

$8 at drugstores
I've been waiting to see this product on drugstore shelves for a long time. I first tried the cult classic (and original!) Shu Uemura one maybe six or seven years ago, and since then, cleansing oils have been my favorite way of removing makeup. I'm giving huge brownie points to Garnier for integrating Asian skincare into their line, especially considering they were the first drugstore brand to have a BB cream (post) out.

I've been using this oil for almost a month now, partially because I like to thoroughly test before writing a review, but also because this is unlike my usual cleansing oils of choice. The difference you'll first notice is that this oil has a very strong scent--and it's not a floral or light fragrance, it is a purely candy-sweet kind of smell. The scent doesn't seem like a big deal (and it's really not), but it completely threw me the first time I used it, and even now there's something weird about putting something that smells so sugary all over my face.

In terms of texture, the oil is most notably lighter and slippier than the other cleansing oils I've tried (Shu Uemura, Kanebo Sensai, and the regular DHC as well as the Pore Cleansing DHC), which is largely why I tested it for so long. There's something about this that seems to not be as powerful, or as hefty as the other cleansing oils I'm familiar with. The lightness I'm referring to is more about what's in the product, as it's light in a very synthetic way.

If any of you have used a cleansing oil, then you'll be familiar with how the oil cuts through the makeup, and as you massage the product into your face, the makeup literally separates and breaks up. I'm not someone who follows a cleansing oil with a round of Bioderma on a cotton pad to check that all my makeup has been removed, because with a cleansing oil, you can see it coming off. You can actually see your foundation and war paints of choice rise to the surface of your skin, so you know the oil is thoroughly removing everything. With both versions of the DHC, the Sensai and even the Shu (though it's been a few years since I last used it), it takes a mere matter of seconds for that to happen. The oils cuts through and forces the makeup to the surface almost on contact--you can see it right away. With the Garnier, however, I had to spend several weeks testing it, because that wasn't my experience with the product. The drugstore option doesn't have as much weight to it, which makes it less efficient, as you have to massage this in for a bit before you see makeup separation. It still works (I even did a sweep of Bioderma afterwards to confirm that all the makeup was gone) but removal just requires a bit more effort.

In terms of the light texture I was talking about, the lightness is, again, in a very specifically synthetic way--like the oil particles are looser, somehow and not as strong. I would rank my Asian cleansing oils (from heaviest to lightest) as: DHC, DHC Pore Cleansing, Shu Uemura (they discontinued the one I used), and Kanebo Sensai, and the Garnier is even lighter than that. But it's not lighter in a necessarily good way, as there's something a bit questionable about the ultra-slippy nature of the drugstore option. You wouldn't notice it if it was the only cleansing oil you used, but it definitely doesn't feel as substantial as its Asian predecessors. 

Makeup removal with the Garnier also seems to require a bit more product, because the oil sort of absorbs as you massage it into the skin, so you typically need to add more as you go. While it does take a bit longer to see the lift and breakup of my foundation, it's equally efficient at taking off my long-wearing eyeliner and waterproof mascara as the Asian cleansing oils. None of the oils irritate my eyes (Garnier included), but they all tend to make my vision cloudy when I use them while wearing my contacts. (I'm a real idiot for removing eye makeup with my contacts in. Please don't). 

This rinses off cleanly, and leaves my face nice and comfortable, and has the added benefit of making my skin feel softer than all the other Asian oils. I should also mention that mineral oil is the second ingredient listed on the Garnier, but as someone who breaks out in milia when mineral oil sits on my skin, I haven't had any problems with this (probably because I wash my face with a different cleanser afterwards). Mineral oil is listed first on the Sensai cleansing oil, and is in some Shu oils and not others, so if you're trying to steer clear of that particular ingredient, try the original or Pore Cleansing DHC oil. 

The final verdict?: This drugstore option is not quite as efficient as its Asian counterparts and requires more product, but it still does a thorough job at removing makeup. If it had just a bit more heft to it, I really couldn't fault this product, but because it feels more synethic in its light texture, I do find myself reaching for my Asian cleansing oils more. However, it is still a solid cleansing oil on its own, and as it's sold in drugstores, it's clearly got my Asian imports beat in availability (not to mention price!). If you're incredibly finicky about texture like I am, then you may be put off by how this can feel synthetic (in which case I recommend Sensai Kanebo), but if you're not that fussy or perceptive, and are watching your budget, the Garnier Cleansing Oil is a good option. 

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to see such niche and Asian skincare coming to the drugstores!

Keep it up, Garnier!


  1. Such a great review! I've only tried cleansing oils for my eyes and lips because I have very oily skin, so I'm always afraid.
    It's good news that the drugstore brands are starting to have more Asian beauty type products and that they work to some extent.But when it comes to availabilty, the drugstore products are far better!

    1. Oooh, which oils have you tried, Alexandra? I hear good things about the MAC one, but I've never tried it--(I'm a little too biased towards the Asian oils!).

      I have crazzzzzyyyy oily skin too, and I use this all over my face almost every night! I totally understand your concerns, but remember that you wash your face with a separate cleanser afterwards (feel free to use an oil-fighting one if it makes you feel better) so it's not like the oil's sitting on your skin.

      It's not at all like putting an oil on your face as a moisturizer (which I can't stand), since it rinses off so cleanly and you wash again.

      Seriously, consider giving it a try! =)