Zoë Foster Blake: Why I Made An Oil Cleanser.

Back in 2004, as a euphoric young beauty editor and heavy, experimental makeup-wearer, I discovered cleansing oils. I found tremendous joy in, a) using them at the end of each day to remove everything I’d tried on that day, (and that was often a LOT), and b) yelling at my friends and readers to also use them. Oil cleansers work.

Back then oil cleansing was a bit of a beauty secret, performed mainly by diehard skin care enthusiasts, or Japanese women who’d being quietly oil cleansing since the ‘60s. But cleansing oils are now widely available, and as we’ve evolved into intense 12-step skin care/makeup routines, never have they been more essential.

It sounds counter-intuitive, cleansing with oil. 

But oil cleansers don’t make your skin oily, nor do they clog pores. What they do, is attract oil, and in doing so, dissolve all your make up, SPF, dirt and excess sebum, leaving you with lovely clean skin, minus the over drying and tightness (often the cause of excess oil production.) 

Oil cleansers penetrate pores to remove grime and bacteria (a big cause of congestion), and they replenish the skin with vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Oil cleansers maintain healthy oil levels, and keep the skin hydrated and balanced. They are as essential for a 20 year-old doing full baking/contouring/smoky eyes, as they are a 65-year old wearing nothing more than Vitamin C, sunscreen, and BB cream, and a 35 year-old with sensitive skin, breakouts, and dry patches. 

Here’s why I love oil cleansers: 

  • They thoroughly remove all makeup, (even long-wearing and waterproof), sunscreen (even zinc) and all the grime and oil that accumulates/secretes during the day
  • They’re super replenishing and skin softening 
  • They act as solvents, dissolving excess oils and makeup on the skin, meaning the dirt can simply be wiped off the surface without removing the natural, good oils 
  • Oil absorbs oil, which means oil cleansers really effectively remove dirt from the skin
  • They replace the ‘dirty’ oils that accumulate on the face with nourishing, replenishing oils, leaving the skin, soft and hydrated 
  • They never strip the skin, or leave it tight or dry, making them ideal for dry skin, or anyone over 35 who needs more a bit more hydration now, thank you very much
  • They can balance oily skins. Remember: if you’re giving your skin too little oil (oily skins tend to avoid products with oil) your skin starts overproducing sebum to compensate, and you get oilier skin, plus congestion/clogged pores, gah!

Getting to create my own dream cleansing oil, and incorporate our high standard of clean, safe ingredients, with our experience in, and track record of oils, was a wonderful ride. 

The two main drivers were, 1) we make a zinc SPF product, and we need our customers to be able to feel they can remove it swiftly and easily, and 2) I am a 39-year old woman with cute little crinkles settling into her dry skin, and I wanted to cleanse with something nourishing, so I made a product I wanted. As usual.

Now, obviously we already make a cleanser, and it’s called Properly Clean, because it properly cleans the face. And it really does. Our sell through rate proves it. But if you’re wearing heavy makeup or SPF, or have a drier skin, then you might want to bring in a pre-cleanse oil to do some of the heavy lifting, first. (Literally.)

The result is Fancy Face, an exquisite botanical makeup remover and cleanser in one, which nourishes and hydrates the skin, and makes you – and your face – feel a bit posh. It leaves no residue, just plump, clean, soft skin that smells like a day spa in Fancypants Town. There are no surfactants or irritants, just a glorious blend of five plant and nut oils to clean and replenish your skin.

We combined oils that deeply clean the skin and dissolve makeup, but are also skin softening and deeply hydrating, thanks to the combination of antioxidants and essential fatty acids. (Skin care built in to a cleanser? Fancy!)

Efficacy aside, there is also a lovely ceremony and self-care element that comes with oil cleansing. We purposefully created a very luscious, soothing (completely natural) fragrance for Fancy Face, to inspire calm, and encourage you to really enjoy the 1-2 minutes it takes to massage, compress and remove the oil. It’s cleansing, but fancy.

How do you use Fancy Face?

  1. Start with a face. One that is dry, or wearing a lot of makeup and/or SPF is ideal.
  2. Pump some cleansing oil into your hands and massage all over your DRY face for 30-60 seconds, until it is massaged in. Massage over your eyes! It won’t get in them and annoy you, like some oils, it will simply remove all the makeup, and leave you clean-eyed and soft skinned. 
  3. Take a warm-hot face cloth and (for bonus points push it on to face for ten seconds or so, to compress the oils into the skin) wipe all the oil off the face with the cloth.
  4. Follow on with Properly Clean for a double clean, or, just move on to your toner and skin care if your skin feels happy, clean and soft. 

I generally only oil cleanse at night, but know many who start the day with an oil cleanse to remove the sebum that accumulates over night, and make the skin plump for makeup application.

Who is a good candidate for Fancy Face?

  • Those wearing a lot of makeup, or long wear makeup
  • Those with dry or dehydrated skin
  • Those over 35, or wanting more nourishment from their cleanser
  • Those wearing mineral sunscreen, or in fact any sunscreen
  • Those who have reapplied sunscreen multiple times throughout the day
  • Those who prefer a double cleanse at night (for better post-cleanse skin care penetration, and a deeper cleanse)
  • People who love great smelling, nice feeling things on their face.

Fun fact: In my seven years of creating skin care products and giving out samples for friends and family to try, I’ve never had a response like this. And I reckon 80% of them had never used an oil cleanser before. So many aggressive texts about WHEN IS IT ON SALE FOR GOD’S SAKE I HAVE RUN OUT AND CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT HURRY UP, which was really validating and also a bit scary.

I hope you love it as much as those sweet dingdongs do!

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