Korea’s New Wave of Cleansing: the Cleansing Oil + Water Hybrid

When it comes to face wash, there are seemingly infinite options. If you want to cleanse your face like a French woman, there are micellar waters. And cleansing oils had their big craze a few years back. But what’s emerging out on the market here in Korea is a new category, a hybrid of the two: the cleansing oil water.

The intention is to combine the strong makeup removing properties of a cleansing oil with the refreshing finish of a micellar water. Oil draws out oil-based impurities like makeup, sebum, and sunscreen without stripping the skin of its natural oils while the tiny cleansing balls in micellar water attract dirt and makeup.

Why try it out? By combining essentially two mechanisms of cleansing, an oil water cleanser is more thorough than just an oil cleanser and keeps skin more hydrated than just a water cleanser. It’s a good option for those who find certain cleansing waters too drying.

How to Use

  1. Shake bottle so water and oil are thoroughly mixed.
  2. Pour onto a cotton pad till adequately soaked.
  3. Swipe across face, moving from the center of the face outwards.
  4. To remove lip and eye make-up, press cotton pad on lips or closed eyes for 5-10 seconds and then wipe clean.
Image via make p:rem

There are only around six on the market at this point in the time, but it’s particularly telling that Korea’s road shop heavy hitters Etude House and Innisfree have come out with affordable cleansing water oils in the past few months. Here we’ve rounded up all the cleansing oil waters currently out in Korea.

1. Etude House Monster Oil in Cleansing Water

Image via Etude House

Based on Etude House’s popular Monster Micellar Cleansing Water, this product is indeed strong as labelled. Across Korean reviews and blogs, this is the cleansing oil water that removes concealer, lip products, and mascara most thoroughly.

Good for: A strong makeup remover at a low price point

Etude House Monster Oil in Cleansing Water, 300 ml $12 or ₩9000

2. Make P:rem Radiance Me Cleansing Water Oil

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Image via make p:rem

Two parts oil and eight parts water, this cleanser is praised for its strong makeup removing ability, light texture, and moisturizing but non-oily finish. It’s also free of any hazardous ingredients according to Environmental Working Group (EWG) standards, so it’s least likely to irritate.

Good for: An all-around high performing cleanser with gentle ingredients

Make P:rem Radiance Me Cleansing Water Oil, 400 ml $30 or ₩24,000

3. Innisfree Micellar Oil Water

Image via Innisfree

For those who’ve experienced stinging in their eyes with micellar waters, this cleanser is formulated with a pH similar to tears to give a tear-free experience. The formula is intentionally gentle making this more suitable for those who wear light makeup.

Good for: A mild cleanser for non-heavy makeup at a low price point

Innisfree Micellar Oil Water 200 ml, $9 or ₩8000

4. Happy Bath Micro 2.5 Micellar Oil in Cleansing Water

happy bath
Image via Happy Bath

Allure Korea’s April 2018 Editor Pick, this cleanser specifically targets Korea’s fine dust pollution. The formula gives a deep cleanse to pick up icky micro pollutants from the air while ginger and yuzu extract soothe skin after a day out.

Good for: A soothing cleanser that targets fine dust pollution

Happy Bath Micro 2.5 Micellar Oil in Cleansing Water, 400 ml $14 or ₩15,000 won

5. The Saem Green Tea Oil in Cleansing Water


Image via the SAEM

Vitamin E and Chamomile flower extract and their antioxidant properties upgrade the Saem’s popular Green Tea Cleansing Water. The drawback is that it can leave a bit of an oily finish, which might warrant an extra cleansing step.

Good for: The most affordable option

the SAEM Green Tea Oil in Cleansing Water, 300 ml $8 or ₩8000

6. Isoi Rinsing Off Your Day Cleansing Water Oil

Image via isoi

Isoi is another brand known for its incredibly gentle formulas with an emphasis on natural ingredients and a EWG-free formula. Their cleansing water oil is the most expensive on the list but contains a host of good ingredients to boost your skin in the process. Allantoin promotes cell regeneration and softens skin making it ripe for moisture absorption.  Chamomile extract calms skin while panthenol revitalizes and hydrates skin

Good for: A gentle formulation with high moisturizing and anti-aging properties

isoi Rinsing Off Your Day Cleansing Water Oil, 145 ml ₩39,000

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