I started using cleansing oil for the first time about a year and a half ago—definitely late to the party! Silly me, I didn’t start off with a Korean brand, but with Josie Maran.
As a 30-something, my formative years were mostly in the early to mid-90s, and as a result I am strongly partial to the supermodels of that period—Shalom Harlow, Cindy Crawford, Tyra Banks, and Niki Taylor are among my favorites—and few of the modern crop do much for me. (This is how I know I’m getting old.) One model I especially adored, who was often spotted in Maybelline advertisements, was Josie Maran.
Anyway, I recognized the name straight away when I saw her line of argan oil-based skincare at Sephora—Josie Maran Cosmetics was launched in 2007—and after a little review-reading, I picked up a 3-piece Argan Skincare Ritual set that came with deluxe sizes of her cleansing oil, moisturizer, and argan oil.
If you’re familiar with my blog, you probably know that I am a total sloth when it comes to finishing up beauty products. It just takes me forever. So my little deluxe bottle of Argan Cleansing Oil, which was a mere 1.9 oz / 55 mL, is still with me now. I think I might have about 5–10 uses left. I don’t use it every day, which is kind of a bad idea with a product that expires fairly quickly.
Since it was my first ever cleansing oil, it took some getting used to. Even now, I’ve only tried two cleansing oils, the other being Korea’s The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil (though I do have a sample of Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil lying around somewhere), so I can only compare the two products against each another.
Josie Maran’s cleansing oil is a much thicker consistency, feeling almost like a liquid honey. The scent is, honestly, a little off-putting to me. It’s supposed to smell like citrus (and I’m a bigtime citrus lover), but to me it just smells like a citrus-scented household cleaner. The only highly fragrant ingredient in the product is grapefruit seed oil, and maybe the olive oil, though that’s even farther down the ingredient list, so I suppose I just don’t the scent of grapefruit seed! Some people seem to like the fragrance, though, so obviously YMMV.
Ingredients (from Josie Maran):
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil**, Polysorbate-80**, Polysorbate-20**, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil**, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil*, Citrus Grandis (Pomelo Grapefruit) Seed Oil**, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil**, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil**, Tocopherol, Sucralose**
*Certified Organic Ingredient
For those who don’t know, cleansing oils consist of oil and an emulsifier which allows the oil to mix with water so you can rinse off the cleanser. Same kind of thing as mixing an egg into cake batter: the egg white contains lecithin, an emulsifier. In this product, the two polysorbate ingredients are the emulsifiers. The tocopherol at the end of the list provides vitamin E action. I don’t know what Splenda (sucralose) is doing in there, though! EWG.org says it can be used for “skin conditioning”.
I found using this product a little tricky, at first. If I used too little, the product didn’t seem to emulsify properly and I had to wash with a normal cleanser to remove it from my face. If I used too much, it would take a long time to emulsify everything and rinse it off. On days that I had more makeup on, I would require more product, but it was always a little hard to tell exactly how much cleansing oil I’d need. Honestly, it was just kind of a pain to use.
For what it’s worth, the company tells you to use 3–4 pumps of product. The full-sized bottle comes with a pump; my smaller bottle did not, so I can’t review the pump action and recommended usage amount.
Oh, and by the way, don’t get this stuff in your mouth—kind of hard to do since it’s an oil and slips all over the place, especially when emulsifying—as it tastes pretty bitter and gross!
Worst of all, the product’s shelf life is pretty short (for me). My sample bottle doesn’t have an expiry date on it, but since all of Josie Maran’s products are “chemical free” (her words! Come on, every damn thing in your products is a chemical, even water!) they don’t have preservatives in them. Oils tend to go off pretty quickly, too. I found that after about six months, the consistency of the cleansing oil started to change. It began to thicken and get a bit stickier, which meant that it became more difficult to spread over the skin without too much tugging. The original formulation was already a bit syrupy, though, so overall I am not a fan of the thicker consistency of this product. What I’ve been doing lately, to use up the last bit of this cleansing oil I have, is to mix it a little with The Face Shop’s cleansing oil which, by comparison, is very liquidy and runny. They actually mix pretty well!
As for the actual cleansing, when I do get the amount of cleansing oil required correct, this stuff cleanses well. I occasionally test with some micellar water after my cleansing and when I use this cleansing oil, the pad always comes away white and looking very makeup-less, so I feel like my skin is quite clean. It doesn’t feel totally stripped after cleansing, either, so that is a bonus. I have found with a lot of regular cleansers that if they clean well, my skin ends up too dry, and if they keep my skin moisturized, then they don’t clean well enough. This cleansing oil does a great job in both departments. I think it actually performs better than The Face Shop’s, as well.
However, it has enough drawbacks that I think I’d rather test out several other cleansing oils before repurchasing this one.
Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil is 6 oz / 180 mL (mine was a smaller size from a skincare set) and retails for US$32 / CA$40. There is no mention on my bottle (or on the official website) of where the product is made; however, many Josie Maran products on QVC state that they are made in the USA.
Josie Maran Cosmetics was launched in 2007 by supermodel Josie Maran. The company is eco-friendly and at least some products are cruelty-free and vegan. They favor fair trade practices: “Whenever possible, we source our materials in ways that support the people and the land that produce them. For example, our [organic] Argan Oil is sustainably harvested and pressed by women’s co-ops in Morocco. These co-ops offer economic and social empowerment to their members, who work to protect argan forests.” Josie Maran is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA.