Tested on animals:Yes
Cleansing oils are increasing in popularity as a gentle way for people to remove dirt and makeup while adding moisture back to skin (although for the record, lots of water soluble, oil-free cleansers are gentle and non-drying). Bobbi Brown's Soothing Cleansing Oil definitely works without making skin feel dry, but the inclusion of a couple of potentially iffy fragrance ingredients means it only earns an average rating.
Soothing Cleansing Oil comes in a large, clear plastic bottle with a pump-style dispenser. It's convenient packaging, because it helps control the amount of oil that comes out. The oil itself is lightweight and spreads across the face easily, removing both dirt and makeup. Bobbi Brown recommends rinsing this off with warm water, though unless you use another cleanser you'll have a small amount of residue left over. That's a good thing for dry skin, though those with oily or combination skin will likely want something that rinses a bit cleaner.
As far as the main ingredients go, this is comprised of emollients and plant oils, such as jojoba, olive, and sunflower seed oils. Though Bobbi Brown advertises the jasmine flower extract this contains, it doesn't have any special benefit, and is most likely included to impart fragrance.
Speaking of fragrance, the reason Soothing Cleansing Oil earns an average rating is because of its inclusion of lavender. What kind of lavender, you ask? Bobbi Brown only has it listed as "lavender" in the ingredients, so it's unclear exactly what part of the plant is being used (whether it's a leaf extract, flower extract, or the more potent lavender oil).
You can definitely smell it as soon as you dispense this oil, though again, it's not clear what part of the lavender plant is used in the formula. One thing is clear: Lavender can be a potential skin irritant, and considering that some of this oil will remain on skin even after it's rinsed, it's something to keep in mind, particularly if you have sensitive skin (see More Info for details on why even a little lavender oil in skincare products can cause skin damage).
If Bobbi Brown Soothing Cleansing Oil had left out the fragrance ingredients, it definitely would have earned a higher rating—perhaps even the highest! As it stands, it doesn't get our enthusiastic recommendation. We suggest instead one of the options on our list of Best Cleansers.
- Packaging is convenient.
- Lightweight oil removes both dirt and makeup without leaving skin dry and tight.
- Contains some good non-fragrant plant oils for dry skin.
- Contains lavender (possibly in oil form), a potential skin irritant.
Lavender Oil: In-vitro research indicates that components of lavender, specifically linalool and linalyl acetate, can be cytotoxic, which means that topical application of as little a concentration as 0.25% causes cell death (Cell Proliferation, June 2004). This study was conducted on endothelial cells, which are cells that line blood pathways in the body and play a critical role in the inflammatory process of skin.
As linalool and linalyl acetate are both rapidly absorbed by skin and can be detected within blood cells in less than 20 minutes, endothelial cells are an ideal choice for such a test (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, 1992). The results of this research also demonstrated that lavender has a damaging effect on fibroblasts, which are cells that produce collagen.
The fragrance constituents in lavender oil, linalool and linalyl acetate, oxidize when exposed to air, and in this process their potential for causing an allergic reaction is increased (Contact Dermatitis, 2008).
If you're wondering why lavender oil doesn't appear to be problematic for you, it's because research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it happening for your skin to suffer damage (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).