Tata Harper Swears by This Hydrating and Brightening Skincare Step

When beauty founder Tata Harper was young, her family passed down their beauty secrets. One of them was the power of using an oil cleanser. You may have heard of double cleansing, but it’s not just another buzzy beauty trend that will die out or get debunked. It’s an ancient ritual that has been treasured for centuries in many cultures. And now, oil cleansers are everywhere.

“Double-cleansing dates back as far as the 14th century and originated in Asia,” Tata Harper told me. “Women would use a cleansing oil to remove their heavy makeup and follow with a foaming cleanser. This practice has been a staple in many Asian beauty routines for centuries and was introduced to me through my beauty-obsessed grandmother and mother in Colombia.”

Featured Image by Riley Reed

“Oil cleansing is for everyone.”

Tata Harper

Oil cleansers, like many good things, are often underrated or misunderstood. You might be hesitant to add another step to your beauty routine. Or, you might wonder can another cleanser really make a difference?

But once you start oil cleansing, you won’t want to go back. Cleansing is the first step of your routine — you want to make sure you’re doing it right. Otherwise, all the fancy serums and beauty trends won’t make a difference.

The potential benefits of oil cleansing include:

  • Lifts excess sebum
  • Prevents breakouts
  • Gently clears makeup and SPF
  • Detoxes clogged pores
  • Nourishes skin
  • Prevents dryness
  • Removes dry, dead skin flakes

To learn more, I spoke to Tata Harper about why we should all start oil cleansing. Then, I tried some of the best oil cleansers for myself. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is an oil cleanser?

Oil Cleansing is the practice of washing your face with an oil-based cleanser rather than a traditional cleanser. It’s commonly utilized in the form of double cleansing which involves using an oil cleanser followed by a more traditional cleanser.

An oil cleanser is amazing for removing that first layer of buildup on your skin like dirt, oil, and SPF. It’s also a fantastic makeup remover that nourishes your skin while cleansing, unlike some other harsh makeup removers that rely on synthetic ingredients to cleanse skin.

Are oil cleansers better than other cleansers?

I don’t think it’s a matter of better or worse, but rather personal preference and skin care goals. I think oil cleansing is most effective when it is used in tandem with a more traditional cleanser to really make sure your skin is clean and you aren’t just going through the motions of washing your face.

Is there a type of oil cleanser for each skin type? Can oily skin use an oil cleanser?

Oil cleansers are suitable for all skin types and actually an excellent choice for oily skin types. It’s a common misconception that using an oil cleanser with already oily skin with exacerbate the issue when it is actually incredibly beneficial in controlling oily skin. When your skin is oily, it’s often a signal that your skin is craving moisture and needs this extra nourishment and care.

Is oil cleansing good for pores?

Yes! Oil cleansing is great for pores because it lifts excess sebum, the oily substance your skin produces that causes acne when not properly addressed. Using a cleansing oil helps dissolve this oily, waxy substance and other debris left on the face from the day. 

Image by Belathee Photography

Who should avoid oil cleansing?

Oil cleansing is for everyone. Oftentimes people with oily skin think that using a cleansing oil will increase their oiliness, but it’s actually the opposite. When the skin is overproducing oil, it means that it is craving nourishment and hydration, which makes using an oil cleanser an excellent choice. 

How often should I oil cleanse?

I use our Nourishing Oil Cleanser every single night. It’s my first step in my skincare routine so I can be sure I’m removing all of the build-up that has accumulated on my skin. Oil cleansing is suitable for everyday use and can be used in place of a traditional makeup remover or micellar water.

What are the best ingredients in cleansing oil? Are there any ingredients to avoid?

The best ingredients to utilize in cleansing oils are non-comedogenic carrier oils like Sunflower Seed, Jojoba, and Grapeseed oil. It’s important to include only non-comedogenic ingredients to prevent any clogged pores. Antioxidants like Vitamin E and Green Tea Oil are also amazing ingredients to formulate cleansing oils with because they help to protect the skin from free radical damage and provide additional healing skin benefits. Botanical extracts like our farm-grown calendula help soothe and nourish skin when included in cleansing oils.

I Tried It — Which Oil Cleansers are worth the hype

I’ve been using oil cleansers for years and I’ve developed a small obsession. And, subsequently, a small collection. I oil cleanse with a different cleanser every night depending on my skin’s needs: removing makeup, clearing breakouts, or reviving tight (and admittedly, over-exfoliated) skin. And on a low-maintenance night, I even just treat my skin to a quick oil cleanse and leave it at that. Whether you’re oil cleanser-curious or looking for a new oil cleanser to replace your latest empty, here are some of the best oil cleansers for every skin type.

Best Oil Cleanser for Dull or Dehydrated Skin — Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser

This is the oil cleanser I turn to when my skin looks dull and feels dehydrated. Its blend of vitamins and botanicals makes my skin feel clean, without stripping it. I especially like this for dehydrated skin, since it includes barrier-building ingredients like jojoba oil and squalane, plus antioxidants for brighter, stronger skin. Plus, Tata uses it every single night before bed!

Best Oil Cleanser for Clearing Pores — DAMDAM Silk Rice Cleansing Oil

The name doesn’t lie. The texture of this oil cleanser really is just like silk. Rice water has been lauded for helping hair grow faster and stronger. But it has impressive skin benefits, too. In this softening cleanser, rice bran oil helps clear excess sebum to prevent pore buildup and clear away debris. This also makes it an effective makeup remover, gently melting away makeup without irritation or leaving behind residue.

Best Oil Cleanser for Sensitive Skin — Wonder Valley Oil Cleanser

Olive oil is one of beauty’s buzziest ingredients for a reason. It’s a gentle but powerful ingredient that is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, making it great for cleansing, moisturizing, and softening your skin. I use this when my skin feels extra sensitive because of its honey-like texture. It feels like a cleansing cushion for my skin and turns into a milky emulsion upon rinsing for balanced, gentle cleansing.

Best Oil Cleanser for Fine Lines — UMA Absolute Anti-Aging Regenerative Oil Cleanser

A great benefit of oil cleansing is that they give you an extra change in your routine to target specific skin concerns. As you massage this oil cleanser onto dry skin, I recommend really focusing on the fine lines around your eyes and mouth to help soften and strengthen that skin. Power ingredients like honey and oat deliver all the good stuff to your skin to support collagen and elastin production.

Other Oil Cleansers to Try

Best Oil Cleanser for Breakouts — Susanne Kaufmann Deep Cleansing Oil

Worried an oil cleanser won’t give you the deep clean you need? Whether you follow this up with a foaming cleanser or not, this deep-cleansing oil goes deep into your pores to detox the skin of impurities and rejuvenate acne-prone skin. Vitamin E lifts impurities like acne-causing sebum and sunflower oil supports the skin’s protective layer for more radiant skin.

Best Drugstore Oil Cleanser — DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

This affordable, all-in-one product is a makeup remover, cleanser, and makeup brush cleaner. You can use it as the first step in your double cleansing routine or on its own to dissolve makeup and cleanse your skin with the power of olive oil. You can even use it to gently clean your makeup brushes — which you should definitely be doing more often than you currently are.

Best Anti-Pollution Oil Cleanser — PCA SKIN Daily Cleansing Oil 

Every time we go outside, our skin takes a beating. Pollution, free radicals, and sun exposure tear away at your skin, leading to premature aging, dehydration, and sensitivity. To fortify your skin, this cleansing oil is full of antioxidants that fight free radicals and prevent damage from pollution. Enriched with grape seed and sweet almond oils, it also nourishes and hydrates the skin.

Best Brightening Oil Cleanser — Pai Skincare Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil

Pai’s signature rosehip oil is a miracle oil for brightening your skin and making your complexion more even. The lightweight cleanser is suitable for all skin types, making you see a visible difference without harsh ingredients. It is full of reparative ingredients like Omegas 3, 6 and 9, while antioxidant and the superstar ingredient, rosehip, bighten dull skin and address dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

Best Hydrating Oil Cleanser — Sonya Dakar Buriti Oil Cleanser

There’s a difference between hydrated skin and moisturized skin. Buriti oil invigorates your skin with hydrating oils like buriti, grapeseed and avocado oils. Address dry, dehydrated, or mature skin with antioxidants and vitamins C, D, E.

Best Oil Cleanser for Uneven Texture — MARA Chia + Moringa Algae Enzyme Cleansing Oil

Mara’s signature algae enzymes make this a cult favorite brand for a reason. In this cleanser, the gently exfoliating fuit enzymes — papaya, pineapple, grapefruit and pumpkin — work together to lightly exfoliate the skin. Thought an oil clenaser couldn’t be exfoliating? Think again. It ever-so-gently sloughs off flaky, uneven skin to give you a smoother complexion and help maintain your moisture barrier without causing further damage.

Step Inside Our New Home Office (Video Tour!)

Today, I’m excited to reveal a space in our house that I’ve never actually shown you guys before. Up until now, it’s been my least favorite room in our home. Welcome to our home office! Aka that one room in the house where we threw all the stuff we didn’t know what to do with. But no longer! After being in our house for over a decade, Adam and I decided it was finally time to show this room some love and transform it from a cramped, awkward room into one where we could be creative, have meetings, and collaborate on Casa Zuma together.

As many of you know, we built our house 13 years ago. It’s a never-ending project (which is how we like it), and we’re hitting that time when we naturally want to give some areas of the house a freshen up. We’ve evolved and our taste has evolved along with it—but the challenge is to update our home in ways that make sense as an investment and don’t totally blow our budget.

Layout challenges

This home office space has always been one of our most challenging areas. First, the layout makes it tricky—each of the walls has either a door (to the bathroom or a closet) or a window that faces the front of the house, and it feels a bit awkward to have the desk sitting in front of any of these areas.

We also installed a lot of built-ins in the room in an effort to create a lot of storage. While we did accomplish that goal, the permanency of built-in shelves and cabinetry limited how much we could rearrange the room.

How we use this space

Adam and I use this space to meet with each other and people we’re working with, brainstorm projects we’re working on together, and this is also the space that Adam uses for his zoom calls every day. (You guys may remember that I do my solo work and zoom calls my calls in the little front alcove office off our kitchen.)

First, we rearranged the room

The biggest change we made to this room was reorienting where the desk was. We’ve always had it at one end of the narrow room, which didn’t foster any type of collaboration. Only one person could use the desk at a time, and the sunlight was so harsh coming in through the window that we always had to keep the shade down to minimize glare (which made the room feel like a cave.)

So, we decided to move the desk to the center of the room and it changed everything. In this new configuration, the desk feels more like a worktable. It’s way more collaborative, and the room itself just feels more open and expansive. I love when the biggest change to a space is the one that cost zero dollars.

Built-in shelving: pros and cons

Let’s start by talking about the built-ins. Although they did present some challenges to rearranging this space, they do have their pro’s. So rather than ripping them out and starting from scratch, we decided to lean into what was already in the space and see if we could make them over with simplified styling. Here are the details on these shelves and cabinets:

  • Material: unstained white oak with a clear laquer
  • Size: 3″ thick—if I were installing these today, I would go with a 2″ thick floating shelf. The steel bracket is installed behind the sheetrock so these can hold a lot of weight.
  • Pro: They provide a ton of storage, and look more streamlined than having lots of furniture in the room.
  • Con: They’re pretty permanent, and restrict how much we can rearrange the space without demo’ing the built-ins (which would be pricey.)

Shelf styling 101

As mentioned, we kept the built-in shelves and gave them new life simply by changing up the styling and what we put on them. In general, I think the biggest hurdle with open shelving is overcoming the temptation to clutter them up with lots of stuff. So the first thing I always do is remove everything. Then I can take a fresh look and decide what I really want to add to the shelves.

For this space, I focused mainly on design books that would creatively inspire us, plus samples and prototypes that we’re working on for Casa Zuma products. I did my best to keep the shelves minimal and streamlined, since I want this space to feel really airy and calm.

A unique home office desk—and the perfect chair

This “desk” is actually a teak dining table from Crate and Barrel that we’ve had forever, proving—it pays to think beyond traditional “office furniture” when designing a home office space. Peruse dining tables and dining chairs from your favorite retailers for outside-the-box options that may fit better with your aesthetic.

I’m obsessed with this desk chair from Lulu and Georgia. It is so chic, and perfectly marries functionality and ergonomics with beautiful design. It’s super comfy.

Window shades and curtains

I get tons of questions from you guys about our window treatments, and I’m not surprised—curtains and shades are one of those design decisions that can get really confusing. All of the window treatments in our home are from Graber, and I shared all about them in this Window Treatment Do’s and Don’t’s article awhile back.

Here was the challenge in our home office space: we love having lots of natural light, and also wanted a clear view to the front yard to see when people drive up. But when we’re doing a lot of computer work or on a Zoom call, we need some light filtering to minimize glare on his screen. So, we went with a two-part solution:

First we installed sheer curtains that let in tons of light. One design trick is to install the curtain rod a few inches higher and wider than the window frame itself—it makes the window look bigger, and you can pull the drapery fully back to let as much light in as possible. 

Next, shades. If you work on a computer a lot like we do, it’s important to minimize glare on the screen, especially in the afternoon when the sunlight shines directly through the window. So we needed a way to block the light without making this room feel like a cave. These solar shades are made to allow light to filter into the room, but they block out the harsh light that creates a glare.

Shop our office with an exclusive discount

Since many of the new items in our office space are from Lulu and Georgia, the brand shared an exclusive discount code just for you guys so you can shop these pieces for yourself. Get 15% off with the code CAMILLESTYLES15.

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And if you have questions about anything in this space, head on over to the video tour on Youtube and drop a comment—I’ll be answering them all over there!