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Creating an effective beauty routine is challenging enough, but for those with sensitive skin, the tough task may seem even more daunting.

Those with sensitive skin tend to also be, well, sensitive about what they use. A single misstep has the potential to lead to all kinds of irritation, redness, and even acne. So it’s no surprise that many of them shy away from products like makeup and cleansing oils, worried that they may clog up pores or trigger breakouts.

But are makeup and cleansing oils really capable of doing that? To find out if there’s any truth in this (and to help put your mind at ease the next time you’re shopping for beauty products), we reached out to aesthetic doctor Dr Rachel Ho* for her expertise.

Does makeup clog pores and cause breakouts?

Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing review makeup

The bad news about some makeup is that it can clog pores. “There is a specific type of acne caused by makeup, called acne cosmetica.” Dr Ho says. She explains that this happens when the pilosebaceous units (the hair follicle with an attached sebaceous gland) on our skin are plugged, which eventually causes breakouts.

This can happen if the makeup product you’re using contains comedogenic ingredients. Comedogenic – it’s a mouthful, right? As intimidating and clinical as this term may sound, it’s actually just a way of saying that an ingredient or product has the potential to clog your pores, and Dr Ho cites coconut oil and lanolin (derived from the wool of sheep) as examples.

“Denatured alcohol is another ingredient that’s also commonly found in beauty products that can disrupt the skin barrier and worsen irritation and dryness,” Dr Ho lets on. “Fragrance in makeup can also irritate the skin of some users, so avoid it if you have sensitive skin.”

If you have delicate skin that’s particularly prone to breakouts, you’ll want to avoid those ingredients and seek out ones that reduce inflammation in the skin, such as “niacinamide, probiotics, and hyaluronic acid”.

…And what about cleansing oils?

Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing review oils

Credit: Eva Elijas/Pexels

Unfortunately, the same goes for some cleansing oils on the market. Dr Ho shares that certain types of oils can clog pores, “especially if they are not cleaned off adequately.”

“Some types of oils can cause hypersensitivity and skin lesions that look like acne. Hypersensitivity and inflammation disrupt the skin barrier,” she explains. Depending on what you’re allergic to, Dr Ho says that all types of oil have the potential to cause allergic contact dermatitis – a red, itchy rash that’s triggered by direct contact with a substance.

“Some oils, such as citrus oils (e.g. bergamot, lemon, lime), have been associated with a higher risk of this reaction,” she continues. Similar to makeup products, fragrance is another ingredient to avoid in cleansing oils as it is a very common irritant.

As for how long you should massage a cleansing oil on sensitive skin, you don’t have to follow the popular 60-second cleansing rule. Dr Ho says, “As long as there is good coverage of the cleanser on the surface of the skin, a shorter duration can suffice.”

Related read: Daily Vanity’s most sensitive team members put these sensitive skin-friendly products to the test

The best way to remove makeup gently and effectively

A hypoallergenic cleansing oil that removes makeup gently can go a long way in helping to create a stronger skin barrier, the secret to warding off dryness, sensitivity, and breakouts.

Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing bottle

The key is to seek out a formula that’s specially designed for sensitive skin, such as Freeplus’ Oil Serum Cleansing.

It’s hypoallergenic, which means it contains fewer ingredients that are known to trigger an allergic reaction. The fragrance-free cleansing oil is also infused with natural herb extracts to soothe skin irritation.

Plus, it’s made with an amino acid oil blend that deeply cleanses, while the 88% serum oil keeps your skin moisturised. Together, they restore and strengthen your skin’s barrier function as they lock in hydration for supple, bouncy skin.

Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing review texture

Credit: Daily Vanity

Its silky texture glides on smooth and comfortably too, so you can massage it all over your face and neck without stressing your skin out. The fragrance-free formula is also able to break down and remove every trace of waterproof makeup as well as stubborn impurities lodged in the pores for clearer, smoother skin.

Simply dispense two to three pumps of cleansing oil on your palms and apply it on dry face, massaging it in circular motions. Rinse off and follow up with a face wash after.

One DV reader puts Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing to the test

To see if the Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing is truly effective at removing makeup while being extra gentle on the skin, we asked one of our Daily Vanity readers with dry, sensitive skin to try it.

As someone who struggles with dehydration, clogged pores, and acne, Rachael looks out for fragrance-free cleansing oils that are able to leave her skin feeling clean without stripping it of moisture. One that emulsifies easily and doesn’t leave a greasy slick on her skin is also a must. And of course, an affordable price point and aesthetic packaging are huge pluses.

Did the Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing check all her boxes? Here’s what she had to say:

Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing review rachael before after

“It removed my makeup well, and it didn’t cause any redness or leave my skin feeling too dry, which is great. In fact, my skin felt softer and more supple, and balanced but not greasy.”

Indeed, Rachael’s skin looks fresh and balanced after using the Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing. We couldn’t spot any red patches too, which bode well for the rest of her one-week trial.

“I would use the Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing once every evening, and after seven days, my skin feels cleaner and not irritated as compared to another cleansing oil I had previously used.

I also checked the ingredient list and the product seems suitable for most skin types, so I’m happy about that! The packaging is good and it’s  a comfortable product to use. My skin feels refreshed after each cleanse, and it has worked very well for my skin type,” she raves.

The perfect gentle cleansing duo

freeplus mild soap a product shot

To make sure that you’re getting rid of all the grime, excess oil, and dead skin cells on your face, it’s always best to follow up with a water-based cleanser, like the Freeplus Mild Soap A.

A mild cleanser with a silky texture, the Freeplus Mild Soap A lathers up effortlessly to produce a delicate, fluffy foam. It acts as a soft cushion to reduce friction and irritation as it glides across your skin gently to lift dirt and excess sebum off while retaining your skin’s natural moisture.

freeplus mild soap a foam

In fact, it’s enriched with amino acids and six Japanese and Chinese herbal extracts to keep moisture close to your skin, so your face won’t feel taut after you cleanse, ideal for Rachael’s dry, sensitive skin. The cleanser also contains niacinamide, which is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that reduces redness, preserves hydration, and strengthens the skin barrier.

“There’s no scent to it, which I love. It rinses off clean, and I like that the Mild Soap A is not like most cleansers out there that leaves a squeaky feeling,” Rachael shares. “I’m glad that it didn’t cause any breakouts or irritation too!”

Ready to give the Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing and Mild Soap A a try to see if it works for your skin too? All you have to do is pick up a sample!

Redeem 1x Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing sample (9ml) and 1x Freeplus Mild Soap A sample (7g)!

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Freeplus Oil Serum Cleansing retails for S$30 while Freeplus Mild Soap A retails for S$27 at Don Don Donki and Welcia-BHG stores, as well as online at Lazada and Shopee.

This article is brought to you by Freeplus.

*Disclaimer: Dr Rachel Ho is an aesthetic doctor who is sharing her professional opinion about makeup and cleansing oils. This is not to be taken as an endorsement of the product.