Review: Shu Uemura Balancing Cleansing Oil

My verdict of this cult cleansing oil? You’ll have to read on to find out!

As far as make-up removers go, I’ve been a fan of cleansing oils for the past 2 years, since I was first recommended MAC’s Cleanse Off Oil by my best friend, a professional make-up artist back in London. 

On a recent trip to Hong Kong I picked up the Shu Uemura Balancing Cleansing Oil from BONJOUR after running out of my MAC mid-trip. After testing it out for a few weeks, I thought it was definitely worth typing up a review. Read on for my verdict…

The Discovery of Cleansing Oil

To give a short background, Shu Uemura discovered cleansing oil during the late 1950’s whilst in Hollywood. A cleanser called ‘Unmask’ was used by film stars and MUA’s on set to remove very heavy stage makeup. Uemura discovered that the oil removed make-up exceedingly gently and effectively, without irritating skin and maintaining its natural moisture levels. He followed by introducing the first cleansing oil into Japan in 1967. 

Now to the details. Shu Uemura states that what sets their oil apart is that it ‘cleanses and removes makeup and impurities in a single step, and [is] perfect for gentle, daily cleansing.’ The brand currently has 6 different varieties of their cleansing oil on offer, each specifically catered to different skin needs and wants, yet each have the same foundational ‘high performance oil system’ in common: a combination of 3 distinct oils that effectively remove stubborn waxes and oils found in make-up such as waterproof mascara, foundations and lip colour, as well as dirt, sweat and other impurity nasties.  

MY VERDICT: Tried & Tested 

From my own experience, the High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil does just what it says on the bottle. It removes my make-up extremely thoroughly, washes off easily and leaves NO make-up residue behind. The oil formula also has a pleasant texture and gives off a relaxing plant oil scent, probably owing to the botanical oil formula containing avocado and jojoba! 

Since using the Balancing Oil, I’ve felt my skin become noticeably more even and supple. As someone who has had the same hassle-free skincare routine for nearly a year (cleansing oil followed by Dermalogica Microfoliant, Dermalogica Ultra calming Toner & Serum), when I introduce something new I can quickly pinpoint if its making a difference to my skin or not – so I can really vouch that it has made a positive difference.

Having normal/combination skin, I often get certain parts of my face that feel quite dry, especially after washing. If I’m just at home for the day, I’ve taken to using a bit of this oil on my face and washing off as a quick skin pick-me-up – extremely refreshing and my skin feels rebalanced, less tight and back to normal once more. I would also say that I find the Shu oil a lot better at removing eye-make up than the MAC Cleanse off. 

ALSO – FOR THOSE WITH OILY SKIN THINKING ‘I CAN’T USE AN OIL-BASED MAKE-UP REMOVER MY SKIN IS OILY’ please read the following: The cleansing oils are non-comodogenic (they will not block your pores) AND since the cleansing oil is probably the most effective and gentle method to remove sebum (the stuff that causes spots and blocked pores) you will probably find an improvement in your skin. 

WHY? I find that most people with bad acne and oily skin tend to over cleanse with very strong, astringent products. Over-application of spot-fighting ingredients, including salicylic acid, can really just over-dry your skin and create more break outs. Trust me, I’ve been there! I used to use tons of different products on my face, but in the end I just settled down to the skincare routine I’ve used for the past two years and stuck to it and over time my skin has improved, re-balanced itself and now I have hardly any breakouts. My personal belief is that I owe it all to just keeping it simple. 

I’d definitely be interested to trying out the Ultime8 Sublime Oil and Clarifying Oil once I get round to buying them – but I’m 100% impressed by the Balancing Oil and would thoroughly recommend.

And now the pricing (the Ultime8 costs a little bit more, but this is the standard pricing across the range): 

SG: $50.00 for 150ml or $115.00 for 450ml – (I bought the 150ml for 30 dollars in Hong Kong!!) 

UK: £29.50 for 150ml or £120.00 for 450ml 

A quick picture to capture the oil consistency

••Disclaimer: This was NOT a sponsored review. I bought the product and genuinely loved it. Thanks!



  1. June 19, 2013 / 10:44 am

    I want to try this! Like now. I've used cleansing oils in the past too and for me, they're the best gentle cleansers out there. Not too fond of the scrub type cleansers no matter how much they say it's the gentle scrub. Out of my range though, price-wise. 😛

    CJ –

    • June 19, 2013 / 2:46 pm

      Hey CJ – thanks for the comment! depending on what one you are using now, you could try a brand called Biore. Here the price of the oil is $16.50 or about £10.00. I also bought that one back from my Hong Kong trip and used it for a few days and its perfectly fine. Try it out if you haven't already!


  2. June 20, 2013 / 10:20 pm

    Shu Uemura has some of the best products that I've ever tried! I absolutely love that company.

  3. July 17, 2013 / 2:05 pm

    So you use this then do you follow up with anything else?

    • July 17, 2013 / 2:43 pm

      Hey! Yes – you use this to thoroughly remove your make-up. So you literally apply it on your hands, then straight onto the face, no water.
      Rinse off, then follow with usual cleanser, toner, moisturiser.

      Just sometimes in the day if I'm just at home I'll use it as a pick-me-up cos makes skin feel really nice! Not tight or dry afterwards. I've found since I've used oil make-up remover in general my skin condition has improved dramatically.

    • July 17, 2013 / 11:04 pm

      ooh I see. So it's only for removing make-up. Might have to give it a try, thanks! 😀

    • July 18, 2013 / 4:31 am

      yep! But it does a very good job, and it means you will cleanse more effectively!

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