Two Cleansing Oils: THREE Balancing Cleansing Oil and DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

Here’s another item that I bought in Japan last June – I decided to open up the THREE Balancing Cleansing Oil and bypass some other cleansing oils in my stash because it contains no preservatives and I didn’t want it to spoil.
This product has a lot of hype around it, and I wanted to see for myself how a luxury cleansing oil performs. I’ll spoil the review here now because you’ll notice that the title mentioned TWO cleansing oils – the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil came to the rescue when the THREE oil failed to deliver. 😦  I have a question for you – when people ask if you want to hear the bad news first or the good news first – which do you normally say? I always want to hear the bad news first…

THREE is a high-end Japanese brand that reminds me a bit of the line Prescriptives but with an emphasis on natural ingredients (side note: I had no idea that Prescriptives was back in business but online only!). When I visited the THREE counter, I was of course immediately drawn to the MAKEUP 😮 :
But no, I had to stay focused. I asked the SA about the cleansing oil and she advised that it was their most popular item.  I bought it, then pawed at the makeup one last time and went on my way. 😛
It is made of 88% naturally derived ingredients and claims to “purifies the skin by thoroughly removing makeup and excess sebum”.
I don’t read Japanese but I’m going to assume the first line is about the naturally derived ingredients! 😛 Also, note that like most Japanese cosmetics, the price is printed right on the product, it’s shown as “4,000 円” right next to “200mL”. I do like how sleek the packaging looks with the unbleached paper and the frosted bottle (it’s plastic, not glass).
Fast forward to November, I tried this cleanser for 2 weeks and then I gave up.  I won’t mince words – this oil cleanser stinks badly – like herbal tea left to ferment in an athlete’s sneaker.  Also, it doesn’t perform its primary function well: clean off my makeup! My foundation and eye makeup are not removed thoroughly, no matter how much of the product I use. It also doesn’t rinse / emulsify completely off so I feel a film left on my skin. Lastly, and the worst aspect of all – this stings the heck out of my eyes! 😡

A demonstration of how a cleansing oil works – on dry skin it’s just plain oil (left) which is massaged into the skin to melt off makeup. Once water hits the oil, it emulsifies – turns milky – and rinses off (right).

I will say one nice thing about the formula – it’s a thicker consistency which is what I prefer in a cleansing oil.

This is 2 weeks’ worth of usage, plus using it to clean makeup brushes.

Why is this so popular and highly reviewed?! I suspect it has something to do with its hefty price tag of ¥4,000 (~C$50 for 200ml) – more expensive skincare must be better, surely? 🙄  Also, I think that if you paid a lot of money for a product, it’s less of a cognitive dissonance to want it to work well.

Here are the ingredients:

Vitis Vineffera (Grape Seed Oil), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Squalane, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Isostearic Acid, Pentylene Glycol, Rosacanina Fruit Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, PEG-12 Isostearate, Citrus Aurantium Bergamina (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Boswellia Carterii Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Origanum Majorana Leaf Oil, Beeswax, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Theobroma Grandiflorum Seed Butter, Ascorbyl palmitate, Lecithin.

I should note that it contains some oils that are potentially irritating, such as orange peel oil, bergamot oil, and rosemary oil (essential oils in general can cause irritations). Thankfully, I did not react to them, I think mainly because I always follow up oil cleansing with a micellar water to remove any residue.
• Sleek packaging and bottle
• Natural ingredients

• Smells terrible
• Doesn’t clean well
• Stings eyes
• Doesn’t rinse well
• Contains potentially irritating oils
• Expensive

Stash worthiness: 2/10

This bottle now sits in my vanity as a cautionary tale… and I am trying to use it up to clean makeup brushes. While it’s never fun posting a negative review about a product, I feel that it’s necessary to balance some of the blind hype sometimes. Save your money!

Now let’s chat about another cleansing oil that’s pretty awesome! Similar to THREE, the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil has a lot of hype. It is a bit on the pricey side compared to other Japanese cleansing oils at C$35 for 200ml bottle. It might be just me, but I always found the packaging of the DHC cleansing oil to look quite cheap:
So I was really psyched when I learned that DHC released a limited edition collection featuring Alice in Wonderland illustrations:
Now I had an excuse to buy this! It cost the same price as the regular bottle so I bought it online in late 2014 where it has sat in my closet since. 😳

Just look at it! *squee*

After the disappointing experience with the THREE Balancing Cleansing Oil, I decided to finally open this up.

What I interpret from this illustration is that the cleansing oil lifts out sebum and dirt from inside pores. 😛

DHC states:
• In a clinical study, 92% of participants agreed Deep Cleansing Oil worked better than a leading cleanser at removing complexion makeup
• Unique water-soluble formula rinses thoroughly
• Rich in vitamins and antioxidants
• Nourishes and hydrates for younger-looking skin
• 1 sold every 10 seconds worldwide
The consistency of this cleansing oil is one of the thickest I’ve ever tried – which I love! It smells mostly like olive oil – not at all offensive, but fairly utilitarian (and no added fragrance). As for its performance, it’s basically the complete opposite of the THREE oil – this one cleans thoroughly (even waterproof eye makeup), rinses well, and doesn’t sting my eyes! After cleansing, my skin did not feel tight or stripped.  This reminds me a lot of my favourite cleansing oil, the MUJI Sensitive Skin Cleansing Oil, which is a good thing!
The ingredient list for the DHC cleansing oil is much shorter:

Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Pentylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil.

The rosemary oil can be a possible skin irritant – but a least it’s the last ingredient – and my skin didn’t react at all.

And let’s not kid ourselves, the Alice in Wonderland artwork is a big part of the appeal of this product for me!

I love the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat!
The artwork is just a plastic shrink-wrap but I think I could reuse the bottle as long as I’m careful when washing it up.

Look at the detail they put into both the outer box and the bottle itself.

Look at the artwork for UPC code! 😀

The main negative about the DHC cleansing oil is the price tag at $35 – if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative for the DHC, I highly recommend the MUJI Sensitive Skin cleansing oil, which is less half price of DHC at $14.50 for 200ml. They’re both olive oil based and perform pretty much the same for me.

• Pretty bottle (this LE version, anyway)
• No added fragrance
• Cleans well
• Rinses cleanly
• Does not sting eyes

• A bit pricey
• Contains potentially irritating oil

Stash worthiness: 9/10

Here’s a quick comparison of the performance of the two cleansing oils.  The makeup to be removed are:

L to R: Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Foundation in 250 Nude Beige (review here), Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard (review here), KATE Stick Concealer in Natural Beige (review here), MAC Mineralize Blush in Early Morning, Bourjois Eyeshadow in #74 Brun Somptueux, Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner in #48 Ro(Cocoa), Joe Fresh Fine Tip Liquid Eyeliner in Dark Brown, and CoverGirl LashBlash Volume mascara (shown here)

I applied each product to bare skin and allowed everything to dry thoroughly for 15 minutes.

Each cleansing oil rubbed over dried makeup 3 times using a cotton bud.  THREE did not remove the eye makeup very well, compared to DHC.

So here’s a case of 2 hyped up products – one lived up to the hype while the other did not.  Even with at this price point, the DHC cleansing oil has edged out a couple of other cleansing oils to make it into my top 3. I’ve been using oil cleansers for many years, ever since Japanese skincare regimes starting making the North American beauty rounds in mid-2000’s. My first cleansing oil was the Origins Clean Energy Cleansing Oil because that was what was available to me at the time. I then branched out to the cheap and cheerful Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil. After trying various cleansing oils, my preference is for cleansing oils that are olive oil based, and my current top 3 are: MUJI Sensitive Skin Cleansing Oil, DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, and MAC Cleanse Off Oil.  Incidentally, although MAC is a North American brand, their cleansing oil is made in Japan! 🙂  Are you a fan of cleansing oils?

What was a hyped up product that disappointed you? And what hyped product actually lived up to the hype?

91 thoughts on “Two Cleansing Oils: THREE Balancing Cleansing Oil and DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

    1. I’ve tried Shu only in a small packette sample. But I do have a full sized bottle in my stash – will be testing it eventually once I get through some of my others! 😉 From what I recall, the Shu is more runny and it’s not olve oil based so I’m unsure.


  1. How interesting that Px is still around! Site says they “refreshed” in 2011. I had a poke around to see if they were actually still under the Estee Lauder umbrella; the returns address is the same as MAC’s, who are also EL, so I guess they still are. Just keeping it very secret, for some reason. I used to really like some of their lipsticks.

    Sucks about the THREE oil, though the DHC looks good. I will have to try the MUJI, since that looks like the better deal 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good sleuthing around the Prescriptives website! Too bad it’s only shipping to US right now. I’ve always wanted a custom blended foundation!

      MUJI oil is awesome and the price can’t be beat!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Possibly my new favourite post of yours …
    first of all
    “herbal tea left to ferment in an athlete’s sneaker. ”
    how about that for honesty !!!!
    ALICE …..
    that design …
    PLUS +++
    the swatch cleansing
    THAT IS ART and should be PINNED ……….
    LOVE !!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I aim to please!
      I’m very passionate about some things and cleansing oils are one of those things!
      I will definitely refill the Alice in Wonderland bottle. I’ll be testing out that colourful Shu one soon! That bottle is uber cute.
      Ah yes… Pinterest… I downloaded the app finally! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You did WHAT ?
        —— loading loading loading …..
        well Shu shu to You xo
        ❤ ❤ ❤
        about that fantastic dreamy dm on twitter this morning ….. Lol
        podcast yes ……
        update because I KNOW YOU CARE
        one more day – they paint and leave me ……..
        look at that sunshine stasherooo

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I AIM TO PLEASE
          Can you hear me?! XD 😆

          Isn’t it nuts outside? This is Feb 22nd and it feels like APRIL weather. This isn’t normal! And we have people still denying climate change… 🙄

          ONE MORE DAY and no more smellies! Happy for you and TOFU! ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          1. it’s feb 23 …. yesterday was my ex husbands birthday – that’s how i remember

            Liked by 1 person

              1. listen its the new planets they found ….. hey ? pretty amazing
                look at NASA
                BLOW ME AWAY A LITTLE MORE
                and mega solar flares happening
                space weather – CRAY …….
                EARTH WEATHER – CRAY CRAY
                why remember my ex husbands birthday LOL
                cray cray
                one week after me . Yikes
                read your cute dm xo and GO TO BED ….
                THE STINKERS ARE GONE AND RETURN AT 8 to paint
                Love you chickadeeeeee …….
                IG BLOGGING /// LOL ?
                until ….
                oh my ….
                GN FOR REALZ


    1. My bottle has lasted me about 2 months so far and I estimate I have another month’s worth of product left. Not too bad for $35 (Canadian dollars). If I replace it, I’ll probably pour the cleansing oil into this bottle because of how cute it is. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed reading this! I’ve never tried cleansing oils before. I have a Burts Bees one sitting in my cabinet that I haven’t used lol. I think I’m allergic to rose hip oil. I used a body lotion that contained it and had a reaction. I had the matching hand lotion, but for some reason it didn’t have the rose hip oil in it and I had no problems with it. So I will just be safe and stay away lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s too bad about the rose hip oil allergy! I hope you get to try another kind of cleansing oil one day – ever since I converted I haven’t looked back. Key thing with cleansing oils is you apply it directly onto DRY skin and massage for about a minute to break everything down, including your eye makeup. Just massage gently and let the oil do its job. Then you splash water on your face to rinse off – it’ll emulsify (turn milky) and if it’s a good oil, it’ll rinse off cleanly with all your makeup along with it. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oooh, I LOVE the packaging of both cleansing oils! I can’t believe the one from THREE is $50 CAD and didn’t work at all for you :O People, the fact that you paid so much for it doesn’t mean it’s automatically amazing!

    The DHC and MUJI oils sound really similar. In that sense, the MUJI oil is a way better deal considering the price! Heh, I think I still prefer the thin consistency and the scent of the MAC Oil, after all these years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had an epiphany (too dramatic of a word perhaps?) when you mentioned that you prefer the runny texture of the MAC cleansing oil. It seems cleansing oil fans are divided into 2 camps: thick oil or runny oil. Very enlightening! The MAC oil just holds a special place in my heart since I’ve used it for ages and I love the lemony scent.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I love all the limited edition stuff beauty stuff they do that’s Disney themed. I don’t care how old I am, but I’m always going to want that stuff. I’ll be that 70 yr old with Minnie Mouse face cream on her vanity. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Too bad the THREE oil was not good. I think sometimes people just assume products will be good if they are priced high. That alice in wonderland packaging is awesome though!!

    P.s. I prefer hearing the bad news first too mainly because that decreases the anticipation and I can get it out of the way and also I like to end a topic and discussion with a good news. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, all too often people assume higher price means more effective – simply not true.

      Glad to know I’m not the only one who prefers hearing the bad news first. I like to end things on a good note too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You can order it online – I’m sure they ship to Australia.
      When were you in Korea? I’ve been wanting to go… I’d go crazy buying all the K-beauty products.


  6. I love the comparison between the 2 – especially the picture at the end. Great way to show performance!
    I’ve only tried a couple cleansing oils and I found that the thicker the oil, the more residue was left on my skin after. I’m in to cleansing balms right now, but I’ll keep the DHC one in mind if I go back to oils.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not found the thicker cleansing oils that I’ve tried to leave a residue – I was initially very concerned about that! I highly recommend the DHC and the MUJI Sensitive Skin (MUJI carries several kinds of cleansing oils – the Sensitive Skin one is the only one that’s olive-oil based).
      Which cleansing balm are you into right now? I’ve tried a few and the one that stands out to me is the Clinique one.


      1. You’ve got me curious about the MUJI skincare, but it will have to wait until I can make it to TO – ordering online has ridiculous shipping.
        I’m currently using the Body Shop Camomile cleansing butter – I’ve heard it’s a great alternative to the Clinique one, plus it’s less expensive ($16/90ml vs $38/120ml) – plus Body Shop often has a Buy3Get3 deal on, which makes the price even better.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve had the Body Shop Camomile cleansing butter – it is really good, I agree! Although, the scent was a bit overwhelming to me, and as I recall, it didn’t rinse as cleanly compared to the Clinique one. Definitely a cheaper option though.


    1. Ooh I just recently got that Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara to test out… fingers crossed I don’t hate it. On second though, I hope I hate it because I don’t want to love a mascara that cost $30! XD

      Liked by 1 person

  7. “herbal tea left to ferment in an athlete’s sneaker” definiteLy sounds Like bad news
    I always want to hear the bad news first, too.. makes the good news sound way better ^^
    Have you tried Fancl cleansing oil?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, hearing the bad news first does make the good news sound even better! 😀
      I haven’t tried Fancl cleansing oil because it’s not olive oil based, and it’s rather expensive for what it is ($30 for only 120ml). I know a lot of people love it though.


  8. I’ve only ever tried the Neutrogena cleansing oil, and I like it a lot! I’m a newbie to cleansing oils actually, but I do find them very appealing. I used to stick to micellar waters before the Neutrog3na. That DHC one sounds really good!
    Is it possible that the Three oil had expired already?? You said it has no preservatives and that might explain the smell and the burning

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting point you make about the THREE oil – I don’t believe it expired, I kept it in the box unopened in my closet since I brought it home. The smell wasn’t rancid, just the strong herbal smells of the added essential oils. Too much!
      I didn’t know Neutrogena made a cleansing oil – interesting. Actually, I use both a cleansing oil and a micellar water to thoroughly remove my makeup. The cleansing oil removes the bulk of my makeup and it’s my first cleanse. Then I use a micellar water as my 2nd cleanse to remover anything remaining. This has been my system for years now and it’s really effective!


  9. I am a huge fan of cleansing oil. 2 steps cleansing all the way~~ My favourites are DHC (for the thickness), Shu Uemura blac chroma and Biore cleansing oil (original).

    That THREE oil is a tragedy. So sorry to see this bad news. xox

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve only ever tried a small pack of Shu Uemura oil but I did buy a small bottle from their limited edition holiday collection featuring Murakami artwork (so cute!) I’m looking forward to trying it. 🙂 As for the Biore – I’ve heard it’s good but I think I’ve moved passed the super cheap and cheerful cleansing oils now. I’d categorize Biore and Softymo in that category.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post, I had a deluxe sample of the DHC and loved it, I think you’d really get on with The Body Shop Silky Camomile Cleansing Oil if you haven’t tried that one already it’s quite similar to the DHC and does an amazing job xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve tried the The Body Shop Silky Camomile Cleansing Oil but I don’t love it. I found it wasn’t as effective in removing my eye makeup, and the scent was too strong for my personal preference.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Your reviews are so thorough and really well written!! so much info with a nice touch of humour! I’ve never heard of Three before, but I’ll def stay away from it – completely agree that people like to regard expensive products as great products just because of their hefty price tag, bizarre! anywho, thanks for sharing this great review darling! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank so much, Kathy! 🙂 I figured if someone was doing research on these products to make a decision on buying them or not, I’d like to provide useful information (and some humour! 😉 ) I first heard about THREE from The RAEviewer and I was intrigued.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw that Boscia one didn’t work for me! It broke me out. I’m starting to think we have opposite skin… anything that works for me, you probably won’t like! 😛


  12. “Like herbal tea left to ferment in an athlete’s sneaker” LMAO omg your descriptions are hilarious!

    That DHC bottle is adorable – I probably would have bought it too just for that.

    I’m much to impatient for cleansing oils and balms – I haven’t really been impressed with any that I’ve tried. I’ve yet to try the Muji one you sent me though so perhaps there is hope for me yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cleansing oils aren’t for everyone – I know for myself, I like to stand there massaging my face witht the oil for a few minutes, it’s just something relaxing about it at the end of the day. But I’m sure most people just want to wash it off and be done with it. I hope you’ll like the MUJI one, it’s no frills but very effective. 🙂


  13. “Herbal tea left to ferment in an athletes sneaker” is quite possibly the most horrifying description of a scent! But it’s such a cringey perfect description! I love it lol.
    I remember back in the day I used to get DHC catalogs with little soap samples in them. I loved those samples and I would dream about being rich enough (and grown up enough) to buy my own fancy skin care. Good times.
    I think we’ve discussed this before but I’m more of a cleansing balm girl myself. I’m just to awkward to appreciate the mess I make with an oil. They always seem so luxe though! Maybe I should try using one again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tried to not describe putrid smells using vulgar words and that’s the best I could come up with! I like herbal scents typically but this one was just off!

      Haha funny about the DHC catalogues and fancy samples! 😛 I assume you’ve tried their cleansing oil?

      I find balms to be my 2nd favourite makeup removal method. There’s just something about the act of massaging in the product to break down the grime and makeup.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I actually haven’t tried their cleansing oil! In fact, the only cleansing oil I have tried was from Josie Maran and I was not a fan. I am adding the DHC to my “try this if you can ever pry yourself away from using Take The Day Away Balm” haha.


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