Review: Etude House Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil

Of all the different product types assembled in my extensive skincare wardrobe, cleansing oil is the one I think about the least. I mean, there’s just not that much to think about. You’ve got your oils to break down and loosen up makeup and sunscreen, your emulsifier(s) to enable easy rinsing with water, maybe a few nice-sounding bonus ingredients, some fragrance, and some preservatives, and that’s pretty much it. I don’t research cleansing oils before I purchase them as I do with everything else I put on my face, and I’ve never really felt I should. After all, I’ve gone through a handful of different cleansing oils and balms all chosen more or less at random, and they’ve pretty much all worked fine.

Yeah, well. My winning streak was bound to end sometime.

Review of Etude House Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil
Sometimes my eyebrows take so much damn work to get right that doing my makeup feels like an art project, the kind that makes you all sweaty and ends with a resounding “Fuck it, good enough.”

Purpose: Etude House Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil is an emulsifying, oil-based first cleanser used to remove sunscreen and makeup at the first step of an evening skincare routine.

Best suited for: Normal, dry, or dehydrated skin; people who don’t use mascara or any long-wearing makeup. You’ll understand why in a minute.

Do not use if: You are sensitive to coconut oil, sesame oil, apricot kernel oil, fragrance, or anything else in the ingredients list, or if you are opposed to synthetic, not-at-all-from-nature ingredients.

When and how to use: Dispense two to three pumps of product into palm and spread over dry face. Massage for 1-2 minutes. Wipe eye area with tissue or cotton pad if desired. Wet hands and massage again to emulsify. Rinse with water.

Etude House Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil ingredients:  Pentaerythrityl tetraisostearate, cetyl ethylhexanoate, trethylhexanoin, PEG-20 glyceryl triisostearate, octyldodecyl myristate, pentaerythrityl tetraethylhexanoate, hydrogenated poly(c6-14 olefin), PEG-8 isostearate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, isostearic acid, camellia japonica seed oil, prunus mume fruit extract, squalane, nelumbo nucifera germ extract, sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, pinus koraiensis seed oil, prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernel oil, hydrogenated polyisobutene, fragrance

CosDNA analysis

Notable ingredients: Since this is a wash-off product, there’s not much need to delve into the ingredients list. If the product works as it should, it’s all going to rinse off anyway. I will point out, however, that unlike many comparable products, the Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil is based on synthetic esters rather than naturally derived oils. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your skin and your tastes. Mineral oil is a very familiar and generally well tolerated base, but some people dislike using petrolatum products for reasons. If that’s the case for you, you may like this product’s ingredients list more. On the other hand, coconut oil and olive oil, two of the more common botanically derived cleansing oil bases, satisfy the desire for “natural” products but are also known acne triggers for many. Personally, I can go either way, or take the synthetic route, without a problem. I don’t much care what’s in it as long as it works.


That’s the problem.

But let’s start at the beginning, as we usually do.

Etude House Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil is a runny, light-feeling oil that I disliked as soon as I put it on my face for the first time, because it smelled godawful. I’ve since heard its fragrance described as citrusy and pleasant, and there are some times when I can kind of smell the citrus notes struggling to rise to the top, but to my nose, this product smells overwhelmingly like liquefied burning plastic. Yes, it’s really that bad for me. I used this cleansing oil on my face every night for a solid two weeks and cringed at the smell every single time.

I could have gotten past the smell if the Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil had done its job. Could have. If. Uh, it didn’t.

In the first place, this cleansing oil has hardly any slip at all. Even though it’s an oil, my face never felt lubricated enough to massage comfortably, not even with three full pumps of product. Working it into my face always made me feel like I was tugging and pulling and rubbing at my skin. I never got a single grit with the Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil, either. And it repeatedly proved itself to be the weakest cleansing oil I’ve ever used. To show how weak it is, I chose to do my cleansing test without any of my waterproof eyeliners or ultra-stubborn Japanese mascaras. The swatches on my arm in the picture below are just regular, run-of-the-mill, non-long-wearing cream lip crayons and lipsticks.

Lipstick swatches for testing of Etude House Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil
If any of these swatches strikes your fancy, you can see them in natural lighting and find the brands and shades in this Instagram post.

I used two pumps of Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil, massaged it all over the swatches for a solid 90 seconds, then emulsified it with water and rinsed it off as I would for my face. Here are the results.

Results of Etude House Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil test
Oh, and now my arm smells like molten plastic. These are the things I endure for you.

Look closely, and you’ll see faint stripes of leftover lipstick, especially near my wrist.

Well, that’s not that bad, you might be thinking. It’s barely visible! What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that that was just lipstick, and not even lipstick formulated for extended wear and smudge resistance. If the Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil can’t even fully remove some lipstick, how the hell can it handle three coats of Fairy Drops Scandal Queen mascara and a dash of Clio Gelpresso eyeliner?

Yeah, it can’t, that’s how. I regularly had to pump out a second dose of the Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil just for my eyes, something I haven’t had to do with any other cleansing oil. And even with the second helping of oil, removing my eye makeup with this stuff consistently took much longer and demanded more massaging than it had with any other first cleanser I’ve tried. Listen, I’m getting old as shit. I don’t need to be putting any extra stress on my eye skin. Vigorous rubbing is not a thing I want to do in that area.

On the plus side, the Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil didn’t sting or burn at all when I inevitably got it in my eyes every night. So…that’s good.

I stuck it out with this cleansing oil for my full cleanser testing period. It did not clog my pores, break me out, or cause any negative skin reactions while I used it. That doesn’t necessarily mean much, though. My skin is typically set to honey badger levels of IDGAF, so not much bothers it in the first place.

Once the testing period ended, I opened up a bottle of Tosowoong Natural Pure Apricot Seed Oil Cleansing Oil and repurposed the Etude House Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil as a makeup brush and cushion puff cleaner. I won’t be purchasing this product again.

Conclusion: Skincare is YMMV and no one’s experience, not even mine (huehuehue), is universal or authoritative. Etude House Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil has worked for lots of people (my homegirl Cat, for example, found it effective enough and hated it for reasons entirely different from mine). It might work out for you. But my experience of this product was so unambiguously bad that I just can’t personally recommend anyone to try it. To sum it all up, I’ll quote the first line of my testing notes for this product:

Wow, this stuff really sucks.

Rating: 1.5/5

Rating scale:

1 – This should be taken off the market.
2 – Caused me some problems; would not buy again.
3 – Meh. Neither great nor bad.
4 – Pretty good. Would buy again unless I find something better.
5 – I’ll never be in the market for a replacement unless this one is discontinued.
What’s the worst product you’ve ever had the misfortune of putting on your face?


© 2015 unless otherwise noted (copyright and sharing policy)


24 thoughts on “Review: Etude House Real Art Moisture Cleansing Oil

  1. LOL I have this exact cleansing oil and it really doesn’t do much (or anything at all) for mascaras. It was one of the first cleansing oils I’ve tried and now I’m thinking that it must be the reason why I didn’t like cleansing oils back then. >.< Love the honesty and humor in your review! That video at the end was perfect haha :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, I’m glad you liked the review 🙂 You have Cat from Snow White and the Asian Pear to thank for that video. I was telling her how much I hate this cleansing oil, and she linked the video in our chat 😀


  2. Oh boo 😦

    This hurts my heart because I’m so Etude biased, I’m currently using the mild version from this line and thankfully not having any issues with it. But that’s because I don’t wear makeup…yet.

    Try their Lip & Eye remover! I’ve seen it work in action!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll give it a shot, thanks! I really want to love Etude. I really like a lot of their color cosmetics (those Bling Bling Eye Sticks!) and sheet masks. I just struck out super bad with this one 😂


  3. Thanks for the useful info! I just started my day off with a belly laugh over that honey badger video – I was just expecting a link to a picture. Can you recommend any emulsifying oil cleansers that are a bit more economical than the Tosowoong Natural Pure Apricot Seed Oil Cleansing Oil? That’s just not gonna happen for my budget, ever. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm. Where were you looking at the TSW apricot seed oil? It’s about $10 on RRS, which is pretty decent–I can’t think of many cleansing oils that are cheaper but don’t suck.

      There are actually a couple of decent US drugstore emulsifying cleansing oils now too, if you’d rather try those out. I used the Garnier for a while. It works fine. Haven’t tried the new Neutrogena ones, but Dee over at AdoreDee likes the light one.


  4. Urgh I hate this oil so much the smell is horrid and by the time you’ve tried to take your mascara off you can’t see straight for a week.
    I cannot believe how popular it is???



    (Sorry your post just brought back the disappointment all over again!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Never tried this, but did used the previous light version (purple bottle), and was really good. Not comparable with the Clio cleansing oil, or the Banila Co Clean it, but good for the price.

    The Lip&eye remover was good too!
    (Sorry if this post was duplicated, but can’t make wordpress comments work ._.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It really creeps me out that the one you tested seemed like almost an entirely different product- everything from the smell to the consistency to the emulsification, because that either means poorly-announced reformulation OR that the product is utterly inconsistent. I don’t like inconsistent products. I don’t like it at all! (ಠ_ಠ)ψ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know…I really want to love Etude for whatever reason, even though I’m about a decade and a half out of their target market. I do like a lot of their sheet masks and hydrogel masks, though!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think their masks are some of my favorite, because they are just so cheap. Here in China they always have a buy 10 get 5 free. I have been phasing out of the Moistfull collegen though because now that it has saved my skin I would prefer to use a more natural brand like Innisfree.

        P.s. Have you heard about Innisfree’s new pomegranate line??? I can’t find it anywhere so I feel like it is only in China which makes me a little nervous…..

        Liked by 1 person

    1. illi Total Aging Care Cleansing Oil is my absolute favorite, and I heard that you can find that brand pretty much everywhere in Korea if that helps! Innisfree Green Tea cleansing oil is nice as well, though it isn’t as strong for removing mascara.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awn I wanna try the illi Cleansing oil but since i don’t live in korea, its kinda hard for me. 😀 I will try the Innisfree one, its kinda popular. Once again, thank you so much for answering my questions and helping me. 🙂 I really love your blog. It has everything that I want and need lol. xD ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello, Fifdy Snails. Just saw your post. Can I link you on my post about makeup removal routine. I have the Etude House Real Art Perfect Cleansing Oil Advanced and it worked well for me. I want to link you in my post so that people who see my post can get your side of the story and make a better decision. I hope you don’t mind 😀

    Let’s be buddiz~


  8. Actually I posted alr… If you don’t want me to link you just tell me and I will remove the link. Thank you 😀 I gotta sleep now


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