NIOD Low-Viscosity Cleansing Ester – Review

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The NIOD Low-Viscosity Cleansing Ester is a unique cleansing oil that contains no plant oils or detergents and does not require water to remove. Instead, it uses an innovative approach of using sugar and avocado esters to remove sunscreen and makeup. This allows for the gentle regulation of sebum production and a balancing of the skins moisture barrier. The product leaves a residue on the skin that allows for the enhanced absorption of subsequent water-based skincare products. It works as an effective cleaner and is capable of removing even waterproof makeup while leaves the skin feeling comfortable and hydrated after each use.

NIOD Claims:

Taking a biotechnologically-advanced approach to skin purification unlike the concept of cleansers in skincare today, Low-Viscosity Cleansing Ester (LVCE) is a skin cleaning system that respects dermal barriers while regulating visible sebum production, cleaning the skin thoroughly and removing all traces of makeup in a single step. LVCE contains no cleansing plant oils, no detergents and no water but instead uses isolated sugar and avocado esters to remove every trace of dirt and makeup with or without water. While the skin feels comfortably hydrated after each use, the technologies in LVCE will actually further act as delivery boosters for topical treatments applied after cleaning.

NIOD Brand Overview:

NIOD is the luxury, scientifically-based skincare line owned by Decem, the umbrella company that owns The Ordinary and Hylamide. NIOD stands for non-invasive options in Dermal Science. The products are formulated with the most advanced and best quality ingredients available. Everything added to the formulation has a purpose. Their tagline is “skincare for the hyper-educated.” The NIOD line was a passion project for the cofounder Brandon and focuses on overall skin condition and long-term improvements to the health of the skin.

Appearance and Scent:

It has a water-like texture that is light-weight, yet feels like an oil on the skin. It spreads easily and creates zero friction, but remains on the skin when mixed with water, and does not emulsify like a traditional oil cleanser. While this oily residue does feel unusual, it does leave the skin clean and feeling comfortable. It has a slight plastic smell that is mild but might be unpleasant to some people.

Packaging, Size, and Expiry:

The product is housed in the iconic NIOD box with a security seal. The packaging is simple, spill-free, hygienic, and easy to use. The bottle arrives sealed and is secured with an aluminium screw-cap. There is a twist top cap included in the box, that can be closed to prevent accidental spillages during travelling. The bottle contains 240 ml of product and expires six months after opening.

How to Use:

Apply by massage a generous amount onto dry skin. Either rinse with warm water or remove excess with a cotton pad in the absence of water. I prefer to rinse this product off, as the friction caused by dragging a cotton pad across the skin is something I try to avoid. This is the only cleanser I use in the morning and the first of a two-step cleanse in the evening.

Price and Number of Uses:

The cost is NZD $72 or USD $52. I estimate the product would last about six months with twice-daily use.


Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Isoamyl Laurate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Isoamyl Cocoate, Butyl Avocadate, Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone, Propyl Gallate, Ethoxydiglycol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Farnesol, Linalool.

Ingredient Analysis:

Cetyl Ethylhexanoate is a synthetic ester that is used as a base oil and functions as an emollient to soften the skin and leave a water-repelling layer over the surface of the skin. This helps keep moisture in the skin from evaporating, helping to build up the skins hydration levels over time. It has a similar chemical structure to common emollients used in skincare and cosmetics, therefore making it able to dissolve these formulations and allowing for their removal from the skins surface.

Isoamyl Laurate is a solvent-based on the ester of isoamyl alcohol with a fatty acid, in this case, lauric acid, which is naturally found in coconuts, and palm kernel oil. This ester functions as a cleanser capable of breaking down the chemical structures of hard to remove sunscreen filters.  According to the patent application, this compound is fully biodegradable and is nontoxic when applied to the skin.  

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is an emollient (skin softening) ingredient that is capable of retaining moisture and repairing the skin due to its high fatty acid content. It also has the ability to enhance the penetration of active ingredients without leaving an oily residue on the skin. It is produced by mixing coconut oil or palm kernel oil with glycerin.

Butyl Avocadate is a patented ingredient derived from avocado esters that is capable of removing hydrophobic (water-repelling) substances like oils from the skin while balancing sebum production.

Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract is derived from the leaves of the Rosemary plant. The most common function in skincare is as a fragrance ingredient, but it also may have skin conditioning and antioxidant properties. It is important to note this is not an essential oil, and the International Journal of Toxicology has found it to be non-sensitising when applied to the skin.

Tocopherol refers to a group of molecules known as Vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant essential for healthy skin. Higher levels are found in the dermis than the epidermis. Vitamin E is delivered to the skin through sebum but can be applied topically, especially in cases where the diet is lacking. Vitamin E absorbs UV energy and reacts with reactive oxygen species (ROS) which protects the skin from UV-induced free radical damage and provides protection from the damaging effects of UV radiation. It is also able to provide anti-inflammatory properties within the skin.

Propyl Gallate is a Gallic acid ester, a naturally occurring, secondary metabolite (small organic molecule nonessential for the survival of an organism), found in many plants. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agent. It is showing exciting possibilities when used on the skin and can even substitute the topical application of steroids in eczema, and skin wounds. It has also been shown to protect the skin from oxidative damage and lighten hyperpigmentation. NIOD explains Gallic acid was added to this formulation as an agent to remove the other ingredients along with any impurities on the skin.

Linalool is a monoterpene alcohol that can be found in many essential oils. It has a fragrance similar to that of bergamot oil and French lavender. It is added to cosmetics and skincare for its fragrance properties. When exposed to air, it is readily oxidized to compounds that cause dermal sensitization and skin irritation. This study took place over a five-year period and involved 6000 participants with dermatitis that were patch tested with 26 different fragrance allergens. Of those, 940 had a reaction to fragrance with 30% of subjects reacting to the limonene component. Its addition to skincare is purely for fragrance purposes and serves no skin-benefiting function.

pH Analysis:

The formula is water-free, therefore does not have a pH value.


I have been this cleanser exclusively in the morning, and most evenings for around four months. The oily feeling that remains after rinsing initially put me off, but it really does help the skin absorb subsequent products and keeps my skin moisturized and feeling hydrated. I have noticed an increased resistance and overall improvement in the hydration and suppleness of my skin. This may be in part due to the fact that this product allowed me to eliminate any foaming (surfactant-based) cleansers from my morning routine which are known to be incredibly harsh on the skin.

Overall Impressions:

I really like the idea of this cleanser, and the freedom to use it without water available makes it incredibly versatile. The oily residue will likely not be appealing to everyone, especially with the sensitizing fragrance ingredient linalool in the formulation. This is a big downside for me. I actively avoid any products with fragrance in them anyway, but when it is added to a product that is designed to stay on the skin, this is even more of a concern. However, that said, the reason is clearly to mask the plastic smell, and I have not had any visible irritation to my skin. I do feel my skin has become less prone to dry patches and appears more hydrated since I have been using this product. NIOD is known for reformulating their products to improve upon their formulations, and if they were to remove the fragrance, this would be the only cleansing oil I need in my routine.

What I Liked:

  • Effective and versatile
  • Can be used with or without water
  • Ideal product for travel
  • Alcohol, and preservative-free
  • Contain the latest skincare ingredients and technology
  • The brand is cruelty-free and vegan

What I Disliked:

  • Can feel oily on the skin
  • Has an unpleasant smell
  • Contains sensitizing and unnecessary fragrance


  • NIOD Website
  • New perspectives on the efficacy of Gallic acid in cosmetics & nanocosmeceuticals.  Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2018.
  • Solvent composition containing at least one ester of isoamylalcohol.  European Patent Office.
  • Vitamin E in dermatology. Indian Dermatological Online Journal, 2016.
  • Vitamin E and skin health. Oregon State University-Micronutrient Information Centre, 2012.
  • Milady Skincare and Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary, 4th Edition, 2015
  • Safety Assessment of Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)-Derived Ingredients as Used in Cosmetics. International Journal of Toxicology, 2018.