After a lousy stint with a foaming facial cleanser, I had finally had enough with soapy-based face wash. I wanted to use something as natural as possible with the fewest natural ingredients I could find so that my skin could have the chance to start over. But where to begin?
I’ve run across a few articles that talk about the water cleansing method, but I was hesitant to try it because it didn’t seem very cleansing at all, not to mention drying since water tends to throw off your skin’s PH. What I wanted was something a bit more moisturizing that still offered cleansing benefits. That’s when I came across the oil cleansing method.
Could the Oil Cleansing Method be Your Answer to Clear Skin?
What is the oil cleansing method?
It might seem a bit odd to consider cleansing your face with oil, especially if you have oily skin to begin with. But contrary to popular belief, the oil cleansing method doesn’t cause oily skin or acne at all. That culprit is usually a combination of poor diet choices, hormone imbalances, and other internal disruptors.
The oil cleansing method is where you use oil as your facial cleanser. And, believe it or not, will actually help clear your complexion, leaving your skin moisturized, supple, and glowing!
Why is this?
So first let’s talk about what happens when you use conventional cleansers….
Conventional cleansers dubbed with the “oil-free” stamp of approval are designed to strip the skin’s natural oils. This adulteration contributes to that tight, itchy, squeaky clean feeling. This = BAD! Soapy, foamy, stripping cleansers cause more harm than good. Plus, they age your skin by drying it out, making it easier for wrinkles to form. Many dermatologists will say that you need to remove your skin’s natural oils in order to clear it…
But I beg to differ! Our natural oils are there for a reason. They protect our skin from the environment, keep it moisturized, and support a strict PH balance that keeps acne-causing bacteria in check.
When the natural oils are removed, our skin begins to overcompensate by producing more and more oil. This is the same thing that happens when you wash your hair too often. Your hair gets greasier and greasier, and pretty soon, you can’t go a single day without washing it.
That being said, your skin can also become too dry when using conventional cleansers because the skin is not able to compensate for the loss of oil. This creates just the opposite…dry flaky skin that seems impossible to deal with.
Using the oil cleansing method will fix both issues.
Using the perfect carrier oil for your skin type will help dissolve impurities, remove them, and keep the outer most barrier intact and functioning properly. Skin that can function properly means that it will be bright, clear, and glowing from within.
So no matter what skin type you have, the oil cleansing method allows your skin to balance itself, bringing it back to its natural state and unique constitution with just one or two natural ingredients.
There are no harsh chemicals involved, no oil stripping, and no antibacterial agents that further disrupt the delicate balance of the skin. And this = GOOD.
How Does the Oil Cleansing Method Work?
According to basic chemistry, oil dissolves oil. Or even more simply “like dissolves like”. The best way to nurture your skin’s natural oils is to use other oils that are similar in composition to cleanse it.
Once you find the right mix, carrier oils like jojoba, sweet almond, and others can effectively draw out and remove impurities and bacteria from deep within the pores to the surface where it can be wiped away.
The oil cleansing method will dissolve blackheads, extract whiteheads, and balance dry, oily, sensitive, and acne prone skin while nourishing and moisturizing it. You’ll never need to buy another cleanser or moisturizer again! How cool is that?
Another thing to note is that the oil cleansing method requires two different carrier oils in order to properly cleanse the skin, usually castor oil and a second, more personally suited carrier oil to help prevent unnecessary dryness.
This is because using castor oil alone will actually draw out too much moisture from the skin, leaving it dry and compromised. However, if used in tiny amounts, it is the perfect companion since it’s good at cleansing.
The second oil you choose is wholly based on your unique skin type, just make sure the oil you choose is pure, unrefined, cold-pressed oil from nuts or seeds. These will be full of all sorts of beneficial antioxidants, fatty acids, and other nutrients.
If you would like a list of over 80 different carrier oils, look no further than my extensive comedogenic oils list.
“So, how do we get started?”
I’m glad you asked!
How to Get Started with The Oil Cleansing Method
1. Choose Your Oils
I personally love using hemp seed oil since it is one of the most unlikely oils to cause breakouts. I usually keep a little squeeze tube of it in the shower for easy use (I also REALLY love to use jojoba oil).
I will usually pump a small amount of oil into my hand, then massage the oil into my skin for around 2 minutes to really get the grime off and to create some good circulation. This will help de-puff the area around your eyes and reduce dark circles. Plus it feels relaxing, so why not right?
One popular oil to use is coconut oil, but if that doesn’t work for you (it doesn’t work for me), I would recommend pure extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is a wonderful moisturizer and will nourish, heal, and support all skin types.
Here are a few oils that you may want to consider:
• Avocado Oil– For all skin types, especially dry, itchy, sensitive, or aging
• Apricot Kernel Oil– For all skin types, especially dry, sensitive, aging, or normal
• Grape Seed Oil– For all skin types, especially acne-prone or oily
• Jojoba Oil– For all skin types, especially acne-prone, oily, sensitive, or normal
• Kukui Nut Oil– For all skin types, especially dry or normal
• Sweet Almond Oil– For all skin types, especially oily or normal
And, for the love of all that is holy, do NOT use baby oil like I’ve seen suggested elsewhere! You’re just asking for trouble if you use any type of mineral oil.
For a complete list of comedogenic oils, read this post!
Contrary to popular use, I don’t recommend using castor oil as a facial cleanser. In my personal experience, using castor oil as part of the oil cleansing method has been a bit harsh for someone with sensitive, acne prone skin like mine (waaay too drying), but if this oil has worked well for you, then by all means, use what works. The trick to using castor oil is using the correct ratio of castor oil and carrier oil that works best for you. If your skin feels too dry after using it, use a bit less castor oil. Experiment and you’ll find what ratio is best for your skin’s needs.
Here are some popular castor oil ratios if you’d like to give castor oil a go:
• Oily Skin– 30% castor oil to 70% carrier oil (like Coconut oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil…etc!)
• Normal Skin– 20% castor oil to 80% carrier oil
• Dry Skin– 10% castor oil to 90% carrier oil
• Very Dry Skin– 0% castor oil to 100% carrier oil
A handy ratio to keep in mind is the thirds ratio.
You can obviously multiply this to fit the container of choice.
Put the oils in a small squeeze bottle and shake it up. Keep it in the shower for easy use. I like these bottle because it keeps water from making your cleanser go rancid.
Be sure to check out my article on which essential oils are best for your skin type to find more variations.
2. Massage it in
Apply a quarter-sized amount of oil into the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together and then, while your face is still dry, gently massage the oil into your skin in a circular motion and relaaaax.
Massage your skin for at least 2 minutes to really allow the oil to do its magic. This will release tension, improve circulation, and firm up the skin. Let your mind drift and forget about negative feelings and emotions.
Massaging like this with the oil will also break up sebum, blackheads, dirt, makeup, and any other impurities on the surface of the skin and within the pores – even stubborn mascara! Doing this step too quickly will not allow the oil to fully break up impurities – so take your time!
3. Open the Pores
Once you have finished massaging in the oil for a few blissful minutes, apply a nice comfortably hot microfiber face washcloth over your face to open your pores. Keep it there until it starts to cool, but is still warm.
Steaming your face like this will help further extract impurities, dead skin cells, and bacteria.
4. Wipe Off the Oil
Use the hot microfiber face washcloth to gently wipe away the cleansing oil using one side.
Wring out and rinse the washcloth to cleanse it a bit, then repeat steaming process 1-2 more times if desired to help further extract impurities from the skin.
Gently wipe your face again being careful not to scrub or drag your skin as it is very delicate at this stage. Your skin should feel soft and clean.
5. Tone With Rosewater
After you have wiped away all the day’s grime, it’s time to liberally spritz your fresh skin with a high-quality rosewater/rose hydrosol in order to restore a balanced PH to the skin. I cannot stress enough how vital this step is! It has changed my skin completely!
While your skin is still damp and dewy from the rose water, take a drop or two of your favorite facial oil (like rosehip seed, argan, jojoba, etc.) and gently massage it into the skin for a final boost of luxurious and nutrient-rich moisture.
And there you have it! The perfect way to oil cleanse.
How Often Should I Use The Oil Cleansing Method?
You shouldn’t need to use the oil cleansing method more than once a day, though you can do it twice if absolutely needed. Just keep in mind that if your skin seems dry, you should bump the oil cleansing down to just once a day, preferably before bed.
If the dry skin continues, you may need to lessen the amount of castor oil in your blend which is why I suggest starting with a very small recipe until you find your perfect blend.
I like to use the oil cleansing method before bedtime mostly because I like going to sleep with a clean face with no makeup, but you can certainly use this method in the AM instead too.
As a side note, don’t be surprised if you notice more sebum production after starting the oil cleansing method. This is short-lived and is because the pores have been opened and cleansed which will allow them to function properly again.
This shouldn’t last more than a week or two at most before things balance out again.
How to Boost the Effectiveness of the Oil Cleansing Method
The easiest way to “kick it up a notch” is to add a drop or 2 of your favorite essential oil to the carrier oil you’re using for cleansing.
This will make your cleansing oil more luxurious and customized to your exact needs but please be aware that essential oils are very concentrated, so you only need 1 drop per teaspoon (5ml) for them to be effective.
Never put essential oils directly on the skin because they can be quite irritating or even burn the skin and NEVER use citrus oils if you are going to be in direct sunlight.
For a beginner’s guide on essential oils, check out this article.
For the suggestions below, only add one essential oil to a cleansing oil at a time AFTER you have discovered your perfect oil cleansing ratio/blend. You may then add any of the oils below. Just keep in mind that rose, neroli, and ylang ylang are VERY strong smelling oils so you only need the teensiest bit.
Here are a few essential oils to consider for oil cleansing:
Feeling stressed? Add some lavender or rose.
Feeling down? Add some neroli, lemon or any other citrus essential oil.
Have acne? Add some tea tree oil, lemongrass, lavender, geranium, peppermint, rosemary, helichrysum or sandalwood.
Dry Skin? Add lavender, rose, sandalwood, ylang ylang, or chamomile.
Oily Skin? Add Lemon, cypress, lavender, juniper, grapefruit, cedarwood, or lemongrass.
The combinations for essential oils are endless and you really can’t go wrong when choosing which ones to use since all essential oils are antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, and just downright beneficial for the skin in general (think anti-aging!).
In fact, I even have a post on using essential oils in the oil cleansing method called The Enhanced Oil Cleansing Method. Be sure to check it out!
Another little trick you can use is to try adding a little pinch of granulated sugar to your cleansing oil if you need a little extra exfoliation.
This works really well for those who are experiencing the “jojoba purge” where the skin is getting rid of impurities a little faster than your skin can manage.
The sugar will help remove build-up and will also have its own humectant properties.
Just be sure to do this very gently and only 1-2 times per week at most in order to prevent barrier damage or irritation.
Homemade Cleanser – Oil Cleaning Method Recipes
These recipes will make about 1 oz of “castor oil face wash” 😉
Acne-Prone Skin Types
Dry Skin Types
Normal Skin Types
Oily Skin Types
These are just guidelines. Remember to find the right balance of castor oil for your unique skin.
The Pros and Cons of the Oil Cleansing Method
The Pros of Oil Cleansing
• It’s great for the skin and works for every skin type
• Helps to clear up acne
• Combats dryness and irritation
• Makes the skin glowy and dewy
• Prevents wrinkles
• It’s supernatural with no harsh chemicals
• It’s a fantastic makeup remover…and CHEAP
• It doesn’t strip away the skin’s natural oils
• Replaces both cleansers and moisturizers
The Cons of Oil Cleansing
• It can take time for your skin to adjust (usually a few weeks)
• It can be more expensive than a normal cleanser depending on which oils you use
• Your skin may become dry at first
Final Notes on Oil Cleansing
Generally, you should only be using the OCM at night before bed in order to remove the day’s grime, makeup, and other impurities from your skin.
In the morning, you can simply spritz your face with rosewater and add a drop of your favorite facial oil to your skin. No “cleansing” needed.
It isn’t recommended to use a regular cleanser while using the OCM. This will only confuse your oil glands and cause them to produce excess oil.
Moisturizers are Optional
While using the oil cleansing method, you may find that you no longer need a traditional moisturizer. You may also find that you DO need one and that’s okay!
Just make sure that whatever you’re using is as natural as possible!
The OCM isn’t for everyone. if you simply cannot get your skin to accept oils for cleansing, that’s okay too!
Sometimes your skin just needs extra time, sometimes it just doesn’t like what you’re doing.
Alternatively, if YOU don’t enjoy the process of spending so much time on your skincare, then why force yourself to continue?
It’s all about balance!
For more on the oil cleansing method, check out these articles:
Using the oil cleansing method will brighten and nourish your skin and will even help clear acne! Let me know how your oil cleansing experience went in the comments below =)
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