The Oil Cleansing Method

Did you know you can use oil to cleanse your skin? Really you can. I’m not crazy. Oil will actually work better to clean your pores, control acne and  moisturize than store bought cleansers. The oil cleansing method uses a blend of castor, olive and essential oils to cleanse the skin of excess sebum. It will also remove  dirt and makeup.

In the cosmetics industry there is this myth that oil is bad. Sure mineral and other petroleum based oils found in many cosmetics are bad for your skin but not all oils are bad. Facial cleansers that you buy at the drugstore or department store will boast “oil free” formulations. They  clean your skin by using alcohol and chemicals to strip the skin of it’s natural oils.  Then cosmetic companies sell you additional products to “balance the PH of your skin” (toner) and re-moisturize your stripped skin. It’s really a vicious cycle because you are stripping your skin, creating the need to buy more products to rebalance and add moisture and these products will then cause breakouts and clogged pores creating the need to cleanse.  Who benefits from this over-cleansing cycle? The people selling you the products!

 Don’t buy into their crap.  Even if you think I am nuts because I am telling you the opposite of what the cosmetic industry has told you your entire life I urge you to give the oil cleansing method a try.  It works because oil dissolves oil. This is a fact.  When you place good oils on your skin it mixes in with the natural oils already present in your pores. The dirt and sebum will be drawn out of your pores and replaced with natural healthy oils that are good for your skin. This method is great for all skin types even sensitive and especially acne prone.

The Oil

Castor Oil: You can buy this at your local pharmacy. It’s found in the laxative section. The castor oil helps to draw out dirt and impurities from your skin

Carrier Oil: Traditionally olive oil is used because of its moisturizing and powerful antioxidant properties  but you can use other oils such as grapeseed or apricot kernel oil. Olive oil will work on any skin type. If you have very oily skin you may want to use grapeseed oil because it is very light. If you skin is on the drier side you could try jojoba or evening primrose oil since they are more rich and moisturizing.

Essential Oil : Essential oils are super concentrated so you only need a tiny bit. I like sweet orange oil. You can use whatever one appeals to you. Lavender and tea tree are great for acne prone skin. 

The Blend:

Fill the bottle with 1/3 castor oil, and 2/3 carrier oil. Add just a few drops of essential oil.  For a 3 oz container I used about half teaspoon or essential oil.  There are no definitive rules for the oil ratios.  In general the oilier your skin the more castor oil you should use. I don’t recommend more that 50% castor oil.

The Method:

Pour a quarter sized amount of oil in your hand and. massage it into your skin for about a minute. Then run a washcloth under the hottest water you can handle (but be careful not to burn yourself). Ring out the washcloth and drape it over your face.  Press  it into your skin. The steam from the cloth feels really nice on your face and helps to open your pores so all the gunk comes out  Gently wipe off the oil. Rinse out the cloth with hot water again and wipe off the oil. You can do this 2-3 times to get all the oil off. Your skin will be glowing! You most likely won’t need any moisturizer.

Your skin won’t feel oily and it won’t have that tight just washed feeling. It just feels nice and hydrated. I use this method to remove my makeup and cleanse my skin before bed.  In the mornings I just do a quick swipe of witch hazel over my face and use a light moisturizer before I put my make up on.  Sometimes if I am going to have a shower at night I put the oil on my face and hop in the shower so the stream from the water can penetrate my skin. Then, I rub off the oil with a cloth.

It can take a few weeks for your skin to get used to this new way of cleansing. You might experience more breakouts before your skin clears up.  It’s most likely just the adjustment period. If you are having skin freak outs try to give your skin at least two weeks to adapt before you give up. Have you  ever tried the oil cleansing method? How did it work for you?

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12 Responses to The Oil Cleansing Method

  1. ~mc~ says:

    I love cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil … use it for everything, literally everything.

    I even oil-pull with it.


  2. I have used oil to cleanse my skin in many ways. Previously I used coconut oil, now I use olive oil. Add salt or sugar to 4 tbsp of olive oil and use that body scrub. That really works!!

    One can mix equal quantities of Olive Oil and Almond oil. Add a bit of saffron, shake it and use the mixture as a night cream after washing the face. No need to wash it with soap in the morning. Just splash plain water…

    Within a week, you can see how your skin glows and all spots and blemishes vanish!


  3. I heard once that the ancient Greeks would use oil all over their bodies and then scrape it off with a blade…I've always wanted to learn more about the anthropology of oil as a cleansing liquid.


  4. Kala says:

    I am a huge fan of coconut oil and olive oil myself. Great tip, thank you:)


  5. While I would *love* to try something like this, I'm worried that my stupid skin wouldn't like it. I've got a face care routine that somewhat keeps my skin issues at bay (though it could get so much better). I'm too skurred to try! 😦


  6. Great tips everyone. I need to pick up more coconut oil from the store. Love that stuff too.

    @ Fountain: It's hard to stray away from skin care routines that you know work esp when you have really picky skin. Maybe when you run out of your current products give this a try before you buy more?


  7. Anonymous says:

    will this oil cleansing method work on the skin on your body


  8. Sure! the skin on your body is just like the skin on your face- except it's thicker. Good oils like olive oil are great for all of your skin!


  9. Anonymous says:

    will this method rid my skin of stretch marks?


  10. Sadly I doubt it will do much for stretch marks only becuase I believe that the only think that will get rid of stretch marks is some sort of cosmetic surgery. Keeping your skin moisturized with oil is a good way to help prevent marks from forming when you are pregnant though.


  11. Jessica says:

    Ahhh, did my first oil cleansing of the winter season (yes, the winter season is approaching here in Alaska). I read your blog post and tried the one-third castor oil to the mix (I used to use all olive oil). It's too early to tell, but it made the oil a little less thick, generally. I also put it on before my shower and let the steam work its magic in the shower. I just had my little mini-face washer in the shower, but next time I will remember a full washcloth to do the facey drapey thing. My skin is just sighing in relief and feels so nice! Not greasy, just happy and not itchy and tight. 🙂 Thank you!


  12. Hi Jessica, thanks for visiting! I usually do the OCM more often in the winter months than the summer. It really helps to keep your skin moisturized throughout the winter.


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