Have you heard of the oil cleansing method? Or perhaps you’ve tried it?
To be honest, the first time I heard of this cleansing technique I was very skeptical.
It didn’t seem natural to clean oil with oil.
But as I started researching and testing it out, I came to realize that there is a logic behind this cleansing method.
In this article, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about the oil cleansing method – how it can ruin your skin, what to avoid, and how to do it properly.
It’s the most in-depth guide you’ll find, so make sure to bookmark it for future reference.
What is the oil cleansing method?
The oil cleansing method or OCM is a skincare method that involves massaging the face with plant-based oils like olive oil, jojoba seed oil, grapeseed oil, or others.
The goal is to extract the gunk from blocked pores and remove bad oils from the skin by using an oil with specific benefits.
As a result, the pores are clean and fresh, and the skin is soothed and nourished. The skin is moisturized and soft.
Before I explain how oil removes all the yuck and muck from your skin, it’s worth pointing out that oil cleansing is a completely different thing from double-cleansing.
The way most standard cleaning methods work is by getting rid of the bacteria in general with the help of a wash-off product. Usually, this doesn’t make a difference between good and bad bacteria (and there is a huge difference) on the skin.
In contrast, using oil to massage and clean the skin ensures that the good bacteria remain on the skin while the bad is kicked out of your pores. Good bacteria help with things like acne or infections, so we want to keep them around.
How does oil cleanse the skin?
The oil that you use to clean the skin has the properties to bond to the excessive debris and oils on the surface of your skin.
But that’s not all that the method can do for you.
The oil cleansing method can also support the protective barrier of your skin. This will allow it to stay hydrated and gentle for longer.
Some of the extra perks of oil cleansing include:
- enjoying all of the antioxidant benefits;
- faster healing of wounds, inflammation, and acne scars;
- slower skin aging;
- protection against inflammation, cancer, and others.
However, the oil cleansing method is not flawless and it’s not for everybody.
If done incorrectly and to skin that can’t handle it, it could cause skin damage and lead to, well, your skin being ruined.
Why is oil cleansing ruining your skin and what to do about it?
I know I started on a positive note but things are about to take a sharp turn.
The reality is that feedback from friends, colleagues, and the web that says “oil cleansing method ruined my skin” is far too powerful to ignore.
A lot of people give this otherwise “miracle” method a go, only to experience acne, inflammation, and even scars as a result.
Let’s see all the reasons why this can happen.
Oil cleansing method purging
Oil cleansing can cause some initial purging, especially if you’re just getting started with it. Your skin will need some time to adapt. Moreover, certain oils such as rosehip oil and jojoba seed oil can increase skin shedding which will speed up the reveal of underlying pimples.
During the adaptation phase, you’re likely to experience some purging, with pimples and dry and peeling skin (not ideal, I know). You can spot different types of breakouts and even experience itchiness and some irritation. This usually lasts for several weeks before it subsides.
If this reaction continues for a over a month, the truth could be that the oil that you’ve selected is not the right one for your skin type or that the oil cleansing method is not good for you in general.
However, make sure you’re doing everything right before giving up.
Because of the wrong oil you’re using
As you’ll see in a bit, not all oils are created equal and they certainly don’t give the same results when used in OCM.
You should carefully pick the oil you want to use based on the skin type you have.
For example, coconut oil is among the most controversial ones used for this cleansing method.
For starters, it’s comedogenic, meaning that if your skin is acne-prone, it’s a definite no-no for you. It will clog your pores and cause rapid breakouts.
Although coconut oil is antifungal and antibacterial and comes with a ton of amazing properties, it’s best to stay away from it as a face cleanser.
We will take a closer look at some oils that are suitable for oil cleansing shortly.
Because of over-exfoliation
Some plant-based oils can have an over-exfoliating effect and can strip the skin from the healthy oils and layers that it is producing.
These good players protect your skin and once gone, the skin becomes more vulnerable.
Stripping your skin of natural oils also means that it will end up producing more to compensate, potentially leading to clogged pores. To avoid this, it’s vital to choose an oil that is suitable for your skin type and to do a patch test before going in deep.
Because you haven’t removed all the oil after cleansing
Some people trying the oil cleansing method for the first time, or simply improvising, may fail to fully clean the face from the applied oil.
This means that the excess oil will remain on your skin, clogging your pores and storing the dirt that was meant to be cleared from the surface.
As the oil and grime continue to stay on top of your skin, you’re likely to experience unpleasant consequences like breakouts, irritation, and redness.
Because you are using a washcloth that is too hot
Although the oil cleansing method does involve a warm washcloth or towel to wipe off the excess at the end, it mustn’t be too hot.
The high temperatures can cause burns and inflammation, and overall – a negative effect from a treatment that’s meant to help.
What oil is good for oil cleansing?
I want to stress the fact that there are a ton of different oils that you can use for oil cleansing.
Some of them will truly work wonders while others will simply ruin your face and leave you in tears (at least that’s what my reaction would be).
I’ll start with the oils that you want to stay away from as they’re comedogenic and will clog your pores. These oils should especially be avoided by anyone who has acne-prone skin as it’s like saying “yes” to a marriage of your skin to acne.
The comedogenic oils include:
- Coconut oil
- Cocoa butter
- Flaxseed oil
- Palm oil
- Soybean oil
- Wheat germ oil
On the good side, not all oils are bad.
Based on your skin type, you can use different plant-based oils to get the results you’re looking for. Here are the types of oils you can choose based on your skin type.
Oils for oily skin
- Grapeseed oil – this is perhaps one of my favorites! It’s a non-comedogenic oil and has natural cleansing abilities. It’s a magic weapon for cleaning out the debris and bad oils that fill and enlarge pores. It’s perfect for oily skin as it absorbs almost instantly. It reduces redness and evens the skin tone too.
- Pumpkin seed oil – it’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy omegas. Pumpkin seed oil strengthens the skin’s health and structure. It also minimizes the appearance of wrinkles and signs of aging.
- Sunflower oil – allows the skin to retain water and is, therefore, an outstanding moisturizer. You’ll enjoy a nice, soothing feel and extra protection. Sunflower oil stands out for its lightweight properties and is not as occlusive as other oils.
- Safflower seed oil – gentle and light, this oil is unscented and non-irritating. It’s plant-based and can clean the face without drying out your skin.
Oils for acne-prone skin
- Jojoba oil – another amazing cleanser for the skin, jojoba oil is rich in moisturizing properties and is amazing for oily skin or skin that suffers from acne and breakouts. However, it does have wax esters and it can resemble a serum, which is not ideal for everyone. Patch test a few times before committing to using it.
- Hemp oil – comes with rejuvenating and nourishing properties that are amazing for dry skin. It also helps prevent flakiness and itchiness. Hemp oil controls the production of oil, making it a moisturizing cleanser that doesn’t clog pores.
- Castor oil – can literally remove any debris, dirt, and bad oil from the skin. It’s popular for containing ricinolein acid and is therefore heavily moisturizing (in a good way). Plus, who wouldn’t love the antibacterial properties, which can be extremely useful when used on acne-prone skin. Keep in mind that castor oil can leave your skin feeling dry, so you may want to dilute it with another oil.
- Pomegranate seed oil – extremely rich in Omega-5 fatty acids or Punicic acids, making it anti-inflammatory. It can also slow down aging and is a strong helper for unclogging pores and fighting acne.
- Bitter apricot oil – rich in vitamins A and E and packed with fatty acids, this oil has superpowers for acne-prone or sensitive skin. It quickly absorbs into the skin, leaves behind a feeling of hydration, and protects the skin’s natural barrier.
Oils for sensitive skin
- Camellia oil – this oil is an emollient and keeps the skin hydrated and supple. The majority of the fatty acids it contains are Oleic fatty acids or Omega-9s. Omega-9 is a brilliant transdermal carrier that can help the skin retain moisture.
- Mineral oil – an extremely gentle and soothing oil that hydrates and cleanses the skin perfectly. It’s a common choice for people with dry or sensitive skin. A few drawbacks are that it can lead to breakouts if applied to acne-prone skin, it doesn’t come with any antioxidants, and it’s occlusive, so the products you use after the routine (if any) won’t be absorbed by the skin.
Oils for dry skin
- Avocado oil – rich in vitamin E, potassium, lecithin, and a ton of other nutrients, avocado oil has the power to rejuvenate and hydrate your skin – a truly quenching oil.
- Extra virgin olive oil – it’s rich in vitamins and antioxidants and comes with anti-aging effects. It’s also a great moisturizer and offers relief from too much exposure to the sun. However, it could lead to breakouts and very few olive oil products are pure, so use it with caution and definitely not as a routine.
- Almond oil – almond oil is a leader when it comes to hydrating dry skin. It’s even used to treat eczema and psoriasis.
- Borage oil – brings back the natural moisture and smoothness of the skin, making it a perfect choice for dry skin.
Oils for all skin types – universal oils
- Argan oil – is a perfect skin cleanser, leaves behind a nice, hydrating effect, and can safely be used regardless of your skin type. On the downside, it can be quite expensive.
Other oils you can use
- Olive pomace oil – disinfects and has a thorough cleansing effect. With an essential oil as a base, it leaves behind a healthy-looking and smooth-feeling skin.
- Soybean oil – has linoleic acid, which supports the skin’s moisture barrier and makes it stronger. It also supports the delivery of key fatty acids that further helps the skin barrier, and prevent water loss. Soybean oil is also rich in vitamin E.
- Peanut oil – peanut oil is popular for reducing skin irritation and eliminating red spots. It’s also packed with vitamin E, antioxidants, and other natural ingredients that support the skin.
- Sesame oil – comes with vitamin E that can shield the skin from external factors like UV rays and pollution. Its fatty acids, on the other hand, help with the reduction and prevention of wrinkles.
- Oat oil – has amazing antifungal properties and can help relieve discomfort from itchiness, and can soothe and calm the skin. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
- Rosehip oil – it’s full of antioxidants and essential fatty acids that support the skin’s cell regeneration.
- Shea butter – leaves behind a soft and well-hydrated skin thanks to its fatty acids. It contains linoleic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids.
What is the best cleansing oil for the face?
We’ll overview two scenarios here: DIY-ing your own blend of oils and getting a pre-mixed solution from a store.
DIY recipes for oil cleansing
DIY recipes for oil cleaning are especially handy when it comes to creating a product for your specific skin type. However, this might be too complex for someone who’s just starting on their OCM journey.
It’s a pure joy to mix your oil-cleansing solution for those who are enthusiastic about DIY projects in general.
Here are some of the DIY oil-mixing recipes that I’d like to share with you. I’ve separated these according to skin type.
If you don’t already have a brand from which you’d like to purchase your oils, I recommend Plant Therapy. These are the products I personally love and recommend to everyone.
Oil cleansing recipe for acne-prone skin (specifically cystic acne)
The oils you’ll want to use here are tea tree, lavender, and clary sage. Tea tree offers instant relief to irritated skin and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
On the other hand, lavender oil is one of the best healing solutions for skin and heals and detoxifies at the same time.
Finally, clary sage oil reduces skin inflammation and has powerful healing abilities that act on the epidermis.
Here’s how to mix this healing solution:
- Use 4 drops of tea tree oil
- Use 3 drops of lavender oil
- Use 2 drops of clary sage oil
- Add ½ oz of argan oil
- Add ½ oz of grapeseed oil
Oil cleansing recipe for oily skin
When it comes to oily skin, the best oils to use are sunflower oil, safflower oil, and castor oil.
I’ve already covered the perks of using both of these, so let’s get straight to the recipe.
It’s extremely quick and easy. All you have to do is to mix:
- 70% Sunflower oil or Safflower oil
- 30% Castor oil
Oil cleansing DIY recipe for dry skin
If you have dry skin and want to try the oil cleansing method with a DIY combo, you’ll need avocado oil, castor oil, and sunflower oil.
You’ll notice that the only difference from the recipe above is the inclusion of avocado oil. This is to provide the extra hydration dry skin needs.
Here’s the recipe you’ll need to follow:
- 60% avocado oil
- 10% castor oil
- 30% sunflower oil
Oil cleansing homemade recipe for combination skin
Here, you can take advantage of the moisturizing power of grape seed oil and the abilities of castor and olive oil that I’ve also mentioned above.
- 40% grape seed oil
- 30% castor oil
- 30% olive oil
Pre-mixed oils that can be used for oil cleansing
If you’d like to save yourself the fuss of mixing a DIY face oil, I have several universal recommendations for pre-mixed oil cocktails for any skin type.
Ancient Greek Remedy Unscented Organic Blend is a nice low-price option you can use not only for your face but also for your hair and body. You get 4oz of product for around $16 which is awesome.
A more expensive (but definitely worth it) option is the KORA Organics Noni Glow Plumping Face Oil – it’s a blend of rosehip oil, jojoba seed oil, sunflower seed oil, and other beneficial ingredients.
This is better suited for my needs, personally, because I get the small bottle (0.34oz for $28) – I like to use oil only for the oil cleansing method and only on my face, so this comes in handy as I manage to use it up before it goes rancid – something that happens often with larger bottles.
And if you want to be extra with your oil, I definitely recommend you try the Lumene Nordic-C Arctic Berry Face Oil Cocktail.
Besides the great oil blend, it also features several skin-loving ingredients such as niacinamide, ascorbic acid, adenosine, squalane, glycerin, panthenol, and many more. It’s a true powerhouse for your skin and it’s extra lightweight.
Is oil cleansing good for acne-prone skin?
Although I wouldn’t exclude the OCM for acne-prone skin, I’d definitely be cautious before I try it – most oils out there just aren’t suited for this specific issue.
It will definitely be a challenge at first until you pinpoint the perfect balance of oils that you can use for acne-prone skin. In the meantime, you can expect to see some breakouts and potential irritation, especially if your skin is sensitive.
Can oil cleansing cause acne?
Without a doubt. I already mentioned that coconut oil, for example, is a leader in the pore-clogging marathon.
With all of this in mind, start slow and test how your skin reacts before making this method a habit for acne-prone skin.
What is the best cleansing oil for acne-prone skin?
If you’re looking for an oil for oily skin, search for a solution that is light in consistency and isn’t comedogenic. The perfect oils are silky and have antibacterial characteristics. Great oils for breakout-prone skin include jojoba oil, grape seed oil, hemp oil, and castor oil.
I like the Trilogy Balancing Facial Oil as the oil blend inside is infused with salicylic acid – a gold standard when it comes to unclogging your pores. It’s both anti-inflammatory and exfoliating, and it’s able to reach deep inside those pores and clear them up from the gunk.
If you choose right, you’ll notice that the red zones on your skin are diminished, the face does not feel irritated and it will have a sense of nourishment and rejuvenation.
Sometimes, not all of this can be achieved with a single oil but you’ll rather have to rely on a mix of separate oils.
Is oil cleansing bad for the skin?
So, can oil cleansing make your skin worse? Can oil cleansing damage the skin barrier?
Yes, it can.
But ONLY if you’re not doing it right.
Generally speaking, oil cleansing has several advantages for the skin and is a method that a lot of people rely on.
It’s much better than traditional cleansing in many ways. It ensures your face is gently cleansed without stripping off the natural lipid layers of the skin. You also get to keep the healthy and useful bacteria that protect the skin’s surface and play a good part in its young look.
Will oil cleansing clog pores and cause acne?
If you’ve not chosen your dedicated oil carefully, you can get clogged pores that can result in breakouts.
Bad oils include everything you can find in your kitchen. They’re produced for cooking purposes and are completely different from the oils that can have an active part in your skincare routines.
The suitable oils for oil cleansing are light, with a watery consistency. This means that they won’t result in pore congestion.
Will the oil cleansing method dry out my skin?
There are several causes for dry skin due to the oil cleansing method. For one, you might be using the wrong oil for your skin, so make sure that you have identified your skin type properly and chosen the most suitable oil for yourself.
A second reason for overly dry skin after the OCM might have to do with the washcloth that you’re using to remove the oil. Opt for a soft, microfiber cloth instead of a textured washcloth – the softer the texture, the better the results will be. Use a light hand when removing the oil but do so thoroughly – you don’t want to clog your pores with excess oil either.
Finally, you may be using water that is too hot. Make sure to use lukewarm water to soak in your washcloth instead.
Is it okay to oil cleanse every day?
If you’ve gotten into the habit of oil cleansing and you’ve found the perfect combo of oils for your skin, it’s perfectly okay to cleanse every day.
However, this is not a suggestion I would give to someone with acne-prone skin or extremely sensitive skin. Nor for people new to oil cleansing.
If you’re comfortable with the method, once a day should be okay. If you are a beginner, I would recommend you start a couple of days a week to see how your skin handles it and to test out different oils.
You can also do the procedure less often as a special skincare treatment rather than a routine. I personally do it only several times a month before going to bed to get that dirt build-up off of the skin. I like it as a pampering routine, as I’m too impatient to do it every night.
And for how long should you oil cleanse, you ask?
Well, most experts say that you should massage the oil into the skin for up to 10 minutes but no more than that. I do it for less than five and see good results. Do what feels right for you.
Should you wash your face after oil cleansing?
You shouldn’t feel the need to wash your face after oil cleansing and it’s not really a step that’s part of the process.
The oil cleansing method is as follows:
- Choose your oils or make a mix of your choice;
- Massage the oil into the skin for several minutes;
- Use a hot, wet towel and cover your face. This will allow the steam to be absorbed by the pores as the towel cools down;
- Wipe off the excess oil with your towel.
Any type of washing or follow-up cleansing is not part of the process and doing it beats the purpose of oil cleansing.
Should you tone after oil cleansing?
In short, no, you don’t need to use a toner after oil cleansing either.
For one, it won’t be able to penetrate into your skin as the oil molecules will block it.
All you need are the steps I mentioned above – oil, massage, and a towel.
The main role of the toner is to restore the pH balance of the skin which you don’t need with the oil cleansing method as you’re not stripping anything excess.
Either way, after oil cleansing, you probably won’t even feel the need to put up extra skincare products, even a toner, because of how well hydrated your skin will feel.
Should you use a moisturizer after oil cleansing?
Another big question is whether you should use moisturizer after oil cleansing.
Again, the answer is no, it’s not a mandatory step.
If you’ve selected the right type of oil, your skin should feel soft and shouldn’t require extra hydration.
However, if you’re still new to the oil cleansing method and you’re not feeling very moisturized, you can use your regular moisturizer for some extra hydration.
Can you oil cleanse your body too?
The oil cleansing method can be used on the whole body and not just the face.
In fact, it’s recommended as a treatment for dry skin, skin with severe damage, or acne-prone skin. I’ve personally used oil cleansing for my chest area when I had some problems with blackheads there and it helped rid the smaller ones.
The deep oil cleansing and the hydration that most oils leave behind will certainly help tackle the problems of such skin types.
Moreover, sensitive and dry skin types often react to harsh and aggressive soaps and body washes. Even if the soap is gentle, the reactions may still be present due to the type of skin. You can enjoy much softer and soothed skin when using the oil cleansing method for the whole body.
As you can see from all that we’ve covered, the oil cleansing method can be two sides of a coin.
It can be a magic wand for gently cleansing the face but it can also be a complete nightmare for people who choose the wrong oil.
There is no right or wrong answer to the question of whether it’s a good idea or not, it all comes down to personal experience and the choice of oil.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this method! If you’ve ever tried it or read something interesting about it, feel free to share your feedback or comments in the comment section below!
Until next time!
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