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The first time I heard about the oil cleansing method, I laughed. Do you really expect me to put oil all over my acne prone, reactive skin – makeup on and all – and actually believe it will cleanse my face?
I couldn’t believe there are suckers out there who fell for it. I quickly forgot all about it, as I was certain, if there was one thing I will never ever try on my skin, it would be this one.
Except that – I few months later I kind of got desperate and more willing to try… well, pretty much anything.
You see, all this happened a few years back, in a moment when my skin was going through pretty much every nasty condition I had heard of. The acne I thought will not follow me after high school were still very present and very active. And all the harsh products I’ve been using trying to get rid of them finally started to take their toll.
I had that worst combination, where the skin is covered in cysts and blackheads, yet it is so dry, my nose flaked! My skin was severely irritated, inflamed and it felt tight and uncomfortable.
The situation was so bad, I decided to go after trying to fix the dryness, and stopped even thinking about getting rid of acne. That’s when the oil cleansing method came back to my mind…
What Is Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)?
Oil cleansing is a skincare technique in which you apply an oil to your face in order to clean it. It is a face cleansing method often recommended by holistic estheticians and followers of Korean beauty and clean beauty trends.
It is a more natural, chemical-free way to remove makeup (yes, even waterproof mascara), as well as excess sebum, bacteria and grime collected throughout the day.
Cleansing your face with an oil is gentle to the skin. It can help you avoid all the drying, harsh and irritating face cleansers and still get a perfectly pure, happy skin. Plus, it won’t mess up your microbiome.
The reason oil cleansing method works so well is because nothing can dissolve oils on your face better than another oil. “Like dissolves like” is a basic chemical principal this theory is based on. It simply means that, if you apply an oil to your face, it will work to break down impurities, oil-based makeup, sebum and everything else that clogs your pores and causes blackheads and acne.
As contra intuitive as it may sound, oil cleansing method is suitable for all skin types, even for oily skin and acne. Contrary to popular belief, applying an oil (a natural, quality oil) to your skin will not clog your pores or cause new breakouts.
In fact, it can help you soothe acne inflammations, dissolve the excess sebum, balance out your skin and in time even completely get rid of acne and blackheads.
Benefits of Cleansing Your Face with an Oil
One of the reasons oil cleansing became so popular is that is has something to offer to every skin type. Choose the right combination of oils, and it can help you:
- Deep cleanse and reduce enlarged pores and get rid of the impurities and excess sebum in a gentle, non-harmful way;
- Get rid of acne, both by thoroughly cleansing the skin and by soothing acne inflammations;
- Reduce the production of sebum, control oily skin and get rid of blackheads;
- Rich and nourishing oils soften dry skin, make it smooth and moist and repair its barrier function;
- Oils also soothe irritated skin, as this is one of the gentlest cleansing methods and it doesn’t disrupt the skin’s natural pH level;
- Oil cleansing also has an anti-aging effect to the skin, as most plant oils are rich in antioxidants and they all thoroughly nourish the skin;
- Cleansing your face with natural oils brightens the skin and has a healing and repairing effect. It fades acne marks and dark spots and evens out the skin tone;
- Massage (which is a part of the OCM) releases the tension in facial muscles, helps flush out toxins, makes the skin firm and supple and improves its texture;
- The washcloth you use to remove the oils exfoliates the skin, removes the dead, dry layer of skin cells and encourages your skin to produce new, healthy ones;
- Oil cleansing method also allows you to avoid chemicals and harsh ingredients that would normally end up on your face.
Which Oils to Use?
When I first started with oil cleansing, I did a little research and found that most people recommend castor oil. Castor oil acts as an astringent cleaner and it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. Though very thick in texture, this oil contains ricinoleic acid, which can help increase the absorption into the pores.
But, here’s the catch – castor oil can be quite drying to the skin and it can even irritate the sensitive areas. Which is why it should never be used pure, but only in combination with other skin nourishing oils. Most people get the best results when using a blend that contains around 30% of castor oil.
Which oil you should add to castor oil depends on your skin type. If you have oily, acne prone skin, try out some lightweight oil, such as grapeseed, hemp seed, jojoba, maracuja…
For dry or aging skin, you can use heavier, more nourishing oils, such as olive, safflower, sweet almond, sunflower, avocado, etc.
I’ve also tried out coconut oil and I got great results with it. But, I know that in many girls coconut oil can clog pores and make the breakouts even worse. So, if you want to try it out, make sure to patch-test it first on a small area of your face.
Rosehip oil is also wonderful for all skin types and one of my personal favorites. It contains powerful antioxidants (such as vitamins A and C) that can brighten up the skin, even out the skin tone and boost the skin cell turnover. Definitely worth adding to your cleansing oil mixture.
My favorite oil blend:
Here’s how I make my own cleansing oil:
- 2 tablespoons castor oil
- 3 tablespoons sweet almond oil
- 1 tablespoon rosehip oil
I sometimes like to replace rosehip oil with sea buckthorn. You can also use any carrier oil you like instead of sweet almond oil.
All you have to do is simply pour all the oils into a clean bottle or jar and mix well.
How to Do the Oil Cleansing Method?
Although it seems like one of those things that you’ll never be able to wash off, oil cleansing is actually quite simple to perform and surprisingly clean. It can also be a very relaxing experience.
Here’s how to do it, step by step:
Pick up your hair and move it away from your face. Take 1 – 2 teaspoons of your cleansing oil to your palm. Rub it between your palms and let it warm up a bit.
Apply the oil to your dry skin. Don’t wet your face first. Just apply the oil over the makeup, sweat and everything else you want to remove.
Take a few minutes to thoroughly massage it into your skin, especially in the areas with skin imperfections and everywhere where you can feel muscle tension.
The oil is safe to use around your eyes, so feel free to remove your eye makeup with it as well. However, be gentle with your fingers in that area, try not to pull too much on that sensitive skin.
Also, be careful that the oil doesn’t get into your eyes. That can sting and it can temporarily cause blurry vision.
Take a clean, soft washcloth and rinse it well under running water. The water should be hot, to really warm up the washcloth.
Press the warm washcloth into your skin (over the oil) and leave it draped until it cools down. (It only takes seconds for it to completely cool down, so I usually repeat this step a few times.)
The warmth will open up your pores, steam your face and allow the cleansing oil to penetrate even deeper into your pores. It will enhance the removal of all the impurities out of your pores.
When you are done with steaming your face, rinse the washcloth again with warm water and wrap it around your fingers. Using gentle circular movements, use it to thoroughly remove the residue oil from your skin. You can repeat this a few times, until you’ve removed all the oil.
If you have sensitive skin or inflamed acne, the washcloth might be too rough for you. Though exfoliation is great for the skin, too much of it or too often can seriously damage the already irritated skin. So, try using something softer, maybe a microfiber cloth.
If there’s a need for it, you can repeat the whole process one more time.
Sometimes, if I am wearing a lot of makeup and I don’t want it to sink into my pores during the steaming part, I apply the oil and take everything off with a wet washcloth. Then I apply another layer of oil, massage it in well, drape the hot wet washcloth to steam my face and continue as I normally would.
Also, in the last couple of months I really started to appreciate the double cleansing method. So, more often than not, I will use my regular face wash after the oil cleansing. I mean – I loved just the oil cleansing as it helped me so much, but now I like it even more as a part of the double cleansing.
When you are done, proceed with your skincare routine. I know that many girls like to just add a few drops of the oil they’ve just used for cleansing. Personally, I prefer to use some lightweight product first (serum, mist, hydrosol or a lightweight facial cream). Then, if I feel like my skin could use a bit more nourishment, I can add a few drops of some oil over it.
How Often Should You Cleanse Your Face With An Oil?
Some people say you should use the oil cleansing method both in the morning and at night. Others recommend using it only at night, to remove the makeup and all the grime of the day.
I’ve been using it only before bed (I don’t have enough time in the morning, plus I’ve never really felt the need) almost every day for around two years. That’s when my skin got into such a good shape, I started to feel more confident about trying out other products as well.
Now I cleanse my face with my oil blend at least 3 times a week, and especially if I’m wearing a lot of makeup. I leave the other nights for trying out other methods and products. That’s what works best for me right now and my skin feels nice and balanced.
But, I am looking forward to every oil cleansing night. It kind of feels like a mini spa. And it is still the best method I’ve found so far for cleansing my facial skin.