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A Guide to Oil Cleansing

This guide to oil cleansing breaks down everything you need to know about utilizing oil cleansing for your skin plus creating the best oil cleansing recipes for your skin.

When I was having a huge issue with acne some time ago, oil cleansing was one of the solutions I turned to.

Oil cleansing has been a big deal in the beauty community for a while and I had used emu oil as part of my acne treatment at some point in time.

However, I was still nervous the first time I tried the full oil cleansing regimen because it sounded odd to put oil on my oily skin to treat breakouts caused by excess oils.

I was resistant to the idea for a while until I read the reasoning behind it and decided to try it out with castor oil and argan oil.

Oil Cleansing

Some of the celebrities who have touted the benefits of oil cleansing include Chloë Grace Moretz, Emma Stone, and Lupita N’yongo. In this article, I’ll be discussing the following:-

  • Oil cleansing method
  • The proper way to practice oil cleansing
  • Benefits of oil cleansing
  • How often do you oil cleanse
  • Best oil cleansing recipes
  • Best oils for oil cleansing
  • Busting oil cleansing myths

What is Oil Cleansing?

Oil cleansing aka the oil cleansing method (OCM) is the process of using oil to remove dirt, grime, and excess oils on your face.

This dirt, grime, and excess oils can lead to breakouts and blackheads if not properly removed from the face over a period of time.

It doesn’t matter what your skin type is – oily, dry, sensitive, combination, Martian, Asgardian – oil rinsing will work for you.

Oil cleansing - a comprehensive guide
A Comprehensive Guide to Oil Cleansing

What Are the Benefits of Oil Cleansing?

There is a wide range of benefits to oil cleansing and I’ve highlighted the top 10 benefits below:-

1. Natural Way to Cleanse Clean

Oil cleansing is a natural, chemical-free, non-toxic way to cleanse the skin.

2. Hydrates Skin

Oil cleansing can be more hydrating to the skin since the products used don’t contain harsh ingredients or surfactants. It’s also less irritating to the skin.

Hydrated skin is soft, supple, and moisturized over time and elasticity is enhanced.

3. Regulates Sebum Production

Oil cleansing regulates the production of sebum on the skin and helps the skin maintain its natural oil balance. Excess sebum causes acne and blackheads.

4. Cleanses Effectively

Oil cleansing effectively dissolves makeup on your face including waterproof eye shadow and mascara.

The oil effectively removes dirt and impurities without drying out the skin.

5. Relaxes Senses

Depending on the oils you use, in addition to oil cleansing, you can also expect a therapeutic and relaxing effect on your senses.

Top 10 Benefits of Oil Cleansing

6. Reduces Face Washing Frequency

Oil cleansing reduces the need to wash your face twice a day. When you oil cleanse at night, all that’s required the next morning is rinsing your face with water.

7. Suitable for All Skin Types

Oil cleansing is suitable for all skin types including oily skin. I have oily/combination skin.

However, be sure to use the best type of oil for your skin for oil cleansing.

8. Protects Skin

Natural oils contain lots of antioxidants that work against premature aging and help the skin fight off free radicals.

9. Gentle on Skin

Due to the no-foaming action of oil cleansing, it is a gentle way to cleanse the skin without disrupting the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

10. Eco-Friendly Cleansing Option

Oil cleansing is an eco-friendly alternative to commercial cleansers as less packaging is used and most cosmetic oils come in glass bottles.

Once oil cleansing starts working on your face, you will have a fresh glow that will keep your skin looking supple and younger for longer.

How To Oil Cleanse – Step by Step

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How to Do An Oil Cleanse – Step-by-Step Process

  • Have your oil mix ready (best oil recommendations below).
  • Wash your hands before you start.
  • Lightly splash your face with warm water.
  • Apply a little bit of your oil cleansing mix to your face then gently but firmly massage the oil into your skin for about 5 minutes.
  • Place your face towel under running hot water and then squeeze out the excess. You can also place it under cold water and then zap it in the microwave for a few minutes but be careful so you don’t burn your fingers or aggravate your skin.
  • Lie down on your back and place the warm – hot towel on your face. Wait for 20 seconds then wipe the oil off with the washcloth.
  • Rinse your face with lukewarm water, pat your skin dry then apply your nightly skincare products.

How Often Should You Oil Cleanse?

As a newbie, start with twice a week so you can observe how your hair responds to individual oils/a mix of oils.

If your skin responds well, you can move up to once a day in the evening.

If you don’t want to oil cleanse every day, then 3 times a week should be fine. Twice a day is a bit of an overkill.

How Long Does Oil Cleansing Method Take to Work?

You should start seeing improvement from oil cleansing within 2 weeks of commencing the regimen with an impressive turnaround from 6 – 8 weeks.

Best Tips and Tricks for the Oil Cleansing Method

Use a fresh washcloth every time you oil cleanse. Do not reuse the same washcloth from the night before. Yes, more laundry but your skin will thank you.

The best washcloth for oil cleansing is a muslin cotton cloth such as Ginger Chi Organic Cotton Muslin Cloth, Alincas Cotton Facial Cleansing Muslin Cloth, or Loran Luxury Bamboo Facial Washcloths.

You don’t always have to moisturize after oil cleansing. If your face feels fine afterward, you can skip the moisturizer but don’t skimp on under-eye cream.

Common Oil Cleansing Myths Busted

5 Oil Cleansing Myths Busted

Myth 1. Oil Cleansing is Counterproductive

Oil cleansing sounds like something that would be counterproductive but actually, it is the opposite.

Oil attracts what you don’t want on your face – excess oils. The oil binds to whatever’s causing skin issues making it easier to eliminate.

Myth 2. Oil Cleansing Makes Face Oilier

Oil cleansing will not make your face even oilier. It’s a bad idea to have tight and dry skin after cleansing at night.

Think of the effect on your hair when you use sulfate shampoos. It’s the same thing with the skin. Oil cleansing is gentle and effective and won’t strip your face.

The trick is to use the right kind of oil for your skin type. Not every oil is suitable for oil cleansing.

Myth 3. You Can Use Any Type of Oil for Oil Cleansing

I beg you, please don’t do that. There are many oils that will clog up your skin and mess up your face if you apply them.

I have covered many types of oils for different purposes on the website. I have also made recommendations for the best oils for oil cleansing below.

Myth 4. Oil Cleansing is for Dry Skin Only

On the contrary, oil cleansing works for all skin types – dry, oil, combination, sensitive, etc. What matters is the type of oil you use for oil cleansing.

Myth 5. Oil Cleansing Causes Greasy Skin

Oil cleansing will only leave your skin greasy if you don’t follow the instructions or don’t rinse the oil off your face.

Using oil excessively for the OCM can also lead to greasy skin. With oil cleansing, less is more.

What is the Best Oil for Oil Cleansing Method?

I wrote a comprehensive post about the best non-comedogenic oils for skincare a while ago HERE. That article features 30 natural oils but I have taken the best 10 and recommended them here:-

For the best oil cleansing recipes for different skin types and needs, have a look at Best Oil Cleansing Recipes for All Skin Types.

Best Washcloths for Oil Cleansing

Facial cleansing oil tips, tricks and recipes
Facial Cleansing Oil Tips, Tricks and Recipes

Oil Cleansing Method Doesn’t Work for Me

There are a variety of reasons why the oil rinsing method may not be working for you but the top reasons I’ve come across include:-

1. Not Following Directions

Directions aren’t being followed properly – damp skin, damp and hot face towel, and don’t shorten the amount of time you leave it on your face.

2. Using Wrong Oil

You’re not using the right kind of oil. Just because coconut oil worked for someone doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

Choose the right oil for your skin type. Oil cleansing recipes for different skin types coming up in the next article.

3. Impatient for Results

You’re impatient to see results. It will take 6 – 8 weeks to see real results and your skin may purge in the process.

Most people get scared and back out when the purging starts but try to stick it out for 8 weeks and then reassess.

4. Other Bad Skincare Practices

You’re doing other bad things to your skin that are counteracting the effects of the oil cleansing method.

5. Using Substandard Oils

You’re using substandard oils. Not every oil is created equal. You should be using 100% cold-pressed natural oils.

6. Improper Care of Cleansing Cloths

You’re not properly washing the cleansing cloths, which could lead to more breakouts. They should be hand-washed in warm soapy water.

You can throw them in a washing machine but don’t use a fabric softener and don’t throw them in with all of your laundry.

I highly recommend hand washing. Funny smell after washing? Soak in a mix of vinegar and hot water for a few minutes.

Final Word on Oil Cleansing

Sometimes, no matter what you do, something just doesn’t work and your skin isn’t having it. That’s OK.

You may also be allergic to one or more of the oils. In this case, you should look at other natural treatments for skincare outside oils.

The next article will share several oils rinsing recipes for dry skin, oily/combination skin, and sensitive skin.

Have you tried the oil cleansing method? Did it work or you had major issues with it and had to give it up? Share in the comments section so we can all learn from each other.

Abi is a curly hair expert who delved into the world of natural oils after severe hair loss issues. Through her research, study, and testing, she was able to regrow her bald spots & a healthy head of hair. She is the founder of Healthy Natural Hair Products & Ade Ori Hair Care, and the author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She continues to study hair science, Ayurveda, and natural and healthy solutions for hair and skin. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines

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