What is Oil Cleansing? Everything You Need to Know

Posted September 21, 2020 by Thirty-Something Angie in Clean Living / 0 Comments

how to clean your face with oil

It might sound crazy, but oil cleansing has totally changed my skincare routine! Read on to learn why I’m putting oils on my face, and why I think you should give it a try, too.

I’m no stranger to clean beauty and natural skincare. If you follow along with this blog, you’ve probably read all about my green beauty, non-toxic skincare, and natural living tips. But, one thing I haven’t talked a lot about is the oil cleansing method!

I gave oil cleansing a try for the first time a few years ago when several of my favorite green beauty gurus started recommending it. If I’m being totally honest, I was really skeptical of the whole thing.

I naturally have oily, acne prone skin, so the idea of putting more oil on my face just didn’t make sense! I was sure I was setting myself up for more acne and skin troubles by giving this a try, but it turns out, I was wrong. Now, cleaning my face with oil is my go-to method, and my skin has never been happier!

Want to learn more about the crazy idea of cleaning your face with oil? Read on for my experience, learn how it works, and how you can give it a try yourself.

How Does Oil Cleansing Work?

I’m a big believer in the idea that our bodies wouldn’t do certain things if they weren’t important. If the concept of evolution is true in any sense, that means that our bodies have adapted to our environment over time. With that said, I don’t think our skin would produce oil if it wasn’t necessary for protection.

But, when you look at how traditional face washes work, they strip your skin of the oil it naturally produces. Ever felt like your face was dry and irritated after you wash it? This is why! As a result, your skin creates even more oil (because it needs it), and a vicious cycle is started. We strip our skin daily by washing away all the oil, thus telling our skin it needs to create more oil as a result.

Now, I didn’t pay much attention in high school Chemistry class. The subject bored me, and I just didn’t think I’d ever need any of that information. (Can’t we all relate to thinking that in school? Pretty ironic that the topic fascinates me, now!)

What I can tell you though, is that “like dissolves like.” It’s one of the most basic principles of chemistry. When you apply that concept to our skin, that means that oil will gently dissolve away any unnecessary oil on our skin, taking the impurities along with it.

What you’re left with is clean, nourished skin that’s healthy and radiant and protected, because it hasn’t been stripped bare.

Does Oil Cleansing Work?

As I mentioned above, I’ve always had really oily, acne prone skin. It’s also really sensitive, which means a lot of the harsher cleaners popular among those with acne would leave my skin painfully raw and irritated.

I can’t even tell you how much money I’ve spent over the years on different skincare regimens. I read recently that the skincare industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and I believe it! Most of us are willing to try anything to have clear, healthy skin, and these companies know it.

And so, like everything else, I gave this a try. Like I said, I’ll try anything to stop the breakouts and irritation. I wasn’t optimistic at first, but guys. My skin felt amazing.

Within the first wash, I noticed that my skin didn’t feel irritated, but it felt actually clean. I didn’t need to apply heavy moisturizers, either, because it didn’t feel dry at all.

Within a couple of weeks, I noticed that my breakouts were becoming less severe, and the redness I’d always dealt with was fading.

Within a month, I had no excess redness and irritation, my skin wasn’t oily, and I had no breakouts.

It’s now been about three years of consistently cleaning my face with oils, and I can honestly say that this method has revolutionized my skincare.

Looking back, I cringe at how many harsh chemicals I used on my face, and how much money I spent trying to make my skin healthy. Who would have known that the simplest, most inexpensive solution would end up being the best?!

How to Oil Cleanse

This post contains affiliate links, which means I could earn a small commission based off of your purchases, at no additional cost to you. To learn more, see my full disclosure here.

I think the best part about oil cleansing is that unlike so many multi-step systems, it’s easy and takes almost no time to do. Seriously. It always blows my mind when I suggest oil cleansing to someone and they reply with “I need something easy.”

Ya’ll. It literally can’t get any easier, unless you’re just plain not washing your face. I like to think that since you’re reading this, that’s not the case.

To clean your face with oil, you’ll need:

  • a soft, clean wash cloth
  • hot running water
  • your oil mixture of choice (see below)


  1. Pour (or scoop, if it’s a solid) a generous amount of oil into your hand. You’re looking for about a quarter sized amount of oil. Rub it together in your hands to warm it up.
  2. Massage oil to your dry face. This is what will clean off dirt, makeup, and other impurities, so make sure to be thorough in this step. Be sure to focus on problem areas while you massage the oil in.
  3. Let the oil sit on your face for about a minute.
  4. Run your washcloth under hot, steamy water. You want it hot enough to soften pores and and remove the oil, but not so hot it burns.
  5. Lay the washcloth over your face and let it sit as it cools. This will soften and release any impurities. Then, gently wipe your face, rinse the wash cloth in hot water again, and repeat once or twice again. Avoid the temptation to scrub your face, as it’s completely unnecessary!
  6. Typically, you won’t need to moisturize after oil cleansing, since you haven’t stripped your skin, but if you find that you need a little something, you can take a small amount of your cleansing oil and pat it gently into your skin until there is no residue left.

How Often to Cleanse Your Face With Oil

Just like with any regular face washing routine, oil cleansing needs to be done regularly to really see the benefits. I use my oil nightly to take of my makeup, or just the daily dirt and grime that accumulates. If you don’t want to use it that often, feel free to skip days! My only advice is to not swap back and forth with a more traditional (read: harsh) cleanser because you’ll really confuse your skin.

You shouldn’t need it any more frequently than once a day, though. You’ll know it’s too much if you start experiencing dry, flaky skin again. That’s a pretty clear sign to cut back.

Notes on the oil cleansing method

There are a few things to keep in mind about oil cleansing if you’re new:

  • It’s totally normal for there to be a transition period in the first week or so after switching from traditional cleaners. You might see more breakouts or oiliness as your skin adjusts, but it shouldn’t last long. Resist the urge to use harsher cleaners on your face during this time, because it’ll only prolong the process!
  • You will very likely have to experiment to find your perfect oil cleaning combination. Everyone’s skin is different, and we react to different products. Coconut oil is a really great example of this. Some people love it for their skin, while others experience more breakouts because of it!
  • Perfect skin won’t happen overnight. Just like with anything else, you need to give it time to work!

I found this post to be pretty helpful for troubleshooting & finding different combinations of oils!

DIY Oil Cleansing Recipe

When I first learned about oil cleansing, I tried a bunch of DIYs to get a feel for it. If you want to go the same route, I recommend checking out some of these recipes! Experiment with the oil ratios until you find the right blend for your skin.

Best Oils to Use for Cleansing Your Face

The most common oils to use for oil cleansing are castor oil and olive oil, but depending on your skin type, you might also see good results with some of the following:

  • jojoba oil: great for acne prone skin
  • rosehip oil: for aging skin
  • avocado oil: very hydrating
  • sunflower seed oil: anti-inflammatory

Coconut oil is also recommended a lot in these recipes, and it’s the first oil I tried. I do like it, but I personally found that I could only use this cleaner when I did a double cleansing method. It was simply two heavy to use without following up with a non-oil cleanser.

My Favorite Oil Cleansing Products

As much as I love a good DIY, it’s something I struggle with on products I need to use daily. So, once I knew that my skin responded well to oil cleansing, I started experimenting with different pre-made products.

I’ve tried countless cleaners in a wide range of prices, so I feel like I’ve got a good idea of what’s on the market. Here are some of the ones I recommend when a friend asks me for recommendations!

Trilogy Cleansing Balm: My absolute favorite cleanser, and at such an affordable price! It melts of makeup, and comes in a solid, which I really like since it creates less mess.

Cocokind Facial Cleanser: This isn’t my absolute favorite, but it’s available at Target and comes in at a really affordable price! To me, this cleanser feels a little heavier, which means I want to do a double cleanse for my face to really feel clean. (That means, cleaning it a second time with a non-oil based cleaner)

One Love Organics Botanical B Enzyme Cleansing Oil + Makeup Remover: A great, mild option that leaves your face feeling polished, clean, and hydrated without leaving an oil residue. There’s a solid option, too!

How to clean your face with oil. (Yes! It works!)

Oil Cleansing- The New Way to Wash Your Face

I know. Putting extra oils on your face sounds like a crazy idea when you first hear about it. But when you look into the science behind it, and then experience it for yourself, you’ll see that the oil cleansing method is the new best way to wash your face!

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