Do you ever think back to when you were a teenager and everything you *thought* you knew about skincare? Cringe. For me it’s St. Ives Apricot Scrub, Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Cleanser, those acne pads loaded with salicylic acid, and avoiding oils because I thought they would clog my pores. Talk about a “How to Ruin Your Skin Starter Pack” 😣 Well, times have changed, and I’m sure glad that I know better now. Today we’re going to focus on OILS and why they’re actually incredible to use in your skincare, specifically for cleansing purposes.
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Table of Contents:
- What is the Oil Cleansing Method & What are the Benefits?
- What Types of Oils are Best to Use for Skincare?
- How to Properly Oil Cleanse Your Face (& Common Mistakes to Avoid)
- My Top 4 Favorite Natural & Rinsable Oil Cleansers
Why Oil Cleansing is So Beneficial for Your Skin!
If you’re already familiar with oil cleansing or natural skincare, then this won’t be anything new for you. But it was a huuuuuge wakeup call for me when I was struggling with acne. For some reason we’re taught to believe that all oils = bad for your skin and are comedogenic (meaning they clog pores and produce comedones). That is a misconception and so FALSE! Time to bust some myths.
What is the Oil Cleansing Method?
Also known as OCM, the oil cleansing method is based on the scientific principle that like dissolves like. Basically, using oils to cleanse your face will break down makeup, dirt, and grime but WITHOUT compromising your skin barrier or stripping any moisture from the surface. In short, the oils mimic the natural molecular structure of your skin and bind to all the junk that you’re trying to remove! 🧼
When you think of traditional foaming or gel cleansers, they typically contain a surfactant that leaves your skin feeling squeaky clean and tight. Maybe even itchy. Sound familiar? We’ve learned to associate that feeling with clean skin. However, this is NOT a good thing because it means your skin no longer has its natural oils and is dried out. Oftentimes our skin will overproduce sebum in this instance in order to compensate for the lack of moisture. Which in turn, can lead to breakouts!
Essentially, the goal is to always keep your skin in a state of balance so it’s hydrated and moisturized (there is a difference, btw!). When you use harsh face washes that disrupt your microbiome and dry out your skin, there is a constant yo-yo effect that your skin has to adjust to.
In fact, using soap-based cleansers can actually make acne worse! (3)
Honestly, incorporating oils in my skincare routine is one of the best things I’ve ever done and highly suggest you do it too! Gone are the days where I would need oil blotting sheets every hour because my face was basically an oil slick. My skin is way healthier, clearer, and balanced. Hallelujah!
Related podcast: “Episode 22: Oil Cleansing with Emma from The Sunday Standard”
What Types of Oils are Best to Use for Skincare?
So, there is some truth to oils clogging your pores. Am I confusing you yet? 😆 The key is to use oils that have a low comedogenic rating (0-2 on a scale of 5). Here are some commonly used oils and their ratings:
✅ Low Comedogenic Oils for Cleansing:
- Argan (0)
- Hemp seed (0) [ideal for oily or blemish-prone skin]
- Sunflower seed (0)
- Rosehip seed (1) [ideal for pigmented, damaged, or mature skin]
- Apricot kernel (2) [ideal for dry skin]
- Avocado (2)
- Grapeseed (2)
- Hazelnut (2)
- Jojoba (2)
- Pumpkin seed (2)
- Sweet almond (2)
❌ Highly Comedogenic Oils to Avoid:
- Soybean (3)
- Coconut (4) [some fare better with MCT fractionated coconut oil which is rated 2-3]
- Flaxseed (4)
- Palm kernel (4)
- Wheat germ (5)
The oil cleansing method is suitable for virtually all skin types if you use the correct types of oils. Of course, it’s always good to patch test a product first to see how it works for you and stop use if you experience any reactions or irritation.
This is not an exhaustive list but it’s good to be aware of comedogenic ratings! Also, some of these oils work better for cleansing (grapeseed oil, for example, is more astringent compared to argan oil which is more nourishing). Or have properties better suited for certain skin types (for example, hemp seed oil is high in linoleic acid and is great for acne-prone skin because it helps dissolve sebum in pores). These are things you would have to pay attention to if you went the DIY oil cleanser route but that’s not our focus today. I’ll share some of my favorite cleanser brands later in this post!
In general, opt for organic, unrefined, and cold-pressed oils if possible. And be sure to store your skincare products in a cool, dark place to keep them fresh and prevent them from going rancid.
How to Properly Oil Cleanse Your Face (& Common Mistakes to Avoid)
It’s fairly straightforward but you do want to ensure you’re doing it correctly!
Step 1: Massage
With clean hands, take about a teaspoon of oil and gently massage it around your face for about 60 seconds in circular motions. It should be enough oil to make your skin slightly slick and so you’re able to dissolve your makeup with ease. You shouldn’t have to rub too hard but you also don’t want the oil to be dripping off your face. Be extra careful around delicate areas such as your eyes; I like to use my ring fingers so I don’t apply too much pressure or tug. Take your time and do a thorough job! It’s a great way to wind down and pamper yourself after a long day 🧖♀️
Step 2: Wipe
Use a soft, organic cotton or bamboo washcloth and get it wet with warm or lukewarm water. Lightly press the towel on your skin and wipe away the excess oil on your face. Be mindful that:
- The towel is clean
- You’re not using excessively hot water
- Your towel hasn’t been washed with harsh detergents or strongly scented dryer sheets which can leave a residue and irritate your skin (I use Branch Basics for laundry and you can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for 20% off their starter kits)
OR…use a rinseable oil cleanser that doesn’t require any wiping at all. More on that below!
Step 3: Repeat (Only if Necessary)
That’s it! You can repeat the process if you wish to do a double cleanse but that likely isn’t necessary unless you were wearing really heavy makeup or thick sunscreen. Your skin might have a light layer of oil on it, but not a thick residue or grimy feeling. It should feel soft and supple, NOT tight or itchy.
Follow up with your regular skincare routine and make sure you’re applying adequate hydration and moisture! 💦
How Often Should I Oil Cleanse?
In general, oil cleansing is only necessary once a day at nighttime since it’s a deeper process. But, it might be different for everyone. For me personally, my skin responds best when I just do a light cleanse in the morning with some manuka honey which is really mild. I don’t feel the need to do a heavy cleanse in the morning because I only have on skincare products from the night before and no makeup.
Keep in mind, it can take about a week for your skin to adjust to the new method so don’t give up. But find what works best for YOUR skin! Use your skintuition and see how your skin feels and looks when you use different cleansing methods.
My Top 4 Favorite Natural & Rinsable Oil Cleansers
Believe me, I have tried sooooo many organic and non-toxic oil cleansers. So many that I am now a snob and basically only use the ones that are rinseable. Typically, oil cleansing requires a cloth to remove. And sometimes you feel the need to double cleanse. But I just CANNOT be bothered with that extra step in my skincare routine. The options that I’m going to share below all emulsify with water. It’s the best of both worlds! The oil removes dirt and makeup effectively, but it washes away clean without any residue and doesn’t strip your skin. Pure bliss! 😍
BEST FOR: Dull or lackluster skin types but suitable for all
More of a budget-friendly option, but it still has amazing organic ingredients such as jojoba, meadowfoam, and avocado oil. Plus the line is created in small batches. This cleansing oil is lightweight and smells kind of tropical and sweet like citrus and vanilla. Sunshine in a bottle! ☀️ It even looks like sunshine with a light yellow color.
This one does not feel heavy at all! But it breaks down makeup, sunscreen, and grime with ease. I feel like this is a refreshing, light cleanser that I especially love using in the summertime. What’s extra cool about it is that it’s packed with tons of antioxidant-rich oils and infused with papaya enzymes. So you get a reallllllly mild and gentle chemical exfoliation when using this cleanser; basically removing a light layer of excess buildup and giving dull skin a little pick-me-up. It’s truly fantastic.
BEST FOR: Dry, dehydrated skin types but suitable for all
Pack your bags because this cleanser will instantly transport you to a beachy paradise! This is my go-to cleanser when I want to remove heavy-duty makeup with ease because nothing stands a chance against this one. It’s a clear oil but the pineapple aroma is to DIE for 🍍
This guy also contains papaya and papain fruit enzymes to soften and gently exfoliate skin. It is a thicker and heavier oil but does not leave that feeling behind. I love it SO MUCH!
BEST FOR: Acne-prone skin types but suitable for all
There is so much goodness packed into this one. It applies as a thick balm and melts away into a luscious oil. It has a very gentle scrub to it and lifts away makeup effortlessly. It’s the most beautiful deep green color (thanks to spirulina!) and it always leaves my skin feeling SO silky soft.
It has french green clay to soak up excess oils, petitgrain to balance sebum levels, and golden jojoba oil to remove dirt without drying skin.
Code ORGANICALLYBECCA gets you a discount on your first order.
BEST FOR: Sensitive or acne-prone skin types but suitable for all
Words cannot express how much I ADORE this cleanser…it’s my favorite Wabi-Sabi product! The first thing I noticed when I first used The Giver cleanser was the aromatic coffee scent. Omg, talk about my dream come true! ☕️ It contains no essential oils so it’s amazing for sensitive or acne-prone skin! This one is powerful, yet gentle, and it’s truly bliss in a bottle.
It contains rosella hibiscus oil (aka Nature’s Botox) which is a natural source of AHAs that exfoliates, smooths, and firms. Plus moringa oil to combat blemishes and roasted coffee bean extract for a firming antioxidant boost. My skin always looks vibrant and bright after using this one consistently.
Code ORGANICALLYBECCA gets you a discount on your first order.
Also available at Credo.
Have you ever given oil cleansing a try? I’d love to hear about your experience! I cannot tell you how many women have told me that it has transformed their skin…mine included! Let me know in the comments or feel free to share your personal fave cleansers. Thanks for reading!
- Complete List of Comedogenic Oils
- How to Choose the Right Oil for Acne-Prone Skin
- The effect of a daily facial cleanser for normal to oily skin on the skin barrier of subjects with acne