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Oil Cleansing for Clear Skin

Do you suffer from acne, blackheads, clogged pores or irritated skin? Or maybe your skin is relatively problem-free, but you want it to look dewy and glowified. (um, who doesn’t?). Then consider nixing harsh cleansers and trying the oil cleansing method. Not only will you have radiant, clear skin, you’ll save money- and gain peace of mind knowing that you’re putting less chemicals in your body.

Though the mainstream beauty industry tells us that the road to clear, blemish-free skin is paved with foaming cleansers and exfoliating scrubs, the oil cleansing method offers an effective-yet-gentle alternative. This is because the synthetic ingredients in many cleansers (whether they’re the spendy ones sold at Sephora or the cheaper ones at Walgreens) can dry out your skin and damage its acid mantle, thereby worsening existing skin conditions like acne or blotchiness.

Oil Dissolves Oil
It may seem counter-intuitive to douse your skin with oil, but it’s not. The idea behind the oil cleansing method is that oil dissolves the oil and impurities that have hardened and lodged in your pores. For deep cleansing, use a mixture of castor oil (excellent for penetrating the skin and drawing out impurities) and an unprocessed oil like extra-virgin olive (almond, jojoba and sunflower oils are also effective).

Here are some guidelines (based on skin type):

  • Oily Skin: Try a blend of 30% Castor Oil to 70% Olive Oil (or your choice of oil).
  • Normal Skin: Try a blend of 20% Castor Oil to 80% Olive Oil.
  • Dry Skin: Try a blend of 10% Castor Oil to 90% Olive Oil.

Source: The Oil Cleansing Method website

What You’ll Need:

  • An unprocessed oil like extra-virgin olive oil, jojoba oil or almond oil
  • Castor oil
  • Hot water
  • A clean wash cloth

Get Started

  1. Massage oil mixture in the into your face and neck. Do this over your makeup or any visible grime.
  2. Soak washcloth in hot, steamy water, wring it out and drape over your face. As the it cools, wipe off the oil. Rinse washcloth in warm water and continue wiping away the oily residue.
  3. Splash face with cool water and apply moisturizer (if your skin feels tight).

To be clear, the oil cleansing method I’ve described is best for deep cleansing. Therefore, you probably don’t want to do it every day. Depending on your skin type, you may want to try this a couple times a week or a few times a month. However, you can still incorporate oil into your daily skincare routine. I use jojoba oil to remove my eye makeup and also as amoisturizer for my face and body. Experiment with different oils to find what works best for you.

bottle of oil pic by Taras Kalapun

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19 comments for “Oil Cleansing for Clear Skin”

  1. Thanks, Kezia, for this post. I had always heard that oil was a good cleaner, but I had no idea about the technique or the benefits of Castor Oil (at least for the skin!). If you have time, can you comment on differences, if there are any, between using sunflower, almond, jojoba, or olive oil? Thanks!

    Posted by gail | May 6, 2008, 9:38 am
  2. Oh, I just saw the link you provided: The Oil Cleansing Method website and this is answering my question!

    Posted by gail | May 6, 2008, 9:49 am
  3. DHC, a japanese skincare line, bases their whole skincare regimen around deep cleansing olive oil.


    Posted by Sara | May 6, 2008, 10:04 am
  4. Yes, DHC has a lot of great products, including its olive oil cleanser. However, it’s pricey- $11 for just 2.7 oz. You can buy high-grade extra-virgin olive oil at the grocery store for much less. Jojoba oil is also much less at $9.99.

    Posted by Kezia | May 6, 2008, 10:27 am
  5. This sounds interesting! I’m home sick today and a nice hot washcloth on my face sounds appealing, so I might just try this out. :D

    Posted by Robin Claire | May 6, 2008, 11:15 am
  6. wow this is refreshing! thank you for sharing (: i’ll definitely try this out!

    Posted by raq | May 6, 2008, 9:25 pm
  7. Thanks for all your comments! Let me know how oil cleansing works out for you. A woman I work with has been using almond oil and really likes it. So many oils to try! :-)

    Posted by kezia | May 6, 2008, 9:42 pm
  8. If you want to read more first-person accounts of the oil cleansing method, check out the extremely detailed and objective reviews on makeupalley:


    Posted by kezia | May 6, 2008, 9:46 pm
  9. thanks so much!
    Im a big lover of oil and vinegar for all kinds of tricky tricks and the mix of oils I can see me starting to make my saturdays, oil face experiment mornings :)

    Posted by meli | May 7, 2008, 12:42 am
  10. This is really cool, but one q - where can I get castor oil?

    Posted by Lynn | May 7, 2008, 2:04 am
  11. I keep hearing that, as an oily-skinned girl, I should use an oil cleanser, but something about it fills me with such dread. I understand the science, but I still am terrified that if I were to try it, I would have the worst breakout of my life.

    Posted by Amanda | May 7, 2008, 2:17 am
  12. I use Shu Uemura cleansing oil and though it’s pricy, it does work a treat….

    Posted by susie_bubble | May 7, 2008, 8:04 am
  13. So last night I was going to use a Biore strip b/c I had major blackheads on my nose and thought I’d try this instead. I figured the worst thing would be that it wouldn’t work and I’d have to use the Biore strip anyway. Instead this was AMAZING. My pores were the cleanest I’ve ever seen them! For sure adding to the weekly routine.

    Posted by angela | May 7, 2008, 8:44 am
  14. i’ve been doing this for several months now and it works great…i use it to take off all my makeup at night. i use a sea sponge and warm water (i have really sensitive skin & hot is irritating) and my skin doesn’t dry out as easily, or overreact and make a bunch more oil.

    to amanda, above, i find that my skin is less oily when i use oil for cleansing and a good moisturizer. sometimes we can strip our skin so badly that it will produce extra oil to compensate. it’s all about balance.

    Posted by d. | May 7, 2008, 10:32 am
  15. wow, I am going to try this. great post!

    Posted by Kary | May 7, 2008, 7:21 pm
  16. tea tree oil is great for blemishes!

    Posted by violetville | May 8, 2008, 5:22 am
  17. oh my gosh, thankyou! i have been suffering from the worst acne i’ve had in months… and nothing seems to be working to make it go away! i am trying this as soon as i finish catching up on all the posts i’ve missed!

    Posted by alana | May 9, 2008, 3:41 am
  18. a great post! i have really acne skin, i will see what it would do for me :)

    Posted by -jamie- | May 10, 2008, 3:18 am
  19. What’s pretty scary is that we’re not cleansing our skin nearly enough, and the surfactants in most cleansers and a few splashes of water are not doing enough to clean off all the skin care, makeup, smog, pollution, grime sebum and sweat off our faces at the end of the day! It’s true that oil dissolves oil and should be part one of a two-step cleansing process. You can check more info on this at:
    To your skin’s health!
    The Derma Divas

    Posted by The Derma Divas | May 28, 2008, 8:24 pm

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