Imagine this: at 14 years old your grandmother hands you a little jar of olive oil, presumably from her kitchen, and tells you you should be cleansing your skin with it, that it’s the secret to beautiful skin. Your counter is currently full of Noxema and Proactive, possibly even Seabreeze toner, so you think she must be off her rocker, she couldn’t possibly know anything about your hormonal changing skin… flash forward to this moment right here and we could probably kick ourselves wondering what skin woes we could have avoided over the last 2 decades. But no sense sulking as here we are!

We know it sounds confusing, and a little crazy, to lather oil on your face in hopes of fully cleansing, especially if you’re a makeup lover or already have oily skin, so we just wanted to address the important things when it comes to oil cleansing: What do you do? What do you not do? Oil cleansing in general has the potential to change any skincare routine significantly for the better, but often times it seems rather scary or counterintuitive, and the only way to know is to try, so here’s the rundown…

What is Oil Cleansing?

Just that, cleansing your face with oil instead of soap and water. Sounds downright crazy to some of you, we know, it certainly did to us at the age of 14 and even 25. No, cleansing with oil will not increase your skin’s natural oil production or make you greasier. Yes, you are putting oil on your face and some of it may remain on the surface, but it’s not going to change the nature of your skin. And if you have significantly dry skin, it is not making your skin “oilier”, but it can prevent the stripping of oils your skin needs to maintain. Acne prone skin? Yes, you can truly benefit from this method as well! One, you’re no longer over drying or using harsh products, which can cause further irritation. Two, your skin is likely overdry to begin with causing your skin to hoard whatever oil is there, which can also contain bacteria and sebum, creating painful blemishes. Either way, adding an oil can really loosen up any gunk in your pores, calm current flare ups and rid of bacteria.

Replacing soap and water with an appropriate cleansing oil simply keeps the oils essential to retaining proper balance, pH levels and hydration in place while also dissolving and removing dirt and bacteria from your skin. You probably remember from school at some point: like attracts like, oil filled with good stuff can dissolve oil with the bad stuff. And yes, oils will remove even the most stubborn, waterproof makeup on the market.

Why Not Use Water?

Well, because then we’re back at square one. Many cleansing articles and oil cleansers themselves will prompt you to use a warm wash cloth or rinse with water to remove the product, but that makes no sense to us since oil and water DON’T mix. We know that from chemistry! Adding water to your face or a washcloth won’t pull the dirt and oil off the skin, it just dilutes the process, leaving the grimy oil where it was to begin with. As the ever educational Josh Rosebrook states, “Water works to clean dirt and oil when combined with soap. Without soap, water doesn’t clean from the skin. So why are we using water with our oil cleanse when it’s not needed?” Indeed. The cleansing oil grabs the dirty oil (sebum and toxins) and is whisked away with a dry cloth very effectively.

Some will suggest “double cleansing” which is prewashing your face an oil cleanser to remove makeup then following with soap and water (or vice versa). We skip over this part, too. While it would definitely cleanse your skin fully, it could also remove crucial oils from the skin affecting pH levels.

What Oil to Use?

There are certainly plenty of options. You can go with a straight (single) carrier oil (almond, avocado, castor) or an oil cleanser, which is likely a combination of a few different oils. We shy away from food grade oils like olive and coconut oil, though they may work seamlessly for you, they also are among the few that cause breakouts and reactions. It could be because coconut oil is comedogenic (blocks pores causing blackheads), so if you’re venturing into this new territory, these wouldn’t be our first choice.

As a rule of thumb:

  • Acne Prone: Hazelnut and Sunflower
  • Oily to Combination: Sunflower, Grapeseed, Sweet Almond
  • Normal to Dry: Jojoba, Grapeseed, Apricot Kernel
  • Dry: Avocado or Apricot Kernel

Where’s the Castor Oil? Well you can certainly use it, but in combination with a carrier oil because, boy, can it extract. It’s very effective, but solo or in large amounts it can be VERY drying.

As mentioned above, cleansing oil blends are also a great option (and might be our favorite) because they combine any number of the above oils as well as essential oils which can counteract skin concerns like uneven tone, fine lines, dehydration, problematic skin, etc. Whichever you choose, don’t sacrifice quality, look for organic and cold or expeller pressed.

Laurel Clarity Oil Cleanser
Our current favorite cleanser, this expert blend fully lives up to it's name. We've noticed cleaner, smaller pores and less visible pigmentation all while feeling radiant and nourished.
Learn More

Aster + Bay Cleansing Oil No. 1
This product will cleanse the most budge-proof makeup or solid SPF application with it's superior blend of oils. Gunk busting, toning and effective, this is one of our go to's for normal to oily skin or those who wear foundation daily.
Learn More

Maya Chia The Great Cleanse
Calming and radiance boosting, this oil puts our senses at ease and softens skin like nothing we've ever seen. Perfect for every skin type. A particular good choice for sensitive types, those using retinol or over-exposure of the elements.
Learn More

Mahalo The Unveil Cleanser Concentrate
A cleanser concentrate is just an oil thats in solid form, so upon application this amazing formula melts into skin effectively dissolving makeup and daily impurities, unveiling a soft and glowing complexion. This formula has a grip or tack to it that we simply love for those days where we wear heavy makeup or foundation, there's never a smidge left on our skin yet it's soft and nourished when all is said and done!
Learn More

Aura Cacia Grapseed Oil
Don't let this straightforward carrier oil fool you, it's the perfect choice for supporting, nourishing and cleansing most skin types with effective makeup removal yet not overdrying.
Learn More

Balanced Guru Face It Off Cleanser
Purify your pores and lift impurities while retaining your pH levels. Great for congested and combination skin types
Learn More

The Process

Massage a pump or two of oil into the skin (more if needed), working all the way around the face, loosening anything that needs to be lifted. Enjoy the mini facial massage experience! Moving in upward circular motions can also help tone facial muscles. Then take a DRY cloth and press and gently twist away the oil.

If you’re looking for a more exfoliating experience, organic muslin is ideal, but if you have more delicate or sensitive skin, opt for organic cotton or bamboo cloths.

You’ll be amazed at the makeup, dirt and grime on the cloth. Your skin should be soft, but not with noticeable lingering oil, so be sure to thoroughly remove all oil from the skin in order to get all of the dirt and bacteria off your skin.

Should you moisturize after?

Proceed as normal. You may feel fully moisturized, or even a bit over moisturized if you aren’t used to the process, but pressing additional targeted beauty serums or moisturizers into the skin always helps. You could also use your current night cream or regimen product but beauty serums/oils tend to meld really well after oil cleansing and leave skin with a gorgeous, clear, radiant complexion upon waking.

Overall our consensus is oil cleansing is a game changer in skin care. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut no matter what you try, we strongly encourage this method. Also, if you’re dealing with dry or maturing skin, this could be the secret to retaining the moisture level you need. Of course you can use your mask, exfoliator or traditional cleanse in the mornings, but adding this to your evening routine will hopefully leave you with revived skin.


Do you oil cleanse? What is your method?

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