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Oil Cleansing: Why It’s Rising in Popularity & How to Try It Yourself

Dec 15, 2021

Skin Care

Understandably, the idea of using oil to cleanse your face might sound antithetical to achieving “clean” skin. For many of us, we grew up during the days of popular drugstore-bought astringents that made our faces feel tight and tingly, associating this with the holy grail of cleanliness. What many of us are now learning (and what many cultures have known for much longer), however, is that the ideas we grew up with regarding how to care for our skin were often not only wrong, but actually exacerbated skin conditions like acne. In fact, that tight feeling is less of a sign of cleanliness and more so a sign that your skin’s barriers are being disrupted, stripping your skin of its natural balance.

Throughout Asia, women have been cleansing with oils as far back as the fourteenth century. For centuries, women in India have used natural oils from Sandalwood, Coconuts, Olives, and more in their ancient beauty rituals. And in the past few years, Korean beauty brands, especially, have introduced double-cleansing, which involves first using a cleansing oil followed by a water-based face wash.

Having reached the mainstream, celebrities and skin care enthusiasts alike are heartily adopting the use of oils in their daily skin care ritual, citing benefits such as reduction in acne and bumps and overall improved complexion. But word to the wise: Just like any skin care phenomenon, it’s important to understand the best way to incorporate oil cleansing into your skin care regimen and how to source the best products. More on that here...

What is oil cleansing?

The oil cleansing method involves using natural oils to gently cleanse facial skin. These oils, when used in specific combinations based on your skin type, support balancing the skin’s natural oils to achieve supple, clear, and glowing skin.

An important thing to note here is that oil doesn’t necessarily equal “bad,” facial or otherwise. Emerging research throughout the past decade has shown that our skin is made up of various microbes, known as the skin microbiome, that work together to support beneficial bacteria while preventing harmful organisms from colonizing on the skin’s surface. The key to supporting our skin’s microbiome is maintaining balance. Most facial cleansers, especially ones with harsh ingredients, tend to disrupt our skin’s microbiome, removing too many of the “good” microbes. This results in many of the negative skin conditions people experience, from dryness to rashes to acne.

Oil cleansing, unlike your typical facial cleanser, actually dissolves excess oil on your face that is stuck in your pores and contains impurities without disrupting the natural balance of your skin.

Oil cleansing benefits

In addition to supporting a balanced skin microbiome, oil cleansing also:

  • Removes excess sebum (this is what causes the appearance of oily skin)
  • Cleans out clogged pores (e.g. blackheads and whiteheads)
  • Lifts dead skin, makeup, and pollutants
  • Safe for use during pregnancy

How to oil cleanse

While the presence of oil remains consistent, the oil cleansing method can actually be achieved in a number of ways.

DIY: Basic oil cleanse

One option for oil cleansing is rubbing a combination of oils directly onto your skin, moving your fingers in circular motions across your face, and removing it with a damp washcloth soaked in warm water.

Oils often used for oil cleansing include:

  • Olive Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Sweet Almond Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Argan Oil
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Sunflower Oil

When opting for the DIY method, there are a couple of details that are imperative to getting the best results:

  1. Make sure you’re using a high-quality oil
  2. Use different oils depending on your specific skin concerns

When choosing oils, look for ones that are cold-press, virgin, and unrefined.

The oils most commonly used are Olive and Castor Oil, which you can use in a 1:1 ratio. If you suffer more from dry skin, use more Olive Oil, which is rich in antioxidants that are important for hydration. And conversely, if you experience more oily skin with acne, use more Castor Oil, which is an antibacterial. If you begin experiencing your skin becoming dryer, try reducing the amount of castor oil used. Figuring out the best combination for you will take experimentation and time, as different oils offer different benefits.

It’s also recommended to first try spot testing various oils before using them on your entire face, in case you have a negative reaction. While using oils directly is, for many people, an accessible way to try oil cleansing, it’s important to do your research and invest in the time needed to find your ideal routine. Jojoba Oil, for instance, might be a good addition if you have acne-prone skin, while Avocado Oil can provide even extra moisture if you have especially dry skin.

Double cleansing

Double cleansing, popularized by K-beauty, begins with the basic oil cleansing method outlined above, followed by a water-based cleanser to remove unwanted residue. After these two steps, you can use a moisturizer if you feel your skin needs it.

Oil cleansing face washes

As oil cleansing has become more mainstream, many beauty companies have released their own oil-based facial cleansing products that provide more of a two-in-one experience, incorporating oil but also rinsing off cleanly with water.

Benefits of using such products rather than trying the DIY method or double cleansing include:

  • You can quickly implement oil into your skin care without any guesswork
  • Most oil cleansers specify which skin concerns the product is best suited for

How to choose an oil cleanser

Given the growing number of oil cleansing options in the market, make sure the cleanser you’re considering does the following for the best results:

  • Doesn’t sting your eyes
  • Gently and effectively removes dirt and debris
  • Rinses clean with water, without the feeling of tightness afterward
  • Contains only natural ingredients that won’t disrupt the skin microbiome

How often should you oil cleanse?

The frequency in which you oil cleanse largely depends on the method you use. When going the DIY route and putting oils directly onto your skin, it’s recommended that you oil cleanse no more than once per day. If you’re using an oil cleansing product, however, you should be able to use the product twice a day (morning and evening), much like you would with your typical cleanser.

What to expect from oil cleansing

When using the best oils (or combination of oils) for your skin, or a product specifically designed for your skin concerns and goals, you should experience supple skin with a reduction in breakouts or irritation. If this isn’t the case, it might be worth pausing the use of any oil and speaking with your dermatologist to understand where the issue might be stemming from.

Incorporating an oil cleanser designed for all skin types is one of the surest ways to experience the benefits of the oil cleansing method without running the risk of using products that might exacerbate issues. Ultimately, oil cleansing should make your overall skin routine simpler, reducing the necessity of products like acne cream, as the appearance and feel of your skin improves over time.

Try our Purifying Oil Cleanser today



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