So. I’ve been using nothing but oil and water on my face since late October. Before I made the decision to do this, I did EXTENSIVE research. Meaning I had a five-minute conversation with Beauty Bets, got her blessing, and dove right in. Because that’s how I roll. And because I figured hey, if it was awful, I’d just stop.


I’ve had problem skin forever; Mostly acne, but also combination dry/oily issues. And although my acne is of the cystic/hormonal kind and absolutely requires more than over-the-counter remedies, recently I began to feel like I should change my cleansing routine. I’d been using Cetaphil face wash and a dermatologist-prescribed topical cream for several years, and the combination just felt … wrong. I broke out fairly regularly, my skin felt a bit sore at times, and I was pretty blotchy.

Then Bets mentioned that many dermatologists recommend Cetaphil because it’s mild, but that it’s just a big chemical cocktail and not actually beneficial in any way. I picked her brain, picked up some oil, and I don’t think I’ll ever turn back.

Why oil?

As teens, we’re taught that facial oils are the enemy, and that mindset sticks. We’re also told that the “shine” of facial oils is unsightly and must be managed. But just as the oils that your scalp secretes are beneficial to your hair, the sebum that your skin secretes is beneficial to your skin. Its purpose is to protect your skin from the outside environment, to prevent harmful substances from seeping into your pores. But for some reason, nobody talks about that. My dermatologist certainly never said anything of the sort to me. And most popular facial cleansers are marketed as“oil free,” and we buy them because of our deep-seated belief that oil is the enemy.

But when skin’s natural oils are removed, our bodies often compensate by producing moreoil. So by getting rid of oil, you may be setting yourself up to become oilier. Or, on the flip side, if your skin seems constantly dry, it could be because your natural oils have been stripped away and your body has stopped naturally replenishing them. Some folks cope with these imbalances by skipping cleansers altogether and just splashing with water on occasion. But dirt does accumulate in facial oil over the course of the day, and that needs to be dealt with somehow. Additionally if you wear makeup, you’ll need to get it off eventually.

Certain botanical oils can cleanse your pores of dirt and bacteria naturally and gently, while simultaneously replacing any contaminated oils with beneficial ones. They can also remove some makeup, and add a bit of moisture to your skin. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? So how do you get started?

Which oil?

Confession: I haven’t done a ton of experimentation. I’ve heard great things about jojoba oil for cleansing, but I’m yet to give it a whirl. I started out just using straight extra virgin olive oil, which worked fairly well, then began mixing it with castor oil. Now that I’ve got my proportions right, I’m loving my blend.

From what I’ve read, the castor oil draws out any lingering dirt and the EVOO moisturizes. During the dry winter months, I’m doing about two-thirds EVOO to one-third castor. Once it finally warms up, I’ll probably do half and half.

This post from Crunchy Betty gives some more detailed info on types of oils, their uses, and ratios.

How do you do it?

Again, there are many ways to use the oil cleansing method, and this is just mine:

When I shower in the morning, I rub about a tablespoon of my oil mixture onto a dry face. I finish my ablutions, and then gently scrub the oil off with a dry towel. Every week or so, I’ll add a bit of my Neutrogena scrub to the oil mix for some extra exfoliating action.

Before I go to bed at night, I rub about a tablespoon of my oil mixture onto a dry face. Then I take a hot washcloth and wipe the oil and makeup off. Then I pat dry with a different, dry towel. I have purchased one washcloth for every day of the week and let them air dry after they’ve been used, then wash in the washing machine once per week. I also rotate dry face towels frequently. This helps a ton!

I find that my oil blend removes cover up, eyebrow pencil, and lip products. I still use a traditional makeup remover if I’ve put on mascara and eye makeup.

Does it feel gross?

Amazingly, no. Before I started doing this, I imagined that smearing a bunch of oil right on a dry face would feel absolutely disgusting. It feels refreshing, natural, and normal. Once I’ve rubbed the oil in, it feels like I’ve just finished washing my face. I mean, washing my face the old fashioned way.

Do you still break out?

I totally do. As I mentioned, I have hormonally triggered acne, so when my hormones get ornery my face goes bananas. My body also really hates it when I eat sugar, and if I go on a candy bender I get a robust crop of zits. But my breakouts are less frequent and less severe, and my skin seems able to recover from them faster.

Does your skin look different?

Yes. But not drastically. I didn’t include before and after photos because the changes are so subtle that a camera is unlikely to pick them up. But my skin is generally less blotchy and more even in tone. I don’t get super shiny … pretty much at all. By 3 p.m. I’ll have a bit of shine going on, but nothing even CLOSE to what I had before I started using oil cleansers. And, as I mentioned, my acne is slightly improved.

My skin also FEELS better. It is both softer to the touch and less irritation-prone.

I know the oil cleansing method is a hot topic of conversation these days, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts! Are you a longtime devotee? A new convert? On the fence? Using a different method and can’t imagine moving to oils? Any resources to share about blends and applications? Tell all in the comments!

Image courtesy Radiant Brown Beauty.

Written by Sally McGraw - Minneapolis MN, USA


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