Makeup Monday–Cleansing Your Skin With Oil

 Bottle and dropper

Have you been hearing about cleaning your face with oil yet? If not, you will soon. The Oil Cleansing Method is all the rage. If you’re new to the concept of cleaning your skin with oil this will sound like the most ludicrous, bizarre notion EVER. Because who puts oil on her face? Who??? Lots of people! Me, for one.  I am incredibly picky and vigilant about skincare. So when I say that my skin has never looked better since I started washing with oil, you’d better believe that it’s good stuff. We’re talking luminous angel skin. I haven’t cleaned my soap with soap in over a year.

You know your skin produces oil all the time, right? Oil isn’t bad. Oil is what keeps your skin looking dewy and fresh. But if the oil production goes into overdrive it can cause problems. It can combine with bacteria and dirt and cause zits and blackheads. But without oil you will start to look like a raisin. No girl wants to look like a raisin!

All the commercials and ads have convinced us that we must use cleansers to get rid of the oil! That only when all oil is gone will we have good skin. So we buy all these cleansers thinking that we must get our skin clean CLEAN CLEAN. But then our skin gets dried out. Skin doesn’t like to be dry, so it sends a signal that we must produce even more oil. So our face becomes oilier. And more oil attracts more grime.

Then we start throwing moisturizers in there because our skin is so dry after we wash it to death; moisturizers full of chemicals and all sorts of nasty things and pretty soon our faces are not happy. Our skin is a big fat mess. We need to find a happy medium.

That’s where oil comes in: oil actually cleans oil. Without getting too science-y, like dissolves like. We need nice, nourishing oils to get rid of the gross, dirty oils on our faces and to do it without stripping our skin bare.

I know you are feeling mighty skeptical right now but believe me when I tell you that washing with oil will make your skin look phenomenal. It will feel so lovely and healthy you won’t even be able to deal with it. I get compliments on my skin every single day. Not kidding. This is one of the big reasons why.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Get some washcloths. I like grey ones because I don’t want to have to worry about stains from my eye makeup.  Cleasing with oil will take every stitch of makeup off; even the most waterproof mascara ever. I bought a big stack of washcloths at Target for just a few dollars. You’ll only use them a couple of times before they need to be washed in very hot water. Don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets.

Get some hot water. Let your faucet run til it’s nice and steamy or heat some up in the microwave. You want it hot but not hot enough to hurt you.

Make up your oil mixture.* You can’t just use any oil, silly! Most of the oils you’ll need can be bought at a health food store or maybe a grocery store with a fancy organic department. If you want to make it easy then just buy everything online (read the footnote below for more details).

The number one important oil to use is going to be castor oil. (When I make soap from scratch I always use castor oil because it makes nice big bubbles.) Castor oil has extra-great oil-removing properties and gets the yucky stuff from your pores. You’ll also need a companion oil. There are dozens of different kinds of oils: if you have oily skin jojoba, sunflower, and sweet almond are your best bets. Regular skin does well with grapeseed or Apricot Kernel Oil. Dry skin like mine prefers avocado or Extra-virgin Olive Oil (I’ve heard a lot of complaints about olive oil causing skin issues but I haven’t had any problems personally. If you have dry skin, try avocado oil first.) Tamanu oil is especially good if you’re prone to acne. It’s a spendy oil but is supposed to be fantastic.

Only mix a small amount at a time (maybe one ounce total). You might need to play around to find the right blend for your skin.

Get a little bottle; one of those travel sized bottles is perfect. Make sure it’s totally clean. A bunch of conditioner residue is not going to help. Depending on your skin type you’ll mix your oils up in various ratios depending on your skin type.

If your skin is oily, mix 2 parts castor oil with 1 part companion oil. For example: 2 Tablespoons of castor oil for 1 Tablespoon of almond oil.

If your skin is regular, mix castor oil and your companion oil in equal parts. For example: 2 Tablespoons of castor oil and 2 Tablespoons of apricot kernel oil.

If your skin is dry, mix 1 part castor oil to 2 parts carrier oil. For example: 1 Tablespoon castor oil to 2 Tablespoons avocado oil.

This is how to wash your face using oils: The first part will be the weirdest. You will take some of your oil mixture (about a quarter-sized amount) and rub it all over your dry face. No need to get your face wet first because we aren’t using soap. Just massage the oil all over your face for a minute or two. Make sure to rub your eyelashes because it will get rid of any trace of eye makeup in a snap. (Eye makeup remover is ancient history!)

Soak your washcloth in hot water (don’t burn yourself, for Pete’s sake!), wring it out, tip your head back slightly and lay the washcloth on your face. Leave it here until it starts to cool down. This is going to open up your pores and cut through the grime. Then gently wipe the oil from your face. I usually wipe my face off once, but you can do it again if you feel like it. Make sure to wipe under your eyes to get rid of any mascara, but be gentle!

Apply your moisturizer as soon as you’ve finished. I am still madly in love with my night-time syrum that I make with olive squalane (among other things). Yes, I wash my face with oil then apply more oil! My skin has never looked better. That’s saying a lot considering I’m 42. I also use the oil cleaning method every single solitary night. It truly pays off. Remember that your face is your calling card; treat it well!

Your skin might freak out a little during the first 1-2 weeks. Remember that it’s gotten used to having oil stripped away and has made your oil-producing factory wig out. Let your face have a week or two to settle down and get used to the new oil regimen. Just stick with it and try to resist using your old cleanser for a while. I think you’re really going to fall in love with your new glowing, velvet-y skin. Give it a try and tell me how you like it!


*So where do you get these oils? If you have a natural grocery store, that will probably be your best bet. My local H.E.B. has a big aisle that sells natural/health products and I can get most everything there. Sometimes sunflower seed and avocado oil can be found in the baking aisle by the vegetable oils (My local Costco carries Avocado oil in the baking aisle and it’s priced wonderfully.) Quite often you’ll find castor oil in the pharmacy department near stomach medicine. It is a big-time laxative (I drank a couple of spoonfuls of it once when I was enormously pregnant and trying to get labor started. Hoo-boy was that a crazy night in the bathroom!).
If you live in the middle of nowhere or just don’t feel like searching high and low, there are lots of places online that carry oils. I used to buy everything at Texas Natural Supply but they’ve been real jerks lately; Horrible, condescending customer service. Also, they wanted to charge me more for shipping than Brambleberry (which is located in Seattle) even though I only live 20 minutes away from them. So I recommend Brambleberry–my other favorite supplier.  I’ve been getting stuff from Brambleberry for almost ten years–their quality is excellent and their prices are reasonable.

14 thoughts on “Makeup Monday–Cleansing Your Skin With Oil

  1. I have never heard of this IN MY LIFE. Never. (I can’t believe you haven’t told your own sister!) But I trust you enough by now (and have seen your amazing skin) enough to know it must be true. I have combination skin with a lot of oiliness in the t-zone, so I’m worried about how extra oil is going to affect that area. But I’m willing to try it!

  2. I can attest to the greatness of this method. I’ve known about it for years and caster oil has been a beauty “secret” in my family since before I existed. Love it.

  3. I’ve been doing this for several years too. I love the smoothness of my skin, especially after the “mini facial” experience with the hot towel. I’ve even got my girls on board with this method.

    1. When I was writing this post I thought, “I’ll bet Stephanie already does this.” Sure enough! Has this helped or hurt Cate’s skin struggles?

      1. Cate had been through just about every kind of skin cleanser possible when her acne was really bad. The oil method was the best thing for her skin while on Accutane (so horribly drying), and since her acne is now gone, she uses the oil method still.

  4. Is the olive squalene stuff found at that whole sale site too? I need more info on this magical squalene oil you speak of! 🙂 enjoying your blog… Lots off good stuff.

    1. Kayte, Wholesale Supplies Plus carries Olive Squalane from time to time but they don’t have any currently. The best place I’ve found to get it is at Texas Natural Supply. I really hate this because they were super rude and unprofessional to me a while back and I swore I wound’t order anything from them again. But I really love their squalane so I think I’m going to have to eat my words.

      1. Thanks for the info! I ordered from TNS so I am looking forward to trying it out! I’ve been cleansing with oil for about a week and so far, I’m liking it. My skin isn’t nearly as dry.

  5. Fab blog! I can hardly wait to try it! My dry, dry, DRY skin will love it! I think I’ll use the extra-virgin olive oil because it has natural antibiotic properties.

  6. I have to try this! Your skin does look fantastic, which makes me wonder…did you ever bombard yourself with UV rays, or have you always taken good care of your skin? Translation: is there any hope for me? I’m 28 and until 23 I was brutal on my skin–tanning beds in my teenage years, lots of laying out in college, I was a sun baby through and through. I’m finally taking good care of my skin, and although I know that my skin will look better at 42 than if I’d continued on the path of skin-destruction, I wonder whether the damage I’ve already done is too great to for me to look good through my 40s.

    1. Afton, I’ve visited tanning booths over the years but I quit cold turkey when I was about your age. If you promise from this day forward to always wear sunscreen and moisturize properly, you will definitely look better than you would have otherwise. You might try some chemical peels every few months–they do a world of good too. It’s definitely not too late for you. But you finally know you’re a grown up when you get serious about skin care.

  7. I love this! I’ve been doing it for about a week now & it is terrific! I have tried just coconut oil in the past but found it was too drying. I would have never thought of using castor oil before but it is amazing!

    Please do share what you use for moisturizer! And what is your morning routine?


    1. I just rinse my face with water in the shower in the morning. Pretty easy (and cheap!). For daytime I use a Garnier moisturizer with SPF 28 and at night after I wash my face with oil, I slather on even more oil. I LOVE, LOVE olive squalane which is pretty hard to find. I get it online from Texas Natural Supply. It’s yet another kind of oil that is seriously the best ever! If you look under the makeup tab you can find old blog posts about both of those products.

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