Oil Cleansing Method 101: How to Wash Your Face with Oil

Oil Cleansing Method 101: How to Wash Your Face with Oil || Heard about the oil cleansing method? Not sure how it works or where to start? Here's everything you need to know about how to wash your face with oil!

Have you heard about the oil cleansing method or washing your face with oil? Wondering if or how it works!?

Let’s take a look at:

  • How the right face oils keep skin clean and clear
  • Which carrier oils and essential oils are best for the oil cleansing method
  • The exact steps to follow to wash your face with oil

I know, I know — washing your face with oil sounds downright nutty.

After all, we’ve been led to believe that oil should be kept far, far away from our faces.

For years, we’ve scoured skincare product labels for the words “oil-free” before giving them the green-light to make contact with our skin.

Yet oil has been used in natural skincare for ages, and is certainly making a comeback.

Many natural beauty aficionados swear by the Oil Cleansing Method as a way of keeping skin clean, clear, healthy, and vibrant.

I myself am totally obsessed with face oils, and credit them for transforming my skin and helping me finally get rid of my adult acne! After attacking my skin with harsh, kill-all-the-bacteria-ever skincare products (and using way too many of them) face oils provided the soothing relief my skin so desperately needed.

Oil Cleansing Method 101

What is the Oil Cleansing Method?

Exactly what it sounds like: a means of cleansing the skin with oil.

How does the Oil Cleansing Method Work?

The Oil Cleansing Method is based upon the principal of like-dissolves-like—the oil used to cleanse the skin dissolves the oil on the skin.

Now you may be scratching your head and thinking, “But I have acne. Won’t oil just clog my pores even more?” Well a zit is nothing more than a sticky mess of sebum and dead skin cells and/or dirt. And since like dissolves like, the oil cleansing method can actually help to break up this sticky mess and clear it from the pore.

Will the Oil Cleansing Method make my skin a shiny mess?

The Oil Cleansing Method can actually help balance your skin’s natural oil production.

Putting oil on your face can “trick” your skin into producing less oil since it thinks it already has enough. And often, the skin produces excess oil if it is dry—by thoroughly moisturizing the skin, the Oil Cleansing Method helps prevent the sebaceous glands (which create face oil) from going into overdrive.

How to Wash Your Face with Oil || Heard about the oil cleansing method? Not sure how it works or where to start? Here's everything you need to know about how to wash your face with oil!

How do you “wash your face with oil” using the Oil Cleansing Method?

Basic Oil Cleansing Method routine:

  1. Splash some warm water on your face, then gently pat dry.
  2. Dispense a quarter-size amount of oil into the palm of your hand and gently massage it into your face for 1-2 minutes, especially focusing on those areas with clogged pores.
  3. Wet a washcloth with hot water (you want it as hot as possible without burning your skin), ring it out and lay it on top of your face.
  4. Quickly lay a second dry washcloth on top to trap the moisture and heat. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes, or until the wet washcloth cools.
  5. Repeat, using the dry washcloth to gently wipe your skin at the end.

If your skin feels tight afterwards, follow up with a small amount of moisturizer. However, you likely find that you don’t need to moisturize at all since the cleansing oil will settle into the skin, providing moisture.

Which oils are best to use for the Oil Cleansing Method?

It’s best to use a blend of an astringent oil and other nourishing oils based on your skin needs.

Astringent oils:

I personally choose to avoid using castor oil due to possible environmental and human rights implications. It can also be extremely drying and so finding the perfect amount for your particular skin can take a bit of trial and error. However, it is the astringent oil you will most commonly see in Oil Cleansing Method oil blend formulas.

Nourishing Oils:

There are so many AMAZING skincare oils out there, each with different benefits. Read The Best Carrier Oils Based on Skin Type to see which oils may be the best fit for your skin needs.

If you have tried the oil cleansing method using coconut or olive oil—two of the most commonly suggested oils—and were disappointed in the results, I suggest giving it another go! These oils can clog pores and so do not provide the best results for everyone.

Basic Oil Cleansing Method oil blend formula:

Normal to Oily Skin → 1 part astringent oil to 3 parts nourishing oil(s)

Combination Skin → 1 part astringent oil to 5 parts nourishing oil(s)

Dry Skin → 1 part astringent oil to 10 parts nourishing oil(s)

How long will it take for me to see results with the Oil Cleansing Method?

It may take a week or so for you skin to adjust to the Oil Cleansing Method. As the oil breaks up the gunk in the pores,  you may even experience more breakouts during this time. Try to wait it out and resist the urge to use regular facial cleansers during this time, which will prolong the adjustment period.

You will also likely have to experiment with the best oils and oil ratio for your skin.

Have you tried the OCM?

Have any advice or input based on your experience?

Please share with us in the comments below!

Heard about the oil cleansing method? Not sure how it works or where to start? Here's everything you need to know about how to wash your face with oil!


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  1. I have oil cleansed previously however, I am a little confused now as to which oils I should use for it. Should I mix my oil blends (after mixing my blends according to my skin type) with the astringent oil when oil cleansing or should I use the oil blend only?

  2. I’m 70 and starting to see wrinkles, sagging skin. Interested in trying OCM. Do I need to remove makeup first, including eye makeup? If so, what should I use?

  3. Hi, i have acne prone combination skin also sensitive skin and scars. Can i blend in hazelnut oil as astrigant and pumpkin , lavender and jojoba as carrier oil?
    Really appreciate if you reply! Really do wanna start saving my terrible skin complexion!

  4. Desperate!
    I am an aging woman, have oily skin, blemishes, enlarged pores, still getting acne, my skin is a mess! Came across your site, can oils help me? I have no idea what to get and or how to combine, never used oils in my life,

  5. Everyone’s skin is unique and different so I would say it’s key to experiment to find what’s going to be best for you!

  6. I saw on a below comment that some people oil cleanse a few times a week, and others every day. Do you think one is more beneficial than the other- specifically for combination skin with rosacea?

  7. That’s up to you – some people do it daily in the evening, and others may do it a few times a week as a special treat for their skin.

  8. Hi, Nadia!

    I have bumped into your website while researching oils for skincare.

    May i know which *leave on mosturizing oil should i apply before going to bed?

    I will be trying hazelnut oil and jojoba oil/lavender oil for oil cleansing. ( Do you think its suitable for my skin type? )

    I have acne prone skin, acne scars, combination of skin type and sensitive skin.

    I would be so glad if you could guide me through!

    -Much love from singapore!

  9. That’s so wonderful to hear, Emma! Yes, the oil cleansing method is definitely very soothing for easily irritated skin whereas soaps can disrupt the skin’s pH balance and cause more irritation.

  10. Honestly oil cleansing is something i swear by. For the first time in a while my skin didnt burn or itch after washing like it does with harsh soaps. My skin feels soft and more in blanace. It cleared up most of my acne. (However i believe this is mostly due to hormonal birth control)

  11. Michele, I SO definitely want to help you but there’s only so much I can do with this limited info and here in the comments section of the blog! I will shoot you an email about possibly setting up a 1-on-1 consult as I know that will be the only way to truly help.

  12. Hi Nadia! I just posted a question on your “Why coconut oil should not be used on your face” post, but I realized I may not have been specific enough in my question. I have tried oil cleansing for almost 3 months now, with great results initially, but now my acne is way worse. I’m using a blend of 10/20/70 castor oil/hemp/jojoba. My forehead acne is painful and just won’t go away. I am considering trying a different blend, but it costs so much money to buy different oils and what if the new oils don’t make any difference or are worse. I purchased your oil blend for moisturizing and love it, but I feel like it’s too expensive to use for cleansing as I need significantly more for that. I have tried so many options and nothing seems to work. I feel so overwhelmed and don’t know what to do next. I’ve done the work for internal healing I have been working with a nutritionist/chiropractor for almost a year with supplements tailored to my body based on blood work. I have your book Glow and love it. I have been on a very restrictive diet (now doing AIP elimination diet). I have detoxified my house, my water, and all my beauty care products. But I just can’t get rid of this acne! I am so discouraged and frustrated! Please, can you offer me any insights or suggestions? I would be so grateful!!! I trust you more than any other blogger out there on this topic.

  13. I have always been a huge fan of the oil cleansing method, but I did not have a great experience with it. I did use olive oil and coconut oil the two times I tried it. I also have moderate to severe rosacea. Is the oil cleansing method good for rosacea? Which oils are best? Should I use the Combination skin recipe?

    Thanks, I really appreciate any advice

  14. So interesting! Thank you for sharing your method! And yes, coconut oil is very comedogenic or pore-clogging – I don’t recommend it for the face. Your daughter may benefit from using one of the oils identified for blemish-prone skin here instead of the olive oil to help keep those breakouts away: The Best Face Oils By Skin Type 🙂

  15. For years (like 20) I’ve been using extra virgin coconut oil and a baby wipe to clean my face, every night. This never dries my skin, completely removes makeup better than any soapy product I’ve used, including Cerave’s cleanser, Cetaphil, etc. Since I’ve been using it so long, I now have my 11 year old daughter hooked on this and while she’s starting to break out, it’s nothing awful yet. Once I switched to coconut oil I stopped having the horrible deep zits that were almost cystic that would show with my monthly cycle. Every day of the year, even in the hot summer, I feel like I get it all off with coconut oil, but none of the tight irritated skin after. I do want to note that I rinse the baby wipes (always unscented) since they tend to irritate my eyes when I wipe off eye makeup. Seems counterintuitive, but it really works.