The Oil-Cleansing Method: Beginner’s Guide

When I first heard about the Oil Cleansing Method, I freaked.

OIL?! … On your face?

Oh heck no.

You see; as an ex-acne sufferer, I do not allow any sort of oil to ever touch my face. Ever. Every thing is oil-free: oil free cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreen, foundation, everything. However, I have been quite curious after reading more about it; that oil is actually good for your skin and that tons of acne-prone sufferers have benefited from it. Let’s just say I’m very intrigued…

The Oil Cleansing Method (let’s just call it OCM from now on) has been the go-to skincare of women of all ages, and all skin types for many, many years. Frugal, safe, and effective, the OCM has thousands of raving fans all over the internet – I found countless blog posts raving about it.

Why Try The Oil Cleansing Method?

While it may seem strange to cleanse your face with oil – the grease! the smell! the oiliness! – especially if you have oily skin and are afraid of acne, fret not –, a great resource for all things OCM, says:

Do not be afraid of applying oil to your face. Oil, alone, will not bring you blemishes. Pimples, cysts, zits, blackheads, whiteheads…these are a result of several different factors including hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells and the buildup of these factors. Your skin naturally produces oil because it needs it. confirms this:

Oil dissolves oil. One of the most basic principals of chemistry is that “like dissolves like.” The best way to desolve a non-polar solvent like sebum/oil, is by using another non-polar solvent similar in composition: other oils. By using the right oils, you can cleanse your pores of dirt and bacteria naturally, gently and effectively, while replacing the dirty oil with beneficial ones extracted from natural botanicals, vegetables and fruit that heal, protect and nourish your skin.

To put it more simply, here are the benefits of the OCM:

  • cleanse your pores of dirt, bateria, and makeup gently
  • does not cause any acne or blemishes
  • moisturizing – and good! – for the skin
  • a cleanser, makeup-remover and moisturizer all in one
  • natural and safe
  • much cheaper!

The Oil Cleansing Method Steps

1. Prepare: You can make your own cleanser by simply mixing oils together. The most popular blend is castor oil and extra-virgin olive oil (castor oil draws out dirt from pores and olive oil heals and nourishes the skin). Experiment to see what the right ratio of mixtures is right for you, but here’s a starting guide:

  • Normal skin: 1/2 castor oil, 1/2 extra-virgin olive oil
  • Acne-prone/oil skin: 3/4 castor oil, 1/4 extra-virgin olive oil
  • Dry skin: 1/4 castor oil, 3/4 extra-virgin olive oil

(Other oils that people have found success in is sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil and flaxseed oil. But I think with this it is all about experimenting and see what works best for you.)

2. Application: Squirt a small amount, rub your hands together, and gently massage your face with your oil blend. No scrubbing, no harsh nails – just use your fingertips and enjoy a light facial massage for about a minute.

3. Steaming: Grab a washcloth and dip it in hot water (not steaming hot, but hot) and place it over your face. Allow it to warm your face and leave it there until the washcloth cools.

4. Removal: Take off the washcloth, rinse some of the oil out, and then gently wipe the oil off from your face. If you do this in the night, you can omit moisturizer since this is moisturizing enough! For the daytime, continue to apply a light moisturizer.

Your turn! have you tried the Oil Cleansing Method? How did you find it and what are your thoughts? I am definitely gonna try it out. Stay tuned.

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  1. I’ve been using it for about a year & loving it ^___^ Of course it will take awhile to get use to OCM (:

    I have oily, dry skin – very confuse skin! At first I tried 2:1 (castor oil:olive oil) but I noticed flaky skin on my cheeks after 1 week. Similarly, 1:1 ratio didn’t improved the flaky part. After 1 month of using 1:2 ratio, I decided it is the best formula for me. I usually let it ‘absorb’ into my skin for ~10min after application before washing. Even my bf noticed that I have lesser whiteheads on my nose!

  2. Ugh I stay away from all sorts of oily products coz i can’t stand oily skin but this does sound like it could work! I’m still very skeptical about slathering oil all over my face though so you’ll have to update on how it goes, Renee! Sorry you have to be my guinea pig! 😀 Here’s a balloon for your troubles – Q . x

  3. Oil is okay for acne prone skin. I am considered acne prone and I use oil on my face both day and night. But OCM isn’t that great IMO in the long run cos the heat will dry out the skin; it’s not for everyone. I tried it awhile and while it cleanses well, I prefer to go back to normal cleansing.

  4. Interesting! I have oily/combination skin, and I’ve been afraid to try OCM. But after reading your blog, I’m more intrigued and interested to try out. One thing’s for sure, like definitely speaks to like! (Also heard this from Wayne, gossmakeupartist) Maybe I should get around to trying. Maybe….

  5. I am not a fan. There are no oils that are universally safe for anyone, including non-acne-prones, so it’s an extremely tricky process to get into if you are very acne-prone towards ingredients more so than other variables. I tried OCM with six different oils (jojoba, extra virgin olive, sweet almond, walnut, hazelnut, neem) and they all broke me out and caused irritation (especially olive oil and jojoba). I also tried about five or six different methods of using the OCM without benefiting – the only thing OCM helped with was my massive clogged pores but it subsequently still broke me out in inflamed lesions. The steaming action, even with just a warm washcloth, can be very problematic for the skin, especially done on a regular basis: broken capillaries, dehydration and/or dryness, irritation and even burns, increased redness… And the use of the washcloth can also be an issue for some if manual exfoliation does not suit their skin. Even if it does the washcloth can prove to be ill-suited to the individual’s skin.

    Castor oil is prone to causing allergic reactions. A number of girls on makeupalley have complained of swollen eyelids from using it and nasty breakouts. And olive oil is definitely not considered to be ideal for acne-prone skin. Mineral oil, kukui nut oil, sunflower/safflower oil (high linoleic preferably) and sometimes grapeseed oil are all better suited for acne-prone skin (although one must be cautious with any nut-based oil even if there isn’t an allergy). I’d personally recommend creating a cleansing oil over using OCM as described by that website; combine an emulsifier like polysorbate-80 and then the oil of choice. That way it will work like a rinse-off cleansing oil that you can buy from stores and you won’t need to use a washcloth. These ingredients can be bought from Garden of Wisdom I believe, but possibly other places by doing a Google search. A great review to read on DIY cleansing oil and her experience using OCM:
    OCM_Oil_Cleansing_Method_with_Polysorbate/0/Cleansers (the first, longer one but might need an account to actually see it, not sure!)

    If a DIY cleansing oil isn’t desired, then I recommend using an oil without castor oil as a pre-cleanser. Apply to skin as you would with OCM but instead of going for the washcloth instead rinse and then go for your normal cleanser (or exfoliant if preferred) to remove its excess. Far less likely to cause a reaction than using the OCM.

  6. I’ve heard a lot of rave about OCM, I’ve used olive oil to cleanse my face at night in the past but stopped because I didn’t like the greasy feel of it, it didn’t break me out or anything and it did seem to make skin softer, I can’t remember whether it made my skin any clearer, ut since I stopped it probably didn’t .. I know this method says to use castor oil, but castor oil is known for making your hair thicker (and I can vouch for that, I would conitnue using it on my scalp if it wasnt so thick and sticky!) So personally, I would steer clear of castor oil! Just thought you and my fellow readers would like to know that little tid bit .. I would not risk thicker hair on my face!! xx

  7. This was really informative, thanks! I’ve used oil cleansers (which i liked) but never made my own before! Let us know how it works out for you! 🙂

  8. Wow, ladies! Awesome response, thanks for taking the time to write. 🙂

    Sesame – Thanks Sesame. I always trust your opinions and I consider you an “expert” on natural skincare 😀

    Ashley, thanks so much for all the info. I too read a little about oils, but then some people counter it by saying this and that. I suppose that it’s up to the individual… and I agree about cleansing oils. Maybe I will start slow, I am still a bit iffy about oils 😀 The castor oil reactions are so scary! Eeks… I never thought about reactions, thanks so much for letting me know! My supermarket just opened up an organic skincare section, I will see if there is any type of natural oil cleanser and see how it goes… I think I’ll start with that, less scary haha.

    Apoo – from the accounts I’ve read women do this once a day or every other day… I suppose it’s personal preference!

  9. This definitely worked for me! But lazy as I am, I didn’t bother mixing any oils – that would involve too much lugging of giant bottles of oils from the supermarket – I just bought the Hada Labo cleansing oil! Its about $20 for 200ml. It is said to have some pure olive oil in it. I chose this over the famous DHC cleansing oil due to price factor.

    On the first use, I was completely SOLD! Somehow, it ‘melted’ away all the stubborn whiteheads on my chin – I could actually SEE those whiteheads coming out! Now my chin is completely smooth and I’m super pleased I ‘discovered’ this gem all by myself. 🙂

    How I use it – one pump on my palm is enough for my whole face, and I rub it in circular motions all over my face, more so over my nose and chin. After, I just go to shower immediately, and use my regular cleanser to double cleanse.

    I do find the cleansing oil moisturizing- mostly because the moisturizer I use afterwards doesn’t seem to sink in like it used to! Haven’t had any adverse breakouts and I’m of the combi-oily skin type.

    TRY IT! 🙂

  10. I’ve tried it.. I usually have normal skin that stays clear but recently I’ve experienced bad skin. When my skin is normal, it worked fine. But it didn’t solve my sudden bad skin 🙁

    1. Oh I so sorry to hear that. 🙁 I’ve heard some bad reactions but they were so rare compared to all the raving reviews! I suppose it is up to the individual… I am scared to try it now! :X

  11. Like you, I am an ex-acne sufferer and am pretty skeptical when it comes to using oil on my face, but I’m a convert now 😛 I use facial oils as part of my daily skincare routine (Day and night), and I use Dermalogica Precleanse cleansing oil at night to remove all my sunscreen and makeup. It’s really effective! Though I haven’t dared experiment with other oils- the only other cleansing oil I’ve tried is Shu Uemura’s, which broke me out pretty badly, and since Dermalogica Precleanse has worked for me for years, dare not venture away haha!

    Though the OCM looks intriguing… might want to give it a try!

    1. Hey, sorry I dont know any specific places yet… try any organic/home shops? Will let you all know when I find some!

  12. I have mixed feelings about the method you just outlined. Mostly because your washcloths have to be absolutely clean and fresh every time, or bacteria could lead to bad breakouts. BUT I have used cleansing oils in the past and I loved those! Mac makes a really good one and so does Boscia. 🙂 I think cleansing oils are a better way to go, personally, because they’re less fuss.

  13. From experience, it works in decongesting my pores but I don’t like doing OCM regularly. Probably just 2x a month max? Like Sesame said, I find that it can be quite drying on the skin in the long run due to the use of heat. Or it’s probably just the Singapore water? Something about the SG water dries my skin. Haven’t tried doing OCM while I’m overseas.

  14. This is so perfect! I’ve been looking for a cleanser to use that is made naturally. I recently made a really good scrub from natural sugar and extra-virgin olive oil, and was scouring the internet for a good cleanser and moisturiser recipe to go with this. And then you posted it! Next step: moisturiser.

  15. I do OCM once every week or fortnight at least for about two years. I mix two parts Castor oil to one part Muji cleansing oil, massage all over the face for about 10mins. I use a clay mask before OCM to draw out impurities and easier for the oil to bring out the blackheads. I don’t dip the towel in hot water though, I just use lukewarm water and wet the towel and use the damp towel to emulsify the oil. I follow up with a gentle cleaner and hydrating facial mask before sleep.

    My blackheads has been reduced significantly since I started on this but I don’t recommend using it more than once a week because castor oil is very drying.

  16. I like oil cleansing & have incorporated into my regimen for some time. I have a combo skin type & I’m acneic due to also having PCOS which means my acne is a deep cystic nodular grade. No fun! I oil cleanse once a week & love the results, glowing, clear pores & an overall glow. I noticed a difference after the first time, I can’t use it daily but once a week gives results along with my remaining weekly regimen. I’m a licensed esthetician too! ; )

  17. I used this method last winter and it worked great for me, not that the weather is cooling down again i noticed my acne is coming back. I love this don’t be afraid to try it if it works great if it doesn’t at least you tried it.

  18. I know this post was ages ago, but it’s sad you gave up so soon! The skin can take a few weeks to adjust to the new method, and (just like with a facial) you will often get pimples in response because your skin is purging out all the trapped gunk. I’ve been doing it for a year and my skin is radiant, and I don’t have to put any badly chemicals on my face

  19. I would venture to say the EVOO broke your skin out because it has been known to be a little comedogenic. I use hemp seed oil with a couple drops of tea tree oil mixed in. I’ve been doing this for roughly 3 weeks and have been off my oral acne medicine for 2 weeks now and granted, it’s not perfect (hormones etc. still play a role) my. skin. has. never. felt. better!!! hemp seed oil actually rates a 0 on the comedogenic scale thus the reason I got that instead of the heavier oils like coconut & olive!! don’t give up, I promise it’s worth another go around with the hemp seed.


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