The Oil Cleansing Method

The first time I heard you can wash your face with oil many years ago, I was definitely skeptical. Especially since everyone talked about how bad oils are for your skin. Well, we now know better. Stripping our skin of their natural oils with soaps and chemicals is very harmful. By using the right oil on our skin as a cleanser, it actually helps to get rid of the bacteria and dirt on our face without disrupting our skin’s natural barrier.

A few years ago I was having a lot of trouble with my skin. I started getting really bad breakouts from what I believe was a withdrawal symptom from hormonal birth control, which I strongly recommend avoiding (but that’s a story for another time). It took my skin (and body) a long time to regulate itself back to homeostasis, and even now I still am prone to getting breakouts.

At that time I knew I didn’t want to “treat” my acne with harsh chemicals and soaps, but with a more natural approach. I did a lot of research on the causes of acne, and natural ways to combat it. Though now I believe we must not try to fight or treat a disease or ailment, but understand it in a more holistic manner, at that time it actually enlightened me to many more natural approaches to caring for my skin.

During my search for natural skin care I came across the oil cleansing method. I remember first trying it with coconut oil, and my skin markedly improved. I was ecstatic. Over time though I found it didn’t “cure” my acne, and I got frustrated and moved on. Little did I know at the time, acne is so much more than what you put on your skin. Nevertheless, I was only interested in getting rid of my acne [topically], and if that was not happening, I was blind to the benefits of my efforts. Fortunately, this did open up a whole new world of skin care, and I would return to this particular method many times again later.

After years of trying so hard to get rid of this skin condition with some things helping and others not, I got sick of it. I was tired of trying to “treat” my skin with potions and elixirs, even though it was by natural means. At that time, my skin had improved tremendously from before (but mainly from my diet and lifestyle changes, I’d say). So I really just didn’t want to continue spending hours a day caring for my skin, poking and prodding in an effort to rid myself of something that was really no longer a “problem”.

The thing is, it was always a fight; me against my skin. I would treat my skin care routine as something I had to do every day for best results. I never approached it with love for myself as something I wanted to do. In the end, fighting something about myself for so long was exhausting.

So about a year or so has gone by with me doing a minimal skin care routine. Splash my face with water, sometimes tone, sometimes moisturize. Once in a while I’d do a mask or exfoliation, but mainly I just let my skin do it’s thing. I believe this was actually a quite relieving and necessary reset from my obsessive routines from before. Sometimes less is more, and my skin was happy to not be the center of attention for a while.

But thanks to a pop-up workshop I attended the other night with Shop 5th Dimension, I have recently had a new found love for caring for my skin which has stemmed from a place of self-love.

Instead of trying to fix my skin, I am nurturing it. Instead of trying to treat or cure something, I am just enjoying the time I spend cleansing, toning, and moisturizing with local ingredients and homemade concoctions. It has become more of a ritual than a necessary routine I felt like I had to do. I am kinder and softer with myself. Some nights I will cleanse and others I just don’t feel like it, and that is OK. The biggest change is I’m following my heart; I’m doing what I want.

Currently I am excited to be using the oil cleansing method I have tried many times before, and am loving it. I love how my skin feels afterwards. I love the time spent massaging my face after a long day. So I will continue to use this method for as long as I feel, and no more or less.

We are in the midst of a seasonal shift. From summer to fall. From hot and humid to cool and dry. The Fall is a great time to pay a little more attention to our skin. I don’t know about you, but my skin definitely needs a little more love this time of year. Moisturizing is key for me as I get dry easily, and this method allows my skin to be gently cleansed while providing the moisture it naturally craves.

I have tried many different oils. Coconut (on the dryer side), sesame (on the more nourishing side), neem (very healing), almond, olive oil, etc. There are so many different oils, and benefits to all of them, but my current favorite is hemp seed oil. It is moisturizing, but not overly thick. It seeps into the skin without clocking your pores. You can do some research and see what may work best for you, but ultimately you just need to try them and see for yourself.

For the sake of this post, I will be using hemp seed oil. Let’s see exactly how it works.

What You Will Need:

Your favorite face oil

My current favorite is hemp seed oil. You can start with jojoba oil as this is the closest to our skin’s natural sebum and works for all skin types.

Wash cloth

I like to use cotton, but it can be abrasive. Microfiber is a very gentle option.


I love rose water because it is so gentle and lovely smelling. I got mine in bulk a long time ago, but enjoy this brand generally.


I am currently swooning over this blend from Shop 5th Dimention called Sub Rosa Serum, but have previously really enjoyed plain rosehip oil as it is inexpensive and very gentle for my acne-prone, combination skin.

The Routine:

Step 1 – Clean hands with soap and water and splash face with water.

Step 2 – Pour a quarter-size amount of hemp oil (or whatever you decide to use) into your hands and rub all over my face. Using my fingertips I gently massage the oil all over my face and neck in circular motions for a few minutes.

Step 3 – Rinse a clean washcloth in warm-hot water. Wring out a few times and lay over my face. Take some nice calming breaths in and out while I allow the warm washcloth to gently steam my face. Sometimes I repeat this step if I feel I need to.

Step 4 – Rinse the washcloth again and wipe the rest of the oil off in circular motions. This step isn’t necessary, but I like to do it because it gives my skin a nice exfoliation. If I feel my skin is a bit sensitive that day, I will skip this.

Step 5 – Rinse face in cold water. I seriously recommend this step as the cold water really tightens the pores and leaves you with a beautiful glow. (see why I take cold showers, here).

Step 6 – Spray your face liberally with your favorite toner. Allow to soak in for a minute or so.

Step 7 – While your face is still damp with toner, moisturize with your favorite product.

That’s it! It may sound a bit intense at first, but you will get used to this and do it in no time. Generally I do this at night because I feel like my skin rejuvenates while I sleep, and adding this ritual before that long night of healing seems to heighten it’s effects. I would definitely recommend doing this at night if you wear makeup, as it is a very effective method of removing your makeup while cleansing your skin. You can repeat twice a day if you feel the need.

Have you tried the oil cleansing method? Would you recommend it to a friend? Let me know in the comments.

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