How to Wash Your Face with Oils

Unlike cleansing with soaps and chemicals, oil cleansing is a gentle process that won’t strip the skin of its valuable defense system against the environment.

There’s not many cleansers that I’ve tried that I can clearly remember my first use with – except when it comes to oil cleansing. I distinctly recall  the “wowww…” moment as I massaged out grainy bits of clogged pores.

Oil cleansing has worked so well for me, moisturizing, balancing out sebum production, soothing my sensitive skin, and improving overall skin texture and fine lines…really I could go on forever.


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When I began oil cleansing, playing with the oils in my cabinet (and refrigerator!) was like discovering the uniques qualities of each oil all over again. I learnt more about my skin too  – it responded differently to gooey castor oil than it did fast-absorbing jojoba, astringent grape seed, or slick coconut.

Because of my autoimmune, my skin is very dry with an overproduction of sebum. To combat excessive buildup, I reached for oils with heavy textures that don’t evaporate quickly. Hemp seed and avocado oils saturate my skin in moisture, while unclogging pores of bacteria and dead skin cells.

I’ve included below the process that’s worked great for me, but it’s all about being playful! Be sure to check out the FAQ and Bonus Tips below, and have fun with the process.

Like Dissolves Like 

The premise “like dissolves like” refers to the hydrophobic properties of oil cleansing – water doesn’t dissolve oil. Oil dissolves oil. Through oil cleansing, bacteria and sebum that has dried and hardened on our face is broken down by using oils of similar composition to our sebum.

My Favorite Oils for Cleansing

Everyone’s skin is different, so check out the recommendations below, and experiment until you find what works best for you. Many people experience breakouts using coconut oil in only the first week; some swear by jojoba oil, while others claim it’s too drying and causes breakouts. I personally have dry, acne-prone skin, so I prefer to use heavier oils.

Let’s trade beauty secrets 🙂 – do you have a rocking oil that works great for your skin?Comment below if you’ve tried the any blends and tell us your experience!

Jojoba Oil

  • a wax ester that mimics the consistency of the body’s natural sebum production
  • excellent for oily skin as it balances out the production of sebum

Hemp Seed Oil

  • contains Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, D, and E
  • good for eczema, psoriasis, acne, and dry skin

Grapeseed OilTea-Tree-Oil jpg

  • light, astringent qualities
  • good for oily skin or acne

Avocado Oil

  • great source of Vitamin E
  • high amounts of chlorophyll and carotenoids

Oil Blends 

  • Oily Skin: 1 part hazelnut oil, 2 parts olive oil
  • Combination Skin: 1 part hazelnut oil, 3 parts olive or sunflower oil
  • Dry Skin: 1:1 ratio of coconut and olive oil

Step-By-Step Oil Cleansing

What you’ll need: 
Small hand towel
Small microfiber cloth
Cleansing oil(s) of choice
Few drops of essential oils of choice (optional!)

Step One: Massage.

  1. Massage a teaspoon of oil (about the size of a quarter) between dry hands, to warm up the oil in your hands.
  2. Massage your hands in your skin using small, upward, circular motions. Be careful not to drag your hands or tug at the skin whilst massaging. This pulling motion can damage the elastin in your skin, encouraging the saggy skin we’re trying to avoid ;).
  3. Massage for about 2 minutes or more. This will send blood and oxygen to your face, opening your pores while sebum is worked away. This gentle movement can be done for up to 5 minutes.

Step Two: Steam.

  1. Run your hand towel under very warm water, wring out, and fold to trap in heat.
  2. Wet the small microfiber cloth under equally warm water, wring out, and fold.
  3. Leaning your head back slightly, lay the cloth on your face.
  4. Layer the hand towel over the cloth.
  5. Stay like this for 30 seconds, or until cooled to room temperature.
  6. Pat dry with your hand towel.
  7. Suggested: repeat 2-3 times.


Should this be done before or after a shower?

While I encourage you to experiment with what works for your skin, I personally love oil cleansing after a shower. I find my pores are more open, allowing those yummy nutrients from the oils to absorb better.

Should I remove makeup first before oil cleansing?

It’s definitely not necessary. A lot of sites will say you can skip this step entirely, especially if you plan on repeating the process the recommended 2-3 times. If I’m wearing a lot of cream foundation, however, I find I like to remove most of it with coconut oil beforehand. Otherwise, I feel like I’m massaging some of that makeup into my pores!

Do I still moisturize afterwards?

You might find that, no matter how dry your skin is, you’ll need little to no moisturizer. I would let it absorb 15-20 minutes before applying something to protect your skin against environmental pollutants with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. My dry skin has really been enjoying Pixi’s water-based gel serum prior to applying a light, tinted SPF 30 sunscreen. Water-based products tend to keep my face from producing.

Are oil cleanser products just as good?

Many water-based cleansers (at least in my price range) can irritate my sensitive skin, and oil cleansers on the market now don’t really fit into my beauty budget. Personally, I always recommend natural, pure oils sans chemicals so you can easily determine what it is your skin is reacting (positively or negatively) to.

As always, I encourage you to experiment with what works for you. Many swear by oil-cleansing products such as DHC, Dior, Algenist, etc. The oil in these products will typically be combined with glycerin or other soaps to encourage emulsification.

Bonus Tip!

  • Experiment with utilizing drops of essential oils in your carrier/cleansing oil of choice. I love tea tree or rosemary oil for their antibacterial properties, and lavender or peppermint oil for calming inflammation.




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