Oil cleansing is a skincare practice rooted in ancient Asian traditions that leverages the principle "like attracts like." The oil used in cleansing attracts the oil on your skin, effectively removing dirt, makeup, and other impurities. This method nourishes and hydrates the skin, promoting a healthy glow without stripping natural oils. The process not only supports the skin's barrier function, reducing breakouts and inflammation, but it's also eco-friendly, devoid of toxic chemicals, and cost-effective. Selecting the right natural oil based on skin type is crucial, and the cleansing process involves either a basic oil cleanse or a double cleanse method, which includes a water-based foaming cleanser following the oil cleanse.
Using oil to cleanse your face may seem like a contradictory methodology, since most cleansing techniques actually strip the face of oil. But what if oil wasn’t the enemy?
And guess what? Skincare experts have steadily debunked the myth that oil cleansers should be avoided in those with acne-prone skin.
Oil cleansing has a long history as an ancient skincare routine, dating back to 14th century Asia. In Japan and Korea, the oil cleansing method was the most effective means of promoting healthy, glowing skin and removing the traditional white face paint that most women used to wear during the time.
Oil cleansing works on the principle that “like attracts like,” i.e., cleansing oil will attract the oil on your skin, taking with it dirt, makeup, and other environmental residues. Not only will oil cleansing remove debris, but it also provides nourishment, hydration, and much-needed nutrients to the skin. Win-win, right?
Cleansing is considered the most important part of any skin care routine.
Cleansing your skin is essential to facilitate the removal of dirt, dead skin cells, and other debris. If you’re not cleansing your skin on a daily basis, this can result in the build-up of dirt and other impurities, resulting in an overgrowth of bacteria which can promote inflammation, breakouts, eczema, and premature aging.
When you think of cleansing, what comes to mind? Most people will imagine a foamy lather, but oil can do the trick just as well, if not better, than most water-based cleansers since it also helps to lock in natural moisture.
The benefits of oil cleansing summarized
Oils extracted from plants and seeds had been used traditionally for centuries to promote skin health and natural beauty. Finally, modern research is able to demonstrate the beneficial healing properties of these oils thanks to their chemical structure and nutrient content.
Many people are now turning to oil cleansing to support a healthy glow, soothe skin inflammation, reduce breakouts, and remove makeup.
One of the greatest benefits of oil cleansing includes its ability to support your skin’s natural barrier function (find more details on this below) while lifting excess sebum (the oil produced by glands in your skin), cleaning out clogged pores, and removing dead skin cells.
Other reasons why you should give oil cleansing a try:
- You can achieve clean skin without stripping off the skin’s natural oils
- It’s free of any toxic chemicals
- It’s cheap and easily accessible
Your skin is made up of multiple layers, all of which serve a very specific purpose. The outermost layer of your skin, known as the stratum corneum, is your skin barrier.
This layer consists of very strong skin cells containing keratin and moisturizing compounds that are bound together by lipids to form a structure that looks similar to a brick wall.
Believe it or not, this tiny layer is literally keeping you alive as we speak!
Firstly, it offers protection against pathogens and environmental toxins which could penetrate your skin, and secondly, this barrier helps to keep all the water in your body from escaping and evaporating.
What can damage the skin barrier?
Your skin is consistently exposed to a series of external and internal threats that may affect the health of your skin barrier. Here are a few examples:
- Harsh chemicals
- Over exfoliation
- Extreme climates
- Detergents and soaps
- Pollutants and allergens
- Genetic factors
How to tell if your skin barrier is damaged?
If your skin barrier is damaged or not functioning optimally, this may result in the following skin conditions or symptoms:
- Skin inflammation
- Bacterial or fungal skin infections
- Scaly skin
How to use oil cleansing to protect your skin barrier and get radiant skin
Dry skin: Olive oil is rich in vitamins and antioxidants that can promote overall skin health and hydration. Sweet almond oil can also make a great choice for those with dry skin.
Castor oil is often used as a natural remedy for dry skin. It is known for its ability to deeply moisturize and nourish the skin, acting as a humectant - meaning it draws moisture from the air into the skin. Castor oil is rich in fatty acids and Vitamin E, which can help to soothe and hydrate dry skin.
For oily/acne prone skin: Non-comedogenic oils are the best option for those with naturally oily or acne prone skin. What does this mean you may ask? A non-comedogenic substance is one which is unlikely to block pores, whereas a comedogenic substance may do so (such as coconut oil), resulting in blackheads and pimples.
Here are some great non-comedogenic oil options:
tolerate it with ease. Secondly, it also has antimicrobial properties, helping to prevent bacterial overgrowth on the skin, and thus reducing the risk of acne.
Hemp seed oil is cold pressed from the hemp plant but doesn’t contain any CBD. It may help to calm acne thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Hemp oil is also high in linoleic acid, which is beneficial for those struggling with an acne prone skin type.
Sea buckthorn oil is packed with nutrients and antioxidants that your skin loves. For example, it contains some of the highest levels of Vitamin C, E, A, and B compared to other oils. It also absorbs into the skin rapidly, making it perfect for those with sensitive skin or an oily skin type.
- Rosehip seed oil comes from the fruit-like seed pod of a variety of wild roses. Its high Vitamin C and Vitamin A content makes it perfect for reducing hyperpigmentation in those with acne.
Whether you have oily skin or dry skin, always opt for cold-pressed oils since heat during the extraction process may damage the oils making them less effective. Also, remember to ensure that the oil you choose is free from additives of any kind.
It’s also a good idea to try a patch test on your skin before beginning your oil-cleansing journey to ensure you’re not allergic to any oils you may be using.
There are generally 2 ways to oil cleanse; let’s take a look.
The basic oil cleanse
Place ½ a teaspoon to 1 full teaspoon of your chosen oil in the palm of your hand.
Using your fingertips, massage the oil into your face in small circular motions for 1-2 minutes to allow the oil to remove impurities, dislodge dead skin cells and penetrate into the skin.
Dampen a clean washcloth or organic cotton round with warm water, and very gently wipe away any excess oil in small circular motions once again.
Your face should feel moisturized and nourished but not greasy.
The double cleansing method
This double cleanse technique involves following your oil cleanser with a water-based foaming cleanser to remove additional residue that may remain.
You may find this method more effective if you’re prone to acne or excessive oil production.
Follow the steps above from the basic oil cleansing method.
Moisten your face with water and wash it with a gentle, all-natural water-based cleanser free from harsh chemicals to avoid stripping your skin of its natural oils.
- Gently dry your face with a clean towel and apply moisturizer or a small amount of oil.
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended for use as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any dietary supplement.