What is the Oil Cleansing Method, and Why You Should Try It

oil based cleanser with dropper

For years we have been told that oily skin leads to clogged pores and breakouts, so it may come as quite a surprise that it’s possible to wash your face with oil. If you have naturally oily or acne-prone skin, it may even seem counterintuitive or harmful to put more oil on your skin to clean it. Why would you do that?

It turns out that cleansing your face with oil can be beneficial for all skin types.

What Is Soap or Foaming Cleanser Doing to My Skin?

“Cleansing oils can be more hydrating than traditional face washes because they don’t contain many surfactants (or any, depending on the product),” says dermatologist Doris Day, M.D. in Self magazine. Surfactants are the compounds which give soaps and foaming cleansers their sudsy quality. In the process of giving us a pleasant foaming experience when we wash, surfactants in your facial cleanser may also be stripping too much of the sebum from your skin. Sebum is defined by The Medical Dictionary as “the oily secretions of the sebaceous glands of the skin, composed of keratin, fat, and cellular debris. Combined with sweat, sebum forms a moist acidic oily film that is mildly antibacterial and antifungal and protects the skin from drying.”

If you like sudsy cleansers and the way they make your skin feel after you wash your face, you may wonder why that particular type of cleansing can be a bad thing. It all comes down to what your cleanser is removing from your skin aside from makeup, dirt and dead skin cells. Is it also stripping natural oils, moisture, and beneficial bacteria from your face? That’s not good. No matter what your complexion type, stripping too much moisture from your face can be harmful to the health of your skin.

Oil Cleansing Your Face

Since your skin naturally secretes oil, and that oil exists as a protective layer to prevent the skin from drying out, it stands to reason that we’re cleansing our skin the wrong way if we’re actually removing the skin’s natural defenses. Of course we want to remove dead skin cells, makeup and any harmful bacteria from our face each night. But what’s the best way to do that while preserving the skin’s appropriate equilibrium?

A basic principle of organic chemistry is the “like dissolves like” solubility rule. Simply put, this means that the best thing to remove an oily substance is going to be another oily substance. What does this have to do with cleaning your face? It means that oils similar to the composition of your sebum will do the best job of removing impurities, while also maintaining the natural balance of oils already present on your skin.

What Are Benefits of Oil Cleansing for Every Skin Type?

So you have oily, sensitive, or acne-prone skin, and you’re wondering if oil cleansing is going to exacerbate those conditions? You’re right to wonder. It’s certainly true that the wrong oils in the wrong proportions can make acne worse or inflame sensitive skin. For this reason, it’s crucial that you make sure you’re using only a non-comedogenic oil, which means it will not clog your pores. Contrary to what you may have heard, you can’t just grab a tub of coconut oil and slather it on your face. It is too thick and heavy, and more importantly, it’s designed for cooking. Facial oils that are tested on humans and specifically formulated for your complexion will do the best job of cleaning without causing breakouts.

Here are some of the benefits of oil cleansing by skin type:

  1. Oily skin: Using facial cleansers that strip away too much of your natural sebum can cause your skin to go into oil overproduction mode. This means that your oiliness can actually get worse. On the other hand, cleansers that contain oils with astringent properties can help reduce greasiness, while not diminishing hydration.
  2. Dry skin: If you struggle with dryness, then your skin may not be producing enough sebum to adequately hydrate it. Facial oil can act as both a cleanser and a leave-on moisturizer to rebalance your skin.
  3. Acne-prone skin: Oils like castor contain anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties which can help alleviate acne.
  4. Sensitive skin: Facial cleansing oils are typically derived from ingredients found in nature. They are gentle on your skin and avoid harsh detergents which can irritate sensitive skin.
  5. Combination skin: For this complexion type, you can follow the directions for oily skin on those areas, and then spot moisturize with additional oil on dry areas of your face.
  6. Other skin conditions like rosacea or excema: “Harsh cleansers and scrubs will strip the skin of essential oils, leading to dryness and inflammation. This can lead to a rosacea flare,” Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D. told Reader’s Digest. He goes on to say, “Stick to gentle, soap-free cleansers that remove dirt and oil without compromising the skin barrier.”

BeautyGARDE Clean Cleansing Oil

BeautyGARDE Clean Cleansing Oil is composed of a nourishing oil blend that is beneficial for all skin types. It contains geranium, olive, vitamin E, castor, and rosemary oils. It is non-comedogenic, so it will not clog your pores. Clean Cleansing Oil is also cruelty-free and vegan.

“Geranium oil helps control oil production,” says New York dermatologist, Dr. Debra Jaliman, M.D. in Women’s Health magazine. Geranium oil is beneficial for all complexions, but for those with oily skin, it can help balance overproduction of natural oils in the skin.

Castor oil is full of beneficial properties for your skin. “Ricinoleic acid, the main fatty acid found in castor oil, has impressive anti-inflammatory properties,” according to Healthline. Olive oil contains vitamin E, and the rose buds in Clean Cleansing Oil contain vitamin C, both potent antioxidants which contribute to skin cell repair. Natural astringents in rosemary oil help to calm breakouts and balance the nourishing, moisturizing benefits of olive oil and castor oil. 

Another good source for information regarding essential oils (and Castor Oil for eyelashes specifically) is mindbodysoul.com. They're researchers explored the claims surrounding castor oil benefits for eyelashes to provide you the information you need to decide if this is a product worth using and how to use it for maximum results. You can see their article here to read more.

Infused with the soft scent rose buds, Clean Cleansing Oil is not only a facial cleanser, but an little bit of aromatic mood boosting in a bottle.

Want to learn more about Cleansing Oil? Read our other articles in this series.

Back to Expert Makeup Advice