Oil Cleansing Method

Oil Cleansing Method – Say No to Chemicals!

Did you know that there’s a simpler and more effective alternative to traditional cleansers for giving you clear and radiant skin? Everyone wants to have clear and healthy skin, but clear skin isn’t a reality for many. However, it really is an attainable goal that mostly has to do with how we choose to improve the underlying condition of our skin.

Thus, when our skin isn’t as clear as we would like it to be, the root cause isn’t merely that we’re using the wrong cleanser or aren’t washing our face enough.

Rather, the root cause of all our skin problems is skin health. Of course, there are other genetic factors and so on, but the best road to clear skin for each person is to do whatever they can to keep their skin healthy within the context of their overall health in general. Therefore, we need to consider what’s necessary to improve the overall health of our skin rather than merely attempting to find the next “best” cleanser.

The Problem With Traditional Skincare: 7 Nasty Chemicals Found in Most Beauty Products

We’ve all seen the commercials, haven’t we? There always seems to be some new chemical or “special blend” of chemicals available that promises to give you clearer skin in a matter of weeks or months. Now, while some of those products may work for some people, the question is whether they’re improving skin health or merely treating symptoms.

As we consider the goal of clear skin, it’s necessary to ask a few questions about our most commonly used traditional skin cleansing selections.

  • How may these chemically-driven products cause the user to depend on the synthetic active ingredients they contain in the long term?
  • How will a person’s skin react when they decide to stop using the product?
  • Has skin health actually improved so that dependence on synthetic chemicals in products will no longer be necessary?
  • Does the body absorb the chemicals these products contain?
  • Are there any potential dangers of long-term exposure to the active ingredients in the product?

So, what kinds of chemicals are found in your products? Would you fear the onset of severe breakouts if you stopped using your favorite traditional cleansers? Or, maybe you aren’t using any kind of skin cleanser at all? If you’ve realized that those chemical-heavy products aren’t necessary and are oftentimes counterproductive, good for you.

Before we move on, let’s list some of the popularly used harsh chemicals found in today’s facial cleansers.

1. – Triclosan

Thankfully, the FDA recently banned the use of this chemical (and 18 others) in hand and body washes. Furthermore, the FDA says that there’s no evidence antibacterial soaps are any more effective than other soaps at effectively cleaning hands. Worse yet, the chemicals in antibacterial soaps could pose a variety of health problems. One important detail to mention here is that this ban only applies to consumer products.

2. – Parabens

These ingredients are used as preservatives in skincare products and help in preventing the growth of bacteria and fungi. The problem with parabens is that they aren’t regulated and could potentially pose serious health risks.

One study published in 2012 found that 158 out of 160 samples (99%) of human breast tissue collected from mastectomies contained measurable amounts of parabens. According to WebMD, parabens have also been said to spur on the growth of certain types of cancer cells.

3. – Salicylic Acid

This chemical, often found in common face cleansers used for the treatment of acne, can also be found naturally in a variety of fruits and nuts. For commercial applications, this acid is prepared by treating sodium phenolate with carbon dioxide at high temperatures and pressures.

The end product of salicylic acid is achieved later by treating the carbon dioxide-enriched sodium phenolate with sulfuric acid. This acid promotes exfoliation and opens up pores while killing the bacteria found inside that often cause acne.

This ingredient has an EWG rating of 4 (moderate concern) and is generally recognized as safe. That being said, whether or not this chemical is a good choice for skin health is a different story.

One of the main concerns with salicylic acid is that it can often overdry and irritate the skin, as well as make the skin more susceptible to sun damage. Most people with acne also have sensitive skin, so you can see the problem.

Acne sufferers who use salicylic acid for the treatment of their skin conditions are more likely to experience overdrying, swelling, an imbalance in skin oil production, sensitivity to sunlight, and irritation. Therefore, using salicylic acid for acne relief may provide short-term comfort only to backfire later.

Anyone who’s ever had acne knows that the condition is irritating enough, so why would we want to attempt a solution that could cause further considerable irritation?

Another problem is that the ingredient is added to many other products besides those used for facial cleansing (body wash, moisturizers, etc.), meaning that there’s a greater chance of being exposed to it through multiple channels. Over time, this can lead to skin thinning, skin sensitization, and more noticeable fine lines and wrinkles. 

If our skin could shout at us, it might just exclaim, “Please stop!”.

4. – Benzoyl Peroxide

There have been mixed opinions regarding the safety of this ingredient since it first received its Category I rating (GRASE/Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA in 1985. However, in 1991, the FDA claimed that more data was needed to establish the safety of the chemical and reclassified it as a Category III ingredient (more data needed for GRASE classification) due to existing safety concerns at the time.

Finally, in March 2010, after more information was collected regarding benzoyl peroxide, the FDA reclassified it again as a Category I ingredient.

There were roomers that this ingredient may have been linked to certain types of cancers or could cause cancer when exposed to the sun as well. Later, enough studies were performed to provide adequate data for the FDA to change its classification. Many still disagree on whether this chemical should be recognized as a safe ingredient in skincare, especially since it’s one of the most commonly used for treating acne.

Regardless of whether or not Benzoyl Peroxide is considered safe, it should be noted that it’s basically a bleaching agent that works by causing the skin to dry and peel while reducing acne-causing bacteria. Causing the skin to dry and peel to treat acne is like spraying round-ups on the vegetables in your vegetable garden to kill weeds for a bigger harvest.

5. – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate

These are synthetic additives added to most skincare products like body wash, hand soap, and facial cleansers. The ingredients can be made from palm kernel oil, coconut oil, or petroleum and are used mainly for their foaming and lathering characteristics. Both of these ingredients are also fairly inexpensive, which is why they’re so readily found in just about any soap product.

It should be noted that both SLS and SLES are known skin irritants and are maybe a bit too effective at stripping away skin’s natural oils. Worse yet, SLS is also toxic to aquatic animals!

As mentioned elsewhere, SLES, in particular, can often be tainted with 1,4-Dioxane, a probable carcinogen. To make matters worse, it can also be contaminated with Ethylene Oxide, a known human carcinogen with a danger rating of 10 (High) from the EWP.

6. – Synthetic Fragrance

It’s hard to know exactly which chemicals and additives (possibly hundreds) were used to create fragrances in most beauty products, especially since they might be summed up in only one word, “fragrance” on the ingredients list.

Besides not knowing what little chemical goodies were used to create the synthetic fragrance, artificial fragrance has absolutely no use other than for creating strong-smelling artificial scents anyway. Did we mention that a lot of people also may be allergic to the underlying ingredients used to make these fragrances?

There’s simply no reason to resort to products that use artificial fragrances, not when so many natural and safe alternatives are available, essential oils, for example.

7. – Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of chemical compounds that began to be widely used since their introduction in the 1920s, primarily for adding greater flexibility and durability to plastics. However, they’re also used in many different kinds of skincare products to improve texture, spreadability, and absorption. This group of chemicals is easily absorbed into the bloodstream, and according to WebMD, several studies on animals and humans have shown that they may have an effect on hormones.

Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that almost everyone has some level of Phthalates in their body due to exposure, even babies, since these chemicals can cross the placenta and are found in breast milk. Studies have also been conducted that show possible links to birth defects, DNA damage to sperm among males, and developmental issues.

Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of these questionable chemicals as well. Do you really want plasticizers in your beauty products?

So many chemicals…

As you can see, there are numerous chemicals in beauty products that most people use daily. By the way, we only listed seven, but the list really is endless. Many of these chemicals aren’t regulated, haven’t been thoroughly researched, are completely unnecessary, and are non-conducive to promoting skin health. Rather than promoting skin health, these chemicals work to strip your skin of its natural oils while causing inflammation, allergic reactions, thinning of the skin, noticeable signs of aging, and more.

These chemicals are used by large companies for the mass production of cheap products that were never created to improve our skin health. Rather, they were created to be profitable. Chemicals, additives, and fragrances have one purpose: to cheaply make products look, feel, and smell appealing so that people will buy them.

Therefore, you have a decision to make the next time you go to the store to purchase traditional beauty products. Do you want products that come in fancy containers with intriguingly artificial scents and colors, or do you want products that are actually healthy for you, your body, and your family? It really is that simple.

Traditional Skin Care in a Nutshell:

It Never Ends

Remember the questions we asked earlier about what to consider when choosing products for skincare? One of them had to do with the idea that some skin-care products may inherently cause dependence on the underlying chemicals and additives rather than being truly effective solutions for clearer and healthier skin.

If you have oily skin, the common belief is that all of that oil must be washed away multiple times daily. Since no one likes that dry skin feeling after using their favorite synthetic face wash, the next step is to use a synthetic skin cream or moisturizer. And so, the cycle continues with product after product and chemicals galore.

In a Nutshell: The Revolving Door Process 


Step 1: Use a synthetic face wash that strips healthy oils out of your skin, causes inflammation, leeches chemicals into your bloodstream, and causes your skin to overproduce oil.

Step 2: Use a synthetic skin moisturizer that replaces your lost natural skin oils with chemical alternatives that also leach into your bloodstream and clog your pores. But man, they sure do smell good!

Step 3Wash all the excess skin oil and synthetic moisturizer off of your face with a harsh synthetic face wash that strips the healthy oils your skin’s been working all day to create while causing further inflammation, skin damage, greater susceptibility to sun damage (depending on the chemicals used), acne, and a lot more.

Extra’s: Since your skin is more susceptible to sun damage, use synthetic sunscreen too. Also, due to the damage that all of the harsh chemicals have caused over their long-term continued use, maybe we need to use a bunch of synthetic makeup to hide the blemishes and fine lines.

How about those wonderful little face wipes that cause that great burning sensation? That just means that they’re working well.

…Around and around we go.

Isn’t this how most people deal with their skincare problems? And again, that’s just the nutshell. We all know there are so many more steps and so many more products that can be used for all kinds of things related to skincare.

We haven’t even gotten past the face yet; how about bathing, hair care, and nail polish? How many chemicals are you really exposing yourself to? There are far better alternatives than being involved in the endless cycle that traditional skin-care products entrench you in and large companies profit from.

Natural Solution for Clear Skin: The Oil Cleansing Method?

Stripping the skin of its natural oils is never a solid solution for your skincare needs, especially if you’re hoping to have clear skin. Even if your skin does look great for a while, you may be in for a rude awakening when you stop depending on all those chemicals.

Not only that but after those sweet periods of clear skin, bouts of troubled skin always seem to come back time and time again. Why is that?

Now that we’ve briefly described the problems with the state of the current skincare market let’s move on to the solutions.

Oil Cleansing Method 101: “Oil Dissolves Oil”:

The Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) is a skin cleansing method that relies upon oil for skin cleansing purposes rather than just water or chemical-based alternatives. Your skin produces its own oil because it needs it to stay healthy. Therefore, one underlying theme with the OCM is that stripping oils from the skin is counterintuitive if the goal is to have healthy skin.

We must first understand the obvious before finding the solution for healthy skin.

Our skin produces oil for a reason.

We don’t need to use chemicals that cause it to stop producing those oils, and we surely don’t need to wash away all of those oils whenever possible. Instead, we must cleanse our skin of the dirt and debris that clog pores and collect bacteria. Simply put, we need to cleanse our skin of dirt, not oil.

Rather than stripping oils from the skin, new oils are massaged into the skin to clear away hardened oil contaminated with bacteria, dirt, and debris; then, excess oils are later removed. Oil is used instead of chemicals, harsh soaps, or water-based solutions for clearing away dirt and debris trapped on oily skin.

The main concept of the oil cleansing method is that oil dissolves oil, and oil will be the most effective solution for lubricating the skin’s pores and clearing away anything that shouldn’t be there.

Our skin uses the mechanism of creating oil for lubrication and moisturization purposes. This oil, or sebum, is produced by sebaceous glands and is excreted through the pores. Now, there are times when sebaceous glands can cause too much oil, making you more susceptible to clogged pores. But again, the solution isn’t merely to strip the oils from your skin; the solution is to keep your skin’s pores free of dirt and debris.

This is exactly where the oil cleansing method works wonders. The philosophy behind the OCM is to learn how to work with your skin, not against it.

Comprehensive Guide to Oil Cleansing

When it comes to using oils for cleansing away hardened and contaminated oils on your beautiful skin, there are a few things you should be aware of, so we’ll address those briefly before moving on. The first thing you need to keep in mind is that your skin isn’t an isolated part of your body. The health of your skin has a lot to do with hormones, hereditary history, diet, stress, your environment, and many other factors.

Without going into each of those factors in detail, it’s important to realize that while the oil cleansing method will do a terrific job of cleansing your skin of impurities, there are some basic things you need to do to increase the effectiveness of your efforts. Some of these tips don’t just relate to oil cleansing but to skin health in general.

Though cleaning your skin with this method will improve its health if done correctly, cleansing alone will not save your skin.

Healthy Skin Checklist:

  • Drink lots of water (8 glasses per day minimum)
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Avoid sugars, preservatives, and processed foods
  • Use only high-quality organic oils for cleansing
  • Know your skin type (dry, normal, or oily)
  • Regularly get a full night’s rest
  • Find time to relax during your busy lifestyle
  • Avoid using harsh cleansers, synthetic makeup, and synthetic moisturizers

Cleansing your skin with oils is just one part of a larger plan for optimal skin health, so don’t forget about the tips above.

*Important*: Ingredients, Skin Types, and Oil Ratios

As you probably could have guessed, the oils and ratios used in this method can vary from person to person, skin type to skin type. Therefore, you need to try to gauge what your skin type is from past experience, and you may need to alter your original ratio of oils after a few weeks of cleansing. So, as we consider three common skin types, we’ll also discuss how various oil options may vary.

What You’ll Need:

  • Castor Oil
  • Carrier Oil
  • Washcloth
  • Extra Washcloth or Towel
  • Spray Bottle [Optional]

Skin Types, Oil Selections, and Oil Ratio Guidance:

The main variable in any oil cleansing blend will be the amount of castor oil used for the corresponding skin type. For more dry and sensitive skin, it’s very important to start out using smaller amounts of castor oil because it will cause your skin to be overdried if you use too much.

If you find that your skin is too oily and not cleansed enough, then you can gradually increase the amount of castor oil you’re using. For oily skin, more castor oil can safely be used. But it’s best to start out with less castor oil while gradually working your way up to the right amount for your skin type.

Dry Skin Blend:

For this skin type, you’ll want to use oils that are high-oleic since they will provide the most benefits in terms of keeping your skin moisturized and well-lubricated. This is mostly due to the fact that high-oleic oils are heavier and richer than other oils.

The oils recommended for dry skin include avocado oil, olive oil, or sweet almond oil. There are many other oil options that include an increased amount of antioxidants that people may want to use for aged or damaged skin. High-antioxidant oils that you can blend with your high-oleic oils include rosehip oil, camellia oil, or argan oil.

For dry skin, starting with a 1:9 ratio is best, meaning that your mixture should consist of 10% castor oil and 90% other oils.

Balanced Skin Blend:

For this skin type, starting with a 1:4 ratio is best, meaning that your mixture should have 20% castor oil and 80% other oils. If your skin is balanced, you’ll have plenty of options for your non-castor oil selections.

You could use sunflower, jojoba, flaxseed, or some of the oils we mentioned for the prior skin type. Some people even find that tallow is an exceptional choice for the OCM. In regards to sunflower oil, there’s been some exciting research conducted regarding its benefits for the skin, so it really is a great option.

Oily Skin Blends:

Oily and acne-prone skin types are very common, so you’re not alone. You’re probably thinking, “Why would I want to add oil to already oily skin?”. If that’s what you’re thinking, just remember that the oil isn’t necessarily the problem; the culprits are bacteria, dirt, and clogged pores.

We’ll use a higher amount of castor oil for this skin type than in the other skin type blends. Keep in mind that it’s the castor oil that will draw out the dirt and hardened oil that’s clogging your pores. Castor oil will penetrate deep down into your pores while effectively cleansing them from all impurities.

The ratio for oily skin will be 3:7, meaning we’ll use 30% castor oil and 70% other oils. The oils that should be used for oily acne-prone skin are high-linoleic oils such as safflower oil, hemp seed oil, rosehip seed oil, or grapeseed oil. Research shows that acne sufferers have low levels of linoleic acid in their skin surface lipids, suggesting that high linoleic oils are excellent options for those with acne.

Somewhere “In-Between” Blends:

It’s important to note that each person may respond differently to the various kinds of oils we discussed. Like anything else, everyone’s body is different, and you will have to find out which ratios and blends will be best for you. That being said, it’s wise to start with a bit less castor oil than you think you’d need for your skin type to be on the safe side, as it will dry out your skin if you use too much.

Also, in regard to castor oil, there has been much debate about its use due to its unsustainable growing and manufacturing practices. If you’d prefer not to use castor oil, it’s said that hazelnut oil will also do a fine job.

Furthermore, though some people have used olive oil or coconut oil without any problems, those two oils, in particular, have caused problems for others. But again, many people have used coconut and olive oil without any problems. If you try either of those two oils, use them if they work well and use alternatives if they don’t.

For those of you with incredibly sensitive skin, you may find that any amount of castor oil is too much for your skin type, in which case you wouldn’t need to use any castor oil at all. Actually, many people use the oil-cleansing method without castor oil, and it still works wonders.

Again, the key here is to do a bit of trial and error, erring on the side of too little castor oil rather than not enough.

Also, some people have complained that the OCM caused their skin to break out in the few first weeks, that’s likely because they just need to change their ratios to match the needs of their corresponding skin type. It is common for the skin to break out in the first week, depending on how many impurities need to be brought to the surface.

The Process: 3 Simple Steps to Clearer Skin

The actual process of cleansing your skin with this method is very easy and only takes a few minutes. Don’t you just love it when healthy decisions don’t suck all the time out of life? By the way, healthy decisions usually do not require any more time than unhealthy ones. We’re just good excuse-makers.

Step 1: Application and Massage

This step is as simple as it sounds. First, go ahead and pour a quarter-sized amount (about 1/2 teaspoon) of oil into your palm and rub your hands together. Next, gently massage the oils into the skin with small circular motions until the oil has been spread over the entire face. Do this for 1-2 minutes to allow the oils to penetrate deep into blocked pores.

Step 2: Steam Compress

This step is crucial because it will use heat and steam to open your pores, increasing the castor oil’s effectiveness in cleansing your skin. To begin, get your washcloth and the extra washcloth or towel.

Wet your extra washcloth or towel first with hot water, then lay it aside after folding it to trap in the heat. Next, immediately wet your other washcloth with hot water as well, then spread it over your face. Lastly, take the hot washcloth or towel that you set aside and cover the cloth on your face to lock in all the steam and heat.

That last tip is very crucial because it keeps your washcloth from cooling down before the steam is able to open your pores and bring impurities to the surface effectively. Once your washcloth cools, you can rinse and repeat.

This step is especially nice because it almost feels as if your skin is breathing in the steam. It’s a wonderful sensation.

Step 3: Removal of Oil, Dirt, and Debris

Once you’ve completed the steaming and cleansing process, it’s now time to wipe the excess oils off your face. All you have to do in this step is rinse your washcloth again and gently pat your face to remove any remaining oils.

Keep rinsing and patting until you feel all excess oils have been removed from your face, then pat dry with a towel.

Optional: Re-application of an oil moisturizer

If your skin feels tight and dry once you’ve finished, go ahead and rub about one drop of any non-castor oil selection onto your face for moisturization purposes. Also, you may simply need to reduce the amount of castor oil you’re using if you still notice your skin is too dry after a few weeks.

For visual learners, here’s a simple 5-minute how-to video from Sonia Opala.

There you have it! All three simple steps for this method should only take a few minutes. Better yet, you’ll need only a few ingredients if you don’t have them already. One reason why cleansing your face via the oil cleansing method is so amazing is because it’s so simple.

There really isn’t any better method for cleansing your skin without stripping it of the natural oils it needs to thrive. After all, it’s the largest organ in the body, and one of its main functions is to produce oil!

Concluding Thoughts

The oil cleansing method isn’t complicated, it isn’t expensive, and it doesn’t require you any more time than you were already spending washing your face the old way. There’s no reason to continue abusing your face with downright shady chemicals that were never made actually to help your skin in the first place.

Do your skin a favor and try the oil cleansing method to see the results yourself. Remember, natural alternatives rarely involve more expense and time. Rather, they’re easy to implement and fun to practice. The OCM is yet another great skincare solution you’ll now have in your arsenal of DIYs.

Oil Cleansing Method FAQs

How does oil cleansing work to remove impurities?

Oil cleansing uses oil to dissolve and draw out oil-based impurities. The oils also attract dirt and makeup. When rinsed off, impurities are washed away without harsh cleansers.

What oils work best for the oil cleansing method?

Light oils like grapeseed, sunflower, and hemp seeds work well. You can also try blends with castor, olive, or coconut oil. Avoid heavy oils that could clog pores (more info in the above post).

What are the benefits of oil cleansing vs. regular cleansers?

Oil cleansing gently removes impurities without stripping natural oils. It adds moisture, avoids drying ingredients, and doesn’t disturb skin’s pH balance like soap can.

How often should you do an oil cleanse treatment?

Once or twice per week is sufficient for most skin types. Those with very oily skin may want to cleanse at least 3-4 times per week. Always follow with a regular cleanser.

What is the best way to perform an oil cleanse?

Apply oil to dry skin and massage for 1-2 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with warm water, then cleanse with your regular facial cleanser. Follow up with moisturizer. See the information in our post above for more thorough information.

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