Cleaning With… Oil?

Many years ago, an aesthetician told me mid-facial that I needed to ditch my abrasive cleansers and clean my skin with oil. Oil. Riiight. Wasn’t that what I was trying to clean out of my pores?┬áNeedless to say, I ignored her completely.

Fast forward a few years, and suddenly I found myself plagued with bad skin, complete with blemishes to match my increasing “laugh lines” (oh, doesn’t that term sound so much nicer than “wrinkles?”) I tried scrubs and masks and anti-acne products from a dozen brands of varying prices, but nothing seemed to make a difference.

Naturally, I turned to my trusted beauty consultant: Google. Searching for solutions, Google kept coming up with information about the Oil Cleansing Method. This, of course, triggered the memory of that aesthetician in Palm Springs. Was there really something to this?

There was only one way to find out.

Now, there are all kinds of formulas for mixing the right oil blend, depending on whether you have oily, normal or dry skin. Since my skin tends to be tight after washing, I opted for the dry skin ratio of about 25% castor oil — an ingredient that you should be able to find at drugstores — and 75% almond oil. Why almond and not olive oil? The unscientific truth is that I was down to the last of my olive oil, but I had several ounces of almond oil just looking for something to do.

How to Use It

Put some oil into the palm of your hand, then massage it gently into your skin. To remove the oil, dampen a washcloth with fairly hot water; drape the cloth over your face to steam open your pores. Again, massage the oil into your face, then gently wipe away the oil with the washcloth. Easy.

11 days into the experiment.


The first thing I noticed was that my skin didn’t feel oily, as I’d expected. It also didn’t feel tight like it normally does immediately after washing; it just felt soft and smooth, exactly as promised.

But I remained unconvinced. Of course this was going to lead to horrible breakouts, right?

The self-portrait at left was taken 11 days into the experiment. (FYI, those are my vast constellations of freckles, not blemishes, and I’m not wearing any foundation or powder.)

By day 13 I had one zit located squarely in the middle of my chin, but that really wasn’t anything different from normal for me. What was different was the fact that I only got one zit during the entire 21 days of the experiment.


Cheap; hydrating; customizable; no worse acne-wise than with harsh acne scrubs.


Oil makes the shower dangerously slippery; hard to find a bottle that seals tightly for travel or trips to the gym. Believe me, you don’t want to find a puddle of oil in the bottom of your gym bag.

What Next?

I still have my oil bottle and still use it most days, but it’s not my exclusive cleanser as it was during the experiment period. For gym and travel purposes I’m primarily using my awesome handmade goat milk soap from Delta Moon Soapworks. It’s not harsh on my skin and it certainly doesn’t spill.

Have you ever tried cleaning your skin with oil? Tell me about your experiences.

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