The first time I used a facial cleansing oil instead of a typical cream cleanser or gel cleanser, it legitimately changed my life… that is, once the confusion subsided.
Don’t let anyone tell you that I am any kind of beauty expert. Sure, I might have a blog wherein “beauty” is the root word for half of it, but don’t get it twisted – I am on a journey here. A journey from “Why would I put oil onto my face?” to “I’m so f-ing glad I started putting oil on my face.”
We’re learning as we go, here, and I learn best by trial and error, so naturally, I use facial oils wrong way before I started using them correctly.
After a lot of breakouts, some oil slicks, and a lot of internet research – I’ve finally got it. Well, okay, I don’t “got it,” but I at least have a much better idea of the best ways to use cleansing oils, or natural oils to clean my face. Prior to the pile of research I did to discover why I liked the cleansing oil I was using, I couldn’t tell the difference between a serum, oil, and a moisturizer.
Luckily, this graphic that I sniped from Muk’ti Organics helped immensely in that department. There’s so much to know about skincare – people can literally become doctors of skincare. That’s a little bit intimidating! Hopefully, my research about facial cleansing oils can help us both get to the next step of understanding skincare.
Leave questions in the comments and, by all means, I invite you to drop bombs of knowledge if you are a skincare professional or self-proclaimed expert. Teach me, I’m thirsty for it!
Why Would You Wash Your Face With… Oil?
Okay, first thing’s first: why the hell would you want this? Maybe you’ve been patting them onto your face after your nightly face-washing routine for some overnight hydration, but have you ever used an oil to actually clean your face?
tl;dr: Here are some benefits of using cleansing oil:
Makeup remover & cleanser in one step
Adds hydration and nutrition to skin
Leaves skin softer after cleansing
No dry, tight feeling after washing
Breaks down & replaces old sebum in pores
Boosts skin & oxygen circulation
Reduced skin friction & tugging while cleansing
After getting over the “Oil on my face?!“ shock, it starts to makes sense. What’s the only thing that takes off waterproof mascara? Oil. The only chance you have to fully remove liquid lipstick? Oil. It’s incredibly good at breaking up dirt and makeup, not to mention whatever else you have on your face.
Getting oil off of your face is usually a skincare newbie’s number one goal. But your skin actually needs and wants oil! It’s the way your skin stays hydrated throughout the day. Oils are also an excellent nutrition delivery system for skin.
Some oils, like jojoba oil for example, have remarkably similar molecular structures to skin’s signature oil, sebum. (They’re both waxes! One comes from a plant, the other comes from the sebaceous ducts in pores and hair follicles.) When you add “good oil” (cleansing oil) to the “bad oil” (the dirty, old sebum on your face), they mix together and get removed as one when you wipe it off.
Another huge component to facial oils is the fact that you’re literally giving yourself a facial massage while applying it. Many people believe that facial massage has a great number of skin benefits, including collagen stimulation, firmness, and blood circulation.
Quite a few of these claims are backed up by science, like the blood circulation and tissue stimulation claims. But many dermatologists and estheticians have debunked bogus claims like “facial massage cleanses your liver.” Ugh, #psuedoscience. Always do your research, friends.
Okay. How do I wash my face with oil?
There is actually a sanctioned “method” of putting oil on your face and rubbing it around. It’s appropriately called, “The Oil Cleansing Method,” and there are 5,000 websites out there with the most potent, most ancient product that will cure all of your skincare problems with their specific (proprietary) blend of natural oils…
Close them. Close them all because they’re bogus. The products can be anything marked “cleansing oil,” and if you’re super confident, you can even DIY some cleansing oil of your own. But be careful! Having to test out different ratios of the ingredients can leave your skin in some rough spots (literally). I’d advise just picking up an affordable facial cleansing oil like the ones below. They’re budget-friendly, and rival the cost of making your own.
An Oil Cleansing Method
- Dampen your face with water via hands or spray bottle.
- Add a dime-sized amount of cleansing oil to your fingertips.
- Massage the oil into your face for 1+ minutes.
- Use a warm, wet cloth to wipe off the oil gently in sweeping motions.
That’s it! It’s really that simple. The oil needs the water in order to emulsify and penetrate the skin fully. In some cases, mixing the cleansing oils with water will result in the mixture getting lighter in color or even becoming opaque.
For the oil removal, get a washcloth wet with very warm (but tolerable) water and wring it out. Place it over your face for a spa-like treatment which includes a light steaming of your pores! Alternately, just use the cloth in long strokes to wipe off the oil (and all the gross stuff mixed with it!).
You’ll be amazed at how clean and soft your skin feels afterwards. While the washcloth didn’t remove all of the oil, it removed most of it, so be sure you do your nightly hydrating routine as normal.
For a step up from this basic cleansing routine, use cleansing grains or an exfoliant after massaging the oil into your face. The combination of the oil and the grittiness of the exfoliator will give your skin a super-fast facial that will leave your skin feeling like ti just had a professional facial.
Where Do I Find Affordable Facial Cleansing Oil?
If you’ve made it this far in the post – good fro you! I’m really proud of you and for the love of God thank you for sticking with me this far.
Here are some excellent facial cleansing oils under $15. The price points make this a low-risk investment for people who might still be on the fence about cleansing oils.
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, $5.50-$14 at DermStore
This is a great first choice for someone who isn’t sure if this is right for them. In addition to this nicely sized 2.3 fl. oz. bottle, they have a 1 fl. oz. bottle that costs only a little over $5. Out of 95+ reviews, this cleansing oil has a solid five stars. This blend is olive oil based and water soluble, so you’ll have an easy time washing this off, if that’s a concern.
Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil, $7.99 at Bed, Bath & Beyond
For people with immensely sensitive skin, or infrequent makeup wearers, this is an option. It has a mineral oil base, which isn’t for everyone, but it has a ton of cleansing power and a very gentle touch.
MINERAL OIL PSA: Mineral oil in skincare is kind of a controversial subject, but a lot of incredibly popular cleansing oils are mineral oil-based. For what it’s worth, it seems like a lot of myths & hoopla. The most important thing to note (that’s actually true) is that it’s a petroleum derivative, so if you’re trying to watch your consumption, maybe try something else. If you DGAF, go for it!
SheaMoisture Peace Rose Oil Facial Cleansing Oil, $9.99 at Target
This is a sunflower- and safflower-based oil that’s loaded with skin-healthy rose and rose hip oils. (Remember when I was obsessed with rose hip and rose skincare? Yeah, still am.) SheaMoisture is an excellent company and, as you can see from the bottle, you are helping to fight poverty with every purchase which is a huge incentive for me.
No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Oil, $11.99 at Ulta
This is another mineral oil based cleanser that’s meant to mimic one an expensive cleansing oil by Shu Uemura. People went crazy for that cleansing oil (which is also mineral oil based) and I consider it semi-responsible for kicking off the cleansing oil beauty trend.
Sephora Collection Supreme Cleansing Oil, $15 at Sephora
This Sephora cleansing oil actually looks really nice! It’s cottonseed oil-based, and it might be the only one of its kind on this list. It’s the most expensive cleansing oil on this list, but it’s also the highest volume of product. (It’s almost three times the size of the first oil on the list, and only $1 more.)
The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil, $10.49 at iHerb
We have to pay respect to what is probably the origin of facial cleansing oils: Asian beauty. This is a thin, light cleansing oil made with rice water and Moringa oil. It won’t get off tough makeup, but it’s a great first-thing-in-the-morning cleanser to start off your skincare routine.
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Cleansing Oil, $7.99 at Target
Yes, that’s the same Palmer’s Cocoa Butter that people have relied on for decades to reduce visible stretch marks and hydrate dry skin. They excel at skincare, and at this price point, there’s no question as to why people are loyal to this brand. Their cleansing oil has a soy and almond oil base, along with skin-friendly enhancing oils like grapeseed, jojoba, and rose.
The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil, $12.60 at The Body Shop
This product doesn’t actually belong on this list because it’s usually $21, but is currently on sale for $12.60. From what I can tell from reviews, people are nuts about this cleansing oil. This one is also soy and almond oil based, with the addition of sunflower oil as a main ingredient. Additionally, it has some skin-calming ingredients to help with redness or irritation. It even claims to remove waterproof makeup despite being extremely gentle!
It seems like cleansing oils and sensitive skin go together like vodka and everything, so if you’ve been having trouble finding an effective cleanser that doesn’t bother your skin – this might be your answer.
I’m into cleansing oil because it actually fully cleans my face. After I washed my face, I would swipe a toner-soaked cotton ball across my face and see exactly how much makeup and residue was left over after “cleansing.” WTF? But after using cleansing oils and cleansing balms (essentially cleansing oils with a higher melting point), I started experiencing an actually clean face.
It’s nice to go to bed knowing that, when you washed your face, you actually cleaned it, you know?
Would you try cleansing oil? Have you tried it before? Leave your stories and answers in the comments!
Still want more cleansing oil info & stories?
Good for you, keep your critical thinking hat on! Here are some oil cleansing resources that I found helpful throughout my journey to oily-cleanness:
- Rejuvenating facial massage – a bane or boon? by Neena Khanna MD & Siddhartha Datta Gupta MD, published in International Journal of Dermatology
- Skincare in the aging female: myths and truths by Ushma S. Niell, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation
- What the Heck is Cleansing Oil, and Why is Everyone Obsessed With It? by Dana Oliver for HuffPo
- Why is Jojoba Oil So Good for Skin? by Sarah Kretchmer for The Science of Beauty
- My Traumatic Foray into The Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) by Michelle Villett for Beautyeditor
- The Benefits of Oil Cleansing and How to Do It at Home by Tamryn Burgess for Kate Ryan Skincare
- Reasons to Start Washing Your Face with Oil by Lisa Washington for All Women Stalk
- This is Why You Should Wash Your Face with Oil Instead of Water by Alison Caporimo for Buzzfeed
- The Secret to Glowing Like a French Woman? Daily Facial Massages by Tori Telfer for Bustle