Natural Skin Care: Oil-Cleansing Method (How to Wash Your Face with Oil)


Oil Cleansing Method - How to Wash Face with Oil.jpg

I’m just going to put this out there from the start:

I haven’t washed my face in 2 months.

Yes, you read that correctly. I haven’t washed my face in 2 months…Well, not with soap, anyways. And you know what? I absolutely love it! I do NOT miss my old facial cleansers one single bit! And believe me, I’ve tried every kind. Liquids, bars, creams, foams, etc. You name it, I’ve tried it. And no matter what perfect list of promises was listed on the packaging, my face always still felt either too dry, too oily, too pore-y, or worse, just plain pimply… Eww..

So a few months ago, I came across this crazy idea: washing your face with oil.

To which you may be thinking, “Oil? What?! No way! That goes against everything I’ve ever been taught!”

And you’d be absolutely right. It does go against everything we’ve been taught – but maybe that’s not such a bad thing!

The basic concept of this skin care and cleansing method is that the oil used to massage your skin will dissolve the oil that has hardened with impurities and found itself stuck in your pores. The steam will open your pores, allowing the oil to be easily removed. Should you need it, the smallest drop of the same oil formula patted over damp skin will provide the necessary lubrication to keep your skin from over-compensating in oil production. (Source)

After using the oil cleansing method for a few weeks, I decided that I absolutely loved it, and officially threw away my last bar of face soap. Then I ventured out to find a couple more homemade products to round out my all-natural face wash routine. So this is part 1 of a series of upcoming posts about the short list of natural, homemade products I use to care for my skin.

When you think about all the products being marketed to us to help us “improve” our skin – soaps, moisturizers, scrubs, toners, astringents, anti-aging this and that… The truth is we don’t need any of those overpriced, chemical-laden, concoctions.

All you need is a few homemade alternatives for healthy, refreshed, naturally beautiful skin!

The Oil-Cleansing Method

oil cleansing method - natural skin care

I won’t go into too much detail on this method, as there are a lot of really great posts (check out the links below!) that explain it much better than I could ever do. But I will share with you one excerpt, which is a good introduction:

Do not be afraid of applying oil to your face. Oil, alone, will not bring you blemishes. Pimples, cysts, zits, blackheads, whiteheads…these are a result of several different f

actors including hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells and the buildup of these factors. Your skin naturally produces oil because it needs it. It is not a malicious force to be reckoned with; it is there for the benefit of your skin, allowing your largest organ to function properly. It is naturally occurring. Not only does your natural oil help lubricate, it also heals, protects, and moisturizes your skin so that it may function properly. Properly functioning skin is beautiful, clear, and glowing. Learning to work with your skin, not against it, will save you tremendously. (Source)

Basically, you use a mixture of castor oil, carrier oils, and optionally, essential oils, in differing ratios, to “wash” your face. It also makes a great makeup remover!

Below is a recipe for my favorite oil ratio, along with my preferred technique for washing, and some extra notes. Steps 4, 5, and 7 are completely optional, and I only do them if I have the time or if I’m feeling up for a good pampering session.  :)

Note that I have combination skin. If your skin is more oily, you’ll want to increase the castor oil. If your skin is more dry, you’ll want to increase the carrier oils (more info on proper oil ratios are in the resources below).

oil cleansing method - natural skin care


  • 1 part castor oil + 1 part olive oil + 1 part grape seed oil 
  • A few drops of essential oil, optional (lavender or tea tree are my fav)
  • Add oils to a squeeze bottle and swirl to combine.


  1. Start With a Dry Face. Pour a quarter-sized amount of oil mixture into your palm.
  2. Massage Your Face. Vigorously rub the oil between your palms to warm it up. Gently apply the oil to your face in a circular motion. Massage it into your skin, but don’t rub too hard. Continue to massage the oil into your skin for 30-60 seconds.
  3. Steam Your Pores. Turn on the tap to very hot water (as hot as you can stand, but not scalding!). Saturate a wash cloth, wring it out, then lay it across your face to steam your pores open. Leave it on until it cools back down to room temperature.
  4. Massage Again. (optional) Massage your now steamed, oily skin again for another 5-10 seconds to work out any impurities from your pores.
  5. Steam Again. (optional) Rinse the wash cloth, wring it out, and lay it on your face a second time.
  6. Clean Your Face. Once it cools down, rinse it again, then gently wipe your face clean, removing all the dirt and impurities from your skin and pores. Rinse the wash cloth and wipe your face again until there’s no more oil left on your skin (about 1 or 2 more times).
  7. Moisturize. (0ptional) Your skin will look and feel better right from the first time! Your face will be brighter, dewey-looking, and very soft. If needed, you may moisturize with a tiny bit of one of your carrier oils (in my case, either olive or grape seed), but most likely, you won’t need to. Coconut oil is also another great moisturizer – just a tiny bit goes a long way.

oil cleansing method - natural skin care

Tea Tree Oil and Lavender are great for their anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Extra Notes

  • It’s best to do this at night, before going to bed. Some people do it every other night, some do it every night, and some (like me) just do it a few times a week. Go with whatever feels natural and necessary for you. In the morning, I just splash some warm, then cold water on my face, or I use a honey mask/scrub about once a week.
  • Don’t be alarmed if for the first few days, your skin looks like it’s getting worse – that’s normal! It just means that the oils are working and are cleansing your pores by bringing all the lingering dirt and impurities to the surface. It will get better!
  • Your personal oil ratio will depend on your  skin type. Castor oil is drying, while the carrier oils are more moisturizing. Start with small batches at first, until you find the right ratio for you.
  • Some readers have asked where they can find the little flip-top squeeze bottle you see in the pictures. I found them in the travel size section of my drug store (Shopper’s in Canada), but my friend, Megan, at A New Day has graciously informed me that you can find them at CVS in the US.
  • One of our readers brought up the issue of using castor oil during pregnancy (castor oil can cause preterm labor), but after checking with my midwife, I’ve been assured that it’s only dangerous if it is ingested internally – if used topically (and specifically with OCM, it should be completely safe, but please still check with your midwife/doctor before trying it!)

More Resources

  • Crunchy Betty has a great guide, which includes information on the best oils to use, as well as some of the best ratios for different skin types.
  • Simple Mom also has some great pointers from her personal experience with this method.
  • Natural Living Mamma shares some very helpful background info on this method, including how to use essential oils with it.

How do you care for your skin? Have you ever tried the oil-cleansing method? What other homemade, natural products are included in your skin care regimen? I’d love to hear about your experiences with all-natural skin care!

This post is part of a series on Natural Skin Care. To view more posts in this series, click here.

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Sarah UmmYusuf is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, , began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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