2 Oil Cleansing Method Myths Debunked

oil facial cleanserYou’d think that the act of washing your face is a simple thing, right? Well…yes and no. It depends on what you’re using to cleanse your skin, how much makeup you’re wearing, your water temperature, your skin type, etc.

When I worked in a department store and boutique cosmetics, one of the first questions I was supposed to ask customers was “what do you use to wash your face?” And if she said “soap and water,” I was supposed to act out having seen a ghost or something truly shocking and horrible complete with gasps, facial expressions, and sound effects. I kid you not. If the Academy ever walked through during one of my performances I’m sure I would have been nominated for an award.

In aesthetics school, we learned that soap and water is definitely not ideal, because it can strip the skin’s necessary natural oils, so gentle soap-free gel, milk, or lotion cleansers were recommended. As I learned more about ingredients, I learned that true soaps like castile and black soap are fine for some skin types–as long as you don’t over-cleanse–but I found that using the Oil Cleansing Method quickly became my new favorite way to wash my face.

Myth #1: The Oil Cleansing Method clogs pores and causes breakouts.

I started recommending this method to everyone because of its convenience, low cost, and efficacy–but then I got really discouraged when I began to see online skincare experts and dermatologists writing about how this method is actually terrible for the skin. They claim it clogs pores and causes breakouts. Of course, they subsequently talk about the benefits of their own product lines and why they’re so much better than simple cleansing oils.

Well if the oil cleansing method causes clogged pores and breakouts, why doesn’t that happen to me? I have very oily skin naturally, and if I stress too much, don’t get enough sleep, or don’t eat what my body needs, I still break out (and I’m in my forties). Yet my skin looks and feels great using the oil cleansing method.

The reason is that not all oils are appropriate for all skin types. Some–like coconut, avocado, or olive–will clog pores or cause breakouts for people who are prone to them. Others though, like jojoba, argan, or black cumin seed oil don’t do that. It has to do with the chemical constitution of the oils and their similarity–or lack thereof–to human sebum.

Like any other product or ingredient, just because it’s good for your skin type on paper, that doesn’t mean it will be ideal for you since you are an individual–so you might have to try more than one oil to find the best one for you.

Myth #2: The Oil Cleansing Method isn’t effective.

Instead of describing to you why I believe this method is effective, I decided to show you. Watch this video to learn more about Myth 1, and see my experiment to demonstrate the efficacy of the oil cleansing method.

Comment BelowWhat do you think?

I’d love to know your thoughts and experience with The Oil Cleansing Method now that you’ve seen it in action. Leave a reply in the comments below!


26 thoughts on “2 Oil Cleansing Method Myths Debunked”

    1. Hi Amy! Great question. It actually has a mild smoky smell–some people even say it smells very mildly like bacon. I use it both on its own as well as as a carrier oil for essential oils and ingredient for skincare products. Thanks for asking! -Rachael

  1. Thanks so much for this post! Wow! I also have heard/read of the oil cleansing method before and actually tried it in a very desperate attempt. I do have acne and used a cleaning product that I get at the pharmacy and costs ALOT and I thought I try something more natural. I had no idea that it would make a difference which oil I use so I tried the coconut – as I was using that as a body moisturizer and loved it. But, just as you said, in the long run I could not keep up using it as it caused my skin to break out. Will definitely try to use the jojoba oil!
    (Is cold pressed better than refined jojoba oil?)
    Oh, right now I am also using soap and water. I thought my skin would kill me if I did that. But I found a handmade soap that is cold processed and actually keeps my skin pretty well. Not any worse than the expensive pharmaceutics stuff. It really depends on what type of soap you are using I suppose. 🙂
    P.S. Ever since I started to use that soap for my hands as well I finally do not get any weird eczema there anymore. Yeah! 🙂

    1. Ursula–yes it definitely makes a difference what kind of soap you use since there are so few “true” soaps left on the market! And yes–I recommend cold or expeller pressed rather than refined 🙂

  2. This is a great post! I personally love using the oil cleansing method it leaves my skin feeling extra loved. Super excited to be part of your Create Your Skincare Course. We are going to learn a lot and as a Licensed Esthetician myself I am super excited about the depth in which you go explaining everything! You are a true rockstar Rachael! Keep up the great work!

  3. I’m new to the OCM, almost 3 weeks in. My skin looks calm, my husband even said it was glowing. My question is about exfoliation. Should I put sugar into my OCM mixture once a week or so, in order to continue that old tradition of exfoliating?
    Thanks so much for the advice!

  4. Mariana Davalos Gonzalez

    Hey, and what do you think about castor oil? and how many times at week you recommended to use oil cleansing method? or is a daily thing? Because I had saw before it has to be once at week, but Im not really sure. Thanks!:) (im from mexico, so..sorry if my grammar isn’t in the right way, im still learning)

    1. Hi Mariana, great questions! I love castor for certain skin types–very drawing–but I prefer it as a compress or poultice or spot treatment, I don’t love it for daily use. I use the oil cleansing method daily. It’s fabulous for removing makeup at the end of the day. And your English looks great to me 🙂 Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment! –Rachael

    1. Hi Lori, it depends on your skin. It can be an intense oil, so I’d recommend blending it with something else like jojoba oil.

    1. Hi Laila, great questions. Everyone has combination skin–I actually offer a free skincare class that gives an introduction on choosing the right oils and other ingredients for your skin and teaches you to make two simple products. Check it out HERE.

      1. The only way to know is to try! It may take up to a month for her skin to adjust–just be aware of that.

    1. Rachael Pontillo

      Hi Lacey! That’s just a stock photo of glass oil and vinegar cruets that I thought was pretty 🙂 I think it’s just the lighting that makes them appear pink. I know Amazon has a lot that are similar glass cruets, as well as other kitchen/housewares stores.

  5. My dear
    I have very reactive skin . I was cleansing my skin 7 months with harsh washcloth which gave me a big inflammation/redness/rosacea. I discovered oil cleansing and I love it, but the main problem are cotton pads or washcloth to pick up the dirt after. My skin can’t tolerate any kind of pads or cloths/rubbing. How to avoid pads/cloth after oil massage?

    As a second step, I use mild cleanaser (La Roche Posay Toleriane gel), but before that I still need to pick up the dirt with pads which I can’t tolerate.

    I am lost, how to be gentle with my skin but to be sure that my face is cleaned properly?

    Please, help me.

    1. Rachael Pontillo

      Hi Minja, try a softer fiber like bamboo, and only use it to remove things like eye makeup. After oil cleansing, you should be able just to pat it dry gently, rather than rubbing. Follow by gently sweeping a gentle botanical toner on with cotton or bamboo. No rubbing. Most people cleanse way more aggressively than is necessary, which damages the skin’s barrier. Your skin is likely not as dirty as you think it is–friction should never be used.

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