The Oil-Cleansing Method

The Oil Cleansing Method

I am always looking for ways to eliminate toxic, unnecessary chemicals from my life and using natural beauty products is one of the easiest ways to do this. I’m super excited to share the oil cleansing method with you because I am convinced it’s going to change your life the way it has changed mine. And, it will also save you a ton of money and give you better looking skin in the process!

If you haven’t heard of the oil-cleansing method before, it’s definitely time you did.  The oil-cleansing method involves washing your face with, well, you guessed it: oil.  Most facial cleansers brag about being “oil-free” and the beauty industry has certainly taught us that “oil-free” make-up and cleansers is the way to go.

Here’s the problem though: when our skin is stripped of its natural oils, it produces more oil to compensate.  For those with oily skin, this means more breakouts, blackheads, and aggravated skin.  For those with dry skin or sensitive skin, it means the skin is going to get even drier and irritated.

Here’s a basic chemistry lesson: like dissolves like.  Hence, oil dissolves oil. The oil-cleansing method is using oil to naturally dissolve the dirty oils on our skin without stripping it or using harsh chemicals. Genius, right?  Not only is it super simple, affordable, and better for your skin, but here is my favorite part: the oil-cleansing method is the best make-up remover I’ve ever found.  It removes mascara, eyeliner, foundation, everything — all in one step!  If that’s not enough to make you jump for joy, then I just don’t know what is.

The key to the oil-cleansing method is castor oil which comes from the castor bean.  Castor oil is a great antibacterial and is the best for cleaning skin.  Depending on your skin-type, you will want to use a different ratio of castor oil to other oils.  Other oils to use include olive (which is perfect for all skin types), jojoba (all skin types), avocado (best for drier skin), and almond oil (best for oily skin). Experiment and see what works best for you.

I have dry skin and have had great results with using a mix of castor oil, olive oil, and avocado oil. I usually mix 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, 1 cup avocado oil, and 1 cup castor oil in a glass jar and keep this in my bathroom for easy access. (I would definitely recommend keeping oil for cooking and oil for skincare separate.)

The Oil Cleansing Method

I recommend mixing a small batch and then you can adjust your oil ratio as needed.  Once you discover what works best for your skin type, then you can make a larger batch. I’ve been using this for over a year now and I’ve noticed that it’s made my dry skin significantly less dry and I’ve gone from using lotion several times a day to simply once in the morning. This is a huge change for me!

Here’s how it works…


Once you’ve made your oil mixture, rub a small amount onto DRY skin (as it won’t mix well with water), adding more as needed, and massage it around your face for about a minute.

Remember: there’s no need to wash or remove make-up before applying the oil. (If you wear makeup, rubbing the oil onto your skin might make a gooey mess, but it gets better in the next step.) If you wear mascara and eye makeup, rub a small amount onto your lids gently to remove any makeup, just as you would use a makeup remover.

The next step is to steam the skin to help remove impurities from your pores. Grab a clean wash cloth and run it under warm/hot water.  Wring it out and place it over your face for about a minute.  Then use the washcloth to wipe away any oil that’s left. And that’s it!

You only need to do the oil-cleansing method once a day (preferably at night before bed) and then you can splash your face with water in the morning.  It’s so simple!

Have you tried the oil-cleansing method before?  What oils work best for your skin?

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    • says

      Great question! Grapeseeds are so small that chemicals are often used to extract the oil. I prefer to use oils (like olive or avocado) that don’t need chemicals to be extracted and can be cold-pressed instead.

  1. says

    been using oil for facial cleansing for a year now and can honestly say I shan’t go back to any products however good to the earth animals and people they profess to be! X

  2. says

    I love this idea. I’ve just run out of make up remover and I was thinking it’s time to use something without all those harsh chemicals. This makes sense. I can’t wait to try it as soon as I can get a hold of some castor oil.

  3. says

    Sonnet, I was thrilled to read this post! I actually just started this method earlier this week after purchasing some sweet almond oil, so it was nice to know you have had good experience with this cleansing technique. Only time will tell how I like it, but it’s been great for my skin thus far. Yay! Thanks for the wonderful advice :)

    Also, have you tried oil pulling? It’s something I’ve added to my morning routine after reading up on the benefits.

    • says

      The funny thing is that I’ve just started oil pulling and I really like it! It was a little weird at first, but it does seem to make my mouth feel cleaner.

  4. says

    I have tried this with coconut oil and it works great! I didn’t know it would work with a blend of castor/olive. Thanks for the great info, I am excited to give it a try!

  5. says

    I just finished my first oil cleanse, pre bedtime. I’m also going to try the baking soda shampoo tomorrow. My body won’t know what to do with all of the toxin-free products I’m using. Yay!

  6. Michelle says

    I love the oil cleansing! I have been doing it for 6 months now and I would not waste any more money on the store bought facial products. I use a castor/olive/jojaba mix and I find it works so great for me!

  7. says

    Hi Do you use this on your body as well? I have the driest skin ever and often skip soap etc all together and use warm water and a wash cloth.

    • says

      Hmm, what a good question. I’ve never tried this on my body, but I don’t see why this couldn’t work on other areas of skin besides your face. If you try this out, please let us know how it goes.

    • says

      So far I have been using on my face, neck and chest and LOVE IT. I could never go back to facial soap. I have only tried these areas as they are easy to “steam” with a hot towel. Not sure my whole body will be “practical” but I will try it some day and let you know. Thank you for introducing this…you are saving my skin :). Thank you also for the DIY deoderant…I LOVE IT! And am close to converting my hubby.

    • says

      I use it in the shower to clean my chest, lower back and shoulders. Obv u can’t use the towel but it still does the job. Make sure to wash your hair first, rinse out the conditioner and then put your wet hair in a bun before applying the oil. If you do the oil while your conditioner is in your hair (like I used to do with body wash), then when you rinse the conditioner out, it runs down your back. Didn’t really think about that until I read someone’s comment but it makes sense.

  8. says

    Sonnet, perhaps I’m a bit oblivious, but what does the EVOO stand for?? Lol.
    Thanks for this article! Def. ready to give it a try for my skin type.

  9. Anonymous says

    I’ve been doing this for about 6 months and love that it is all natural. I bought a cheap pack of white washcloths for makeup removal. When you’re done removing makeup, rub a little castor oil on your eyebrows and eyelashes. It helps them grow!

    • says

      Yes, absolutely. The main purpose of the oil-cleansing method is a natural way to clean skin, the makeup removal is just a bonus. :) It definitely helps with keeping the skin moisturized. Even though you are wiping off the oil during the cleaning process, it still leaves my skin soft and smooth! I think you’ll really like this method.

  10. says

    I am really looking forward to trying this! I usually use a mild facial scrub but unfortunately most of them use tiny plastic beads for the scrubbiness, and I have been reading how they get into the ocean and will never go away, so I had to toss those! I did find one product (Evian) that uses walnut shells. But I would like to try this method! My only concern about doing it all over my body would be making the shower floor slippery. I think I would definitely have a mat or a towel on the floor of the tub to avoid slipping. But otherwise this sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to try it!

  11. Janelle says

    I am intrigued. Questions: does it leave your face visibly oily? I want to avoid a greasy pillowcase. Does it clog your pores? Does it eliminate the need for moisturuzer afterward?

    • says

      Using oil does not clog your pores and it does eliminate the need for moisturizer afterward. It makes your skin “dewy” after, but not oily. I haven’t had any problems with having a greasy pillowcase. The oil should be wiped off with the washcloth so it’s not like you are going to bed with oil all over your face. :)

  12. . says

    using coconut oil as a moisturizer after washing is good because it washes out of pillow cases and sheets very easily … I’ve noticed that my sink clogs up after awhile so I have started a little more running hot water down the drain after … I also keep a tub of honey that has become granular in my bathroom to use in the morning as a scrub (it doesn’t remove make up but it’s a great cleanser on morning face)

  13. Anonymous says

    I have put off starting this due to purging episode that I expect. Today was my first wash. I used 1Tab of Castor Oil and 2Tab of Olive Oil. After really massaging into my face I steamed my face from boiled water. I then used a wet hot washcloth and wiped face. I did notice many blackheads look more pronounced which means they are slowly coming to the surface… even after one wash. I have mostly oily skin and washing my face with soap it feels dry and tight afterward but after my first OCM wash it does not.
    Should I use the OCM daily until after my purging episode is over? If my skin does feel dry what should I use to moisturize? Thank You!

    • says

      I’m not quite sure that I understand you question about the purging episode, but I use the OCM every evening and typically use coconut oil to moisturize as needed. I also have a couple of natural face lotions I’ve bought from Whole Foods that I use from time to time if needed. Hope that helps!

    • Anonymous says

      Purging episode, meaning breakouts. As far as the moisturizer, can I just use a little dab of olive oil then gently wipe?
      Thank You.

    • says

      This shouldn’t cause breakouts and I haven’t heard this mentioned from anyone using this method. Olive oil is a great moisturizer.

      • steph says

        Over on the makeup alley site there are sooooo many mixed reviews about the oil cleansing method, OCM, where people share horrifying stories of the worst breakouts imaginable with scarring following – in almost every sad review the person began with an instant love for oil cleansing, but after a month, or several months, they suddenly experienced acne like they’d never known. Most I’ve read about OCM problems involve either too much castor oil – over drying the skin – or one of two to three oils found to be pore-clogging. Those are #1 coconut oil, olive, and sometimes a culprit jajoba.

        Just wanted to share what I learned from heavily researching this before chancing scary things with my own face! There are of course many, many lovers of the OCM that have had a long enough track record of success to prove it can be a blessing and answer for many of us!

        • Amy says

          Thanks Steph,
          You mentioned oils that may clog, did you find any that are proven as cleansers? I’ve been reading about Red Raspberry Leaf oil as a good sunscreen. I love the sun and don’t believe the hype that it causes cancer like the sunscreen chemicals can but I think it can cause wrinkling…, just curious if anyone has tried using this on their face?

  14. Anonymous says

    I’ve tried using a mixture of castor and jojoba oil and it has made my skin about a hundred times worse. I used to get a blemish or two, but since I started trying to use oil to clean my face I have tons of whiteheads and blemishes all over my face now especilly on my forheads, chin and jaw line. I can’t get them to go away now either. Any suggestions or maybe this method just doesn’t work with my skin? Thanks!

    • says

      The recommendation I have is to make sure you have enough castor oil in your mix. My guess is your ratio should be a 3:1 or perhaps even 4:1. If that doesn’t help, then this method might not be the best for your skin. Such a bummer!

    • Anonymous says

      I’ve read some where else that there will be a purging period and there might be breakouts but continue to use :) Hang in there!

  15. Anonymous says

    you mentioned that you only do it in the nights when going to bed, do
    I have to only use warm water in the morning? is it ok to use my cleanser in the mornings i use black soap as my cleanser. also is the method suppose to be done daily?

    • says

      Yep, in the mornings just rinse with a little warm water. I typically do this method daily, although I might skip a day if I didn’t wear makeup that day and am feeling a little lazy. :) I don’t know anything about black soap, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use that in the morning if you wanted. Hope that helps!

  16. Anonymous says

    Thank you for the article! I think the issue most people are having is, they really need to research their skin type and which oil works best. I have dry skin and have found Almond oil works best for me for makeup removal, and I am allergic to sunflower and safflower oils (which are in A LOT of natural cosmetics and skin care products). I get very red irritated skin if I use these oils. But they seem to work for others. Also many swear by grapeseed oil, which I personally can’t use. So I recommend users to research what is best for their skin type. It may not be the method that is the problem, you just may be selecting the wrong oil for your needs. This might be a great new blog topic. I love using a bit of coconut oil as a moisturizer. So my picks for dry skin are almond, avocado, coconut, and olive.

  17. says

    Sonnet, I’m curious what you’re using for body soap. I know that DIY can be difficult with lye but do you recommend any brands? I also read your blog on baking soda and vinegar as shampoo which I intend to try. :) I’m curious if you do housecleaning with just those two ingredients as well.. thanks!

  18. Anonymous says

    Started the OCM a few days ago and it seems to work. My face feels better. First time I tried it I used too much and did want to use a towel so i wiped the excess in my hair. Now my hair looks better also. (I’m a guy)

  19. Anonymous says

    I am 52 years young and started using the ocm method. It has been one week since I started. I couldn’t be happier. It has reduced my wrinkles and my facial scars. I have been mixing in essential oils such as rose, lavender and frankinsence with my jojoba oil. I use 1 part castor to 2 parts jojoba ( with the essentials). My only advise is to make sure you steam it off well with your cloth. I rinse like 5 times to make sure I have completely dissolved all the oils and then reapply a thin layer when through. A lot of women end up with breakouts around the eyes, forehead and the chin. You can prevent that problem with a real good steam. It is time consuming, but well worth it. You really do not want to keep those oils on your face anyway. The castor will continue to dry you out. Like I stated, just follow up with your jojoba or whatever oil you use to moisturize. Thanks so much for this wonderful idea!!!!!!! wish I started a long time ago.

  20. Anonymous says

    I recommend anyone to try this for only FIVE DAYS!

    After five days my wrinkles were less, blcakheads were cleared, my skin was no longer combination but soft and clear.

    I have PCOS so I thought that the hormonal imbalances were the main problem causing spots etc. It isn’t. This works so well.

    I use a combination of five oils that I read were good for skin and after clensing with them I apply some more to leave in as a moisturiser and this works so well for me that after two years I threw away any creams I still had and gave away gifts of cosmetic creams rather than try any of them. I’m 39 and have done this for two years now. It has been better for my skin than anything, however expensive that I have tried for the twenty previous years.

    I use equal parts: castor oil, olive oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil and coconut oil. I add some vitamin e oil from capsules too.

  21. Big Al says

    I have had problems with perioral dermititus and adult acne….this cleared it right up. No longer do I have the red patches from the dermititus, but all my blemishes went away and stayed away. I also added a couple of drops of tea tree oil to the cleanser and it smells great.

    • Anonymous says

      Sounds like your skin type is similar to mine! Care to share the types & ratio of oils you’ve been using?

  22. Anonymous says

    I have mature, sun damaged skin. Any thoughts on OCM vs a facial scrub? I have age spots and crows feet. HELP! :)

    • Annie says

      A couple of years ago I had an age spot on my right cheek. I don’t wear make up, and was very self-conscious about it. I applied vit e oil to it every day once or twice a day, and it completely disappeared in a very short time. Try vit e; it should work.

    • Annie says

      I started using coconut oil (from Tropical Traditions) about 6 months ago for EVERYTHING – cleansing and moisturizing. It removes all traces of makeup, which I’ve just started wearing, and it moisturizes wonderfully, head to toe. I only use it as a facial cleanser every few days because I don’t wear makeup daily. I use it as OCM, just as you describe, Sonnet. I also apply it after my daily shower literally from head to toe, starting with my face, and ending with my feet. Often, it’s my only form of deodorant. My skin is so soft, and its a great, natural sun screen. I tan but don’t burn when I’m outside. The biggest difference I’ve experienced is the skin on my feet is now gorgeous. I’m 52 and had dry, rough, cracking, peeling, itchy patches. I spend a few minutes every morning rubbing in about a Tbs on each foot. My feet are beautiful now, and i’m no longer ashamed to wear sandals or go barefoot! These are the feet of my youth again! I also use a light application of coconut oil to calm my curly-frizzy hair after washing, and it works very well. I love how versatile and all-natural this stuff is, and that I don’t have to think about mixing proportions or buying more than one product! I can’t say enough about the benefits I’ve experienced using coconut oil topically, not to mention internally, as a part of my diet.

  23. anna says

    Hi! I just started the OCM and I absolutely love it! But this method takes more time than regular cleansingd does. What do you do to cleanse your skin when you’re not using the OCM? I know you shouldn’t toggle between the OCM and store-bought face washes.

    • says

      I found that this takes about the same amount of time I spent trying to remove my makeup and then wash my face. I’ve used some Burt’s Bees cleansers in the past, but once I found this method I haven’t used any other cleansers.

  24. Nur Mira says

    will using castor oil promote faster facial hair growth? Is there any substitute for using castor oil that’s suitable for dry and sensitive skin?

  25. Susan says

    I am 53 and have been using the OCM for several months now. It has cleared up my adult acne, gotten rid of wrinkles, and left my skin amazingly soft. I have completely stopped using my other products since the OCM removes makeup, cleanses and moisturizes better than all the other products. I would like to add some essential oils to my mix to make the smell more pleasant. What do you suggest? Also, will I still be able to use it on my eyes if I add the essential oils? Thanks.

    • Sonnet says

      Hi Susan, I haven’t tried this with essential oils so I don’t have any good suggestions, but if you do add essential oil, I would not recommend using this to remove eye makeup or putting this anywhere near the eye area.

  26. Raven says

    Also I use tea tree oil two drops of it, stir, and voila!. The scent is quite calming, to anybody wondering about essential oil, just try tea tree, lavender etc…whatever suits you.

  27. Nikkie says

    Been using the oil cleansing method for about 6 months now and I will never go back! I use the oil mixture recommended at, with a little less than 1/3 of castor oil and a little more than 2/3 sunflower seed oil. I ordered both products from amazon, both 100% pure. I do the steaming about once every 2 or 3 days, and other then that just rinse my face with a hot washcloth every morning and night. I often steam with just a really hot shower instead of using a wash cloth. My skin has never been so good!

  28. cm123 says

    I have recently started using castor oil for hair growth on scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes and it works pretty well. Now I want to try the OCM technique for face cleansing. I am little confused if I should start OCM..will it also result in facial hair growth?? Help!!

    • Sonnet says

      I have never heard of castor oil helping with hair growth, but I will say that I’ve been using this method for 1.5 years and have not experienced any difference in hair growth on my face. I have pretty thin eyebrows so honestly I would have noticed if it made a difference with that. 😉

      • Lesley says

        Hi Sonnet,

        I’m new to the OCM (about a week). Just wondering if you experienced any problems when you first started? So far I love it, but I have read a lot of reviews where people claim they experienced very bad acne months after starting.

        • Sonnet says

          I didn’t have any issues with acne or breakouts, but I have really dry skin so this method works well for me. Glad to hear it’s working for you! :)

  29. Guemie says

    I heard of the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) several years ago but was fearful to try it. I really didn’t believe oil could cleanse my face. Having combination skin, I often have difficulty keeping it balanced and never want to look greasy! After doing some research and watching some YouTube videos, I decided to give OCM a try. It turns out that I love the method! Ironically oil actually dissolves oil (and sebum)! I’ve been using organic/unrefined castor oil from and I’m loving it !

  30. Ashley says

    Has anyone tried castor oil and grape seed oil?? It seems to be working fine except I started to notice that about 2-3 weeks after I mix the two in a bottle they begin to grow mildew. Anyone else dealt with this? I’ve tried both plastic and tinted glass (all air tight). My bathroom is high in moisture however each bottle of the straight stuff next to it has grow nothing. I can’t find this out anywhere. Help.

    • Amy says

      About the mildew….whenever I make DIY solutions for my home I always add a couple drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). It’s so awesome! It’s a fantastic cleaner just a few drops in a gallon of water. Completely non toxic. Defeats viruses, bacteria and fungi. I use a few drops in the dirty towels when washing. A couple drops in my DIY solutions keep them from growing stuff. I’ve cleaned my babies diaper rash with it (very dilute) 2 drops on a really wet towel. I’ve even given it to me and my children when sick with sore throats etc. this works so well on Staph and Strep that many hospitals are throwing away their Clorox and replacing it with GSE!
      While reading these comments, I kept thinking that the people experiencing the acne might benefit from a few drops of GSE in their mixture. It does clean though and is a citrus oil so can be irritating for some skin types. Start with just a few drops and add more later. Do not put directly on acne!!! It will cause irritation and/or burning. I put 5-10 drops per a whole load of soiled diapers if that helps dosage. It doesn’t bother my skin or my babies at all but someone is bound to be sensitive to it.
      Just a trick I might try.

  31. Halley says

    I’ve been doing this for about a year and will never go back to anything else. I use a mix of raw honey, Olive oil/ almond oil, and brown sugar. My face feels amazing every time I use it and I have to say I’ve had FAR less break outs washing daily with the oil method compared to drying my skin out with who knows what. I highly recommend giving this a try!

  32. says

    I love OCM! I use sunflower oil because I think its better than olive oil. Sunflower oil is hypoallergenic and the consistency is just right for OCM.

  33. RebeccaC says

    When I first started using OCM I loved it. My skin was soft and even my husband would tell me how beautiful my skin looked. My skin had always been clear and poreless but I was looking to get off of harsh chemical cleansers. I was using cetaphil gentle cleanser and tea tree oil for the odd blemish at the time. I’ve used sweet almond oil for many years as a light nighttime moisturizer so OCM didn’t seem like much of a stretch to try.

    My skin is now ruined. I have deep whiteheads that are impossible to get rid off. Cystic pimples I’ve never had before in my life. I don’t know the best way to treat them since I’ve never had them before. I hate looking in the mirror now and have to wear concealer and foundation to cover up my yucky skin which just makes things worse.

    I don’t know if it was the castor oil or the jojoba oil or the steaming. I’m so upset I tried this. I’m back to cetaphil and dermalogica gentle cream exfoliant to try and heal my skin. I’m scared to try OCM with other oils but I may try my sweet almond oil on its own again since I never had problems with that. :(

  34. michelle says

    I have did lots of research on the ocm and cant wait to give it a try to try and help with my adult acne.just thought people might like to know that turmeric is great for the skin if used as a face mask it can help with acne, scarring and pigmentation and a dab added to your daily moisturizer will also give you the healing benefits and give your face a glow!

  35. Cayla says

    I have a mixture of dry/oily/acne prone skin, and have had acne scars – just fully healed ones that wouldn’t quite go away, like a dark mark – and I hear this is also a great method for pimples. It took a while to find castor oil, and for a short time I was just trying EVOO alone. I loved the way it felt on my face, and my face would feel really good for a whole day! Then I read about the EVOO/Castor oil method, only I saw another one where it adds a few drops of Tea Tree Oil, which I used on my scars before. I was wondering, how long before you start noticing any ‘differences’ in your skin? I’d say I’ve been trying this method – with the tea tree – about a week now, and while I haven’t had a single pimple, I haven’t really noticed any other changes.

  36. Mimi says

    Hey there Sonnet, question for you..I just bought some cold pressed and cold processed castor oil from Whole Foods (the brand is Home Health). The viscosity is significantly thicker than that of my olive, jojoba, and almond oils…is this how yours is, too? Thanks!

    • Sonnet says

      I usually exercise first thing in the morning so I just rinse with water after exercising. If I exercise in the evening, then I will use the OCM method to clean after. Hope that helps!

  37. Anonymous says

    Hi there!

    I was just wondering, I have very acne prone skin therefore if I use the OCM, will this cause me to have a bad breakout if I move away from Proactiv?


    • Sonnet says

      I can’t tell you the reaction your skin will have for sure, but this method has worked well for my sensitive skin and I’ve heard from others with acne that this worked well for them. The best advice I can offer is to try it and if you don’t have good results, you can always go back to what you were doing before. :)

  38. Anonymous says

    I have been using OCM for about a month now and my skin has improved, but it isn’t great. Parts of my cheeks and near my mouth feel really dry (and I have noticed some lines) but the pores at the top of my cheeks and nose are still pretty big/clogged. Any suggestions? I don’t want to use more EVOO in case it makes my skin too oily, but do you think that will help?

  39. Georgia says

    I find you so interesting. I have been using Shiseido skin care products for some time and their makeup. Can you please suggest a face cream instead of these products or would you just say to use the oils you clean with?
    Thank you.

    • Sonnet says

      I like using coconut oil to moisturize. I also use a oil blend made my Soapwalla – you can find it on her site (she handmakes small batches in her kitchen). Hope that helps!

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