Everyone’s probably familiar with the idea of cleansing their face. But, when you think of cleansers, what usually comes to mind are liquid, foamy or gel face washes that are usually made of soap and are used to strip away oil, dirt and bacterial build-up in your skin.
But, research has been coming up with the benefits of using oil on your face to obtain clear and glowing skin. You may be worried about the idea of slathering oils onto your face, especially if you have acne-prone skin, but oil cleansing is generally considered a safe practice.
What is oil cleansing?
It is a way of using a blend of certain oils to deep cleanse your skin so that the bacteria, dirt, pollution and all other nasties come up to the surface, leaving your pores unclogged and free to breathe.
This method is sometimes considered better than using traditional cleansers because it doesn’t strip away your skin’s natural oils or disrupt its acid mantle.
How does oil cleansing work?
Let’s take a moment to picturise how cleansing works. Your skin absorbs pollution, dust, bacteria and other environmental stressors. Cleansing is meant to clean your pores of these impurities. Except, with soap-based cleansers, they cannot effectively get rid of all the debris.
Why? Because in order to clean your face entirely, the dirt must be dissolved and stripped out of the pores. This is where oil cleansing comes into play. Any oil binds itself to all the impurities and attracts them onto the surface. It becomes much easy to remove them once they’re dissolved and onto the surface.
Also, the oil acts like your skin’s barrier and keeps it soft and moisturised in the process. Also, not all bacteria on your skin are bad. Traditional cleansers can strip your skin of good bacteria, destroying the barrier in the process. Oil cleansing leaves behind good bacteria, which helps prevent skin issues like infections and acne.
Who should be considering it?
All skin types can consider oil cleansing, as long as you’re using high-quality oils that are suitable for your particular type of skin or concern. If you’re worried about skin reactions, you should always do a patch test first before jumping into it right away.
What are the benefits of oil cleansing?
Oil cleansing has a number of benefits:
- It gets rid of excess sebum
- Removes dirt, pollutants, makeup and dead skin effectively
- Removes blackheads and whiteheads by keeping your pores clean
- It does not strip away natural oils produced by your skin
- Leaves the good bacteria intact, something that traditional cleansers can kill off
- Locks in hydration and makes your skin soft, supple and smooth
Should you still go for it if you have acne?
Harsh cleansers tend to strip away your skin’s natural oils, making the sebaceous glands work overtime to produce more oil and give rise to more acne. Oil cleansing effectively removes dirt buildup and bad bacteria, leaving your skin free from clogged pores.
But, some people who have sensitive skin (or even some who don’t) may experience purging for a few weeks when they start oil cleansing. You may notice pimple-like breakouts that usually appear in areas you normally get acne.
This is not a bad thing. It means your skin is adjusting to something new and all the dirt and bacteria are being pushed to the surface, giving rise to breakouts. But, if it does not resolve within a couple of weeks, you should reconsider using a different oil or understand that your skin is not suited to oil cleansing. But, in general, oil cleansing is an effective way to clear up your skin and reduce your breakouts.
How often should you oil cleanse?
It really depends on your skin type and how well your skin is responding to the method. If you can tolerate it well, you can do it once a day, preferably at night before you go to bed. Otherwise, you can also consider doing it once a week or occasionally as a special treatment.
What kind of oil should you be using?
Pick an oil or a blend of different oils based on your skin type and condition.
- Oily skin or acne-prone skin - You can go for a non-greasy oil like marula oil if your skin is very oily and you don’t want to add on that extra layer of grease. For acne-prone skin, jojoba oil or argan oil are good options since they balance excess oil production and help reduce breakouts. If your skin isn’t sensitive, you can also go for castor oil, which is heavy but acts as an astringent to dry out excess sebum.
- Sensitive skin - The best oils for sensitive skin are rosehip oil or jojoba oil. You can also try grapeseed oil or safflower seed oil which have a high content of linoleic acid with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Dry skin - Dry skin needs extra moisture and antioxidants to lock in hydration and protect your skin barrier. Olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil are great choices for people with dry skin.
How do you perform oil cleansing?
Oil cleansing is fairly easy and anyone can perform it in the comfort of their own home.
- Take 1-2 tsp of an oil or oil blend that’s suitable for your skin type and pour it onto your palm.
- On a dry face, apply the oil and massage it gently in different directions for up to a minute. If you have sensitive skin, do it for less time. Let the oil penetrate your skin in order to remove makeup, dirt, dead skin cells and other impurities.
- Using a soft, damp and warm cloth, gently wipe the oil away so your skin is left feeling hydrated, but not greasy. You can also rinse your face once after using the wet cloth.
- Depending on your skin needs, you can follow it up with a gentle, non-greasy moisturizer like the Carmesi Soothing Moisturizer.
How to know if you should stop?
Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell the difference between purging and a skin reaction. If you’re purging, notice where you’re getting the breakouts and how long it takes for them to appear. It should take at least hours or several days for purging to take effect and they usually look like breakouts in places you mostly get acne.
If it’s a skin reaction, it will show up almost immediately. Your skin may turn red, flaky, dry, itchy or look inflamed in patches. If this happens, you should immediately discontinue using the oil. Later, you can try different oils or refrain from oil cleansing altogether. It’s always best to speak to your dermatologist in case of skin reactions.