How I Found Oil Cleansing

The oil cleansing method (or OCM, as beauty bloggers call it) saved my skin. Ever since I was in high school, I’ve struggled with really bad skin: dry, acne-prone – the whole nine yards. It literally made me want to just hide at home, and it gave me really low self-esteem. When I discovered OCM, I was like, this is crazy. Use oil to clean an already-oily face? But then I tried it and loved it. Here’s why you should try it, too.

What Is Oil Cleansing, Anyway?

Oil cleansing first became a beauty trend in 2012. It hydrates, helps balance your skin’s oil production, and even helps clear up acne.

The difference between using a cleansing oil and regular bar soap is that cleansing oil works with the “good oils” in your skin to remove the “bad oils” – like sweat, oil, or dirt. Dermatologists have started recommending this method because it’s a win-win situation: because the oil binds to impurities in the skin but doesn’t sink in, it can be rinsed away, leaving clean, soft, and hydrated results. It even takes off the most hard-to-remove makeup: it’ll remove your waterproof liner without tugging or hard scrubbing.

Kayla Causey, an aesthetician at JulienFarel Restore Salon & Spa, told the Huffington Post that oil cleansers “[K]eep the skin’s natural pH balance, and prevents it from having a production overload.”

Essential oils are also naturally antibacterial, which helps to prevent new skin problems from developing - a must if you struggle with persistent breakouts.

Oil Cleansing Steps

OCM is very simple for anyone to start doing. However, if you’re nervous about diving in, Marie Leger, M.D., Ph.D, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine, tells Self you should try adding the cleansing oil to your skincare routine without changing anything else. If you start breaking out or experience other issues, the cleansing oil is likely the culprit.

start at your forehead

1. Start by applying a warm, damp washcloth to your face for a few seconds to open up the pores.
2. Pump a dime-sized amount of oil onto your fingertips and begin massaging the oil into your skin. Facialist Abigail James tells the UK beauty site Byrdie that it's best to start at your forehead and work down. Those with dry skin may want to add some water to help make the oil a little milkier and easier to apply.
3. Gently swipe the oil down over your eyes and lashes using your fingertips. If you have a lot of eye makeup on, you might want to repeat this step a few times. James suggests also massaging the oil over your eyebrows to nourish the hairs.
4. Finish by massaging the oil down onto your neck and décolletage.
5. You have a few options for removing the cleansing oil. You can use more water, or wipe away the excess with a dry or slightly damp cotton pad. Alternatively, you can get the washcloth that you used in the first step damp again and gently wipe it over your face in small circular motions.
6. Follow up with a light toner. If you have very dry skin, you might also want to add a moisturizer.
7. Apply a serum or an eye cream if you use one.

How To Find The Right Oil Cleanser For Your Skin Type

For starters: please, please, please don’t use a DIY cleansing oil! This is a super popular trend on Pinterest, but as New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., tells Self, cosmetically-formulated cleansing oils will give your skin better results. Why? They’re made of natural plant-pressed oils, yes, but they also contain surfactants that make them clean more thoroughly – and a lot easier to remove.

What’s the best oil for acne-prone skin? I got a lot of mileage out of cleansing oils that contained coconut and argan oil, which are much lighter than other oils. Try Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Oil, which is noncomedogenic (this means it won't clog pores).

What if you’ve got aging skin? Try the Stem Cellular Cleansing Oil from Juice Beauty. It’s got a powerful blend of grapeseed, may chang, ho wood and sunflower oils, which cleanse away impurities while providing antioxidant support to improve the appearance of the skin.

Skin that's really, really dry will find plenty of options, but The Independent recommends Origins Clean Energy Gentle Cleansing Oil. It has Vitamin E to reduce the effect of environmental irritants, and Kukui Nut and Macadamia to protect the skin's natural moisture. While fragranced cleansing oils can sometimes irritate dry, sensitive skin, the light lemon fragrance in this oil is uplifting, not cloying.

Ready to rinse up?

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