Oil Cleansing: How to Do It and Why It Works

Contributor: Primally Pure
Photographer: Primally Pure
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As an oily-skinned and acne-prone teenager, I grew up thinking that harsh = better when it came to cleansers. I would buy and try every cleanser that promised to strip away oil and, as a result, get rid of pimples and blemishes.

Unfortunately, these cleansers never seemed to work like the commercials on TV promised. My skin would always feel super dry after a wash, but soon afterwards it would be overcome with unnatural amounts of oil/grease.

It wasn’t until much later that I learned why. By drying my skin out with harsh cleansers, I forced it to over-produce oil in order to compensate for the dryness! So simple, yet so contrary to everything conventional wisdom tells us about skincare. My skin’s natural moisture barrier was completely out of whack and had been for years — even though I THOUGHT I was doing everything right.



Once I discovered the oil cleansing method, it immediately resonated with me. Based on the scientific principle that like dissolves like, oil cleansing utilizes beneficial oils that penetrate deep into pores to dissolve grime and build-up. It’s the best way to purify + nourish the skin (natural oils are SO powerful in their ability to beautify and heal) while still keeping its natural moisture barrier in-tact. Oil cleansing works for all skin types when the correct oil ratios/types of oils are being used.

After the initial adjustment period during which my skin purged itself of toxins it released in the form of blemishes (this lasted for about a week), I finally felt like my skin had balanced itself out! I was no longer going through a pack of oil-blotting sheets every 2 weeks (not kidding) and the acne I had struggled with for YEARS was finally starting to clear up.

This was undoubtedly the most beneficial topical skincare adjustment I had ever made (and I had tried just about everything at that point)!

Since the oil cleansing method is so different from “normal” cleansing, I thought it would be helpful to provide some additional info on how it works. Below you’ll find my variation of the oil cleansing method along with a few extra tid-bits of advice which should help to make your transition to the oil cleansing method as easy and painless as possible!




  • Step #1: Remove Makeup — I recommend using coconut oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil for this part! Just rub any of these oils into the skin until face/eye makeup has dissolved and gently wipe away with a warm, wet washcloth. Let your skin dry off completely before moving on to the next step.


  • Step #2: Apply a quarter-sized dollop of cleansing oil to your hands, and massage into DRY skin using your fingertips. Do this for about 60 seconds. This is when the cleansing oil really works its magic, dissolving build-up and nourishing the skin with powerful plant nutrients. Try to also think of this as a time to relax and massage away the stresses of the day — like a mini at-home spa treatment!


  • Step #3: Wet a clean washcloth with warm water and place it onto face until the washcloth cools. Use a different washcloth than the one you used to wipe off your makeup (make sure it isn’t TOO warm for your delicate facial skin).


  • Step #4: Gently wipe away impurities + excess oil with washcloth. No need to scrub too aggressively here — a few gentle sweeps of the face will do the trick!


  • Step #5: Repeat process if necessary (this usually isn’t necessary UNLESS you skip step #1 and need an extra cleanse to remove makeup + grime).