How To Naturally Clean Your Face – The Oil Cleansing Method

Photo by Taras Kalapun

Using oil to “wash” your face.  Seems a little counter-intuitive, right? Especially if you already have oily skin.

I have been blessed that I’ve always had fairly good skin, without many breakouts, but I did struggle with dry and tight skin that I constantly had to slather moisturizer on, especially in the winter time.  However, my luck ran out when my typically normal skin started freaking out on me about a year ago.

I tried switching to the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM), thinking my skin was reacting to chemical cleansers and lotions that I was using, but it didn’t work, and in fact, my skin started to get worse.  So, I began trying lots of other options, even going back to my previous routine of conventional drugstore products, and it still did not get better.  I had breakouts, and especially around my mouth and nose my skin was getting really dry, and red and flaky.  I didn’t know what else to do.

Then, I read a post over at Naturally Knocked Up about the OCM, and saw that she used a different type of oil and in different quantities than I had originally tried.  So, I decided to try it again and see what happened.

This time, my skin reacted much better, and looked better almost overnight.  Definitely within the first week of using this method, my skin cleared up – the dry, red patches were gone and overall the skin on my face looked much healthier.

I’ve been using this method for about a month now, and although I’ve heard that some people experience a transition period where their skin gets worse before it gets better, that has not happened for me – I’m not sure how it could have gotten much worse anyway! My skin is not perfect all the time now, I still get the occasional breakout, but it is so, so much better than it was before, and without the use of harsh chemicals or ingredients, so I can live with that!

The idea behind the oil cleansing method is similar to the no ‘poo method for washing your hairYour skin produces natural oils which are stripped away by conventional soaps and cleaners, that are full of ingredients that should be avoided, and then have to be added back in through lotions and moisturizers, which are also full of nasty ingredients, or your skin can react by overproducing oil, both of which can in turn clog pores and cause breakouts.

Photo by Liz

How to Use the Oil Cleansing Method to Wash Your Face

1. Create your oil mixture based on the needs of your skin. You can use either olive oil or sunflower oil as your base oil, and then you add castor oil to it.

I use sunflower oil now after reading Donielle’s post, and actually find that besides it working better for my skin, I like it better because the smell is not as intense as olive oil. Also, I found castor oil in the pharmacy section at my local grocery store.

The ratio of the oils depends on your skin type.

  • For dry skin – use 1 part castor oil to 9 parts olive or sunflower oil. (This is the ratio I use)
  • For normal or combination skin – use 2 parts castor oil to 8 parts olive or sunflower oil.
  • For oily skin  – use 3 parts castor oil to 7 parts olive or sunflower oil.

You can adjust your oil mixture as needed .  The castor oil is used for cleansing, but may also be drying to your skin, so if you notice that your skin is getting dry and tight, you can cut back on the amount of castor oil in your mix.  Or, if you feel like your skin is breaking out and over oily, try increasing the amount of castor oil.  You might have to do a little trial and error to see what works best for your skin type.

Fortunately, these oils are quite affordable, and you only need to use a small amount, you can make up a small batch to see if it works, and if it doesn’t, you will not have wasted a ton of money like you would if you were buying a new product from the store every time.  For my first batch this time around, I used a 1/2 tsp, so my mixture was 1/2 tsp. castor oil and nine 1/2 tsp (4 1/2 tsp) sunflower oil, so it was a small amount, but it lasted me for two weeks while I tried it to make sure it worked for me. 

2. Before bed, pour a little bit of your oil mixture in your palm and then gently massage it into your face. Then take a hot and steaming washcloth and place it over your face until it cools, and repeat this a few times.  The steam from the washcloth helps to dissolve the oil and pull impurities out of your skin.

Then gently rub your face with the washcloth to exfoliate a bit, and pat dry with a towel.  If you feel like you need a little moisturizer you can rub a few drops of jojoba oil or coconut oil into your skin.

You can cleanse this way every day, if you feel like you need it, but some people find they only need to use this method every other day.

3. Also, in the morning, you can “wash” your face by just placing a hot and steaming washcloth over your face (without rubbing the oil mixture in) and repeating a few times. You can also use this to cleanse your face in the evenings on the days that you don’t use the oil mixture.

What I like the best about this style of washing my face, besides the fact that I know all of the ingredients in the oil mixture and I can make it myself at home, is that it kind of feels like a spa treatment when I put the hot washcloth over my face and steam my skin.  It also leaves my skin feeling smooth and soft, I am very happy with the results!

I encourage you to give the Oil Cleansing Method a try for washing your face and see if you notice the difference in your skin!

What do you think about the Oil Cleansing Method?  Is it something you think you could use to wash your face, do you have any questions for me about it?

Related Posts:

How To Naturally Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo

Change Your Mind About Antibacterial Products

Using Cloth Wipes As A Part Of Your Cloth Diaper Routine


I’d love to see more of you! Please consider subscribing to e-mail updates, or in a reader, to be sure you don’t miss a single post.  You can also connect with me by leaving a comment, or on Twitter and Facebook!


  1. says

    YAY!! Glad it’s working for you now!! I’ve been doing this for almost 4 years and absolutely love it. Not only is is better for my body, my skin looks better, and it’s SOOO cheap! I literally spend less than $10.00 per year on my “face wash”.


    • Emily says

      Thanks Donielle! I am so glad that it’s working for me now too, I’m so glad you suggested using sunflower oil, otherwise I would have just given up on it, thinking it didn’t work for me. I love it, my skin is looking better every day!

      Hey, do you have any ideas for anti-wrinkle cream or something like that? I’m realizing I might need to start thinking about that (I am 30 after all), and have no idea where to start looking.

      • Rebekah says

        Maybe you’ve already found an answer to this, but I have heard that avocado oil has anti-aging properties. I tried OCM in the past, but without good success. I may have to try again after reading this!

        • Emily @ Live Renewed says

          I hadn’t heard that about avocado – thanks for sharing! I hope the OCM works for you this time Rebekah!

    • Carolyn says

      Just wondering if anyone uses witch hazel after this cleansing treatment and what results you have had?

  2. Joyce says

    I have recently started using the OCM and really like it! I use grapeseed oil instead of olive or Sunflower seed oil– has a delightful texture; much lighter and silkier than Olive Oil. I also add a drop or two of essential oil like Geranium Oil as it makes it smell wonderful.

    When I first read the directions (on another web site) and they went on and on about relaxing, blah, blah, blah, and I thought, “Oh yeah, right, like I can do that every night, LOL!” So, instead I put the oil on my face while I’m doing dishes in the kitchen. I still remove it with a hot washcloth, but the water is already hot because I’m using it to wash dishes, so I feel like I’m saving resources and it is much more efficient for me in terms of time also.

    • Emily says

      Hi Joyce,

      That is a great idea to do the OCM while doing dishes at night. I too was struggling with the waste of water running down the drain while trying to wait for it to get hot enough. I would even brush my teeth with warm water, just so the running water wasn’t completely wasted. I also like the idea of cleansing my face before I’m actually ready to go to bed. Sometimes it gets late and I get lazy and the thought of having to still do the OCM before going to bed is too much (that’s really why I only do it every other day!) :) But, if I did it earlier in the evening, while washing dishes, then it would already be done, and I wouldn’t have to worry about it right before bed. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Kate says

    How does OCM work with makeup? Would you use a separate makeup remover? I would definitely need to take off my makeup every night, so I’m thinking I couldn’t skip nights…?

    • Emily says

      Hi Kate,

      I’m sure you can use the OCM every night, I was just mentioning that some people just do it every other night which might make the routine a little simpler. I don’t wear makeup every day, so I don’t have to worry about taking it off every night. I do find though, that some days when I have worn makeup, if I just use the hot washcloth to steam my face, that most of my makeup dissolves away and then I just massage around my face with the hot washcloth and I think that does a sufficient job of cleaning my face without actually using the oil. If I have mascara or other eye makeup that doesn’t come completely off, I use jojoba oil as eye-makeup remover, and that takes it right off.
      Hope that helps, let me know if you have other questions!

  4. says

    Intriguing. I had not realized that castor oil is actually drying, playing with the ratios as you describe makes sense to me! I’m concerned though about the “hot” “steaming” washcloth that you recommend. What are the chances that a hot cloth several times a day might end up damaging the skin over time? Would a “warm” cloth work just as well? I’d hate to start a great new habit and find years later that it contributed to signs of aging/skin damage…

    • Emily says

      Hi there, thanks for your question.

      I’m not too concerned about the hot, steaming washcloth, it’s really not that hot – it’s not like it’s burning your skin. It cools off pretty quickly as it sits on your face – so I’m not sure a warm washcloth would work because it wouldn’t really steam your face which is what is needed to dissolve the oil and pull the impurities out of your skin.

      I guess for me I am much less concerned about the effects of a hot water washcloth then I am about the toxic chemicals that are in many conventional cleaners – we don’t really know the effects that they have on our skin and aging when used day after day for years and years. Just my thoughts – hope that helps!

  5. says

    I can’t remember how I stumbled on your site but I wanted to thank you for this post! I have wanted to try the OCM and your post has been the easiest for me to understand and translate into use. It has only been 3 days but I like it so far!

      • says

        Emily, I have been keeping up with the OCM and I love it! However…I find that now my skin is pretty dry! Before I was oily/combination. My first batch of cleaner I mixed was for normal/combo skin and now I have mixed a batch for dry skin. I was wondering if you have any ideas or recommendations for moisturizer? Sometimes I use OCM every night, sometimes I used it every other night. I am amazed at how my face is so much LESS oily. Amazing!

  6. Nana Phyllis says

    Thanks for the information. I’m a granny who is happy to learn new things. I’ve been using the olive oil mixture, but next mix I’ll use grapeseed oil. I find the olive oil a little heavy.

  7. laura says

    i’ve been trying this method for a bit over a week now. i had been breaking out pretty severely which had never been a problem, and thought switching the the ocm would help. at first i thought it was amazing because the blemishes on my face really diminshed noticeably with each cleanse. but now a new bout of them have cropped up, just as numerous as the last. i’m using the combo for oiy skin, with olive oil. do you have any suggestions about what to change? i’m trying not to get frustrated, but it’s hard!

  8. PK says

    I know it’s been a long time since you posted this…but I’m considering OCM and wanted to ask further questions regarding makeup removal. Do you mind? Doesn’t using this method make a horrible mess of your washcloths if you wear makeup (even natural mineral makeup) ?? And do you have to buy maaaaany washcloths then if you’re having to use the OCR nightly? Does the makeup and oil wash out of them well and not cause issues with the rest of the laundry in the same load? Sorry…. !

  9. Amira says

    I am very careful applying my face. But this product is made me comfortable to use it. very effective and leave a radiance and fragrance smell.It leaves my face so clean I’m feeling great to apply this on my face.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *