What is oil cleansing?
Everything You Need to Know About the Oil Cleansing Method
Most of us grew up thinking we needed to wash our face with something that foams. Big suds wash dirt off our hands. So we need a soapy lather to wash our face too, right?
Skincare enthusiasts everywhere are ditching foaming washes in favour of cleansing oils. That's right, we're using oils to wash our face. And you should too! That's why we've devoted this article to everything oil cleansing.
It’s never too late to switch up your skincare. When we know better, we do better! Read to the end to find out how you can add the oil cleansing method to your routine and a product recommendation fit for everyone from the over-dry to the acne prone!
What is Oil Cleansing and How Does it Work?
Oil cleansing is a method of face washing that uses - you guess it - oil!
It works like this:
Cleansing oil(s) dissolve the oils, including dirt, sebum and makeup on our skin. It works on the chemical principle, like dissolves like. Cleansing oils must be biocompatible with our skin. In other words, they must share similar properties.
Some people do the oil cleansing method with a single oil such as coconut, olive or avocado. Or you can choose from one of the hundreds of cleansing oils made by skincare companies big and small. These products (also sometimes called a cleansing balm) are a combination of oils.
Purists use products containing only oil. But some beauty companies still include a surfactant or binding agent.
Surfactants are the chemical compounds that break up oils so that they can be washed away. They create detergents to remove dirt from clothing and foams to cleanse sebum from skin. Also called surface active agents, surfactants in skincare wash away "bad oils" like dirt and makeup. But they also wash away "good oils" that are present on the skin to protect us from moisture loss.
Oil cleansers don't wash away our skin's natural oils - which are important to healthy skin function. But what are the other benefits of oil cleansing?
What are the Benefits?
So why should you choose the oil cleansing method? Here's my top 3 reasons:
A Deeper Clean
Oil cleansing is a deeper clean than foam/cream. Remember, cleansing oils are like the oils in your skin's natural composition. By working with the natural properties of your skin, a cleansing oil travels deeper into your pores.
Oil cleansing does not exfoliate. Your skin has its own process for shedding dead skin cells. Oil cleansing supports this process by ensuring excess doesn't get trapped. This is what causes clogged pores.
Cleansing oils are also multipurpose. They wash off thick mineral sunscreen easily and work as a makeup remover too! Even stubborn waterproof mascara melts away with oil cleansers.
Repair Skin Barrier
You know those skin stripping surfactants I mentioned earlier? When you wash away your skin's good oils, you cause damage to what's called the moisture barrier. It plays an important role - to keep moisture locked in and keep irritants out.
By choosing the oil cleansing method, you let your skin heal from that damage. Natural oil levels replenish and your skin barrier gets stronger.
Our skin is like the rest of our body: it has its own processes that when disrupted lead to bigger issues. Think of your digestion – when we eat irritating foods it can’t do its job well. Our skin is no different – when we put damaging ingredients on our face, it can’t function properly.
A cleansing oil that is close to nature will be gentle and effective on your skin so that it can get back to doing what it does best.
Heals Dry Skin
Oil cleansing heals dry skin on your face, which we know is the #1 skin concern out there. No one likes flaky patches. And the truth is dryness makes our fine lines and wrinkles more visible. Yikes!
Keeping skin hydrated isn't only about the moisturizer you slather on after cleansing. It's also about how you take wash it in the first place. Cleansing oils ensure skin never gets over-dry because it doesn't take the good oils away with the bad.
For this reason, a cleansing oil should be part of every anti aging skin care routine. Mature skin is usually begging for extra moisture every chance it gets. The first step is to avoid taking away the limited hydration that remains.
How to Use a Cleansing Oil in Your Skincare Routine
Before you embark on an oil cleansing ritual, remember that moderation is key. A little oil cleanser goes a long way. To avoid over-washing (yes, it's a thing!), we recommend oil cleansing only at night.
If you MUST wash your face in the morning, choose an oil cleanser. Anything else will be too harsh on your skin after it's done all that work to repair itself while you sleep! After a night's rest, your skin only needs a gentle refresh. A splash or a washcloth of warm water will do the trick!
Traditional Double Cleansing
The oil cleansing method became well-known as the fist step in double cleansing. First popularized by K-beauty, double cleaning involves washing your face twice. First, you use an oil-based cleanser to remove dirt, makeup and pollution. Then, you wash your face again with a water-based product.
There is merit to double cleansing. We love it because it's introduced a lot of people to cleansing oil products who have never tried one before.
But we're fans of skinimalism too. So let's check out a second way to add oil cleansing to your skincare routine.
Double Cleansing, Simplified
Oil cleansing with one product is itself already a “double cleanse”. First with oil, then with water.
The cleansing oil dissolves dirt and sebum, and pushes it up to the skin's surface. Then you rinse with water, washing away both the oils from your cleanser and the oils from your pores.
And now you're asking, "But oil and water don't mix, so how does everything get washed away"? Great question.
First, we recommend getting a soft washcloth damp with warm water. Use this to rinse off your cleansing oil and make sure there's no leftover residue.
Second, embrace a different feeling of clean skin. If you've been using a harsh cleanser, you know the "squeaky" clean (and likely over-dry) feeling. Skin after oil cleansing feels clean and smooth but not tight.
Try it yourself:
- Dampen skin with warm (never hot!) water
- Apply about 5 pumps of cleansing oil to fingertips and move in small circular movements on the face. Use more product if removing heavy or waterproof makeup.
- Rinse with warm water
- Gently wipe face with a damp washcloth to remove any lingering residue of oil.
- Follow with toner, treatment, moisturizer and sunscreen.
Our skin needs to adapt to the oil cleansing method. You may break out when they first use a cleansing oil. Don't panic! This is normal. Let me explain why this happens.
A quality oil cleanser or cleansing balm is travelling deeper into your pores than a foam/cream. Trapped dirt, dead skin cells or excess sebum will be pushed to the skin's surface. Even if you don't usually struggle with acne, this may cause blemishes to appear. Depending on your skin type, you may see lots of little black dots, almost like “blackheads”. These are just bits of sebum that have finally reached the surface and once exposed to light, oxidize and look dark in colour.
Have you ever started your Spring cleaning and thought, "wow this house was dirtier than it looked!". That's what happens when you oil cleanse for the first time. Your skin looks "clean" (blemish free) on the surface, but the cleansing oil finds dirt deeper in your pores. It's like looking behind the fridge or under the couch!
Likewise, if you do have acne prone skin, oil cleansing may break you out even more in the beginning. But stick with it! With regular use over 2-3 weeks, skin will clear and balance. Use a product for at least 30 days if you have hormonal acne.
Our Oil Recommendation
There are many plant-derived oils that are used for oil cleansing, but one stands supreme: hemp seed oil.
Here's why hemp seed oil makes the perfect cleansing oil:
- Non-comedogenic (rating of 0) - it will not clog mores
- Similar to skin's oils - effective like dissolves like
- Omegas 3 and 6 - essential fatty acids nourish the skin
- Regulates oil production - not too oily, not too dry
- Hydrating - maintains healthy moisture level
- Anti inflammatory - heals stressed out skin like acne, eczema, redness
- Safe for use on all skin types
- Blends well with other oils
What’s more, hemp seed oil has a rating of 1-2 with the Environmental Working Group. It’s safe for human use and the environment.
Hemp Face Wash for Acne
Empyri's hemp face wash is for everyone, including those with acne!
With hempseed oil as the main carrier, our oil cleanser does not clog pores and regulates oil production. With regular use, it will clear acne and keep skin hydrated without getting greasy.
Our cleansing oil also features:
- Meadowfoam seed oil – closely resembles the skin, absorbs well for a deep clean
- Hemp roots – contain high concentrations of friedelin, an anti inflammatory compound to soothe redness, irritation and breakouts
- Essential oil blend – lavender, rosemary, bergamot and neroli share antibacterial and antifungal properties
- Organic formula – zero preservatives, zero emulsifiers
Empyri’s hemp face wash is a true oil cleanser because there’s nothing but oils! Remember, acne prone skin may breakout in the beginning of an oil cleansing journey. Long-term, it will be worth the “purging” phase.
Did I mention that it smells amazing? It brings a little but of the spa into your own bathroom at home. Our customers love the way it leaves skin feeling soft and smooth, fresh and hydrated.
Final Word on Oil Cleansing
The oil cleansing method is a gentle and effective way to wash your face. It uses oils that resemble our skin’s natural properties to dissolve dirt using the chemical process of like dissolves like. Oil cleansing achieves a deeper clean than foaming washes, repairs the skin barrier and maintains healthy hydration. You can oil cleanse on its own or as part of a double cleansing ritual.
Either way, oil cleansing is for everyone! It’s an easy and effective way to dissolve your day.
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Author Bio: Jennifer is the president and founder of empyri. Jennifer’s passion for formulation and product development was set ablaze in 2019, when she incorporated the healing power of cannabis roots into her long-standing three-step skin care system. Armed with scientific evidence on the actives in cannabis roots and seeds, a clean and conscious brand was born. Using her masters degree in bio-chemical engineering, Jennifer is forging a path to ...READ FULL BIO