Oil cleansing is the process of using oil (instead of soap or a cleanser) to dissolve and remove dirt on the skin.
“Cleansing oils are based on the premise that like dissolves like,” dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah of Smart Skin Dermatology tells BuzzFeed Life. In short, an oil filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory properties will dissolve the sometimes pore-clogging oil produced by your face.
To oil cleanse, you need a soft wash cloth and oil.
How to do it:
Place a hot, damp washcloth on the face for 20 seconds. Remove the washcloth, massage your oil of choice into the skin, let the oil sit for 30 seconds, and use a hot washcloth to gently wipe the oil away.
For normal to dry skin, try argan or shea oil.
“These oils tend to hydrate without leaving a greasy feeling on the skin,” dermatologist Dr. David E. Bank, director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, tells BuzzFeed Life.
For oily skin, use a little bit of tea tree or peppermint oil with castor oil.
“Tea tree and peppermint oils have an astringent property that is great for oilier skin,” Dr. Shah says. Mix a small amount of one with a carrier oil (like castor) for a DIY cleanser. “Rose hip oil also tends to have a drying effect, which can be beneficial for people who feel like their skin gets greasy.”
You can even use extra virgin olive oil.
“You can definitely use food-grade oils to clean your face,” says Dr. Shah. “Look for cold-pressed varieties — as oils that are heated up lose a lot of antioxidants and vitamins. And don’t use processed oils like canola or vegetable.”
Oil cleansing can work on all skin types — even acne-prone skin.
“People with oily or acne-prone skin tend to overcleanse and dry out their skin, which can cause the skin to overcompensate for the dryness by producing more oil,” Shah says. “If oil cleansing is done right, it can clean and moisturize the skin without causing irritation, which can be a side effect of harsh cleansers.”
The best part: Oil counts as a facial cleanser and a makeup remover all-in-one.
“Cleansing oil is the most effective way to remove there-to-stay makeup products, from lip stains to nearly glue-on waterproof mascara,” licensed esthetician and skincare coach at New York City’s Savor Spa Jessica Arnaudin tells BuzzFeed Life. For an effective makeup remover that conditions while it cleans, Arnaudin recommends the Organic Pre-Cleanse Oil from Om Aroma & Co.
And if you want to ease into oil cleansing without going full-oil, look for a product that contains some soap.
You might not need a moisturizer if you’re oil cleansing.
If your skin feels hydrated after cleaning your face with oil, forgo a moisturizer. But remember that you should always apply SPF (whether it’s in a lotion or a BB cream) before going outside.
Either way, don’t be afraid to give it a try.
“Since oil has mild properties, it won’t cause irritation or an extreme reaction the way that some harsher products can,” Bank says. “But, if you have very sensitive skin, apply the oil to a test area on the side of your face right in front of your ear to see how your skin reacts.”
The original version of this post has been changed to clarify the type of carrier oil that should be used for oily skin.