In recent months, oil has gone from a bad word in beauty, to a buzzword. Oil cleansing is all the rage, and for good reason.
At first, the concept might seem a little bizarre, since most of us try to avoid oily and greasy skin products at all costs. However, using oils to cleanse the skin has many benefits and some people find that it works better for their skin than using a traditional facial cleanser.
As a dermatologist, the most common question by my patients is why oil cleansing works. The reason is very simple: Oil cleansing is based on the principal of "like dissolves like." Thus, the cleansing oil binds to excess oils already on the skin (either naturally produced sebum or oils in makeup and other skin care products), dirt and other impurities and allow them to be rinsed away. Unlike some cleansers that may strip the skin of its oil – ironically, resulting in even more oil production as the skin tries to compensate – oil cleansing tends to keep the skin's natural oil in balance.
Another common concern is that women fear that oil cleansing will clog the pores. But rather than sinking into the pores and clogging them, it actually cleans them by dissolving oils hardened with impurities that are stuck in the pore.
Surprisingly, oil cleansing can be used on any skin type, from dry to oily; however, I do suggest that individuals with oily or acne-prone skin proceed with a bit more caution. It's important to choose an oil that is suitable for your skin type. Looking for the right oil for your skin type? Look no further.
For dry skin:
Oils that are known for their hydrating properties, such as olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil, are best for dry skin. These oils are rich in fatty acids which help nourish and hydrate dry skin.
For oily skin:
Tea tree oil has many beneficial properties for acne-prone skin. (Use according to instructions.)
For dark spots:
Rose hip seed oil works wonders.
Remember: You can use food grade oils, but try to pick cold-pressed varieties and avoid oils that have been processed too much like canola or vegetable oils.
Okay, you've got your oil, but how do you actually use it to cleanse the skin?
Here are the steps I recommend:
1. Massage the oil directly onto the skin.
2. Either steam the face or apply a hot (not so hot that you get burned but hot enough to create a bit of steam) wash cloth to the face. The steam helps with penetration into the pores and loosens buildup within the pores making cleansing more effective (steam does not actually open pores).
3. Use a warm washcloth to gently wipe the oil away. You may have to do this a few times to ensure all the oil is off your skin.
If you're not ready to commit fully to DIY oil cleansing, there are several great oil cleansers readily available on the shelf, such as Boscia's Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil, Tatcha's Pure Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, or Tata Harper's Nourishing Cleansing Oil.
Oil cleansing, although not for everyone, has several benefits and works wonders for some people, so if you're not happy with your current skin cleansing regimen it might be time to give oil cleansing a try.