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The Oil Cleansing Method: Does It Really Work?

By Amalah

Hi Amy!
This isn’t a product question, but what do you think about the Oil Cleansing Method? It sounds interesting enough to try, but I’m of course a bit leery about putting pure oil onto an already oily/combo face. I’ve been using Purity Made Simple again since Christmas; do you think it would undo the benefits to wash with that after removing the oil? I just can’t imagine that warm water and a washcloth would remove it enough to not leave an oil slick. I’d really appreciate your opinion!
Thanks, and congrats on your newly expanded family!

I think, like pretty much any skincare regimen, that the oil cleansing method works for some people. And doesn’t work for other people. How’s that for a definitive answer?
My mother-in-law is easily the biggest fan of all-natural…well, EVERYTHING in the world. No hair color, no makeup, organic natural chemical-free skin care from head to toe. She’s always reading about some terrible by-product of something that will kill us all and always looking for something even MORE natural and pure to replace anything that comes in a box with a list of more than four ingredients. She has very, VERY sensitive skin that’s prone to very large blemishes and the one exception to the all-natural rule she’s ever used is a prescription acne cream from her dermatologist. So naturally, she tried the oil cleansing method and praised it to the skies at first. She didn’t need to use her prescription cream anymore! It’s wonderful! Her skin was so soft and clean and free of toxins!
And then her skin broke out in a bad, bad way and she went back to her prescription and her bottled face wash.
So that’s my only point of reference for the washing-with-oil thing. I’ve never tried it personally. I’d give it a try, just for the hell of it, if I ever had a bottle of castor oil on hand or could ever remember to buy some for the sake of experimenting. (The method recommends a 30/70 blend of castor and sunflower seed oils for oily skin.) Like you, I’m imagining quite a mess afterwards, particularly in my hair (pinning back does nothing for a crazy hairline like mine), and I can’t imagine NOT washing my skin in the morning, when I already get a bit of a natural oil slick overnight.
But the important thing to note about the oil method is that it is an OCCASIONAL, DEEP-CLEANSING method. So really, think of it as replacing your face mask (if you use one), not your regular cleanser. Like anything, it can be overdone. Which is perhaps what happened to my MIL, who does tend to go whole hog on her kicks instead of using moderation. Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it can’t mess you up. Overdoing the oil wash can cause dryness, which can cause your skin to overcompensate with MORE oil, which…sounds familiar. Like something I’ve said about any hardcore anti-oil regimen. Over and over again.
So…yeah. The oil cleansing method is just like any skin cleansing method. It might work, it might not, don’t overdo it — but by all means give it a shot, particularly if you’re not happy with your skin and current product lineup but don’t want to spend a lot of money to experiment with something new. Give it a try for a couple weeks and see what you think. (And then write back and tell me what you thought. I do love the updates.)


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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