Decades ago, I complained to my friend Vanessa about the blackheads on my nose. She recommended washing with oil, but I ignored her advice. More oil on my oily skin? It didn’t make sense. Now I wish I’d listened to her, all those years ago. Because oil cleansing is a game changer. Over the past few weeks, the practice has DRAMATICALLY changed the way my skin looks and feels. But I had to learn how to do it — the right way.
From middle school on, I hated the tiny pools of oil that coagulated into minuscule, dark-brown plugs in the large pores on the top and sides of my nose. I tried everything — from facial scrubs to masks — and these techniques worked great to minimize blackheads but never eliminated them. I went to facialists who sold me products that only seemed to work for the few days after the visit. Finally, I just stopped looking in the magnifying mirror. But, a few months ago, I remembered what Vanessa had told me about oil cleansing.
How to use oils
I had already been getting into oils — especially new techniques for using them, like slugging. As I get older, my skin is becoming more dry and less elastic, and I find good, natural oils to be essential for retaining moisture and plumpness.
I use oils at night, after cleansing, and in the morning, after I rinse my face with warm water, the first thing I do is smooth a light oil onto my damp skin and then wait for it to absorb before I put on my tinted SPF moisturizer. The result is dewy, not greasy.
The TikTok connection
But I never contemplated using oil — instead of a sudsing agent like a face wash or bar soap — when I washed my face at night. Until I read about the new oil cleansing skincare beauty craze, which is (just like slugging) powered by TikTok.
Then I remembered Vanessa’s advice: “At night, rub oil into your skin and then rinse it off with warm water,” she said. “The oil melts them — like how you get tar off your feet. You can’t wash tar off with soap, right? Same thing with blackheads. You need oil to remove oil. It’s the only way.”
Why cleanse with oil
According to proponents, oil cleansing can remove oil, clogged pores, and dead skin. Traditional cleansers do that too — but they also can strip your skin of oil, causing it to produce more. In fact, a 2010 study found that oil cleansing helps mature skin retain moisture. People who regularly cleanse with oil say their skin feels hydrated after washing and before moisturizing.
Sign me up.
How to cleanse with oil
So, I tried oil cleansing at night. Here’s the technique I used:
1. Put a teaspoon of oil in the palm of your hand and rub between your palm to disperse.
2. Massage the oil into your face and use your fingertips to concentrate on the areas where you have blocked pores and where you are wearing makeup – especially waterproof eye makeup. (A good oil should not sting your eyes.)
3. Massage for at least one minute (more is better).
4. Use a clean, dry washcloth to gently wipe off the oil and makeup residue.
5. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
6. Wet the clean side of the washcloth with warm water and rub the skin gently, in circular motions, then rinse one (or more) times with warm water.
7. Gently pat dry.
From the very first time I tried this, I noticed a difference. My skin felt clean, but also hydrated — in the morning, it had retained more moisture and felt plumper.
As with any new skincare regime, you can try oil cleansing a few times a week to see if it’s right for you. I recommend doing it at night, and rinsing with warm water in the morning. Once you’ve phased it into your regular routine, it may take a few weeks for your skin to fully adjust and for you to see the full benefits.
Does oil cleansing eliminate blackheads?
After about two weeks of oil cleansing every night following the steps listed above, I returned to the magnifying mirror. I now have significantly fewer blocked pores and blackheads, and my fine lines are much more smooth. Amazing!
Special skin concerns
If your skin is not dry or mature, like mine, after oil cleansing you may not need to hydrate at all! Those with acne-prone skin may want to follow the oil cleanse with a gentle sudsing cleanser.
What oil to use for cleansing
Use a clean, light, single-source oil like jojoba, argan, or rosehip. I actually love coconut oil for cleansing — the scent makes me feel like I’m on vacation. Just make sure that you don’t mix up the jar you use for cooking!
Have you tried oil cleansing?
I am DYING to know what people think of oil cleansing. Have you tried it — did it make a difference? If not, do you want to — and what are you waiting for? Please tell me all about it, in comments below. Thanks!