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Why You Should Wash Your Face With Oil Instead Of Water

Oil cleansing can be a total game changer for just about any skin type and condition. Although it may seem counterintuitive to wash your face with oil, it’s actually brilliant, and I’ll tell you why. An oil cleanser dissolves excess oils on your skin, as well as makeup and sunblock—without any of the surfactants, harsh ingredients, or necessary preservatives in foaming cleansers. This means that your face gets a super-deep clean, without any “stripping,” or disruption of the skin’s natural microbiome. Because this cleanse is so thorough, I usually recommend that clients oil cleanse at night only, and just rinse with water in the morning.

After switching to oil cleansing clients often notice clearer, softer, brighter skin, fewer blackheads, more balanced oil production (less “why is my skin oily and dry at the same time?”) and a sense of ritual and grounding in their nighttime routine. My favorite oil cleanser of the moment is MyHavtorn Hydrating Oil Cleanser ($30), a Swedish brand that uses very high-quality sea buckthorn oil blended with sesame, rapeseed, castor, and coconut oil, and some healing shea butter. You can also just try just a high-quality plain jojoba oil (you’ll know it’s the real deal if it turns solid in the freezer) like Stillpoint Aromatics Organic Jojoba (from $12).

Oil Cleansing for Beautiful Skin

If you’re wearing heavier makeup, start by removing that. I love a little oil cleanser and water on cotton pads for this. This regular oil-cleansing routine is enough to remove light makeup, though.

Step 1

Rinse face with warm water, then pat dry.

Step 2

Dispense a nickel- to quarter-size amount of oil into palm, spread over both hands, and apply to full face and neck.

Step 3

Massage! Take a full minute to work the oil into your skin. Focus on areas of congestion (hello T-zone!) as well as areas of muscular tension (like the jaw). This is an opportunity to give your face some love, dissolve some of the tension of the day, and tend to the deeper layers of your skin by increasing circulation of blood and lymph, as you deep clean your pores.

Step 4

Warm washcloth removal! This step is KEY to oil cleansing working for you. Wring out your washcloth, drape it over your full face, and press the warmth into the skin. Next, remove all of the oil with the washcloth. This may require multiple passes. Be thorough but not rough. Added bonus—this gives you a bit of gentle exfoliation!

Follow with the rest of your regular nighttime skin ritual!