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The Mechanics of Cleansing with Oil

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Everyone dreams of having perfect skin, and every day we are inundated with ads for the next new magical, anti-aging, miracle skin products. We see cleansers, exfoliators, chemical peels, facial treatments, masks, scrubs, and…you get my point. What they don’t tell us is that the secret to beautiful skin is something totally counterintuitive, and that secret is oil. Yes, oil!!

Why in the world would I put oil on my face?!

Excellent question! Though it seems totally stupid (because who wants to make their skin oily??), cleansing with oil has proven to be one of the most, if not the most, effective skin cleansing method. The basic idea is that massaging certain oils or combinations of oils into your skin will loosen the natural oils that have hardened with impurities on your skin and gotten stuck in your pores. This process makes it incredibly easy to wipe away dirt without stripping the skin of all oil, leaving your skin somewhat lubricated post-cleansing. As we all learned in grade school science, like dissolves like. Or this case, oil dissolves oil. With this method you can gently cleanse the skin of dirt and bacteria while replacing dirty oil with healing, nourishing oils found in plants. So I guess your question should be: why in the world wouldn’t I put oil on my face?!

I’m still not convinced. My foamy cleanser makes me feel so clean!

Have you ever noticed that when you wash your hair more often than normal, it also starts looking greasy in less time? This is the same idea. I know this whole oil thing sounds crazy because we normally equate “bubbles” with “clean,” but contrary to popular belief foaming cleansers are one of the worst things you can put your skin through. Though products like that do rid the skin of dirt and other impurities, they also take all of the good stuff with it! Most oil cleansers don’t contain surfactants, normally used in foaming soaps, which tend to strip the skin of all oil and send the sebum producers into over drive. In other words, when all of the oil is stripped from the skin, it gets tricked into thinking it needs to produce extra oil which then leads to clogged pores and breakouts. So, when you use these foaming, antibacterial, chemical-filled products, you are actually adding to your skin problems instead of helping them!

Okay, I guess that makes sense. Can any kind of oil be used as a cleanser?

No! Just like all skincare, it is important to keep your specific skin type in mind when picking a cleansing oil. Our favorites at Gifts from The Earth are olive oil, grapeseed oil, and tamanu oil. Olive oil is good for all skin types, it is extremely hydrating, and it is packed with anti-aging antioxidants. It is also rich in vitamins A, D, K, and E and fights bacteria, AKA helps combat acne. Grapeseed oil is also good for all skin types, especially skin that tends to be oily. It contains vitamins C, D, and E (which all help fight signs of aging), antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory, and is very hydrating for the skin. Tamanu oil is also good for all skin types, but it is one of the more expensive oils. It is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, regenerative, healing, moisturizing, and anti-bacterial, all of which help fight acne, aging, and scarring. All of these oils have been being used for thousands of years as skin care in many different ways, check out our post on moisturizers to learn more!

I’m sold! But how do I cleanse with oil? Sounds kind of tricky.

I have good news for you - oil cleansing is incredibly easy! First, thoroughly massage your cleanser (my favorite is our Earthly Dreams Cleansing oil, an awesome makeup remover) into slightly dampened skin. Take your time! You deserve a little pampering. Then, once you feel luxuriously oiled up, splash running water on your skin, then wet a washcloth and wipe all the oil (and dirt!!) from your face. And voila! You’ve done it!

Oil cleansing is truly magical, yet so simple. As always, don’t forget to moisturize after you’re done cleansing. Enjoy your lovely, fresh feeling skin!