Oil Cleansing: Everything you need to know
Updated: Aug 19
Not sure where to start? Worried about greasy skin? We've got all the answers right here.
Oil cleansing is a skincare topic that really divides. For every OCM evangelist (that's oil cleansing method to the uninitiated), there's someone terrified that applying an oil to their skin will break them out. Given that I created a business centred around plant oils, you can guess which side of the fence I sit on: I think oil is miraculous for the skin. It's gentle enough to use on even the most sensitive skin, and if you choose wisely, oil balances your skin like nothing else. It's nourishing, restoring and moisturising, and it can transform your skincare routine. Devotees generally find themselves becoming more and more confident without makeup, and you tend to find that the OCM crowd can afford to keep their makeup minimal: our skin glows on its own.
I remember first learning about oil cleansing back in 2008, when the trend was to cleanse with coconut oil (generally a terrible oil for most people!) Even though coconut wasn't great for my skin, I was astonished at how easily and quickly it broke down my makeup, so I decided to experiment. First I tried olive oil (too rich), then sweet almond oil (perfect for the body, but a little too greasy for the face), and then I graduated to the wonderful world of online oil suppliers. I tried everything I could get my hands on - from Acai to Yangu - and once I'd tried them all individually, I started to combine them. I must have mixed hundreds of combinations of oils!
My goal was to create my dream cleansing oil and I knew that I wanted a blend that had three key characteristics: it had to be light enough to never leave a residue after cleansing; it had to be balancing - keeping skin in the sweet spot between supple and moisturised without ever being oily and; it had to be anti-inflammatory, to ensure skin looks calm and feels comfortable.
I believed that - if I could create a blend that achieved these three things - I would have a cleanser that works for everyone. Five years on, I have customers of all ages, both female and male, and with all different skin types. I have customers with rosacea who tell me Purity keeps their skin from flaring; people with acne who have finally found relief and a cleanser that works for them; foundation junkies who are now going makeup-free; and men who tell me their beards have never been softer! It truly is a wonder product, and I think it deserves its five-star rating.
So, if all of this has you interested, let me share everything I know about oil cleansing, and why I believe it's the only way to care for your skin.
Not all oils are created equal
As you'll already have guessed from my endless experiments with plant oils, their properties vary greatly. Some are unscented, while others have extremely strong aromas (I'll never forget my first - and last - sniff of pomegranate oil!); some clog pores and others clear them; some are absorbed in a flash and others would sit on the skin until wiped away. They each contain unique blends of fatty acids which affect their texture, weight and how they impact the skin. For example, oils high in linoleic acid are wonderful for acne-prone skin, whereas stearic acid supports the skin's barrier function, helping it to retain moisture. Finding the sweet spot of fatty acids, vitamins and omegas was my biggest challenge when creating Purity to ensure that it would keep skin clear, nourished and looking its best, whilst also being enjoyable to use, beautifully-scented and light enough not to leave a residue. Can you see why I created those hundreds of blends?
The Comodogenic Scale
The Comodogenic Scale rates oils based on how likely they are to block your pores. All oils are rated on a scale from 0-5 (oils rated zero won't block your pores at all, whereas 5s are pretty much guaranteed to). Oils like coconut and flax score 4, and even the very trendy carrot seed oil scores a hefty 3-4. Many 0-scoring oils sadly didn't pass the scent test for me, so even though hemp scores 0, I found the scent too much for my morning cleanse. That's when I discovered Absyinnian oil, Purity's main ingredient. 0 on the scale, extremely light and easily absorbed, unscented, and high in erucic acid which supports cell turnover, I'd found a true hero oil to form the base of my blend. On top of that, I added black seed and jojoba - the best ingredients I'd found for calming and balancing skin. The more I used Purity, the more even my skin tone became, and I watched as - week by week - my blackheads started to melt away. Comodogenicity is hugely important, and cleansing with a comodogenic oil is the number one reason that people have a bad experience with OCM. With Purity, you need never worry about blocking your pores, as it's designed to clear them.
The main question: does oil cleansing cause breakouts?
If you choose the right oil, you will not be adding any congestion to your skin, but a very small percentage of people will experience what's known in the OCM community as a 'purge'. Purging simply means that your skin is clearing some of the gunk that lurks below the surface and it generally clears within a week to reveal beautiful, glowing skin that will rarely break out again. When I first started oil cleansing, I had a small purge, but since then, my hormonal breakouts have become a thing of the past, and I can probably count the number of spots I've had on my fingers, which is a complete transformation from my previously temperamental skin. If a purge lasts longer than 7-10 days, it's a sign the oil isn't right for you.
It really won't make my skin greasy?
Again, this comes down to the oil.
leaves absolutely no residue, and it's so light that it can even be used as a moisturiser and it works perfectly under makeup. The same can't be said for all oils, though, so it's important to choose wisely. If you left the house covered in coconut oil, you could expect your makeup to break down and slide away in less than an hour. A lightweight oil like Purity will never leave you looking greasy: it leaves you glowing!
Oil cleansing: how to
All you will need is your oil, a clean face cloth and some warm water. You don't need a separate eye makeup remover as your oil will breakdown every bit of dirt and makeup in sight. I promise you: once you cleanse with an oil, you'll never look back!
How often to cleanse
Frequency is really down to personal preference but I like to use Purity twice per day: once in the morning and again in the evening. I love the ritual of massaging my skin in the morning, and removing my makeup at night is the cornerstone of my self-care routine. If I'm wearing makeup, I will cleanse twice, and I use a fresh face cloth morning and night (yes, I own 14 face cloths which provides me with a week's supply and keeps the laundry demands down to once per week!). You'll find your rhythm once you start.
When I created Purity, I was really trying to reduce the number of beauty and skincare products I used, but I had no idea just how multifunctional oils - especially Purity - could be. Not only do I use Purity to cleanse, but it's my summer moisturiser, my weekly hair treatment, I use it if I get cuts or burns and I am generally never far from a bottle! Oils can be used for so many different purposes that - once you find a perfect blend - you will realise you're slowly retiring everything else in your beauty routine.
So, that's almost everything I know about oil cleansing: can you see why I love it? If you have any questions that you'd like me to answer, please let me know in the comments below.