Your Top 5 Oil Cleansing Questions Answered (From Our Holistic Esthetician)

Cleansing your face with oil can feel counterintuitive – especially if you already have plenty of natural oil production or are more prone to breaking out.

This method of washing your face might not make a whole lot of sense if you’ve bought into the lie that oil-free is the best solution for balancing the skin and saying good-bye to blackheads.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Whether your skin is oil-rich and you reach for your oil blotting sheets by noon or you’re trying to desperately rebuild hydration or you’re suffering from some serious sensitivities, starting your skincare routine with a cleansing oil might just be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Since the Oil Cleansing Method works a bit differently than your typical foaming or cream cleansers, I’m answering your top 5 oil cleansing questions to help give you the clarity and confidence you need to navigate this new way of washing your face.

1. Does oil cleansing really get my face clean?

Short answer: 100%

Long answer: Let’s take it back to science class quick.

Based on the scientific principle that like dissolves like, oil cleansing utilizes beneficial oils that deeply purify pores, detoxify impurities and dissolve build-up – they also effectively break up makeup!

While it may seem like conventional cleansers, soaps and scrubs are getting the job done, they’re actually full of ingredients that can worsen sensitive skin conditions, cause premature aging and aggravate acne. Sulfates, phthalates, fragrances + PEG compounds are irritants and allergens which strip skin of its own natural (and very beneficial!) sebum production.

Cleansing oils are the best way to cleanse and nourish the skin (natural oils are SO powerful in their ability to beautify and balance) while still keeping its natural moisture barrier in-tact. The best news? Oil cleansing supports all skin states when the correct oil ratios/types of oils are being used – even for our oil-rich and acne-prone friends. 😉

2. What is the best cleanser/formula for my skin?

Whether you have sensitive, combination, dry, aging, or even acne-prone skin, the Oil Cleansing Method can help to seriously improve the health and appearance of your skin. And when it comes to choosing the right formula for you, this is where tuning into your skin is everything.

Since our skin state can shift depending on the season, stress levels, lifestyle habits and so many other internal + external factors, we suggest picking the correct formula for your current skin state.

That might sound obvious, but the truth is, many of us still categorize our skin as oily or sensitive or acne-prone or fill-in-the-blank when, in reality, the natural (and beautiful, might I add) aging process has led to new, unique needs – and requires completely different skincare products and approaches to support your new skin state. Take note if your complexion has actually shifted since your oil-blotting teenage years!

Skin State Tip: Check out this skin quiz to help you discover your current skin state and this blog post where I walk you through a few ways to learn to listen to what your skin is communicating!

You may also find that after incorporating oil cleansing into your daily skincare ritual for a few months, your complexion becomes more balanced and you need to swap to a new formula!

For oil-rich complexions, you could experience more balanced oil production and fewer breakouts and want to switch from the Oily Cleansing Oil to the Normal Cleansing Oil. Or for more combination skin states who typically use the Normal Cleansing Oil, when the colder winter months arrive, you may want to switch to the Dry Cleansing Oil to keep skin balanced as the seasons change.

Cleansing Oil Tip: You can always try out the 2 oz. cleansing oil size and see how your skin responds! Then you can commit to the larger bottle or swap it for a better-suited formula for where your skin is currently at.

3. Will it make me breakout?

Honest answer: It might – BUT just in the beginning. After a possible purging/detoxing phase from using conventional cleansers, your skin will feel balanced and breakouts will become an afterthought – no oil blotting sheets needed.

Over the years we’ve been sold the lie that soaps, scrubs and suds are best for balancing oil production. However, traditional cleansers are actually full of ingredients that can lead to inflammatory skin conditions, cause breakouts, blackheads and strip skin of its own natural (and very beneficial!) sebum production. And skin that’s stripped with harsh cleansers or chemicals (which sadly, is often the go-to acne protocol) can go into a state of shock and start to overproduce sebum to make up for the lack of oil – which ultimately creates this cascade of excess oil production and even more acne.

This is why we’re such big believers in the oil cleansing method – especially for oil-rich skin states.

Remember my answer from question #1? Like attracts like. And we’ve blended a combination of oils specifically for oil-rich and acne-prone complexions that are known to detoxify impurities, break up makeup, balance excess oil and minimize pore-clogging buildup – all without stripping the skin and forcing it to over-produce sebum.

Similar to transitioning to natural deodorant, some people can experience a purging process (your skin may get worse for about a week or two) after swapping out your conventional cleanser with a cleansing oil – but we strongly encourage you to stick it out as it may just take a little bit of time for your skin to fully adjust!

Give it time and trust the process, guys – the results will. be. worth. it.

4. When and how often do I oil cleanse?

Depending on your skin state, we recommend oil cleansing every day as the 1st step in your evening skincare ritual.

When it comes to cleansing, less is more. Over cleansing won’t actually control your acne or clean your face more effectively. Over cleansing (especially with a chemical-filled cleanser) can actually breakdown and weaken the skin barrier – leading to dry, dehydrated and damaged skin. Cleansing just once a day before bedtime is sufficient for healthy, balanced skin!

AM Cleanse: You may have heard that cleansing your skin in the morning is a must, or maybe you just want to feel fresh and sweat-free after your morning workout, but washing your face first thing in the morning may not be the best option for balanced skin. Start your mornings by simply splashing your skin with warm water and spritz this antibacterial mist to refresh and balance.

My advice? Again, let your skin guide you. Take note of how your skin feels after cleansing.

Does your skin feel tight? Alternate between a cleansing oil and a gentle goat milk cleansing bar (this could also be a good option for a post-workout cleanser!). Then spritz a complexion mist to replenish skin and boost hydration after cleansing if your skin is still thirsty. Does your skin feel soft and balanced? Stick with it, you’ve found a cleansing routine that works for you!

5. How do I do it correctly?

This 2-minute cleansing ritual is not only going to change your skin, but it’s going to change how you view your nightly skincare routine. From the aromatherapy benefits of pure essential oils, the stress-relieving + tension-melting facial massage and the warmth from the hot washcloth, oil cleansing is practically a mini spa moment before bed. 🙂

Here’s how to get the most out of your Oil Cleansing Method:

    • Massage a quarter-sized amount of the correct oil formulation for your skin type onto dry skin for at least one minute. Not only does this step feel so relaxing and help to stimulate circulation in the skin, this part is crucial for proper cleansing! Pay special attention to problem areas, allowing the oil to dissolve makeup, impurities and sebum that have built up in your pores. Breathe and just enjoy!


    • Wet a soft, clean washcloth with warm water and let it sit on the skin until it cools. The warmth + steam will help to open pores and purify (plus, it just feels oh-so good!).


    • Remove with washcloth, working in upward, circular motions to remove the product and makeup.
      Repeat with the other side of the washcloth, if needed!


  • Follow up with Complexion Mist/Everything Spray and your Skin-Specific Serum and Beauty Cream.

More of a visual learner? Me too. Check out my OCM tutorial here!

Aside from the proper steps, we also have a lot of customers ask if they can use the cleansing oil as a moisturizer. While we don’t typically suggest using this formula for a moisturizer, in the rare case when you find yourself without a serum or beauty cream, you can totally apply a light layer to replenish your skin after cleansing!

Cleansing Tip: Want to take oil cleansing to the next level? Try double cleansing! You can alternate between these 2 techniques a few times a week based on how your skin is feeling.

It’s important to feel out your skin and figure out how it’s responding to the double cleansing technique. More makeup + pollution? You may need to double cleanse daily. Fresh-faced + fresh air? This cleansing method can be done just a few times a week. Try it out and see how your skin responds!

Okay, guys, I hope this post helped to clear the air about our favorite way to wash your face! Cleansing your skin with oil isn’t just a topic that’s trending, it’s truly the key to clean, balanced and healthy skin – and I can’t wait for you to experience it. XO

Do you have a cleansing oil question we didn’t answer above? Drop it below!


Not sure about washing your face with oil? Click here for our Holistic Esthetician's answers to your top 5 oil cleansing questions! | Primally Pure Skincare

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Courtney O’Connor

Courtney Joy O’Connor is Primally Pure’s In-House Holistic Esthetician and Content Curator. Being in the beauty industry for over a decade, her experience + expertise with pure products, the healing power of touch and holistic skincare rituals are at the core of all she creates. She has trained extensively with industry experts across the country to offer her community the most educational content and transformative treatments. Courtney lives at the beach with her plant babies and loves road tripping, blending superfood bliss balls and exploring our big, beautiful world.