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Why You Should Start Cleansing Your Skin With Oil Instead of Face Wash

Addressing the skin's microbiome could prevent acne and eczema.

When it comes to cleaning our faces, some swear by special cleansers and toners, some choose plain old soap, while others just use warm water — but did you know you could wash your face with oil? We get that the whole thing might seem a little counterintuitive, but skincare experts actually say there’s something to an oil cleanse.

The Argument Against Cleansers

According to Denise Cartwright, master esthetician and founder of CRUDE skincare, most of us are over using cleansers and soap in a way that’s harmful to our skin — and our health. “The skin is teeming with living bacteria and fungi that work directly with our immune systems to keep our skin and bodies healthy and in homeostasis — yet most of us wash off these crucial ecosystems with soap on a daily basis,” she says.

Cartwright also argues that harmful ingredients in soaps and cleansers could be at fault for a host of skin conditions. “Modern soap and detergent-based cleansers strip your body of its natural goodness, like your healthy (and helpful) microbiome and all those glorious natural oils that act as your body’s protective shield,” she explains. “Our stripping, bacteria-killing, inflammatory skincare regimens are likely increasing rates of inflammatory diseases like acne and eczema, which are fast on the rise.”

Cartwright also notes that way before we used soap to cleanse our skin, people used natural materials, like oil, for the job. “For centuries, humans relied primarily on natural ingredients like water, oil, and clay to cleanse their skin,” she explains. “It’s important to wash your hands with soap, but chronic use elsewhere on the body is unnecessary and harmful to the skin’s ecosystems.”

Why You Should Oil Cleanse

Alternatively, cleaning the skin with oil preserves these natural ecosystems, known as the skin microbiome. “Oil cleanses the skin deeply yet gently, dissolving even waterproof makeup without stripping the skin,” says Cartwright. “The right oils also support your skin’s microbiome, rather than trying to remove or kill them. Oil also makes a great facial moisturizer, mimicking the skin’s own sebum to help lock vital moisture in the skin.”

The good news is, you can oil cleanse no matter your skin type — yes, even if yours is oily. Cartwright suggests that oil cleansing can actually help balance all skin and won’t result in breakouts. “Oil cleansing is great for all skin types, including oily or acne-prone skin,” she says. “By replacing the stripping, inflammatory suds with natural, organic oils, you allow your skin, its natural moisture barrier, and its microbiome to come back into homeostasis — whether you’re dry, oily, or have combination skin. Some of the best oil cleansing testimonials I’ve seen came from people with oily skin!”

How to Oil Cleanse Your Face

Starting your oil cleanse routine is simple: First, wet your face with warm water to open up your pores. Then, massage a quarter-size amount of oil (you can use a noncomedogenic oil like sweet almond oil (Buy on Amazon, $12.49), or one like this Cleanse formula from CRUDE) into your damp skin for at least a minute, allowing it to remove any makeup and impurities to the surface. Next, wet a washcloth with warm water and ring it out. Use the damp cloth to wipe away all makeup, dirt, and oil in small circular motions. Finally, use a few drops of oil as needed to infuse the skin with moisture. That’s it! There’s no need to apply another moisturizer afterwards, either.

And remember, there are tons of facial oils on the market. When choosing one to clean your face with, go with ingredients you recognize. “At CRUDE we use natural, organic ingredients like sunflower oil and aloe vera in our cleansers — we’re completely soap and detergent-free. Our cleansers are also among the first in the world to be certified Microbiome-Friendly,” says. Cartwright

We hope this simple oil cleansing routine is something you find easy to add to your own little self care ritual every night. Small, informed shifts like these can help us look and feel our best!

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