You might have heard the term oil cleansing being used within you circles. You might have thought it absurd and that it’s only the latest fad. Well, we’re here to tell you that the rumours are true. Oil cleansing is an age old practice originally used by the ancient Romans and Greeks.

Oil cleansing has been proven to provide deep skin cleansing results that are similar or even better than that of soap. If you haven’t tried an oil cleanser or would just like or know more about it and how it works, read on!

Here we will have a quick overview of the origins of oil cleansing, the benefits of using an oil cleanser and the correct method of oil cleansing, specifically for your face. We hope that this information will help you make the best cleansing decision for your skin.

Origins of oil cleansing

Before the industrial production of soap in the 19th century, oil was used to cleanse the skin. We know that ancient Romans and Greeks rubbed their wet bodies with pumice and ash before applying olive oil. They then used a curved tool, called a strigil, to scrape this muck, which included accumulated dirt, from their bodies. Thereafter they would take warm baths to rinse off any excess oil and dirt.

Roman Bronze and Silver Strigil
Image Source: Mary Harrsch – Bronze & Silver Strigil

The benefits of oil cleansing vs. conventional soap

There is a huge misconception that using oil on your face only creates more oil, more breakouts and leaves an oily residue. For years commercial skin care companies have told us we need to remove the oil from our skin, using soap like cleansers. The problem is that drying out your facial skin can actually stimulate your skin’s natural oil production in an effort to rebalance itself. Or you could end up on the other end of the scale, with very dry and inflamed skin. It depends on your particular skin type and how it reacts to these stimulants.

Oil on the other hand penetrates the skin deeper, which means that it is more effective at lifting out and dissolving dirt that can clog pores and cause breakouts and blackheads. It also works exceptionally great as a makeup remover. Then instead of stripping your skin of its natural protective barrier called the acid mantle, the way soap does, it feeds the skin with essential fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants that are naturally present in the oil. These nutrients would otherwise need to be supplemented by additional moisturisers or serums after cleansing with soap.

This makes oil cleansers a highly effective and affordable skincare product, because of its multi-tasking capabilities.

Woman in bathroom cleansing her face with an oil cleanser

Oil cleansing method

  1. Place ½ to 1½ teaspoons of oil/cleansing balm in the palm of your hand. Massage gently (if it’s a balm) to emulsify. Apply the oil to your dry face, using your fingertips to gently massage the oil into the skin. Continue for a minute or two to remove impurities like makeup and dead skin cells, and let it penetrate the skin.

  2. Use a damp, warm washcloth to gently wipe away the oil. Be careful not to press too hard or scrub at your skin, as this can irritate the skin and cause breakouts. A smooth, soft washcloth is best. You can also rinse with warm water if you want some of the oil to stay on your skin. Your face should be hydrated when you’re done, but not greasy or overly irritated from wiping it down.

  3. Pat dry with a towel and apply moisturiser if your skin still feels dry.

Now that you know the basics of oil cleansing, why don’t you give it a try and see if it works for your skin. Have a look at our Tameless Cleansing Balm here.

  • The Fragrant Pharmacy- Valerie Ann Worwood