THE TRUE OIL CLEANSING METHOD - The “Dry Oil Cleansing Method”

         This blog was originally posted in April 2015 and has been updated.

I discovered oil cleansing by accident many years ago. It was the 90’s and I was using sesame and almond oil as moisturizers, even though my friends thought it was crazy, and told me that my skin would break out, I did it anyway. I argued that the skin produces sebum to moisturize and protect itself, and oils naturally mimic sebum. I also knew that drier skin breaks down faster and was more prone to lines, so nutrient-rich plant oils fit into my skin care ritual perfectly. 

A little later when I was advancing through cosmetology school, I was seeing an esthetician who I shared my skin oil moisturizing theory with and she told me that although she "admired my experimental thinking," she believed that the oils I was applying “did no good because they didn’t absorb fully.” I argued that the oils were moisturizing and repairing by reinforcing the skin's protective barrier. I knew I was right and continued moisturizing with nut and seed oils and began making new blends for myself as well that included shea butter and beeswax. 

I respected this esthetician very much, she had her own ideas about skin care that I hadn’t heard before, so she was great fun to talk with. She explained to me how she believed tap water dries the skin and advised me never to put my face straight into the shower head when showering because the water force hitting the skin strips down the mantle barrier, leaving it tight and vulnerable to break down and disruption. This made sense to me, I knew she was right.  So I stopped cleansing my face with the typical high-foaming face wash cleanser and water and I stopped getting my face wet in the shower and bath as well.  I would cleanse my face with a damp, wrung out, warm washcloth only - granted, I don't wear makeup. This approach felt fresh and really worked for my sensitive skin. 

One day when I was applying my sesame & vitamin e oil moisturizer on my face, I remember slathering a bit too much on, so I wiped it all off with a cloth. To my surprise, I immediately noticed how soft and truly CLEAN my skin felt. I thought about what had just happened; I didn’t use a wet wash cloth, I used a dry one, and it was just the oil.  My skin felt clean and I wasn’t using water at all. I was amazed.  

From chemistry lessons in cosmetology school, like attracts like.  The oil applied to the skin has the ability to attach to unwanted, imbalanced sebum and draw dirt and impurities with it. Oil cleansed my skin. 

Keep in mind there is no singular, right way to cleanse the skin. Cleansing differs for each person's skin and varies by season.  Oil Cleansing or Dry Oil Cleansing might be appropriate for one person but not the next.

The popular way to oil cleanse is with a wrung-out damp washcloth. When oil cleansing with a damp washcloth, the water in the washcloth does help remove dirt and impurities, and effectively clean the skin, but I find that the water in the damp washcloth can cause this technique to remove too much oil for many skins.  I found that damp washcloth is helping gather and remove more dirt and imbalanced oil from your face and pores, but the water in the washcloth is actually removing more oil than necessary. 

Without the water on the washcloth, the straight cleansing oil attaches to the imbalanced oil in the pores, gathers dirt, impurities, and make up on the surface of the skin because oil easily picks up dirt. The oil cleanser pulls the imbalanced oil with the dirt and debris off the skin effortlessly, leaving clean, moisturized skin without disturbing the skin’s natural oil balance. Of course, a wet washcloth always feels refreshing, and that is wonderful if you like that method. But less water contact and water rinsing will always retain more hydration in the skin.  Retaining hydration in the skin offsets skin decline. 


Pores don’t open and close, there are no muscles, they are just small openings in the skin. Steaming your face before hand can help loosen imbalanced sebum and clogged pores, but not because the pore is “opening.” It’s the proper balanced oil that will draw out the unwanted oil and dirt, regardless of steaming or the use of a hot washcloth.

The right oil for your skin won’t need any help effectively pulling the imbalanced dirt and oil from the skin. If you are steaming to loosen clogged pores, after steaming, pat the face dry then oil cleanse on a dry face.

*Also - the water in the washcloth isn't "hydrating" the skin either, that's just tap water and that's what a Hydrator is designed for after cleansing. Even if you're moistening your cloth with your hydrator instead, you're wasting it - hydration is meant to be layered on after cleansing, to be sealed in with oils and a moisturizer, and to prep the skin to receive and deliver the nutrients in your moisturizer, oil and serum effectively. The skin responds to oil and water differently - the steps must be layered. 

      Here's my Dry Oil Cleansing Method: 

- Massage Herbal Infusion Oil onto skin well - this loosens skin surface tension and the friction helps dissolve imbalance oil.

- Next use a dry washcloth and PRESS the skin firmly all around the face and neck for an effective removal and cleanse. Do not use sweeping motions, unless you’re gently removing make up from the surface with your first cleanse. Cleanse a second time if you need to remove make up. 

- Mist your Hydrating Accelerator and press an appropriate amount of oil on top of your hydrator, and finish by sealing in your hydration, actives and oil with Vital Balm Cream