Sustainable Cooks
First Time Visiting? Start Here!

The Oil Cleansing Method – Before and After


I’ve written this post and haven’t had the balls to hit “post” for over a week.  It’s so…so…embarrassing!  What I won’t do for you guys….

In junior high and high school, I had gorgeous porcelain skin.  Nary a blemish in sight.  It was lovely.  Then, I went off to college in Eastern Washington, and my face went batshit crazy.  It wasn’t what we were eating, but rather the water I was using.  My skin got better when I came back to this side of the state, and then we moved to California, and once again, I was a total pizza face.  My skin doesn’t like hard water apparently!

Getting pregnant made me look like a 15-year-old.  Ugh, it was so bad and so humiliating.  I, however, didn’t care enough to put much makeup on since I was spending all my spare time puking in garbage cans and in the shampoo aisle at the West Hollywood Target.  Whoopsie.

Over the years, I’ve tried everything – the pill, Retin-A, something that I can’t remember the name of, but it ends in “myosin”, Proactiv (yes, please charge me $30 for my skin to peel off and make it bleed!), and even Accutane.

About a year ago I started the oil cleansing method.  Tried it for a few weeks, liked it.  Then got lazy and stopped doing it.  I started up again about six weeks ago, and am sticking with it this time; I’m loving the results!!!

What Oils Are Best For the Oil Cleansing Method? It differs for everyone, but generally, most people find success with a mix of jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, and castor oil.

I previously used a mix of castor oil and sweet almond oil, but have since switched to just using sweet almond oil. It is gentle, doesn’t clog pores, and moisturizes very well. Using a quarter-size squirt of sweet almond oil, massage it in your hands until warm.  Then massage it all over your face and keep massaging it for about a minute or so.

Wet a washcloth with pretty hot water and apply it to your face for about 30 seconds.  Rinse the rag, and do it a few more times.  Then splash your face with cool water, dry off, and call it done.  Well of course after you’ve blown your nose and all.  I’ve already established that I’m a snotty person when water gets on my face! The whole process is done in under 5 minutes.

I know my skin care routine is now the exact opposite of everything that beauty companies tell us.  I doubt you’ll find too many products that say “oil added”!  But, hey, this works for me and it’s cheap and super gentle. And just because I love love love you guys, I’m showing you awful before and after pictures.  Just a warning – if you don’t like the face of middle school kids, you’ll probably want to just click the little “x” right now and close the screen.

Even after all these years, I still suffer from hyper-pigmentation from previous acne episodes.  I’m super lucky in that I’m VERY pale and my skin scars easily.  Yay for me!

Oil Cleansing Method Before and After

Forehead, week 1

Chin, week 1

That is a towel bar behind me.  Not weird military should pad things.

Forehead, week 2

Chin, week 2 (like George Constanza would say, “the sea was angry that day my friend”)

Forehead, week 3

Chin, week 3

Forehead, week 4 (photo by Jack, 4) (Also, for full disclosure, he took this photo at the end of the day.  I was wearing a bit of makeup, I had applied it 13 hours before the photo, and I sweated most of it off playing superheroes).

Chin, week 4 (another photo by Jack) Oh sweet…a first thing in the morning photo with no makeup, dirty hair, and stank breath?  You’re welcome readers!!!

You’ll notice per the photos, that the second week of this method made my skin rebel like the people of Alederaan (what Star Wars joke and acne?  NERD!), but it eventually relaxed a bit and started correcting itself.

One thing I noticed after about two weeks of this is that my make up went on super smoothly. People started asking if I got a new brand of makeup, or if I was tanning (HA!!!!!) because my skin had a “glow”.  My scars take forever to fade, but I’m pretty happy with my skin right now and don’t mind this routine at all.  I think of it as my mini spa session each night.

I’m a sweaty sleeper (seriously, could I make myself sound LESS attractive during post?), so I have to wash my face in the shower each morning. I’m currently using Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser.

Fun fact, in March 2017, I decided to stop using the Oil Cleansing Method and just switch to the Kiehl’s acne treatment. After a full month, I switched back to the Oil Cleansing Method. My skin had broken out under the acne treatment, and it was so dry. I had to use three times as many products to try to combat the dryness.

Oil Cleansing Method After Five Years:

Yes, I use oil on my face to treat my adult acne. Shhhhh, it’s our secret.

So the next time you think “geez, Sarah doesn’t seem to “get real” with us often”, please refer yourself back to the post where I showed you my grease ball face.

PS, the first person who comments “if you give up wheat and dairy your skin will clear up” gets a kick right in the clam.  I gave up both while breastfeeding, and my skin didn’t clear up a bit.  It was just as grumpy as I was!


I originally wrote this post on the Oil Cleansing Method back in May 2012. It was updated in May 2017 to reflect some changes I have made. The original photo files were from my previous blog platform, and therefore are extremely grainy. I apologize for their quality, but they cannot be updated at this point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

124 comments on “The Oil Cleansing Method – Before and After”

  1. I am featuring this post on this Sunday’s Seasonal Celebration! Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network x

  2. I love the candid approach of this article, you write with such a personable style and I love your blog! Thanks so much for sharing this with us at Natural Mother’s “Seasonal Celebration Sunday.” Hope to see you again this Sunday / Monday!! Rebecca x

  3. I always recommend using oil to help get rid of acne. It’s counter-intuitive but it does work. I often recommend trying a little rosemary essential oil as well because it helps with the bacteria that can cause some acne.
    I don’t recommend any soap – for me I wash with water and the occasional milk, almond, oatmeal scrub and add a layer of an oil based cream I make. At 37 I still battle the occasional pimple but when I stay true to my routine then it all stays clear (when I feel a blemish trying to come through I make sure to apply cream often and it rarely comes through).

    • I have rosemary essential oils! Do you just put it directly in your oil mixture? What kind of oil do you use in addition to the castor?

  4. Sarah, thank you SO much for this. I laugh at when I say I had “acne” in high school (it was like…one zit per week). My face is constantly broken out as an adult, and NOTHING HELPS. I wanted to try your idea right away, but I didn’t have any oil, but I did have these Aveno eye make up remover pads that are super filled with these soft oils. So I washed my face, then rubbed one of the pads all over my face, rubbed it in, and then applied moisturizer like normal, and within 24 hours, my face was 1/2 cleared, and this morning (day 2) there’s nothing. 🙂 You rock my socks.

    • Wow, so cool that you got those results from something you had on hand already! Love good results and thriftiness! I hope it keeps clearing up and being lovely for you.

  5. I have been doing this for several months and finally LOVE my skin. Couple things i’ve added are “exfoliating” occasionally with baking soda and using witch hazel in the morning.

  6. Our water does the same thing to my complexion- thanks for the tip. When my sister and I were in junior high and high school and started to break out, my mom would inform us that she had never had acne (not even one pimple) her entire life. Everytime I see her I still secretly hope she has a breakout.

  7. Thanks for this post! So happy that you were brave enough to post it! I appreciate the help with the natural skin care products and stuff!

    I always wondered why my skin decided to rebel at age 24-25. I developed lots of blackheads and deep painful boils near my ears. I also developed circumoral rozacea, which on bad days is just red and on really bad days is very red and painful! Went to the dermatologist and got 3 different creams and 1 antibiotic that didn’t work and even made it worse. I tried changing my diet and it didn’t help either. Finally I found a cream called Calming cream from Beauti Control that helps with the pain. (Definitely not an all natural product!) The redness is usually covered up with concealer. Now that I am reading your post, I believe I am having all these skin problems because I am probably drying my skin out WAY too much trying to treat it. Which in turn is overproducing my own oils causing all these blemishes. I am definitely trying your OCM and will stick with it hopefully until after my skin rebels. I already started using coconut oil as a moisturizer a few days ago. Woke up today with the redness still, but the pain isn’t there…..yet! Keeping my fingers crossed!

    • You’re exactly right. My skin was crying for some oil and protection and I just kept drying it the heck out!

      So great about the coconut oil. I hope it continues for you!

    • Doing a “cleanse” or detox in addition to the OC may also help. The painful boils may be toxins just trying to get out.

  8. i just might give this a whirl! i recently started using dr. bronner’s tea tree oil castille soap on my face and loving it so far. coconut oil as a moisturizer really calms and softens my skin, but i hadn’t thought of using oil as a cleanser!
    only a week ago i started using a tiny bit of tea tree oil (dries acne, antibacterial) with rose hip oil (lots of natural vitamin E and A). i’d read that the rose hip oil is a gentle and natural retin A which heals skin quickly–and it has been awesome so far! just exfoliate more often bc it speeds the turnover of skin cells. i’ve been doing a gentle exfoliation each day, and more vigorously about twice a week.
    last new favorite thing is mixing witch hazel with a few drops of tea tree oil and use as a toner. this has nixed 95% of my many blackheads! start with very little tea tree oil and work up from there as your skin gets used to it. it can be a bit abrasive if you go overboard too soon.
    thanks for sharing, and good luck!

    • I just bought some vitamin e oil, and will give it a shot!

      I can’t use tea tree oil for anything. I used to use it to clean our toilets, and then I spent so much time with my head in the toilet while pregnant. The smell just makes me want to puke now!

  9. I didn’t read all the comments so please don’t kick me in the clam for asking. 😀 Are you taking a serious good probiotic? OR consuming LOTS of fermented foods? It will go a long way in preventing that kind of adult acne.

  10. Sarah, I think this is my favorite oil cleansing method post I’ve ever read! I too have been dabbling with it here and there, but keep stopping. I have a draft sitting on my site for months now, and keep telling myself that I won’t post it until I’ve done OCM for at least 2-3 weeks straight so that I could honestly pass on the information to my readers. Reading your post not only gave me a much needed chuckle, but it’s given me the push I needed to just get back to that darn OCM again so I can stop complaining about my face and finally get that post published.

    Thanks for your wittiness and humour in an otherwise annoying and mundane topic 🙂

    • Oh I know that feeling. I had lots of “starts” and “stops” with this method, but I think I’m on it now. Good luck with your journey and let me know when you write that post!

  11. I have the exact same kind of skin. The best thing that I have found (by accident) has been taking Alfalfa supplements everyday. I ordered the T-Tapp skin brushing system (which btw is wonderful) and it came with organic Alfalfa supplements. I wasn’t going to try it because I hate taking pills but figured I paid for it I may as well take it. It took about a month for things to clear up but my skin has never looked better. I oil cleanse about once a week just because I love how soft it makes my skin but other than that I just wash with a mild cleanser each day.

    • I’ve never heard of that! Will definitely have to look in to it.

    • a Zinc supplement will help with the healing process for the inflammation and can also help some people with their oil production by lowering it. Not everyone sees results with the oil production decreasing. but it definitely helps heal the inflammation from the inside out. As well as vit C. check into those options as well.

  12. Even though I have had almost perfect skin with zero acne, the occassional pimple in my youth, drove me to a frenzy. I would eventually have a bluish scar. Vitamin E capsules helped tremendously. As I skidded into menopause, I suddenly had large pores and it looked like little dots all over my nose, even an hour after washing my face. Oil of Olay Age Defying cream helped to close the pores. My skin seems finer, like a little child’s skin. “Youthful”skin was not the goal;closing pores on my nose and chin was the goal.

    Oil for acne–surprising. Cooking oil helps my dry hands! I only put it on the backs of my hands and fingers.

    I am going to tell my grandson about the oil for acne.

  13. Thanks for this post! I developed acne about 2 years ago when I was 37! Until then, crystal clear beautiful skin. I’v seen a dermatologist but would like to get off the medication. I’m definitely going to give this a try.

  14. This post came at exactly the right time. Unfortunately I have had bad skin since puberty, and since puberty hit in the 4th grade, I’ve had bad skin for the majority of my life. My dermatologist recently prescribed an antibiotic to help with the acne, which worked great except the fact that it: (1) made me nauseous to the point of having to pull over the car on my way to work to puke my brains out, and (2) over time killed my digestive system and forced me to take extreme levels of probiotics to even things out. Needless to say, I’ve officially stopped taking the antibiotics (after trying three different kinds) and I had given up and was content at having horrible skin for the rest of my life. Since every cleanser/gel/lotion/toner I have tried, both cheap and expensive, have failed to really do anything except lighten my wallet, hell, I might as well try oil! If this works I will be eternally grateful.

  15. P.S… here is a link to the videos.

    or you can just Google, skin cancer and hemp oil.

  16. Good morning…unfortunately for me, when I was 15, I had a dermatologist…and I used the term lightly, who insisted that the ONLY way to rid myself of the cystic pimples I frequently had, was to to use the syringe method. Not knowing any different at the time, I proceeded with this treatment, which is self explanatory, insert needle, withdraw junk. Needless to say, 40 years later and I still have the scars on both my cheeks and I STILL HATE the guy to this day.
    Luckily for me, I have a friend who is very much into “anything” alternative to modern medicine and introduced me to the powers of Hemp Oil! Fabulous stuff…even has write ups for use with Skin Cancers and its success. Maybe one or two of your readers should consider this as well. Just a thought, and I’m with you, the next person who says…have you thought of” will be wearing permanent ear muffs!
    As usual, thanks for keeping it real…and keeping it funny. Much love today,

    • Have you tried Vitamin E for the scarring? It has worked wonders for me. Every night, I pop a hole in a capsule and spread a tiny bit over scars and stretch marks. My stretch marks are pretty much gone- just in time to create new ones. 😉 But my acne scars, as well as scarring from a couple piercings, are almost completely gone.

    • Thank you, I will look in to it! So sorry to hear about your stupid derm experience.

  17. You might want to look at my friend’s blog. She is a top-rated aesthetician in NYC, and makes her own natural skin care line. She advocates skin oiling too, and has special mixes for different situations. She offers insight into hormonal breakouts (common on the chin), and neat ways to handle a flare up. You eat pretty darn healthy, so I don’t think food is the issue.

    One more thing that works for me: change your pillowcase as often as possible. Bacteria love to hang out there and get on your face.

  18. I had wonderful skin as a teenager as well and then developed adult acne. Isn’t it just wonderful?! UGH It seems to be doing better now that I am 42, but I still need a good cleansing method. I guess I will try this and see what happens. I wish I could get my teenage son to try it – but anything more than 30 seconds and it won’t happen. Unfortunately, he has his dad’s problematic skin.

    • Maybe your son will be interested in using it if you get great results.

      I hope it works for you and maybe him!

    • I am 60 and still dealing with acne. I don’t believe much in” oil on oil” method.
      Treatment of acne is about making your skin as dry as you can tolerate it. That is how you get rid of breakouts. Cosmetics for acne always have a major good ingredient (drying) and a whole list of moisturizers, that cause acne. A reason for this is that people don’t like to feel dry and wouldn’t not buy the cosmetics for acne. Medications for acne, cosmetics, natural remedies need between 6-8 weeks to let you know if they will work or make it worse. So, don’t be sooo happy after using anything for a week or two. It is important what you eat. I don’t diet but sugars and nuts especially peanuts make every acne skin worse.

      • I would venture to guess that everyone’s skin is different. When mine is dry, it breaks out like nobody’s business. Before the oil cleansing method, I broke out weekly. Now, maybe once a month, or even every other month. Acne treatments might be one thing (and I’ve done them all), but I wouldn’t trade my $9 bottle of oil for any amount of acne meds because they never worked (for me). If you’re 60 and still dealing with issues, why not give something else a shot to see how it works for you?

      • I’m super oily. Every time I wash my face and remove the oil, my body goes into oil overdrive. Wash at night, then I’m an oil slick by morning. Wash in the morning, then I’m an oil slick by lunch time. And by oil slick, I mean that I can scrape my fingernail across my cheek or forehead and collect a nice nail-full of clear grease/oil from my face.

        When I simply rinse my face (warm water and a very light swish with a wash cloth) then my face doesn’t go into an oil-making frenzy. But even with just warm water, if I scrub too hard or too long, it removes too much oil. I might have soft and smooth skin for an hour or two, but after that, the oil frenzy begins.

        Keeping my face as dry as possible doesn’t work for me. And I figure if I’m doing something that makes my face over-produce oil, then that’s probably not a good thing to be doing anyway.

      • Everyone’s skin is different, but usually it produces oil when it’s dry. I used to think i had combination skin. My forehead, nose and chin was always oily and my chicks very dry. I would use very little moisturiser on the oily parts and they kept getting oily. I tried all sorts of different products from the shop with different price ranges and nothing worked and it always felt like they left a layer on my skin. When i decided to try something natural and the OCM everything changed! My skin is not oily anymore. It’s super soft and my break outs are a lot less. This method makes my skin so soft that even when i get a small cyst you can barely notice it because the skin on top of it/around it doesn’t flake off and gets red. I use virgin coconut oil and castor oil for cleansing, apply coconut oil as a moisturiser afterwards and exfoliate a couple of times a week with coconut oil+baking soda. During winter my skin gets drier so i use coconut oil+almond oil+aloe vera during the day and the same but with added Shea butter at night. My skin is never oily. you need to understand what’s the right amount for you, but even when it feels oily to start with, your skin absorb these in 5 minutes!
        When i started this i broke out in the first week because the coconut oil detoxifies your skin and the toxins are drawn out. But it all went away after 3 days.

        Your skin may be getting so oily because it’s not sufficiently hydrated and moisturised or not with the right things!

  19. It does sound a bit counter intuitive, but glad it works! My skin has always been oily, but it doesnt get breakouts often. The Proactiv stuff is severe, though. I used it religiously for a while and never again. My skin would just be too dry and flaky.

  20. I too was just reading about this somewhere else — I guess it is high time I stop being so lazy and try this out! I think I even have some grapeseed oil — what are the chances?!

  21. You know if you give up wheat, dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, pork, chicken, beef, shellfish, coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, fruit, makeup, deodorant, shampoo, perfume, polyester and crack that life will be absolutely no fun. Also you will probably still have acne. My sister has skin like yours and she also found that the OCM was great for her. I keep meaning to try it myself.

    Thanks for sharing, and keep up the good work!

    • I’d be a miserable bitch if I gave up all those things!! Especially the crack.

      You gotta try it! And then report back and let me know how you liked it.

    • Bah! That made me chortle out loud! I’m at home, so I only startled the cats. Either way, giving up crack would make ANY sane person crazy!

      I’m going to try this oil thing…I’m 35 and have had acne since I was in my tweens. I’ve also tried every single medication that exists, and the only one that worked was the accutane. But as soon as I stopped taking it my skin went back to “normal”.

  22. I was just reading about oil cleansing. I have not broken out (yet) with this pregnancy, but the last took me right through puberty again. Acne, sore everything, public ridicule…ok, that last one was likely in my head.
    Anyway, even though i don’t have acne this time, my nose has always looked dirty. I swear. Every pore seems to be clogged. I tried the strips. No. The tool that skin specialists slide across works really well, if i want to empty each pore individually. So, I decided to try the oil method on my nose. Apparently, the premise is that the oil I use will soften the oil clumps in my pores and help them slide out. Omgyuck.

    By the way, Vitamin E can heal scarring faster. You just pop a hole in the capsule and put some on the s are before bed. I’ve also healed my tattoos and stretch marks the same way. 🙂

    • That tool thingy sounds like it would take forever!

      I just bought vitamin E oil in a bottle for something else I’m working on. I wonder if it is the same thing?

    • Did you try the vitamin E oil? It’s so good for your skin!!

    • I looooooooove the oil cleansing method. Love it. When I hit 23 my face went wack too, to the point where I was on Accutane as well. A word of caution: when popping open a vitamin E capsule, don’t make the mistake I did and accidentally grab an Omega 3. I immediately knew something was wrong when I smelled fish. Also, that smell doesn’t come off your face for like, a whole day… or two. Beware.

  23. I LOVE the OC Method!! I started using it back in December and won’t ever go back. I have oily/combo skin, and OCM has helped balance it out and breakouts have disappeared. My skin feels and looks so much better, it’s softer and actually glow-y. I also love that I can change up the formula if I need to, such as more gentle oil and less castor oil in the winter because my skin is drier and the other way around in the summer.

  24. there’s a blog called crunchy betty that talks a lot about cheap and home made skin care (and lots of other stuff). I’ve been meaning to try the oil cleansing routine and now I’m even more keen, thanks! Also, I’ve read that coconut oil can clog your pores- it doesn’t look like it’s bothering your skin much though!

    • I would love to hear your experiences if you do try it out!

    • I’ve been using coconut oil as a moisturizer the last month. My face got terribly dry AFTER my baby was born (had very nice skin during the pregnancy). It is still dry and flaky but is getting better. The coconut oil doesn’t bother it at all. I would love to try the oil cleansing but I’m just so very lazy and forgetful about things like that.

    • You can use the coconut oil as your oil for your cleanse as well. Oil attracts oil, period. As a licensed Esty, I always try to give clients a natural option to use at home. Other than expensive retail options. And coconut oil is on the list. Give it a try, hope it works. Why spend more money when you have the coconut oil at hand already?

    • You can use the coconut oil as your oil for your cleanse as well. Oil attracts oil, period. As a licensed Esty, I always try to give clients a natural option to use at home. Other than expensive retail options. And coconut oil is on the list. Give it a try, hope it works. Why spend more money when you have the coconut oil at hand already?

  25. Tried everything. I also had wonderful skin until my 20’s. Pregnancy gave me the gift of neck acne, head acne, face acne, etc. I am sooo trying this!