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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.

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

  1. I am 51 years old and have been using the OCM for about a year. 1/3 castor oil to 2/3 sunflower oil. I used to have occasional breakouts – I haven’t had one since. And my skin looks a lot younger (I think) and is so soft. I swear by it. I have been tempted to add a drop of vitamin E or try some other essential oils but haven’t yet. Love it!!!

  2. Pumpkinseed oil, high in Vitamin E, recommended for mature skin, non-clogging 🙂 Awesome stuff for oil cleansing!

  3. Hey Sarah, I’ve been washing my face with Trader Joe’s Lavender body oil for quite awhile now since I heard about the oil cleansing method. I know it’s not the perfect combination or anything, but it works well for me. I’ve really got pretty easy skin. I like the price and lavender has always worked well for my complexion. I was actually researching this method for a 33 yo friend with really bad acne. She’s yet to try accutane, but that’s her next step. I’ve convinced her to try this method of cleansing if I’ll mix it for her (I’m a pharmacist and she hates to do research, so I’m doing the work for her 😉 Just wanted to say thanks for being so transparent in this post. It’s much appreciated! I have a blog myself ( where I decided to be transparent about my own battle with prescription drug addiction in order to help other. So I know how hard it is to be transparent! 🙂 Have a blessed day!

  4. thanks alot, i started using the castor oil on my face during this week, since winter is drying my face and my acne just wont go away, sara you are adorable. thanks for sharing your story…i will definitely keep this castor oil cleansing up, my skin literally is glowing so much even my bf started using some of it…and he has no problems,…the great thing about this oil is that it is thick and it really disappears once massaged in well…i hope to continue this regimen for a few hoping for a change ..have had acne for over 10 yrs and diagnosed with PCOS, so my hormones are going crazy,….thanks for the blog

  5. I have noticed a bunch of people using coconut oil. I can tell you from personal experience and from research that it will clog pores and is listed as a highly conedogenic oil. I used it to shave my face for about 6 months thinking I was doing myself a solid by getting away from alcohol based, overly perfumed shave gels.

    I had read coconut oil was a great skin care oil, but my lovely wife, who has skin like a porcelain doll – began using it and also started breaking out. We ended up buying a clarisonic Mia and a couple of brushes to unclog our skin.

    So far I notice improvements but we both broke out after starting it. I’m interested in trying the OCM which is how I found this page.

  6. “kick in the clam”…….too funny

  7. I know this is way late in coming, but I’ve used a 75% olive oil, 25% caster oil mix to cleanse my face every night for about 3 years, now. I was scared to death to try it the first time, SURE I’d become a zit field overnight, but to my surprise, that didn’t happen! I, too had the lovely, porcelain skin in high school, but that lovely porcelain skin is DRY, which tends to wrinkle fast as we age, so the olive oil helps keep mine pretty healthy. In winter, I can rub a little straight olive oil into my face just before I go to sleep so I don’t dry out as much with the heat on. I’m still astonished that it works so well! (And I still hesitate to share my method… how weird is putting straight oil on your face??)

  8. Hi! I came across your blog last night (LOVE it!) when I was searching for info about using oil to help with acne. I’m wondering if you are still using this for your face, or how long you did use it and how well it worked for you. I’d love to hear how it holds up over time. Thank you!

  9. You are quite entertaining — loved the post. It does makes sense b/c I’ve heard/read that when you keep depleting the oil and sucking everything out of your skin, your body tries to compensate & therefore makes more oil – hence the acne & breakouts. I’ll have my daughter try this — I am a former Acutane user because 30 years ago that is the only thing that worked – and it did!

  10. Yes, pregnancy can trigger or even worsen existing acne. However, there are also reports from some women that their breakouts decreased during pregnancy. But to those women who experienced what Sarah had to go through during pregnancy, I advise that you avoid oral prescription drugs like Accutane (Isotretinoin). Drugs can cause serious birth defects, such as teeth and bone abnormalities.

  11. Does anyone know if this method helps with blackheads? I don’t have an acne problem per se, but I do have a TON of blackheads and cant figure out why or how to get rid of them. It’s so gross. I rarely have an actual pimple but blackheads are just as bad. Please advise 🙂

  12. hey guys, I got me some rose oil and jojoba and tea tree…

    Love the jojoba, but it is MAJORLY expensive where I live for 200mls it roughly works out to $12… well that sounds slightly less bad than ZAR100 for 200mls… dang. Well, let’s just say for R100 I can buy 10 loafs of bread to give you an idea. Well because of the cost I limit myself to only 15 drops per use and I try to rub this in very well and to not wipe off the excess. It works great so far.

    I mix it with 3 drops of Rose oil (mixed rose oil they call it) and is it just me or does this stuff BURN the SHITE out of you? no really it burns, now I know you are not supposed to use it neat on the skin, but this is 3:15 ratio and it burns the crap outta me. wierd thing is it only burns sometimes and I can’t see any peeling or dead skin or anything weird. lotsa redness, but that fades as the burn fades. I guess if I don’t see any blood or permanent scarring I’ll keep using it as I love the turkish delight smell hehe. Might try for 2 drops instead. Actually what eases the burn is wiping it off and putting on neat oil you can actually feel the burn fading as jou progress about your face. Also, I only noticed it now, as the face burning thing happened this morning, my skin feels much softer. So I guess that is what the burn is for haha, though I’m not really looking for a friggen acid peel every day.

    The tea tree did not impress, it stinks frankly. gah. And I can’t really see it working any better than the plain olive oil combo did, but then I used it 3 times cos of the smell…

    Then, I got my hands on the ingredients of a posh organic face “gel” and they had lots of essential oils in there:

    clary sage
    carrot seed

    donno where I might get frankincense, sage or carrot seed essential oil but hey, The internet is my friend eh?

    So, what I like about this oil cleaning method is that I am never bored with my routine, as I can try something new and see what happens. Sure my face is my lab and sometimes I creat a monster EEEEEEk, but i’m used to having zits so this is just the same old same old to me, but fun!

    Thanks for getting me hooked!

  13. Hey! Are you still using the OCM???
    Your past sounded like mine.. All but the accutane. I drew the line before that. doxycycline, minocycline
    both made me eat like crazy while still breaking out
    Retin A, Adapalene… on and on and then my face was peeling, red, raw and still breaking out

    Just started the OCM and am on week 3.
    wondering if you stuck with it and still notice a change?

    • Yep, I still use it. Sometimes my skin “plateaus” and I break out for no reason. Sometimes it is lovely. But even with the back and forth, my skin is still much better than what it used to be!

  14. So I was researching dry shampoo a while back and I read you could just use corn starch to absorb the oil. Crazy thought ran through my head, “Why not my face?” I tried it and haven’t used anything on my face since except a little coconut oil when it seems dry. I only get a pimple hear and there about 2 times a month.

    • Do you put it all over your face, or just on the pimples?

      You’re not supposed to wash corn starch down the drain, so how do you get it off your face?

  15. I’ve been doing OCM for a few weeks now and I will never switch back! I only just found your blog tonight (and I’m in big love) so the recipe I follow is olive oil and castor oil. I also add a teensy drop of tea tree oil because I’m acne prone. I couldn’t totally commit at first and would use regular facewash at least once a day but then my face just felt so stripped and dry afterwards compared to the clean, soft way it feels after OCM. I had acne from puberty on. It got better, but not gone, in my 20s and got way better with pregnancy. Now in my (very early) 30s I have some old scarring, gigantic pores and blackheads. YUCK. In the past few weeks of OCM my pores are almost completely non-existant!!! I really didn’t think it would do anything spectacular and the fact that it’s doing the one thing I used to spend hundreds…thousands??…of dollars on through prescriptions/facials/peels/expensive products is craziness. Hope it’s still working well for you!

    • I do feel like I should use the tea tree oil, but I had bad experience with it when I was pregnant, and the smell of it makes me puke a little bit.

      What do you use in the morning to wash your face?

  16. just wondered how the OCM is going after having used it a few months? I have started about 2months ago and I have to report that now my face aint beautiful as it never has been before, but I did notice some changes.

    It is winter here and dry dry dry, so usually I would use my night cream as my day cream to stop the dry forehead and pealing nose that happens during winter, this year, I have no problem with dry face as I use olive oil to cleanse and sometimes moisturise too. I have castor oil but that stuff gives me zits. I know they say that you are getting rid of all the old problems that just healed over using caster oil, but meh – they can stay there under the skin for all I care. I also have avokado oil I use for my body, mixed with some half used bottles of reqular body cream to make me smell like less of a salad and more of a clean woman type thing. It works too, but you have to re-apply it daily to keep it up. also not too great on the hands. it doesn’t stick around long enough i think. need something more sticky and oily…

    anywho, I don’t have a routine as such, but then I also don’t wear make-up so the cleaning I do is sufficient. I also don’t steam my face, which might explain the occasional zit popping out too. I will wet my face with hot water, pat it dry with TP, then apply 2 squirts of olive oil mixed with a few drops of this essiantial oil mix I got on the internet a while back, lavender and myrrhrhrhrrr (wierd word), apparently this is great for skins but mostly it smells better than the oil and makes me feel pampered. this i rub in like i would my usual facewash, focussing on my nose and cheeks and all the places i have blackhead issues and zit issues. then if i want to shower, i leave this oil on, and get in, leaving the face for last. then rub it in some more. then get out and wipe the excess off with TP and then apply my coconut oil (just a fingernail scraping as i’m already oiled from the olive oil). I also have almond oil but this is way too runny and doesn’t absorb! Great for massaging, but sucks at moisturising (I think)

    Now, I do get zits, and it is old things comming back for a final battle. The type of zits are not your usual white head thing, this is more something brewing under a layer of skin type deal. the cysts i do get is around my nose (but I had a cold and this usually happens) and they are gone so quickly it hardly matters. I think the oil helps with this quick healing action. The blackheads are still there, but I think this is cos I don’t steam and massage like they said I should. I have to invest in a facial steamer type deal. They are a lot less, but the ones still there looks like they are recessed and won’t come out if I try to squeeze one.

    I am going to keep on exploring different oils as I feel that the olive oil is great, but who knows, something else might even be better. I have no problems with cuticles anymore and my body has never been as moisturised as this, even with baby oil. Rose oil and jojoba oil and tea tree oil i want to investigate. I am considering telling my brother’s daughter (who resently discovered make-up and wears enough for 3 girls of 16) to use this, but how can I make my point if I don’t have perfect skin?

    PS this olive oil/lavender/myrrh combo can help with the nastyness & continuous itching of thrush, but caution is needed as it is rather messy to apply, and i’m not sure what helped, or how sensitive those bits are to stuff that has to be diluted with oil before application. I was despirate and irritated after yet another “feminine hygiene” product failed. Now I use this oil every other time and it works.

    • Yep, I still use it. Sometimes my skin “plateaus” and I break out for no reason. Sometimes it is lovely. But even with the back and forth, my skin is still much better than what it used to be!

  17. best thing i have ever tried, oh and i have tried it all!!! (Accutaine, doxycyclin, minocyclin, amoxycilin, every gel, cream, lotion…you get the picture…)

    *Baking SODA, gentle cleanser (i use Cetaphil®) mix together and use as a scrub x1 a day (i choose night)
    *Then, 1 part apple cider vinegar to 4-5 parts water, use as toner and let dry
    *if you have really problem areas use a very low dose of benzoil peroxide (I use the one from Let dry for a bit
    *a little face lotion (again, lotion)

    This combo has made my skin glow and clear up in no time! I even have cystic acne and it works for that. I don’t always do step 3 and 4 but the first 2 i do nightly….and it costs pennies per month! yay!


  18. I’ve had acne since 3rd grade and my daughter now does as well. Over the years I’ve tried a boxcar load of things both over-the-counter and prescription; I will, if my acne really flares, take a short course of antibiotic even now but no antibiotics for my eight year-old. Ironically, the clearest my skin has ever been was during pregnancy. I did a 30-day juice fast recently and my skin looked really good but then who can do that long-term? I have noticed that drying my skin inevitably leads to break outs. I currently use Cerave products but am considering switching to OCM after I use these up. Now I’m in menopause and have given up hope of clear skin, I just hope the pimples fall into the wrinkles and counteract each other. Oh, the other dermatologic gift of menopause is that my chest looks as if I have a constant sunburn. I believe the OCM could most help my beautiful daughter, an avid swimmer, as the drying of her skin by chlorine may be the culprit.

  19. Coconut oil works really well for this too. I read that coconut oil was the best one to use for acne, so that’s where I started. I found using the oil meant I didn’t strip my own natural oils out like a cleanser would do and that helped my skin calm down. I add frankincense and lavender essential oil to my coconut oil to help with scars and wrinkles. (I’m almost 40, I’d say my skin looks pretty good, although the dairy thing did help me a lot, but this took it to the next step. 🙂 )

    • What does the frankencense do? I’m intrigued!

      I use coconut oil for moisturizer in the morning and I think it works great!

    • Frankincense is an AMAZING oil! At risk of sounding like a freak, it can be used topically, (as suggested above), which may actually help with aging and relieves the itch of bug bites. When diffused into the air, it can be beneficial with bronchitis, headaches and pneumonia and may also help one have a better attitude and de-stress which may help to strengthen the immune system.

      You may love all the options that you could find on my site:

  20. I just happened upon your blog after following the link on Pintrest for the homemade Vicks vapor disks for the shower and thought I’d look around a bit. I was surprised to see this article. I have had horrible acne ever since I was around 10 or 11 years old (am now 36) and have tried everything under the sun to clear it up without success. The only thing that came close was Accutane, but then my insurance changed and I couldn’t afford it anymore. I have never heard of the OCM to treat acne and it does sound counterproductive, but after reading your article and the comments, I am going to give it a try. My skin is so sensitive after using all of the harsh chemicals on it, and this sounds almost heavenly, like a mini spa treatment! Have you tried olive oil? I have a big bottle of that already in my pantry and would love to be able to use something I already have on hand. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! As a fellow breakouter, I know how daunting it is to post pictures without all of the concealing makeup!

    • I hope it works for you. Shoot me an email to let me know how it works out!

      I’m currently using olive oil as my “gentle” oil. I don’t know if I love it. I’ve had lots of breakouts lately, but I can’t decide if it’s the olive oil, or stress.

    • My face broke out like mad with olive oil…don’t use it for your cleanser!

    • A little late, but… I have been doing a lot of reading on the OCM lately and several people have mentioned that breakouts due to olive oil could be because you are not using a cold-pressed organic olive oil. If you use just a regular olive oil from your pantry, it may have pesticides or have been expressed from the olive by a more chemical method.

  21. I just died at the kick in the clam comment. seriously, I think I can go pack more boxes now, because my internet day is now complete. I thank you. <3

  22. I do the oil cleansing method to. It’s awesome. To be honest, I had pretty good skin to begin with, but a little on the dry side. I use 1/3 castor oil and 2/3 olive oil. My skin looks & feels awesome, it’s fun to give my self and oil face massage every day, and I’ve eliminated moisturizer from my routine (which I always hated anyway). Win-win-win!

  23. At about 30 my face broke out in cystic acne. I tried everything, even $1000 per sessions of laser treatment. It did not work. My husband finally suggested – “instead of putting all these chemicals on your face, how about you do the opposite since this obviously isn’t working”. Coming from a guy who hates Whole Foods and anything remotely ‘granola’ I was surprised. Again I went to the internet to do research and this time I found an article about fluoride. A dermatologist noticed that the cystic acne was around the mouth (as mine was) and suggested people stop brushing their teeth with fluoride toothpaste. I switched to Tom’s of Maine non fluoride toothpaste and in a month my cystic acne was gone. I also only drink reverse osmosis water that has the fluoride removed. I had constant back acne since I was a teenager and my back has totally cleared up. I have also started using the oil cleansing method with coconut oil and a few drops of tea tree oil. I exfoliate with a little baking soda afterward. I still have breakouts (it seems like they coincide with eating sugar or dairy) but not nearly like what I used to experience.

  24. I’m doing OCM too! I have adult onset acne and have done proactiv etc. Unfortunately my skin gets more and more sensitive as I get older. I can’t use Proactiv, or most face cleansers anymore. I have an allergist and he recomended using only olive oil soap on my sensitive skin. Which eventually led me to the Oil Cleansing Method. I use Olive Oil and Castor Oil. Probably somewhere close to 50/50. (I didn’t measure)I have to say, it feels indulgent. Like I’m doing something crazy and completely hedonistic, slathering oil on my face after a long day!

  25. I had great skin until having kids…..damn kids…..I’m now 40, started this face wash routine, and freakin love it!!! My teenagers and college kid thought I’d lost my mind, until they saw how wonderful my skin was. Now all 4 are using it and their skin has cleared right up! We also use tea tree oil on our blemishes after drying our face. WE WILL NEVER GO BACK TO HARSH OVER PRICED CRAP AGAIN!!!