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

  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!!!

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

  7. 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

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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.