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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. Oh I so wish I had found your post years ago.. i just came round to the joy of using oil after years of suffering from sensitive skin and acne !!. Jojoba oil is amazing. Question though after you use oil for cleansing, do you use a moisturiser on top ?

    • Adult acne is pretty much the stupidest thing ever. I’m sorry you’ve been dealing with it too!

      Adding moisturizer depends on the season and day. During the winter when the air is a lot dryer and we’re running our wood stove a lot means I’ll definitely put some moisturizer on afterward. But if it’s normal weather and my skin is feeling good, I’ll just let it be.

  2. We absolutely love your blog and find many of your post’s to be what precisely I’m looking for.
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  3. Along with my aging skin, I’ve been battling some nasty cystic acne for way too many years. I’ve also been using Citrus Clear like you mentioned – I’ve been using this daily for the last 2 weeks and all’s good! No breakouts and no dry skin. The Citrus Clear cleanser doesn’t irritate my skin. It doesn’t foam as much as I hoped it would but that’s not a deal breaker.

  4. Wonderful post! I enjoyed reading the comments equally.
    I got my first acne when I was 25 ( I am 27 now). Because I had very clear skin all through my teenage years when I got acne at 25, I had no idea what to do with it. So I used benzoyl peroxide and scrubbed my face everyday, sometimes twice a day. Needless to say, my skin got so much worse that year. Then my husband suggested to see a dermatologist. So i was prescribed antibiotics and a some retinoid cream that I used for about a year. My skin became so dry that I couldn’t even smile anymore. I did see some improvement but it was not worth the dryness. Eventually I ran out and never went back for another prescription. That was the time when a friend suggested to drink more water. I started to drink almost a gallon of Baltimore tap water daily and it did help to clear my forehead acne completely. However, I still had zits on my chin and cheeks. Then I read about using diluted unpasteurized apple cider vinegar as a toner along with coconut oil as a moisturizer. This combo did miracles for clearing my acne in just one month. Now I still have two blueish scars(or drying pimples? I can’t really tell) and I will get some vitamin E as some of the comments here suggest. Also I started to use jojoba oil two days ago i hopes that I will help with shrinking my pores. Any suggestions on that?

  5. I have very sensitive skin and started getting adult acne after my youngest son. I have had laser done twice and it helped with old scars, but I continued to breakout. I tried numerous over the counter products including proactive. Proactive worked for a short period some what. I have been to the Dr an on numerous acne treatments and none helped. I was told about Citrus Clear products and they helped tremendously! I ran out once and didn’t get anymore and started breaking out again. Not only does it help with treating present acne but it helps preventing future breakouts. 

  6. I’m mid-twenties and have been suffering from acne since I was… 12 or so. Started on my forehead, spread to my temples, jawline, upper back,… And then when I hoped it would stop at the end of puberty, it just moved to my cheeks. I have extremely thin skin, so scarring and redness (also from veins that you can see, oh yikes) are big problems for me.

    My region also has hard water and I’ve been wondering if my acne might have something to do with it… Do you have any experience with water softeners? I did try using a toner (diluted apple cider vinegar) but it just made my skin dry.
    Right now I’ve been using sweet almond oil for three months, and even though it reduced my acne within the first two weeks, it didn’t get any better since. It does heal wounds so so so quickly!

    Also, I have a friend that only uses toner as a wash and swears by it. I guess the idea is that since toners are lower in pH, they don’t strip your skin like soap does and don’t penetrate your skin as deep as oil so they’re not as aggressive. I would like to give it a try but not using any water at all isn’t a very pleasant idea.

    • We never had a water softener, so sadly I can’t tell you if it is something that will help or not. Are you using straight almond oil, or cutting it with another oil? Good luck to you; I know what a painful fight it is!

      • I’m only using almond oil 🙂
        I forgot to ask but… is it normal that skin gets a little flaky from using oil? It doesn’t feel dry at all but when I look close in the mirror (which I avoid to do, the one meter rule is my selfesteem boost haha) I can see a lot of very little well… flakes of dead skin. I’m thinking it’s nice because maybe my scars will fade quicker but… on the other hand, I get this immediate urge to exfoliate haha.

      • My skin gets flaky in the winter no matter what I use. Twice a week I rub the oil on my face, hold the wet towel to it once (just to warm up the skin) and then I scrub the shit out of it with the washcloth. It’s actually gentle exfoliation because the oil keeps the cloth from being too aggressive against the skin. Since I started doing that, the flakes stay away more!

  7. Do you recommend this for tropical countries?

    • Absolutely no idea. I’m in a maritime climate that is very mild. I’m always of the mindset that the only way to know if something will work for you, is to try it and see!

  8. people .. acne is bacteria and other infections that are loaded up inside you … even if your hormones are raging,,, not everyone gets acne.. this is because the bacterial levels may or may not be as high in you..

    best way to keep acne away from childhood is to NOT EAT sweets at all. sugar must be derived from natural fruits only !

    And low salt intake…. Trust me … this not only helps with perfect skin that doesnt age for ever , but also helps with perfect hair and no dandruff!

    Plus using bitter foods once a week like bitter melon , castor oil , grapefruit, neem juice etc….. regulate your blood, and sugar levels even further… the chances of acne is minimal

  9. i’ve been using OCM for almst 2mnths castor oil & sunflower oil. Its rly working. Hv hd acne for over 10yrs. Um also drinking cod liver oil every day. Hv bn drinking CLO for over 6mnths. I strtd takin it just after accutane. My skin has bn okay bt OCM has rly improved it. I thnk usin oil internally & externally is the key to gr8 skin

  10. don’t wash face wet! you must wash a dry dirty face with by massaging oil onto face and then you dunk a face cloth into hot hot water and place over oiled up face so it opens up your pores, then you wipe it all off

  11. I’ve been using the OCM for almost 6 months now and won’t go back. I have oily skin and not too many break outs. Main thing was clogged pores. This really helps and now I just need to figure out what to do with that expensive cleanser I bought from QVC.

  12. I’m about to turn 17, but my skin was perfectly clear until three years ago. (When I got my first bad bit of acne my friends literally celebrated and made fun of me.)
    A few weeks ago I decided I’d try to make as many beauty type products as I could. I have pretty oily skin, so it took me a while to try using oil to help. It’s pretty freaking great.
    I just found your blog and I really like it. 🙂

  13. Just a suggestion – wikipedia points out that caster oil is extremely toxic to the people who harvest it – severe allergic reactions and nerve damage from the refining process. I would humbly suggest an alternative oil such as avocado. LOVE your blog btw, so many things I want to try! It’s been a great inspiration and resource.

  14. Hi there, I am pregnant and breaking out like crazy on my face, shoulders, chest and back – yuck! I am excited to try this method, since nothing else seems to work. Question: could I use massage oils as my carrier oil (the oil that I mix with castor oil)?? I have a bunch of Kama Sutra massage oils that my husband and I rarely use, so it seems that mixing them with the castor oil for the OCM might be a good way to use them up. Looking at the ingredients on the bottle, it looks like they mostly consist of natural oils, plus a few other ingredients to help with consistency and fragrance.

    In case any of you are savvy on oil ingredients, here’s a list of the general ingredients: Soybean oil, Grape Seed oil, Pistacia Vera Seed Oil, C 12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sweet Almond Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), Tocopheryl Acetate, Lecithin, Benzyl Benzoate, Eugenol, Geraniol, Isoeugenol, Limonene, Linalool.

    I do also have olive oil on hand that I could use instead…would just prefer to not have to go out and buy new oils if what I have on hand would work!


    • I don’t feel comfortable giving out advice when you’re pregnant! You can check the skin deep website to see if any of those ingredients are not safe for pregnancy, and/or ask your ob!

  15. hi, i just wanted to comment because i’ve been using the oil cleansing method for over a year. i have incredibly oily skin. so oily, blotting papers would be soaked after just a few hours after washing with proactive. proactive was drying my skin terribly so i went searching for a natural moisturizer that wouldn’t cause a break out. that was when i discovered coconut oil. i used it just as a moisturizer at night and was surprised by how great my skin felt in the morning. after some more research, i finally found the oil cleansing method and started mixing the coconut oil with the castor oil. the castor oil really dried out my skin. so i use only straight up coconut oil. i’m confused as to why you wet your face before you apply the oil. i would skip that part all together and just apply the oil. also, depending on time, i use a hot towel a few times to make sure the pores are really open. then there’s another step that you seem to not do. you need to rub the oil in again. even using more of it. this will make sure the oil penetrates the skin and really dissolves the dead skin/oil combo causing the acne. when i would skip this step i would notice more acne popping up. it very important that you massage that oil into your steamed open pores. i think that’s why it took so many weeks for this to work for you. my acne started clearing up the first day and was gone within a week. of course, the final step is wiping the oil off with a hot towel. since my skin is so oily, i do scrub a little. all it’s doing is exfoliating, which is very healthy for your skin. of course, don’t scrub until you bleed or anything. but don’t just wipe the oil off. by doing that, all you’re doing is leaving the dead skin cells and sebum still in your pores. then to finish off, i but another thin layer on as moisturizer. i seriously believe you’ll see better results if you massage the oil in after steaming your face. and steaming a bit more as well as scrubbing a bit instead of just wiping. now if i do get any blemishes, it easy comes out with minimum pressure. thanks for your site. it’s very nice.

  16. I’ve see dramatic results from a honey mask (not personally, but amazing pictures.). Also, oil will probably not work for many – our skin is so interwoven with diet, stress, hormones etc., that it’s hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution. There are great oil cleansers on the market that have the appropriate ingredients and excellent technology (although I know making it yourself is ideal.) Megan (posted above) is spot on about the viscous cycle of dry = increased oil production. Taking Omega 3, finding out I have an intolerance to eggs, and getting my hormones back in balance (still a work in progress) have really helped my skin.

  17. Yes, I am a big fan of jojoba oil for my face, have been using it daily for years! I am now playing with more oils. Mixing a few drops of Rosemary essential oil into your jojoba oil is supposed to be an old old trick for acne skin. I also like grapeseed oil, which is much lighter than jojoba, so now I am mixing them to use as daily moisturizer. Fun stuff. I NEVER EVER put any cream on my face anymore, although I am getting ready to try some natural SPF creams like DeVita’s SPF cream and 100% pure pomegranate SPF cream. MJust on days when I am gonna be out in the sun.

    Anyways, just wanted to let you know that I recently discovered that for a spot treatment, turmeric is THE BEST. if you go on youtube, you will find about how to make homemeade turmeric mask, some people make it with honey, some people make it with no sugar added greek yogurt. Turmeric really works on pimples really well!

    I actaully bought this and if I get one beginning of a pimple, a put a dab of this on overnight and it totally cools it down super fast and prevents it from getting worse. I also dab just a touch of Neem oil on the pimple as an actibacterial. Neem Oil smells HORRIBLE so just a little dab will do. But the stuff really helps to kill germs.

  18. A lot of times as a teenager, acne is caused because your body overproduces oil. This is why many acne medications stress they are oil free or use astringents and other chemicals that dry out the skin. The problem as we get older is that our skin dries out. When your skin is too dry, it will produce oil to compensate which can lead to acne. If we go back to those same oil controlling, face drying acne medications it just causes your face to dry out more which in turn causes more oil production and more acne. Vicious cycle. There are several brands of moisturizers out there (Cerave is one of them) that has moisturizing cleansers which add moisture to your face without oils, but causes your face to stop producing the oil that causes acne. This is in part why your oil treatments are probably working.

  19. I have been using tea tree oil for years, and found many uses. For acne it is the best. tea tree oil will cure acne naturally by diluting it with aloe vera gel 2 times a day. I have clear skin now, and I recommend it for anyone to try. Tea tree oil has antibacteria properties, and works like gang busters.

  20. Do you and other readers do this morning and night or just once a day?

  21. Thank you for sharing! Like all of y’all, I’ve struggled with adult onset acne. Very frustrating and embarrassing. I’ve been experimenting with not washing my face at all at night, and lo and behold, my skin is getting clearer, so I will take it up a notch and add EVEN MORE OIL. I too tried the no dairy/no wheat/no sugar route and did not get results. Prescriptions just cost money and caused bad side effects. Off to raid the pantry 🙂

  22. You have convinced me to try the oil method again. I tried it once, but during the second week when my skin got much worse I bailed. In the meantime I came across Niora which I love. Its super super gentle and significantly reduces my acne while nourishing my skin. For the overly stubborn, deep, painful, cystic acne I get, the only thing I’ve found to make a big difference consistently and reliably (even through period and stress breakouts) is vitamin A taken orally. For me personally, I’ve found taking 25,000 to 32,000 IUs a day will help the acne I have heal faster and keep new ones from popping up. When I forget to take it for a few days or a week the acne comes back so being diligent is important. Vit A is very drying at first, but after the first week or so my body got used to it and bye bye pizza face. Thanks for sharing even the icky bits with us!