When I think about the main reasons I am so passionate about skincare, one of them has to be how skincare product formulation is constantly evolving for the better. Skincare is progressive, not regressive. Over the past few decades, facial cleansers have evolved from harsh, alkaline products to gentle and slightly acidic. We now know that alkaline products are not good for the skin because they increase your skin’s pH which destroys its acid mantle. (Read more: How pH is Affecting Your Skin Care Results) The oil cleansing trend has blown up over the past few years, with Korean Beauty deserving most of the credit. K-beauty is huge on the double cleansing method which includes an oil cleanser followed by a gel or foam cleanser. They’re clearly lightyears ahead of western beauty. Now? We see oil cleansers popping up left and right. Are they really worth your time and money, though?
Benefits of Oil Cleansing
I emphasize so often how it’s crucial to use products that are formulated with your acid mantle in mind. This is because if your acid mantle is not intact, your routine is essentially ineffective because all of your concerns will continue to worsen or remain the same until you repair your skin. Maintaining a healthy acid mantle is quite simple. Oil cleansing is the first step to doing so. Oils don’t have a pH so they can’t really do much to change your skin’s pH, which is great news for your acid mantle. Because your acid mantle is composed of lipids and essential fatty acids, it only makes sense that your skin would love lipids (oils) right? I mean, that is what it’s main protective barrier is made of.
Oil cleansing is excellent for helping to restore and maintain your skin’s natural lipid content. If you have dry skin, this means that your skin does not produce enough sebum to protect it’s barrier. Sebum contains the essential fatty acids and lipids that help build up your skin’s barrier. Little to no sebum means a compromised barrier which means increased sensitivity. Oil cleansing is the perfect way to restore your skin’s acid mantle if you have dry skin.
Excessively Oily Skin
If you have excessively oily skin, this is likely because your skin is dehydrated. When your skin is dehydrated, it is not necessarily dry. But because it is lacking water, it begins to be sensitive and imitates dry skin. Dehydrated skin is a skin condition (like hyperpigmentation, acne etc), and dry skin is a genetic skin type. When your skin is producing excess oil because of dehydration, this is because oils create an occlusive barrier that prevents your skin from losing water. Essentially, your skin notices it’s rapidly experiencing transepidermal water loss and it’s water levels are not being restored quick enough, and then goes into overdrive by producing oils to trap in any water remaining.
If you have normal skin, this means your skin has a perfect balance of oils and water You also have the rarest skin type and me and my oiliness secretly hate you. Nothing is excessive and nothing is lacking. Perfect! You can use nearly any carrier oil without affecting your skin. This doesn’t mean go ham with coconut oil. There are so many other oils out there aside from coconut oil that are significantly more beneficial. Try sunflower or rosehip oil! Rosehip oil is one of my favorite oils because of it’s high vitamin A content which makes it great for hyperpigmentation.
Acne Prone Skin
Acne acne acne…the inhibitor of flawless, glowing skin and the bane of [skincare] society. Luckily, acne doesn’t have to be in your cards forever. Though it is 100% normal and you can’t ever fully get rid of it. Acne prone skin is found to lack the essential fatty acid linoleic acid. Lacking linoleic acid makes your sebum thicker and more likely to clog your pores. Now how does this relate to oil cleansing? Certain oils actually are high in this fatty acid and will drastically help with your acne because of this. Also, because acne is exacerbated by a damaged acid mantle, oil cleansing with the proper oils will help to heal your acid mantle which will help to heal your acne. You want to avoid oils high in oleic acid because this fatty acid can actually exacerbate acne. Source.
How to Oil Cleanse
You oil cleanse the exact same way that you’d cleanse with a traditional cleanser. Dampen your hands and face with warm water (not hot), apply a generous amount into your palm, rub together, and cleanse. Wash it off with warm water. Some oil cleansers may leave an oily residue, which is fine if you follow the next step I discuss. Some people prefer to use a traditional cleanser after to remove this residue, but to me? This kind of defeats the entire purpose of oil cleansing.
Aside from removing makeup and SPF, oil cleansing is really supposed to help repair your skin’s moisture barrier. So if you follow up with a traditional cleanser, you can easily end up over-cleansing your skin trying to get rid of the residue that isn’t harmful to your skin at all. It’s counterproductive to me, but this is 100% up to you. Double cleansing is a really popular K-beauty method, and I only suggest it if you’re wearing heavy makeup. If not? Oil cleanse then follow this next step.
The best way to remove this residue, solely for the purpose of enhancing product absorption and removing any potential oil barrier that can prevent your lightweight water-based serums from absorbing, is to use a micellar water or toner. Preferably a hydrating one. My current go-to is the Cerave Hydrating Micellar Water or the Delish Condish Bamboo and Ginseng Essence and Toner. These will only remove the excess oil residue, and still leave your skin feeling silky smooth and your barrier healthy from the oil cleanser.
The Cerave micellar water is not your traditional micellar water. It has cholesterol, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides–the 3 things your skin’s barrier absolutely loves and needs. This means it helps with repairing and maintaining your skins barrier and therefore, it increases product absorption. The Delish Condish has soothing ingredients to help calm down your skin. I love it for when my skin feels dehydrated or I feel a cystic pimple on the way. It really helps with inflammation. Follow up with either one post-cleanse and watch your skincare routine change for the better. You can use my affiliate code ‘Caveofbeauty’ to save money when you purchase the Delish Condish toner!
Picking the perfect oil cleanser
Oil cleansing is revolutionary and all, but if you’re not using the correct oils…it can be traumatizing to your skin. Avoid oils high on the comedogenic scale such as coconut oil. Not only because it will clog your pores, but also because it is not really an effective moisturizer. It also can’t hydrate, contrary to popular belief. No oils can hydrate. Hydrating is when you give your skin water. Oils and water do not mix at all (without an emulsifier, at least).
For oily/acne prone skin
For dry/sensitive skin
One Ingredient Cleansing Oils
Cleansing oils don’t need to be fancy. When I first started using oils to cleanse, I stuck to sweet almond oil and avocado oil. My skin had never looked better. The weekly breakouts I was getting came to a halt. This is because sweet almond oil has a high percentage of vitamin A (think: retinol). Vitamin A helps to increase your skin’s cell turnover rate. So, if you’re on a budget, sweet almond oil alone is great for oily, acne-prone skin. It is non-comedogenic and will help to balance the excess oils on your face. If you have dry skin, avocado oil is high in essential fatty acids and is a perfect oil cleanser to help with the dryness.