You’ve probably heard about the oil-cleansing method, using an oil to remove dirt and, well, oil from your face. You’ve also probably been a little nervous about the idea, given that oil and skin seem like a bad combination. But cleansing oils are growing in popularity and regularly appear on drugstore shelves. Even though they seem like a counter intuitive way to wash your face, cleansing oils can be more hydrating than traditional face washes because they don’t contain many surfactants. Surfactants are typically used as detergents or foaming agents, and they can be a little harsh on your skin. Cleansing oils contain hydrating and soothing ingredients that may actually be more effective and less irritating than some traditional cleansers. Contrary to what you may think cleansing oils won’t leave your skin greasy or heavy. Oil absorbs oil, which means that these products can effectively remove dirt from the skin and leave it clean.
But all oils aren’t created equally. There’s a big difference between applying a cosmetically formulated cleansing oil versus rubbing canola from your kitchen onto your skin. And cleansing oils don’t work for everyone. They can cause clogged pores, breakouts, and milia, those little hard white bumps that can form on your face, that’s why it’s so important to pick the right cleanser. It is recommended that you read the label carefully, and select a cleansing oil that’s designed for your skin type. If you have oily skin or are acne-prone, it’s a good idea to look for cleansers that contain grapeseed, argan, lavender, or coconut oils, which are lighter and more likely to work well with your skin. Heavier oils such as avocado, on the other hand, should probably be avoided if you already are oily. If you have dry skin, look for products with avocado, jojoba, or sunflower oil, and for those with normal to sensitive skin, look for cleansers with calming oils, such as rosemary and camellia seed oil. If you have sensitive skin it’s a good idea to avoid cleansers with fragrances. You can also use the oil straight up. To do that, apply a warm, damp washcloth to your face for about 20 seconds, then massage the oil into your skin to help dissolve the grit and grime. After that, gently wipe the oil off with a warm, wet washcloth. If you’re tempted to try the oil-cleansing method but are nervous about how your skin will tolerate it, simply add it to your skincare routine without changing anything else for a month or two. If you are breaking out more, it’s likely the oil. But, if not, experts say cleansing oils can be a new, more moisturizing way to clean your face.