The Many Benefits of Oil Cleansing


Based on the principle that “like dissolves like”, oil cleansing, a traditional practice with ancient roots, is a method of cleansing our face that removes dirt and impurities without disrupting our skin’s delicate microbiome. If done consistently and correctly, oil cleansing can nourish, protect and decongest our skin without stripping vital natural oils — making way for a healthier, more resilient complexion that is less likely to break out or show early signs of aging. Since this technique should be performed properly to reap its full spectrum of benefits, we asked holistic esthetician, Shani Hillian, to share her thoughts on how to best implement this potent practice into our routine and why all skin types can benefit. Discover the dos and don’ts from the esthetician who witnessed first-hand its transformational magic in action. Your healthiest, most vibrant complexion awaits.


What exactly does oil cleansing do?

Oil cleansing is exactly how it sounds, you cleanse your skin with an oil. It's an ancient practice that's been around for thousands of years. It involves massaging  natural oils on your face and then using a hot towel to steam away makeup, dirt, sweat and grime.



What types of oils clog pores and which clean pores?

Comedogenic oils clog and non-comedogenic oils cleanse. Comedogenic oils such as coconut, mineral, wheat germ and flaxseed oil have a likelihood of clogging facial pores. They should only be used on the body, as our skin from the neck down is completely different from the skin on our faces. Non-comedogenic oils that will not clog your pores are safflower, sunflower, hemp seed, grapeseed, squalene and so many more.



How often should we oil cleanse?

I recommend daily. I've cleansed my skin with oil exclusively for many years and it's been the best at balancing my oil production and keeping skin conditions at bay. You can use an oil cleanser first and then follow up with a water-based cleanser after if you desire a more flushing effect.



How much oil should we use?

Depends on the product and your needs. Are you removing makeup first? I use a dropper applicator and dispense one full dropper. If you have a pump I would do about 3-4 pumps.



What's the best way to apply oils?

If you are cleansing with an oil, apply to dry skin as you want the oil to adhere and dissolve the oil/debris/sweat within your pores without a barrier. If however you are using an oil as a moisturizer—which I love—you can apply your oil to damp skin and follow with your serum of choice. Oils create a barrier between your skin and the environment while also locking in any products preceding it. So if you want to maintain balanced skin, you also need a product with water content, which is where your serums and toners come in.



Is an oil more hydrating than a moisturizer?

Oils are not hydrating, they are moisturizing. A great way to remember that is water = hydrating, oil = moisturizing. Only water based products can "hydrate" such as serums, toners, essences, water-based creams etc. You can use an oil as a moisturizer, but always apply to damp skin. Or, you can mix your cream moisturizer with a couple drops of oil.



What’s the purpose of wiping off with a microfiber towel vs. just rinsing off?

Oil and water don't mix, so if you try to rinse off oil cleansing, it'll slide right off and leave residue. Remember, oil is like a barrier, so you need to remove the barrier physically. The water from the towel and the steam will soften debris in skin and since the oil attracts whatever you had in your pores, the towel quite literally acts as a magnet and as you wipe, you are ridding your pores of the debris within them.



What is your technique for massaging oil into our face?

It's more about the intention you put into cleansing your skin, focusing on the movement and areas of focus that are right for you.



How can oil cleansing benefit acne and sensitive skin?

Traditional facial cleansers can strip our skin of all bacteria— both good and bad. Oil cleansing leaves the good bacteria and microbes, which can help prevent skin infections like acne. I recommend a plant-based oil for deep oil cleansing.



How important is it to find the right oil cleanser, and which are your favorites?

It's very important to find oil cleansers that cater to your skincare needs, at that moment. Not what your skin "used to like'' or what you "used to use." Our skin changes so often. I actually formulated an oil cleanser that'll be available in the Fall, however there are a few on the market that I've used personally and love for all skin types. Here's what I might recommend to try: Marie Veronique's Replenishing Oil Cleanser, Living Libations Sea Buckthorn Oil and Taïla Muhka's Oil Cleanser.



What are the most common ways you see people oil cleansing wrong?

They don't use a towel to remove, they use the wrong cleanser or use straight coconut oil which is a big no-no as it clogs pores.



How does oil cleansing preserve our skin's microbiome?

It doesn't strip the skin or alter our pH. Anything that contains water will alter our pH which can cause a disruption is your skin's natural regenerative process. Oil does not, which is why I love it for everyone.




Is there anyone / skin type that shouldn’t oil cleanse?

Nope. All skin types benefit from oil cleansing.




We get asked all the time about using oils if you have oily or acne prone skin. What advice do you have for these skin types?

Oil cleansing benefits your skin the most. Oil dissolves oil, so it'll remove the excess oil you have in your skin and regulate oil production all while keeping the microbiome intact. Try it, and watch your skin transform in 3-4 weeks. 



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