What You Need To Know About The Oil Cleansing Method

What You Need To Know About The Oil Cleansing Method

cleansing.jpgI’ve been getting a lot of questions lately from readers of my blog and YouTube about the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM), so I thought I’d write a post of frequently asked questions which should help you a lot. If you’re still unsure about how to do the OCM after reading this article, or your questions are not covered, then write your query in the response box below.

I’d also LOVE to hear from any of you that have been using the OCM. I’ve had both good and bad experiences form using the oils in my skin care routine, so I’d really appreciate if you could share you experiences too.

If you don’t know what the OCM is, you can read my introductory post here –> The Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) For Cleansing Your Face

Here are the most common questions I’ve been asked, or I’ve needed to ask myself :)

1. Is the OCM the best skin care routine for treating acne?
2. My skin is dry, should I wash all the oils off after I cleanse or leave some of it on?
3. Do I have to use extra virgin olive oil and castor oil?
4. I have oily skin, I don’t know about putting more oil onto it
5. Is the OCM okay to use on all types of acne?
6. Where can I buy the oils from?
7. How often do I need to do the OCM?
8. Can I use a face steamer?
9. Where can I find more resources on the OCM?

1. Is the OCM the best skin care routine for treating acne?

oils.jpgThere is no one skin care routine that will work perfectly for everyone.

Please don’t think that you HAVE to do the OCM to treat your acne. If you don’t feel confident in using the oils on your face, or you feel as though you’re already using a great skin care routine, then don’t worry :) just stick with what you’ve been doing.

I had fantastic results with using the OCM for a couple of months, in fact – it completely cleared up my cystic acne. I then got a bit ridiculous with trying a ton of different “quick fixes” at once while I switched to a new oil in the routine. My skin totally freaked out and reacted by getting all clogged up and I ended up with a heap of little blackheads and whiteheads on my cheeks which started to become inflammed. So, I’ve decided to give my skin and little break from the OCM, and I’m using a very gentle skin care routine while my skin recovers. It’s been almost three weeks now since my skin had it’s little ‘freak out’ and it’s recovering very slowly but it’s getting there. My point is – the OCM can be wonderful as a cleanser and moisturizer and at clearing up your acne, but at the same time don’t think it’s the only and best skin care routine for acne. You can get both good and bad results with the OCM, depending on how your individual skin reacts to the particular oils you use.

I have read countless testimonals from people who have had amazing results from using the OCM. There acne has cleared, they’ve got rid of their blackheads and whiteheads, and their skin has been a lot softer than it ever was before. At the same time, I have also read forum posts from people who have found that they’ve had a bad reaction to certain oils.

If you do decide to do the OCM, choose some good quailtiy non-comedogenic oils and regulary monitor your skin – take notice of how your skin is reacting to the new routine.

2. My skin is dry, should I wash all the oils off after I cleanse or leave some of it on?

The mistake I made with the OCM was I left too much of the oils on after I cleansed. The reason why it’s important to wash the oil completely off after the cleansing process is because you’ve just removed a lot of dirt, grime, dead skin cells and hopefully clogged pores by massaging the oil mix into your skin. You want to wash all of that stuff off not keep it on your skin. Remember – dead skin cells and flakey skin can clog pores and cause a breakout.

If you find your skin is dry or tight after you’ve cleansed with the OCM, you can use a very small amount of the oil mix as a moisturizer. Just make sure it’s rubbed into your skin enough, this is often one of the biggest mistakes people make. Not rubbing the oil in enough (you’ll be able to tell because your skin will feel and look very oily) can possibly give you a breakout.

3. Do I have to use extra virgin olive oil and castor oil?

Castor oil is the primary oil and recommended to keep in the mix because it’s the cleansing oil out of the two. Castor oil however can be quite drying to the skin, which is why you need to use less of it if you have dry skin. You also don’t have to use castor oil in the mix. You may find that using olive oil (or another non-comedognic oil) on its own is okay.

As for using an alternative to olive oil, there are many different oils you can choose from. The only thing you need to look out for when choosing oils is that they’re non-comedogenic. This means they will not clog you pores.

I’ve done some research and found the best oils for acne prone skin. I do find that the olive oil is a little too heavy for me (apparently this is quite common), so these are some lighter alternatives to olive oil that I might try in the future:

  • jojoba
  • walnut
  • apricot seed
  • hazelnut
  • peach kernel
  • sweet almond
  • sunflower
  • safflower

You can also take a look at this web page. It lists non-comedogenic oils.


Keep in mind that the castor oil is the cleansing part (which is why it’s the primary oil) and the
olive oil (or alternative oil) is the moisturising part. So if your skin is looking too oily or moisturised, use a mix of more castor and less olive oil. If your skin is too dry, use less
castor oil.

4. I have oily skin, I don’t know about putting more oil onto it

Oil actually dissolves oil, so cleaninsg with oils can in fact be one of the best ways to clean oily skin.

5. Is the OCM okay to use on all types of acne?

Yes, sufferers of all types of acne have had great success in using the OCM. When I first started using the OCM, I had “regular” pimples and cystic acne. I found that it helped both conditions, but the cystic acne the most.

6. Where can I buy the oils from?

It is best to use organic oils, so if you can find a supplier either locally or online that sells organic essential oils (specifically for skin care) then that’s the absolute best place to buy. I started with an organic extra virgin olive oil that I bought from my local health food store that is actually sold for cooking! I didn’t have problems with this “cooking” oil at all.

The castor oil I purchased from a pharmacy. Castor oil is often used as a laxative if taken internally.

Becky who runs theonlinegoddess blog, is from the UK, she had a lot of trouble finding castor oil in grocery stores and supermarkets. If you’re in the UK too, you may need to purchase the oil online.

7. How often do I need to do the OCM?

You don’t have to use the OCM twice a day. In fact, you don’t even need to do it every day. You may find better results if you use it just once a day – in the evenings or even just twice a week. Sometimes just washing your face with water or a light cleanser is okay. Experiment and see what works best for you.

8. Can I use a face steamer?

Absolutely. The best way to do the steaming part of the OCM is to use a face streamer. I didn’t want to buy one so I used a hot face washer which I think is almost as good. You can also fill a bowl with hot water then put your face over the steam coming off the water with a towel over your head.

9. Where can I find more resources on the OCM?

This is my favorite OCM resource. It’s an archive of questions asked about the OCM on live journal. I’ve had a lot of my own questions answered from reading this archive.

Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) Entries

Remember, if you still have more questions, or can’t find an answer to an OCM question that you have, write in the response box below and I’ll get straight back to you.

Happpy OCM-ing :)


37 comments… add one

  • Ann

    I am nearly 59–no matter what I did, I still had acne breakouts till earlier this year. The thing that changed everything was giving up milk. I still eat yogurt and have an occasional half-mug of skim (with a cookie), but until I gave it up as my drink of choice with meals, I continuously had pimples and sore cyst-like pockets that never came to a head. When I do my oil cleansing, I use a butter or regular table knife to scrape off my first application of apricot oil, then redo the oil and follow a regimen much like yours. In my shower every morning, I use a sulfur-based soap (10%), which I leave on while I finish my shower, then rinse off. I follow this with a thin layer of apricot oil before a spf 20 sunscreen moisturizer. I use a light application of arnica salve under my eyes—because arnica works for bruising, which is pretty much what under-eye circles are. All that seems to be working very well, but I really think the main change-for-the-better was giving up milk. There are hefty growth hormones in milk, even that which is marked hormone free. It may not have added hormones in it, but it naturally contains them–as milk is what the cow produces for her calves. I wish I’d figured out the milk connection years ago. The knife-exfoliation has taken care of all the dark spots from past acne, and the oil cleansing keeps my skin from drying out. Now, if I could figure out an antigravity solution, I’d be thrilled.

  • Ellis

    Hi, I am new about the OCM and I have few questions.
    1. Can I wet my face first then apply the oil?
    2. Can I skip the steaming?( so just apply, massage and use hot water to rinse.
    3. Can I just use one type of oil, I see most people mix oils
    Thank you for answering my questions.

  • clarissa cannon

    i been using sweet almond oil olive oil castor oil a few drops of tea tree oil on my face and avocado butter it seems to me that the pimples are coming out more than less is it because before i apply the oils i exfoiliate with baking soda and perixode or sometimes with raw sugar and sweet almond oil??

  • Kari


    I’ve experimented with OCM, with varying results. Like a lot of other people I’ve experienced that the skin was really soft and nice at first, and then broke out.
    Now I think I’ve found the culprit! CASTOR OIL seems to be making my sensitive skin break out! I was doing it only with jojoba + a small amount of lavender, rosehip and patchouli for a while, and things were fine. And then I thought I’d experiment a bit … Boom! The very same day, only a few hours later, I noticed small bumps and whiteheads forming. I have them on my temples, forehead, chin and even a bit on my cheeks, where I never get any pimples. Now I’ve gone back to only jojoba, and I’ve also done a clay mask. Fingers crossed that my skin will calm down.
    If you have any experiences that are similar, I’d love to hear about it.
    You still only use jojoba, Fran?
    All the best,

  • Nisha

    Hi, Thanks for the details on first place.
    My skin was clear without acnes before doing OCM but was dull and showing signs of aging.
    After doing a lot of research, I decided to use Grapeseed oil and EVOO for my face, (and a drop of Gerenium oil too) as with many cases, initially my skin was good, but then it broke out and in a odd way with pimples near ears, chin and forehead. I can say I did not follow the method of OCM properly and I was more of doing a massage, then wash it off. All I want to know is should I still continue to do the OCM in proper way or should i discontinue it as my face gets new acnes every day! Appreciate your response.

  • Natalia

    I just started using Cleansing oil method and so far I’m enjoying it. One thing I have read is you should only be using the cleansing oil once/twice a week. Any more then that you will start seeing your face get really dry. I have been making my own facial cleansers for the days I don’t do the oil cleaning method and the results are fantastic. Here is a good guide for different skin types.
    * Oily Skin: Try a blend of 30% Castor Oil to 70% Sunflower Seed Oil.
    * Balanced Skin: Try a blend of 20% Castor Oil to 80% Sunflower Seed Oil.
    * Dry Skin: Try a blend of 10% Castor Oil to 90% Sunflower Seed Oil.

    I hope that helps some of you wanting a good mix. If you want me to post some great facial cleansers let me know.


  • Crystal

    After another hormonal breakout this month I started doing a lot of research online. I work for a beauty supplier and I have used the best money can buy, with not so great results. I am looking for a natural alternative, and the OCM is very interesting to me. I get a lot of cystic acne (is this the kind where you feel a large bump under the skin and it never comes to a head?) plus many blackheads. I am hoping to clear this up. I will post after a few weeks and let you know how it’s going. I have to say, after the initial cleansing , my skin feels so supple and looks glowing. I’m hoping I don’t have an adverse reaction since my skin is also very sensitive.

  • Ocm user

    I’ve been using the OCM for about a month now and i’ve started to notice a few red bumps appear on my face. I’m using a mixture of Sunflower/Virgin Olive oil/Castor Oil and trust me this mixture has done wonders for me. I was expecting the purging period, just wanted to know how long it lasted?

  • Shelly

    After using the ocm cleanising method, do you still use your eyecare regimen or an additional moisturizer?

  • EricaVee

    Robs, if your skin is too sensitive for commercial anti-blemish products, you could try apple cider vinegar. I know you might be wary of at-home skincare after your bad experience with OCM, but ACV shouldn’t do any long-term damage to your skin. Basically you just apply the ACV with a cotton ball like a toner–dilute it by half to begin with and play around with the strength until you find what works. The smell goes away in a few minutes, if you’re worried about that. Good luck!

  • Hi fran
    i wanted to know that ocm method is effective for fine lines over forehead. my age is 29 and fine lines are occuring on forehead….pls tell me how to use castor oil for the wrinkles treatment and after using ocm can i use night cream….as my skin is very very dry…..

    do reply…

  • Robs

    I had nearly perfectly clear skin, just a few blackheads and whiteheads on my nose and chin – barely noticeable. Then I tried the oil cleansing method for a couple weeks and have had blemished skin ever since. OCM changed my face and I can’t get it back to normal.

    It’s been almost a year now. I get blemishes that last weeks and leave redmarks that last months and months. I have sensitive skin and can’t use benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. It seems that nothing I try clears up my skin or reduces the redmarks. Please help!

    • Try taking 3000 mg of vitamin C a day with lots of water. I had a doctor tell me to do that and it had a nice side effect of clearing up acne that I had had for a while and couldn’t get rid of.

  • Ann

    The OCM has been a miracle for me. I had teenage acne, adult acne and then started acne rosacea, so it’s been a long tough road–I’m 55 and was still breaking out! I would have never thought oil would do anything but make my skin worse. But, I am so glad I followed your advice. My skin did get a little worse at first, but I guess that was the impurity purge you mentioned. I use pure jojoba oil–at first I mixed in castor oil and a drop of tea tree oil, but I’ve settled on using just the jojoba oil alone. I first remove my eye makeup with it, then start the OCM. I do the steaming with a hot wash cloth, then I apply the oil again. This time, I scrape it off (very gently, of course) with a table knife I reserve just for this purpose. NOT SERRATED–just a dull old table knife. You’ll be surprised at the color of the oil that collects on the knife–it will probably be pink- or tan-toned, like your blush or makeup color. I follow this step with the hot wash cloth again, wiping off the residue. End with a cold wash cloth swipe, and my face never felt cleaner. My complexion is clear for the first time since I was about 14! I no longer use any alcohol-based toners (like Sea Breeze) because they’re harsh and drying, and I’ve found I didn’t require their grease-cutting action any longer. An added bonus of the OCM is that if you do get a zit or clogged pore (black- or whitehead), it’s so shallow, it’s easily emptied without damaging the surrounding skin. Thank you so much for the OCM!

  • joy

    After a few days off the OCM my face is starting to clear. Fran said after 2-3 months she had to stop. My initial success in the first 2 weeks makes me wonder if there is a problem removing the oil (albeit noncomedogenic). Oil may remove oil -BUT WATER WON’T REMOVE OIL- just washing with water after OCM may not be enough because water may not remove all the crud & oil you’ve released from your pores.
    How to find the balance between strpping our face of natural oil thus causing the body to produce more oil with deep cleaning & moisturizing? Haven’t given up on OCM entirely but once every other day or once a week alternating with more traditonal methods might be the ticket.

  • Anna

    THanks, Fran. (Sorry for the delayed response.) I’ve decided to take a break from OCM for a while–it’s time consuming and encourages me to obsess about my skin even more than I already do! Also, I’m afraid of something like what Joy describes happening.


  • joy

    Have been using OCM for about 3 weeks with good results-50/50 castor/jojoba oil. Sudenly I wake up with horrible small red bumps.& small pus filled pimples all over my face. What happened? What can I do differently?

  • Hi Anna, the OCM helped my cystic acne a lot, but it clogged up my skin and gave me really bad comedonal acne. For that reason after 2-3 months of using it I had to stop.

    If you are using the OCM, please make sure you’re using oils that WILL NOT clog your pores. Olive oil has a medium level of comedogenicity, meaning it has the possibility of clogging you up. You’re better of going with an oil that has a 0 rating, like grape seed or jojobar.

  • Anna

    Hi Fran,

    Thanks so much for posting all of this information. I have just started the OCM (using extra virgin olive and castor oils) and so far (been going for about a week now) it’s been great. I got a small breakout on my left cheek, but it is small and it seems to me to be crap just coming to the surface due to the cleansing.

    Here’s my question: I have seen (on other forums and a bit from what you said) that sometimes the OCM seems to turn on people suddenly–they suddenly wake up with horrid cystic breakouts, redness, etc. Do you have any idea why this would happen? Or how to prevent it? In your case, you said you were switching around the oils and using “quick fixes” (wasn’t sure what you meant there). But I’ve seen multiple people post that they didn’t think they were doing anything different.

    Thanks so much for your time!

  • Layla

    I read somewhere the coconut does wonders for the skin so I recently bought some and was wondering whether it would be a good replacement for olive oil? Also I moisturize with cetaphil and use an acne cream then at night I cleanse with neutrogena exfoliate with baking soda and vinegar and apply an egg protien mask is there any way to add the OCM into my routine or should i only so one or the other?
    Thanks ahead of time

  • Erica

    I make my own all natural soaps and shampoos, and have found that castor and olive oil are very very good in the soaps, and clears up oily skin very well.

    I get all my oils online, there’s great deals to be had buying in bulk!

    Buy Castor Oil

  • Marissa

    Do you steam your face before using the cleanser, after, or during?

  • Lizzy Allister

    Hi there,

    im wanting to try out the OCM method but i was just wondering whether you could give me some advice. On the evenings i dont use OCM, what would you reccomend i wash my face with to get rid of my make-up? also im wanting to use a face oil as a moisturiser – do you think this will be too much when combined with the OCM?

    many thanks


  • I’ve been doing the OCM but I think I’m doing something wrong. I started off using just olive oil, not even extra virgin–and I think that was part of the problem, because I got terrible breakouts on my chin and the bridge of my nose. Normally I have blemish-prone skin, but I only occasionally get full-blown pimples–it’s mostly blackheads and clogged pores.

    I switched to extra virgin olive oil and I just got some castor oil–It’s better, but I found a small pimple on the bridge of my nose today. I’m going to stay with the OCM but I think some adjustment is needed. M aybe I should only do it every other day. I think I may not be getting enough of the oil off in certain places.

    I’ve been using apple cider vinegar to spot treat the breakouts I’ve gotten, and it has worked pretty well. I love the idea of using natural beauty treatments–there’s so many chemicals in my life that I can’t avoid, so it’s nice to at least be able to cut back on them in this one area.

  • Rie

    Hey Fran!

    Several weeks ago I read an entry about olive oil and its benefits for the skin and hair. Primarily, I intended to try olive oil only to restore moisture to my damaged hair. I later discovered that the olive oil that unintentionally covered my forehead while applying it to my scalp cleared up that portion of my face from pimples. I didn’t realize until I read this blog that my forehead was really clear for about two weeks after that.

    The olive oil was quite heavy on my face but felt much better after washing off with a cleanser. I was afraid of clogging my pores but I found that just leaving olive oil on my face for a good hour once a week and washing it off with a cleanser works great!

    Thanks for your hard work on these tutorials! I suffer from moderate acne, and I now look to your miracle tips whenever I have that super pimple popping up.

  • Hi Greta, unfortunately I have no idea! I never used a face steamer when I used the OCM. I used a hot face towel or a bowel full of very hot water (which gave off plenty of steam).

    I guess you could try a Google search?

  • Greta

    Hi Fran, what is the price range for face steamers and where can i get my hands on one? I’m an aussie too. :) Thanks heaps.

  • Rita

    Hi Fran,
    So I have been using the OCM now for about a week, and it has done wonders for a certain problem area iv’e had for a while.So I am happy about that.My acne on my jawline is taking its time but does look a bit better.What I have been doing is washing with the oil and then using a product from The Body Shop, its the Seaweed exfoliant.I also have been spot treating with clay at night time too.So That seems to be working well for me.I was really happy to watch your latest video cause I do have oily skin so this summer I will definately be cutting back on the OCM.Thanks for the great info!!!

  • Hi Steph, just removing the oil with a wet face towel or water is fine. You don’t need any additional cleansers :)

  • Steph

    hi, sorry another question, when you wash your face after the hot towel on your face, do you wash your face with a cleanser (store boguht) or just water?

  • Steph

    Thanks! :)

  • Hi Steph, have a look through the forums link I posted in question 9.

    From memory I don’t think it’s normal though to breakout in the first few days. Breaking out in the first few days of using a new cleanser and moisturiser is a good sign of cosmetic acne, and a good sign that you should discontinue using the product.

    Monitor your skin when doing the OCM, and take note of any changes in how your skin and pores look. Most people have great success with the OCM, but there are a select few that find that it breaks them out or clogs their pores. Even natural products aren’t for everyone.

  • Steph

    Hi, i dont have a lot of acne, but what i do have i want to get rid of. I was just wondering if you did, or have heard of anyone, breaking out the first few days you start. I am only wondering because my mother says i will, and i dont want to stop because of that, then find out that is normal and should clear up afterwords.

  • Andy

    My idea, which I am excited about because I feel that it is a good idea is :
    * Change your pillow every few months
    * Wash your bed sheets and blanket with bleach
    * Only use laundry detergents that are free of dyes and perfumes
    * If you use a fabric softener in the dryer, try to find one that is free of possible irritants

    You will have :
    * less unhealthy oils
    * less angry pimples from irritants
    * less bacteria

    After all, your face spends about 8 hours a day on your pillow, blanket, and sheets.

  • That’s probably it then, I’ll make sure I pay more attention to those areas. The one on my temple has gotten smaller and I got rid of a blackhead today! :)

    I’m definitely going to quit the walnut oil though. It seems good at doing it’s job, but it leaves a faint smell on my face, kinda like pongy socks lol.

  • Hi Becky, I got a couple of small spots near my hairline too when I started the OCM. I’m pretty sure it was because I wasn’t removing the oils from those areas after cleansing properly. As soon as I started paying attention to those areas the problem went away.

    Watermelon oil sounds so intereseting! Wow, they can make an oil out of anything.

  • Thanks for writing this guide Fran, I must admit I’ve had trouble finding so much information neatly in one place so this is very helpful.

    One thing that always bothered me when reading forum discussions and the like was that people rarely stated their skin type when talking about how OCM has worked for them. If that type of information was given more often and the data collated, I think it would reveal which oils are suitable for dry, oily or combination skin and help people new to the routine. I’m willing to bet that a lot of people who give up are simply using the wrong combination of oils.

    Also, I did read somewhere that cold-pressed castor oil should be used rather than the kind found in the laxatives section of pharmacies. It makes a big difference apparantly, so when I order some online next week, that’s what I’ll aim for. I’m also considering trying watermelon oil instead of the walnut I’m using right now, it’s supposed to be particularly good for oily skin.

    I have had a couple of new spots appear since I started the OCM four days ago, but not what I would call a breakout. They’re quite small and, oddly enough, have appeared right at the edges of where I do the OCM so perhaps I’m not wiping the oil off properly in those areas. The good news though, is that they’re starting to fade before coming to a head – I wonder if that’s because I started with the castor oil yesterday.

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