What to Know About Deep Oil Cleansing

Medically Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on July 23, 2023
4 min read

Cleaning the dirt and grime of the day from your face is a nighttime ritual for many. Most people use a facial cleanser to get the job done. But cleansing your face using certain types of oil has recently become popular in the world of skincare.

It might seem counterintuitive to clean your face with oil. Isn’t that part of the gunk you’re trying to remove? But oil cleansing can have some serious benefits for your skin. 

Oil cleansing works because the oil you use to cleanse with bonds to the oils and dirt on your skin. The oil also acts as a barrier to protect your skin, and keeps it soft and moisturized. 

Traditional facial cleansers can strip the skin of all bacteria, good and bad. Oil cleansing leaves the good bacteria and microbes, which can help prevent skin infections like acne. 

You should use a plant-based oil for deep oil cleansing. Plant oils have many benefits for your skin, including: 

  • ‌Wound healing
  • Protection against inflammation  
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Eases the effects of aging  
  • Creates a protective skin barrier 
  • Protection against cancer

Oil cleansing doesn’t always work the same way for everyone. There are a few things that determine how well it will work for you. 

The oil you use needs to be high quality. This will ensure that you’ll get the greatest amount possible of these components: 

  • Antioxidants
  • Free fatty acids
  • Phospholipids 
  • Triglycerides
  • Phenolic compounds

Overall, oil cleansing with high-quality plant oil has benefits for your skin, but more studies are needed to find out exactly how effective it can be.

You shouldn’t use just any old oil when it comes to your skin. There are generally two options for oil cleansing: You can get a pre-mixed oil cleanser, or you can make your own blend. 

It’s important to choose the right oil for your skin type. People who have oily skin should go for an oil that contains a high amount of linoleic acid. If you have dry skin, try an oil that has lots of oleic acid. 

There are lots of plant-based oil options for cleansing your skin, each with its own set of benefits. 

  • Olive oil. This oil is anti-inflammatory, promotes antioxidant activity, helps heal wounds, and helps to protect against skin cancer. Olive oil is high in oleic acid, so it’s great for dry skin. 
  • Sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is high in linoleic acid, making it perfect for oily skin. It repairs the skin barrier and fights against cancer. 
  • Grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil is rich in linoleic acid and vitamin E. It’s also high in antioxidants and is antibacterial. 
  • Coconut oil. Coconut oil can act as a natural sunscreen, protecting your skin from harmful ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. It’s also antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, prevents aging, and helps wounds heal faster. 
  • Safflower seed oil. Safflower oil has anti-inflammatory properties and is high in linoleic acid
  • Argan oil. Argan oil has been historically used for skin and hair care. It improves skin elasticity and hydration, and is anti-inflammatory. 
  • Soybean oil. This oil can improve the skin barrier, is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and has high antioxidant activity. 
  • Peanut oil. Peanut oil is very hydrating, and can block UV rays from the sun. It also protects against aging and skin cancers. 
  • Sesame oil. In Taiwanese medicine, sesame oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It can also protect your skin from sun damage. It’s packed with antioxidants and is anti-aging. 
  • Jojoba oil. Used in a face mask, jojoba oil can treat scarring and acne. It fights inflammation, eczema, and skin infections. 
  • Almond oil. Sweet almond oil can improve your skin tone and delay signs of aging. Bitter almond oil can lessen the appearance of stretch marks. 
  • Rosehip oil. Rosehip oil is high in linoleic acid, and can be helpful in fighting inflammation-related skin problems, like eczema. It also fights the signs of aging. 

Steer clear of low-quality kitchen oils when it comes to cleansing your face. If you choose to mix your own, use a cold-pressed oil that has been processed as little as possible. This will help to preserve all the beneficial qualities so your skin can absorb them.

Oil cleansing might not work for every skin type. People who have very oily skin might need to use a gentle cleanser after oil cleansing to remove residue from the face. 

People who have peanut allergies should be careful if using peanut oil for cleansing. Refined peanut oil is generally safe to put on your skin, but you should still do a patch test to see if your skin reacts to it.