​Bye Bye Soap: Oil Cleaning and Why You Should Try It

​Bye Bye Soap: Oil Cleaning and Why You Should Try It

A couple months ago I ran into a friend who, like me, is a fair skinned Italian girl, and she looked radiant. “What’s your secret?” I begged.

“I stopped using soap.” Huh? No soap? “It’s all about cleaning oil,” she said, her skin beaming.

“But… how do you clean your face by making it more oily??” The idea of adding more oil to my skin brought back memories of those awful teenage years where I’d apply layer upon layer of pressed powder to prevent that very scenario.

“Look it up,” my friend suggested, so I turned to the internet to get some answers.

Oil Cleaning Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Historically, oil has been used as a cleaning agent in beauty routines for millennia. (For a NSFW treat, check out this scene from Rome where a servant scrapes off oil of Marc Antony’s perfectly toned arms...) It’s only in modern times, especially in the United States, that we’ve gotten obsessed with scrubbing our skin and washing our hair. Who doesn’t shampoo until you hear the squeak beneath your fingertips? This super cleaning, ironically, causes our bodies to create more oil because we’ve removed the natural levels of oil that keep our skin balanced. With oil, you maintain your body’s natural balance by moisturizing while you clean.

What the Science Says

The principle behind oil cleaning is “like dissolves like”: In chemistry, there are polar (i.e., water) and non-polar (i.e. oil) solvents. Because water is non-polar, it can’t dissolve polar oil, but oil can be used to dissolve other oils because both are polar. This means you can remove makeup as well as the dirt and sweat accumulated over the course of the day using an oil like argan or rosehip seed.

Argan is a great cleaning oil for all skin types. If you’ve got oily skin, you can add an astringent like tea tree oil or peppermint oil (just be sure not to apply those without using a carrier oil like argan). If you tend to run dry, rosehip seed is incredibly hydrating without leaving a heavy residue. Some skincare sites also recommend castor oil, coconut oil, shea oil, almond oil, or even olive oil, but I find most of them to be too heavy to move easily on my face without pulling my delicate skin.

So How Do I Do It?

Like getting a facial, you will want to open your pores by soaking a microfiber cloth in warm (i.e. not scalding hot) water and placing it on your face for about 30 seconds. Then gently massage in a small amount of your oil of choice. Really treat yourself--it’s a mini-massage and reward for the hard work you did that day. Then wet the cloth again, and gently remove the oil using upward circular movements. Remember--the goal isn’t to get your face squeaky clean. Using oil as a cleaner has the benefit of moisturizing your skin, so wipe off the muck from the day, and let the rest soak in to give you that beautiful, natural glow.

Since cleaning oil doubles as your moisturizer, it’s much easier to pack for travel. But don’t leave for vacay or that work trip without Hyaluronic Acid Serum. I live and die by it before applying Wide Awake Dark Circle Concealer and Mineral Foundation . If I feel I need extra exfoliation, I’ll also toss in the Miracle Peel Microdermabrasion Cloth.

Success Stories

A month into this experiment, I can honestly say I’m never going back to “washing” my face. Send me your before and after pics on Twitter or tag me on Instagram. Let’s say goodbye to soap together!


About the Author: Gia Mora

Gia Mora, a.k.a. Einstein's Girl, is a multifaceted performer and writer. She brings her unique blend of brains and beauty to her work on screen and stage and now as the newest artist signed to Modern Songbook Records.