Trouble Shooting the Oil Cleansing Method

The Oil Cleansing Method

A few months ago I wrote a post about the oil cleansing method. I had been using the method for about a month at the time and was absolutely in love with it. After a couple more months I started noticing that my skin was clogging.  Now, the problem with my skin is that it easily gets clogged, pair that with having a blog where I am creating and trying out many products and I never know what caused the clogs!  I am pretty sure my skin does not like almond oil and that was what was in my mineral make up, but to be sure, I discontinued everything I was doing and using, including the OCM. I began to really pose the question to my common sense side, is the oil cleansing method really that good of an idea?

What I realized is that there are a lot of “iffy” habits that you can get into with this cleansing method.  The oil cleansing method must be done right.  It kind of reminds me of yoga.  Hear me out….  If you don’t get the poses exactly right, you will probably be sorry.  Like me, last week-I went to a ridiculously advanced class that moved way too fast for my level of yoga and I am still sore!  If you don’t do the oil cleansing method correctly, you really could screw your skin up.

OCM-The correct way…..

  1. Washcloths can be incredibly irritating for skin.  I recommend not using washcloths unless they are baby washcloths.  I use THESE.  Your washcloth might feel really soft, but over time excessive use and washing will stiffen and degrade the fibers and could cause tiny cuts in the skin.  This is a really bad thing when you are trying to remove bacteria from your skin.
  2. Find a place you can hang your cloth properly.  The bottom line-a wet cloth will quickly form bacteria.  Best case scenario-buy enough cloths so you can use a clean one daily.
  3. Temperature is key-If you get your cloth too hot, you can exacerbate the appearance of broken capillaries and other skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea and dermatitis.  Hot water will also dry your skin out, causing your skin to produce more oil!  That being said, steaming your skin is very beneficial when done correctly-it softens the skin and allows for easy exfoliation.  I like to get my cloth really hot, then hold it right under my face.  The cloth doesn’t touch my face until it has cooled to a lukewarm temp.
  4. If you are oily, washing off excess oil with a water based cleanser is a safe way to ensure no breakouts.  There is controversy around leaving oil on the skin when you are prone to clogging.  “Like dissolves like” is true, but honestly, it’s just too iffy when your skin is like mine and random ingredients cause it to clog.
  5. Jojoba oil is a wonderful oil to choose when you are trying to combat oil.  It is the closest to the skin’s natural oils and therefore less likely to clog pores.  Remember to always add castor oil to your oil.  Castor oil is antibacterial and very drying.  It is an excellent cleanser and unless you are bone dry, should be added to your oil cleansing cleanser.
  6. Get your proportions right!  This can be tricky and you have to be ready for some trial and error.  Basically, the more oily you are, the more castor oil you’ll need.  Since I was not oily while performing the OCM, I put 1 tbsp. of castor oil in an 8 ounce bottle, then filled the rest with oil.  If you are oily, you could very likely be using half castor and half oil.  It all depends on your skin type and how your skin responds.
  7. Add in essential oils-bacteria is an issue for acne prone skin.  Adding 20 drops to an 8 ounce oil/castor oil mixture is a great idea.  I would add melaleuca, lavender and/or ylang ylang oils.  This will help fight bacteria and fungus as well as balance the skin.

As you can see-there are a lot of opportunities for failure with this cleansing method.  It must be done correctly to reap the benefits and not have negative side effects.

When I was using the oil cleansing method it was winter time.  I was extremely unbalanced, meaning: I was very dry yet very sensitive to allergy bumps and blackheads-it’s complicated!  Anyway, I loved it because it soothed my dry skin.  It did away with dry patches and after the initial detox period, my skin seemed happy and smooth again.

When done right, the oil cleansing method is still a valid form of cleansing in my book.  For many, many people, it works very well.

If you need more opinions on this method, I have compiled a list of posts from fellow bloggers about the oil cleansing method.  These are from blogger’s I trust.

I will begin the oil cleansing method again once the winter dryness sets in.  This time, I will use a new cloth daily and stick to jojoba/castor oil.  I will also be very aware of the water temp. and use my cloth very gently.

I hope this post might answer some of your questions and apprehensions about this cleansing method.  The bottom line is, everyone’s skin is different.  This method is not for everyone.   When you find something your skin responds positively to, you should stick with it!

xx, Jenni

P.S.   If you are experiencing a “detox” period that lasts longer than 3 weeks, it is time to give up this method.  Leave a comment below and I can suggest a commercial cleanser that worked wonders for my blackheads and hormonal breakouts.



  1. kelle villarreal
    July 14, 2014 / 10:22 am

    Hi Jenny…I too tried the OCM. Seemed to go well at first but like you I’m a serious clogger! The fallout was no bueno! What is the commercial products you suggest? I’m typically dry ( I’m dehydrated most of the time) to normal but if my skin isn’t balanced I get very shiny.

  2. Erika
    July 14, 2014 / 10:38 am

    Same here. I have tried different oils, essential oils, etc and nothing seems to work. I am interested in the commercial product you mentioned too.

  3. Becky
    July 14, 2014 / 10:38 am

    I used the OCM about 6 months ago. I tried it for a few months and it was great at first. I think somewhere along the way I really messed up and now my skin is worse than it has ever been. Frequent hormonal breakouts and clogged pores. I stopped using the OCM and am now using a product line Dzialo made out of NW Portland, OR. I love it, because it is so gentle and feels great, but I’m still suffering from acne and clogged pores. Would love any suggestions. Thanks!!

    • July 14, 2014 / 11:32 am

      Hi Becky! Sorry to hear your skin is still clogged! Have you tried Eminence products? I love their Probiotic Cleanser because it doesn’t dry my skin out or sting. I also started using their Willow Bark Serum with great results. This line is so natural that I recognize every ingredient! Good luck!

    • Rachel
      July 14, 2014 / 12:05 pm

      Hi Becky – I had the same not so great experience and am still trying to get my skin back to what I know after 6+ months 🙁 I feel for you.. not fun and not cheap trying to figure out what will work or not work to resolve the issues.

      Jenny- LOVE your blog!!! So glad to hear you sing praises about Eminence. I’ve been using their products for the last several months while trying to calm and soothe my angry skin (quite a frustrating and emotional challenge I might add). Will be excited to hear your thoughts about the Probiotic Cleanser.. I adore it!!

  4. Sharon
    July 14, 2014 / 10:39 am

    I’ve been using the OCM for about 4 months now and I still experience breakouts. My skin is very oily and extremely sensitive to many products out there. Since I have acne prone skin, before I purchase a product, I will copy the ingredients list and put it into a website I use and have it scanned to see if there are any ingredients that will clog the skin or cause irritation. It’s been very helpful and prevented me from buying certain products. The most recent product I purchased looked great and shouldn’t have created irritation, but now I’m wondering if I’m allergic to orange and/or citrus type oils. I was interested in the cleanser you use and wonder if it will help my skin. Please share!

    • July 14, 2014 / 11:27 am

      Hi Sharon! I am using the Probiotic Cleanser by Eminence! It’s absolutely amazing! I will be posting more about it this Wednesday so check back! I love that it’s so gentle. It doesn’t dry me out or sting. This might be right up your alley!

    • Arriane
      May 26, 2016 / 3:51 pm

      Hello, what was the website you mentioned. I’m so overwhelmed by all these products that claim to be the “best”. Unfortunately, I buy a lot of them. I would like to check out the website to help me decide. Thank you!

      • Jenni
        May 27, 2016 / 8:05 am

        Arriane-I don’t know which website you mean.

  5. Heather
    July 14, 2014 / 10:46 am

    I’m also interested in the products you suggest. I have very oily, acne skin. Blah!!!! I will try the method you posted here for OCM but it hasn’t been the best in the past. How many times a week do you suggest?

  6. Rhanda
    July 14, 2014 / 10:48 am

    I have been using the OCM with pure Safflower oil with Frankincense, Melaleuca, Lavender and Clove essential oils. Safflower oil is the only 0 clogging oil (besides hemp) so I went with it. Castor oil is a 2 on a scale from 0-5 and I read that oily, acne prone skin should not use anything but a 0. I was scared to use it. My mix seemed to clear up my skin that I’ve been battling with since Jan when I started my own face wash. Long story short, after having 2 weeks of clear skin I broke out…I’m losing heart here! I had to resort to using harsh proactiv then using my mix when my skin gets dry. Which cleanser did you use?

    • July 14, 2014 / 11:36 am

      Rhanda-I use the Probiotic Cleanser by Eminence. I love this line because it is so simple and natural-I approve of their preservatives and they use natural ingredients rather than chemicals. I have seen amazing results without the drying and sensitivity I would get from proactiv.

  7. July 14, 2014 / 11:16 am

    Jenni in the blemish remover can I replace. Yalang. Yalang with clove ?

    • July 14, 2014 / 11:17 am

      Suzanne-Be very careful with clove-it is an amazing antioxidant but it’s a hot oil-it can be very damaging to your skin. If you add it, I would only use 1 drop. Thanks!

  8. Trina
    July 14, 2014 / 11:18 am

    Hi Jenni! I made this for myself and loved it so much that I made it for my sister who has very troubled skin. She had such a bad reaction to it and you helped with great advice on a returned email. I started just recently feeling really clogged and my Estitician also mentioned my skin looked not too good. She recommended a charcoal bar from LUSH. I’ve been using this and it is amazing!! I think that I will turn back to OCM like you said during the winter months. But have you ever heard of charcoal for problem skin? It seriously has worked wonders.

    • July 14, 2014 / 11:57 am

      Hi Trina! How is your sister’s skin doing? Yes, I’ve heard of charcoal for clogged skin-I haven’t experimented with it yet but I for sure plan to! I’m so glad you are having great luck with it! I have seen other blogger’s post about doing a charcoal mask-definitely going to try that soon! Thanks for sharing!

  9. July 14, 2014 / 11:23 am

    Can I replace yàlang yalang with clove?

  10. Bronwyn
    July 14, 2014 / 11:24 am

    I tried OCM in late February, but gave up after the end of March. I had just undergone Effudex treatment, and my skin was raw and sensitive. I did not want to add any chemicals so oil cleaning sounded perfect. My skin is still not great, but I use Munuka honey to clean my face in the morning, and your Lavender mostuizer. I swapped out the olive oil for jojoba and my skin loves it. I use a witch hazel toner/cleaner to wipe my skin before bed. Although I have sensitive skin & Roseacea, I have a very oily T zone. Any suggestions for clogged pores and blackheads.

  11. Christine
    July 14, 2014 / 11:55 am

    Jenni, how do you feel about the Eminence Line? I know you enjoyed the skin lightening serum and now you use the cleanser. Do they have any anti-aging products that you think are worth a try? I was using Boots No. 7 Intense Day and Night Cream, but they do have chemicals that I am not comfortable with putting on my skin.
    I tried the OCM for 2 months and my skin broke out so badly, that I am still recovering 4 weeks later and my skin NEVER broke out before, no matter what I put on it. NOw I am using Honest Company baby wash for my face until I figure out a cleanser that will get me on track.

  12. July 14, 2014 / 10:21 pm

    Hello Jenni

    I tried the OCM when I first learned about it from you, but it is not something I have stuck with. I have dry/sensitive skin which did not like the OCM…
    You mentioned using Jojoba oil… I found it to cause breakouts. I also read that Jojoba oil is not recommended for use on the face because it is more like a wax than an oil and can clog pores. Is this just dependent on your skin type as well? I believe when I was using the OCM that I had part Almond (my skin loves almond oil!) part Coconut and just a touch a Castor. Perhaps, my skin did not like it a lot because I tried it during early spring. Maybe, you’re right that OCM is beneficial for winter months. And during the spring & summer a regular cleanser should be called for. I found that my skin felt great after the initial cleanse, but became irritated after using the OCM for a few few weeks… Thanks for your advice! Glad to see you came back to an old post to update it for all your fans to try again. 😉

    • kelle villarreal
      July 15, 2014 / 7:02 am

      Angelique, that is the same response I got from the OCM.
      I’m going to try the commercial cleanser Jenni recommended. ..

  13. TeaJae
    July 14, 2014 / 10:51 pm

    I was going to email you about this very topic no fooling, lol so glad you wrote this, great follow up. I love the idea of oil cleansing. I tried all kinds of oils apricot, macadamia nut, castor, jojoba, olive, grapeseed tried them all single, made concoctions of all of them, never found the right blend. Apparently all these years my dry skin was oily skin, who knew. I tried OCM several times before your advice (gentle wash cloth like the muslin ones, hot water yes I actually put the hot wash cloth directly on my face) look for a water based cleanser and add castor to the jojoba for oily skin. I will take, I’ll try again convinced that I’ll find what works. That probiotic cleanser you mentioned is that the water base product you said oily should use to cleans the face? Thank you again for the update, thank you 🙂

  14. lisa
    July 15, 2014 / 1:58 pm

    I am an OCM dropout. Just made me too oily no matter what I did. So I switched to a liquid African black soap with raw shea butter if i feel dry and it has been miraculous on my hormonal acne. I have been using it almost a year and my skin hasn’t been so clear in years!

    • July 15, 2014 / 2:56 pm

      Lisa, thanks for sharing-I’ve been hearing of this combo. I didn’t know it was good for clearing-very interesting…. Congrats on finding something that works well for your skin!!

      • lisa
        July 16, 2014 / 5:44 pm

        Yeah, it’s been a great find, especially since it’s so inexpensive and lasts a long time. I had an initial ‘detox’ of about 1-2 weeks (can’t remember exactly as it’s been a while ago) where I got lots of little bumps on my forehead. and then my skin just kept getting clearer and clearer. it practically glows. the only breakouts I get at all now are 1 or 2 right before my period comes. this is how i was before, for pretty much all my life, until my hormones went wacko about 3 years ago. I tried everything. OCM was the last thing i tried before the black soap. my skin did look healthier, but it didn’t stop the breakouts and despite using a very small amount of oil and feeling like I removed it sufficiently, I was very shiny and oily pretty much constantly. the black soap and raw shea butter combo keeps my skin clear, firm and well balanced.

  15. Elizabeth
    September 8, 2014 / 10:31 am

    I know this is an old post but had to add my two cents worth. I forts heard about OCM from Wellness Mama almost 2 years ago. I have had horrible skin…oily but aging, cystic acne, etc my whole life. I have always eaten pretty clean but cutting out all grains really helped my skin clear up. African Black soap was helpful too, but I have been doing great with OCM. My oil really evened out…I used to be terribly oily an hour or two after washing with soap. A few things that have helped: Before applying the oil I use a damp washcloth to remove as much makeup as I can. Then I start with a fresh washcloth to remove the oil. I bought tons of dark colored washcloths at target so I have fresh ones every day. In the morning all I do is use warm water on a washcloth to remove and residue, or sometimes apply raw honey for 5 minutes or so before I hop in the shower. Have tried many different oils. Castor mixed with jojoba worked well but right now am using straight coconut oil.

  16. Poorni
    September 12, 2014 / 4:38 am

    Jennie i have been rtiyng out most of your DIY stuffs. When it comes OCm I am not sure of the Frequency. Pls can u temme how often can I use this method??

  17. Mandy
    May 15, 2015 / 12:07 pm

    I have just purchased an oil cleanser and am so scared to try it:( It is the Instanatual oil cleanser the ingredients are jojoba oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil, buckweat oil and essential oils. I seem to righ now have really dry peeling skin in some areas but it looks oily:( with lots of little bumps. I want to try this but am way to scared. Have you heard of this at all?

    • May 20, 2015 / 7:47 am

      Mandy-The ingredients in your oil cleanser are great. I think you might find some relief with your skin peeling. The OCM might help with balancing your skin. Your skin is really out of balance. I know this condition well because I can get out of balance too. I would absolutely recommend you doing the OCM and using the cleanser you have. Everyone is different, but there’s a good chance that you will have great results! BTW-the bumps could also be due to the imbalance. In my case, curing my out of balance skin came when I found a really good moisturizer and oil cleansed in the evening. Go to THIS post for the products that dramatically improved my skin. Good luck!!

      • Mandy
        May 20, 2015 / 8:12 am

        Thank you so very much.. I have been wondering what to do in th a.m as I workout and am just using water right now but feel I need to clean better after I am sweating. You say you used these products in the winter, it is spring/summer now do you junk it is ok for me to use it will they be too oily for this time of year? Currently I do not use a moisturizer at night because I cannot find one that I really like and I am so afraid to try anything new. So if I use the oil
        Cleanser I have in the evening followed by the moisturizer you suggested and then cleanser and moisturizer in the am that may help too.? Also do these products have chemicals ? Your help is so greatly appreciated!!!!!!


        • May 21, 2015 / 7:21 am

          Mandy-Eminence is very natural. The only chemicals they use are the necessary ones to preserve, but even still, their preservative is the most natural one possible.
          I have not started a summer routine. I won’t use the coconut moisturizer in the summer because it is more for drier skin types and I’m not super dry in the summer like in the winter. Only use this moisturizer if you feel like you are very dehydrated. Honestly-You can’t go wrong with Eminence. There are a lot of products to search through but I would go through them and pick one that makes sense for your skin type. I have a hunch, from what you’ve told me that the coconut moisturizer might be too much. I would look for something specifically for sensitive skin. I think you might really like the cleanser though. It’s super nourishing and gentle. You do need something more cleansing in the morning for sure.
          Also, you can use a thicker moisturizer at night and a lighter one during the day. Our skin is in repair mode at night and will use the moisturizer you choose for your skin’s benefit and you won’t have to deal with oiliness under you makeup.
          Also, check into a toner. A toner can go a long way helping balance your skin. I just did a post on a super easy toner DIY-Go HERE for that. Or try Eminence for this too. You’ll love spritzing a toner on-it feels so soothing and your skin will benefit. Use it in between the cleanser and moisturizer.
          I hope this makes sense!! Feel free to ask me any questions-I just hope I can help!

  18. Nikky
    March 5, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    Hi Jenni, always love your stuff. I’m going to start OCM again, and I am wondering what combination works best for combination skin?



    • March 8, 2016 / 7:07 pm

      Nikky-I’ve been using 1 TBSP. per 4 ounces for my recipe but I would up that. I would try 2 TBSP. per 4 ounces. Thanks!

  19. Arriane
    May 26, 2016 / 3:52 pm

    Jenni, do you think if I try ocm and not use it everyday that it will work/ not clog my pores compare to using it everyday?

    • Jenni
      May 27, 2016 / 8:04 am

      Hi Arriane! I would try it even if you don’t end up doing it everyday. Especially if you are doing it to relieve dry skin.

  20. Megan
    July 13, 2016 / 8:16 am

    So,are you still against oil cleansing for your own skin? I just ordered pumpkin seed oil and I’m so nervous about using it. I’ve tried honey and I broke out horribly bad! I’m also starting to cut out processed foods and de-stress with yoga.

    • Jenni
      August 9, 2016 / 4:32 pm

      Megan-I need to review this post because I LOVE oil cleansing for my skin! It’s truly changed my skin but there was a detox period where I wasn’t too sure about it. I do it morning and night now and can’t live without it! Keep going with it. I think you’ll end up seeing good results!

  21. Tammy Grimes
    August 10, 2016 / 9:38 pm

    Hi there, just started Ocm, day 4 and it’s winter here. I am finding my face extremely dry and flakes. Can I use something on the face after shower to hydrate skin or will this make it longer for skin to adjust. Will I need to use anything else after skin has adjusted?

    • Jenni
      August 26, 2016 / 4:43 pm

      Tammy-So sorry to respond so late-This is very different-I’ve never heard of anyone getting dry and flakey skin unless you are going through some kind of detox. OCM should really help hydrate your skin. How much castor oil are you using. Castor oil is drying and should be mixed with a more nourishing oil. Sometimes you have to play with the proportions to figure out what is best for your skin. Let me know how you are doing.

  22. Courtney
    February 3, 2017 / 6:09 pm

    Hi Jenni! HELP! So I’ve been using the oil cleansing method for a little bit now and I love it so far but I don’t know if this is a washcloth issue (maybe) but my skin got super rough and it just looks like my pores expanded and leaves just awful indents in my skin and makes it look like I’ve broken out. Whenever I used any other facial cleansers and stuff my skin never did that (i also never used a wash cloth, just my hands) So I’m thinking maybe the hot water with the wash cloth has really damaged my skin. So to get that smooth texture back should I just get baby wash cloths?? And then wait till it gets luke warm to lay it on my skin?


    • Courtney
      February 3, 2017 / 6:10 pm

      I don’t have red bumps or anything it just looks not as smooth overall

    • Jenni
      February 4, 2017 / 9:35 am

      Courtney-Oh my!! That is really strange. It’s true, a wash cloth can be harsh to the skin and should be used very carefully. A baby wash cloth is much better. I’m not sure this would cause your skin to become rough and indented though. Are you saying that you oil cleansed before but minus a cloth and had good results, but once you used a cloth you had this reaction? I can’t imagine. Could it be something else causing this problem? Some people just shouldn’t do TCM-most should but some don’t have good results. My advice is to do what works (unless it’s loaded with harmful ingredients!).

      • Courtney
        February 6, 2017 / 12:38 am

        It wasn’t necessarily rough. It’s really hard to explain. My skin broke out on the sides of my face. Not so much my T zone or anything but I think I was using really rough wash cloths and the skin around my t zone just started to look like my pores were bigger and it just wasn’t smooth. My best friend even said my skin was clear but it just isn’t a flat smooth surface. Like I said it’s really hard to explain :/ I’d have to show you a picture. But I am using cold pressed jojoba oil and it’s all really good ingredients. I think it might just be the wash cloths I was using. I got some baby ones today so hopefully it’ll help. I tried doing the ocm without a wash cloth but I can’t ever get all of the oil out of my skin

  23. October 4, 2018 / 1:01 pm

    Dear Jenni,
    I’m 35 and I’ve suddenly started developing clogged pores on the cheeks. I think it’s hormonal. Do you think that OCM could help me too?
    I live in a tropical city. And I am afraid that the oil will only cause further breakouts.

    • Jenni
      October 6, 2018 / 3:42 pm

      Niki-I believe so. My skin is so much clearer when I commit to OCM. You should look for or make an oil cleanser with clay in it. That will help detox and cut back on the oily side of it! You can find a recipe HERE. Good luck!

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