DIY Queer Beauty Bar: Wash Your F*cking Face

I have a confession to make: I’m a closet hippie. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of Birkenstocks and I wouldn’t go to a Phish concert if you paid me, but I’m a total sucker for all that close-to-the-earth natural stuff. Burn me at the stake; I’m a lesbian, it’s in my blood.

So anyway, as a sneaky (not dirty) hippie, I feel like it’s my duty to tell you about the oil cleansing method. It’s this totally weird way to clean your face where you use oils to get rid of the oil and dirt that likes to hang on all over your cheeks and forehead and nose. It sounds all counterintuitive, but I want to to harken back to high school chemistry for a minute. Remember how they were always talking about how like dissolves like and drawing pictures of Mickey Mouse water molecules? We’re gonna use that knowledge to make your skin beautiful.

Don’t believe me? Give yourself a month to try it out. It takes a little patience because your skin’s got to get used to the change in oils. Normal cleaning methods like soap and water strip your skins of its natural oils, which sends your pores into mini-overdrive to make up for what it lost. Since your skin’s used to making oil like there’s no tomorrow, it’ll take a little while to retrain it to cut back. Which means your face is probably going to feel like an oil slick for a few weeks. But hold on, young grasshopper, it’s worth it. It’s gobs cheaper than buying fancy ass department store potions or even the stuff from the drug store and it’s a nice little way to start your morning.


When it comes to the oil cleansing method, you’ve really got to find what works for you. A lot of people recommend starting out with a cleansing oil and a carrier oil to get a nice balance.

Grape seed oil is really light and doesn’t have much of a smell. It’s also non-allergenic, so it might be a good place to start if you’ve got sensitive skin.
Olive oil is good for younger skin and dries slower than other oils, which means you may be left feeling oily for a while if you use too much.
Avocado oil is this really awesome green color. If you’re older, it might be the stuff for you because it’s crazy rich and moisturizing. It does leave a film on your skin even after you wash it off, so it’s good if you’re prone to dry patches or are used to using lotion after washing your face.
Sesame oil is a natural sun screen and is moisturizing.
Jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax. It’s absorbed easily and doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy.
Sunflower Seed oil is anti-bacterial, which makes if good for fighting acne.
Almond oil helps remove itching and inflammation. It’s also great for dry skin.
Safflower oil is used to treat damaged skin. It’s very moisturizing, but doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy because it penetrates quickly.
Argan oil is the superstar of the oil world. It comes from trees that only grow in Morocco, which means that you can easily pay $50 for a tiny bottle. It’s got all kinds of fancy vitamins and minerals, is anti-bacterial,  anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory, slows cell aging and repairs dry skin.

The mix you make should be at most 50% castor oil, with less than that if your skin is dry. I have a bottle of 20% castor oil and 80% grape seed oil that sits on my counter so that I don’t have to remix it every day.


Using a dime-size amount of oil in your (clean!) hands, massage your face for about 2 minutes. After about a minute, you’ll feel little sand-like pellets start to form. Those are little pieces of dirt and oil from your pores. Gross, right? Right! But better out than in.

Give yourself a minute while you let your water heat up to as warm as you can handle without burning yourself; we’re going to steam that goo off your face. You can either run a washcloth under the faucet, wring it out and then let it sit on your face until it goes cold three times or you can splash the water directly onto your face. I opt for the splashing method because it’s important to use a clean washcloth when your pores are all open and vulnerable and I just don’t have that many washcloths. Afterward, splash some cold water onto your face to close your pores, pat your face dry, and you’re done — no toner, no lotion, just plain old oil.

Because I’m a product junkie and wholly incapable of simplifying anything, I dab tea tree oil onto anything that looks remotely impending-breakout-y after I wash my face to care those suckers away.

And ta-da, you’re done! Let me know if you don’t feel beautiful and luxurious and clean after a month or so.

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.


  1. Sweet post, Laura. I finally came to use this method after years of crappy skin, and it suits my oily complexion better than any other product I’ve ever used!

  2. Please make sure you patch test first! If you have finicky skin, it’s much easier to deal with one small angry/broken out area than your entire face. All oils are ymmv and it may take a few tries to find one that works for you.

    • Word. I can attest to this as a person who is allergic to just about everything that is cute and fluffy or is used for hair and skin care. Try a small spot, that way you don’t suddenly rash out or worse. Even then if may take a few applications for your skin to react negatively.

  3. on my “to do” list! ps: should you only mix the castor oil with one other oil, or can you make any combination?

    • you should try a couple and figure out what works best! i know some people use just almond oil.

  4. I use a lot of these oils in my hair lol. So, I’ll definitely try it. I’m just a little nervous about the jojoba as it is a little heavy.

    I’ve been fighting against oily skin since puberty up until Oct when I was given this little tip: Always moisturize your face immediately after a wash.

    Common sense, I know, but because my skin could get extremely oily, I felt like I could do without it. Until I was told that the reason my skin was so oily was to make up for the lack of moisture.

    So, this moisture-filled cleanse excites me beyond belief.

    • I used to make the same mistake. I now use Cerave PM face moisturizer and it hydrates quite well without breaking me out.

  5. I have tried this within the last year and unfortunately it was not a good fit for my skin. I stuck with it for over a month to be sure I was past that “adjustment” period, at which point my face was completely broken out in more zits than I typically get in a whole year. It took 2 weeks of twice daily acne gel (just the over the counter stuff) and a new cleanser/moisturizer my dermatologist suggested to get my skin under control. I have heard some people have great results with it but I have super sensitive/dry skin and also psoriasis so I never know how my skin will react. I have to say though, for the first week or so it felt amazing before the breakouts started.

    • I think I recall from when I tried it that the oil actually seemed to help with blackheads. I’m pretty sure I remember it being very easy to extract the blackheads myself after doing the oil cleansing routine in the shower.

      • i’m with melissa; it’s actually made most of mine go away. it’s taken a couple of months, but eventually the oil just pulled them out.

  6. I have to try this sometimes, but I’m kinda scared because my skin is sensitive and oily at the same time. Which oil should i try first?

  7. i just keep almond oil in the shower and put some on a washcloth towards the end of the shampooing/washing nonsense so the steam has like awakened my skin or some shit.

    then do like a gentle rub all over the skin, it helps with healing acne wounds and anything flaky/dry that needs exfoliating.


  8. I discovered this a couple of months ago and not only does everything in my bathroom smell a lot nicer and a lot less chemical, my face looks better than it has ever. Someone told me that adding honey to the mixture is good for acne prone skin, but I’m a bit wary since I seem to be on a good thing and I don’t want to ruin it. Anyone know if this is true?

    • I used honey/baking soda for several months on my acne and it made it worse. I think bc I have ridic allergies combined with the honey being local, my skin just didn’t like it. But surprisingly easy to wash off, given how sticky honey is!

    • Honey is really fantastic at taking off dead skin and lifting some oils. So it might be good for adding a bit of an extra effort to the oil. I wouldn’t use it at the same time as the oil, as the honey might end up drawing to much oil out of your skin.
      I only wash my face with oil about three or four times a month. Usually I’ll apply honey (and just straight, raw honey) about once a month, usually a few days after I’ve oiled my face. And that’s another nice thing about using the oil method, eventually your skin goes back into balance and you’ll have to clean it far less. YAW

    • This.

      I switched my moisturiser for jojoba oil 2 weeks ago, and all my subdermal acne infections are gone. I could not believe it. :D

  9. I’ve been using store-bought cleansing oil for a while now, and I love it! My favorite is Origins Clean Energy, but I also like the MAC Cleansing Oil. The nice thing about them is that when you add water they emulsify and turn into a milky lotiony consistency that rinses away totally clean. And they also remove makeup really well, especially waterproof stuff.

  10. I’m apprehensive about this because I have mega oily skin, but thousands of hippies can’t be wrong right?

    • I honestly found this made my skin LESS oily (except for my eyelids, for some reason). I’ve stopped using it regularly and my skin is not very oily anymore, if it gets oily at all (again, except for the eyelids xD).

    • oh yeah, i went through a million and one hair oils before i finally found the two that worked for me.

  11. GRACIAS LAURITA! i am so excited because I have used a version of the oil cleansing method for years. i use a combo of jojoba oil and olive oil and tea tree oil. I’m not gonna lie, i also use a fair amount of “no fucks to give” r.e my face. and honestly, time has been the best healer.

  12. Fun fact: if you ever find yourself covered in polyurethane, vegetable oil will make it come off!

    • I have found myself in this exact situation and I wish I would have read this at that particular moment in my life…

  13. I just moved to California where I find my skin is more dry out here…because of the air I’m not sure. But either way, I’ve been using brown sugar and making my own just wet scrub out of it and it’s made my skin SOOOO soft and it feels really invigorating in the am to just use my hands and that; cleaned off after with just a simple wet washcloth. They make brown sugar scrubs I’m sure at Sephora and other beauty outlets but this is at least an easy and comprable solution I’ve found :)

  14. I am SO bummed that I’m not sure if I should try this. I got my nose pierced about 5 months ago and it’s had some of the worst problems (though it seems to be getting better recently? knock on wood), so I don’t really want to shock my face with this. Though maybe when it’s totally healed..?

    Basically, has anybody tried this whilst having facial piercings/facial piercings with problems?

    • I haven’t tried oils for facial cleansing, but when I got my nose pierced I had issues for about a year. In fact, for the first two years or so (I’m crazy), I’d clean it every night with bactine and then cover it with straight up vitamin e oil. If you have a keloid (raised scar) around the hole, vitamin e oil should help big time.

      • Thank you! I think I’m currently in a whirlwind of hypertrophic scarring (I was pierced with surgical steel and I am now next to positive I was allergic, as I switched to titanium about a month ago and it improved insanely in a few days.. I just haven’t gotten a ton better since then), and so I’ve been tempted to try aspirin paste. Aspirin paste is kind of scary for newer piercings though, so I’ve steered clear, but I will definitely try vitamin e oil. I’m currently using a tea tree oil mix that my piercer recommended to me, and it’s helped a lot but I kind of want to take it further, so maybe this will be my final fix.

      • I’ll vouch for the vitamin E oil. I have a cartilage piercing in my ear that I foolishly got done with a piercing gun instead of a proper hollow needle. I had a raised scar all around, even after I switched to a ring and the hole itself stopped being irritated. Vitamin E oil is what finally got rid of the scar.

        Also, kids, learn from my mistake and don’t get cartilage piercings done at the Piercing Pagoga or Claire’s.

    • Not oil, but my piercer recommends creating a hot compress with 1 oz of white vinegar and 1.5 oz of hot water. Mix that, soak it up with a clean cloth or paper towel, and press it against the piercing until it goes cold. It helps dissolve any dead tissue inside the piercing which causes a lot of problems and drains fluids and stuff b/c of the hot water opening pores.

      It worked fantastically on a cartilage piercing in my ear that was giving me no end of problems.

      • I have never heard of this, but it sounds like a really good idea. I am going to try this- the current care I’m doing is 2-3 sea salt soaks a day, followed by rinsing and then a drop of tea tree oil mixture that my piercer recommended (applied only to the bump as to not get it in the piercing itself). It’s helped a lot but has not quite solved the problem, so maybe the vinegar mixture will fix my nose. Thank you tons for the suggestion!

    • I’ve been doing this for some months and it helped. I got my nostrils pierced in last October. I was having some problems, and vitamin E oil helped with that a lot, and I use it on most of my piercings. They were already pretty healthy when I started doing the oil cleansing, and once I started that no negative effects.

      • That is great news. I am definitely getting vitamin E oil asap, I’ve never used it but it looks promising. Thanks so much.

  15. COCONUT OIL! I used it for a while and definitely noticed an improvement, though eventually I realised the instructions I’d been given (slather onto face, leave overnight) just made my pillows greasy and wasted precious time in the morning. I’ll have to try this method, it makes so much more sense.

    • if i’m wearing eye makeup, i do it twice; once to get rid of the make up and once to actually clean. i don’t know about foundation and stuff though.

      • But! If this all of this oil cleaning business really works, there won’t be any more need for me to wear foundation, correct?

    • It doesn’t? I remove my makeup with sunflower oil or almond oil and that works pretty well…

  16. This looks like something I need to do, asap. I hate using store-bought face cleansers with all those artificial ingredients and crap.

    Can you do a post on natural ways to keep your hair clean? I have really sensitive skin and I haven’t been able to find a shampoo that doesn’t dry my scalp out and make it itchy and red. Any suggestions?

    • My roomie and I switched from drugstore shampoo to salon to organics to lush to baking soda and vinegar and both of us are thrilled. She has fine curly hair whereas I have wavy hair and dry scalp.

      I’ll see if I can write a post!

      • please do kristen! shampoo is the one thing i can’t break my addiction too because my hair is impossible.

      • I have coarse curly hair and I am super in love with Jessicurl. My hairdresser in El Cerrito used to cut Jess’s hair and was carrying her line from the beginning. It’s an all natural line that Jess concocted with her chemist friend in her kitchen. I’ve been using it for 2 years now and my curls have never looked better. She has 2 different cleansers, gentle lather and cream, and both are wonderful alternatives! I know her prices are tough at 16.95 for 8oz, but if you check her Facebook page she’s often running free shipping or 10% off. If you join her mailing list, you automatically get or 10 or 15% discount on your next order.

    • I’m also super curious about natural ways to keep your hair clean. I feel like different things would work for different hair types, obvs.

      If you have trouble finding natural things that work, I’ve found that just avoiding sulfates in shampoos helps a ton with any natural-oils-stripping/drying-out problem like what you’re describing.
      This stuff:,default,pd.html is on the higher end of the price spectrum and it’s effing amazing. I have lots of fine, curly strands, and I tend to have the best luck w/ products whose labels mention color-safeness and hair-damagedness, even though my hair is neither damaged nor artificially colored. These products work simply because if the labels are actually accurate they’re gonna give your hair more moisture. On the lower end price-wise, L’oreal makes something that’s actually pretty good: . It’s decent b/c it’s sulfate-free. Sulfates are in most commercially produced shampoos, and in the short term, they make your hair feel fancy free from dirt, but in the long term, they dry you out. Some people love to go completely shampoo-free and just condition like crazy, but I just can’t. I need a little dirt stripping or my hair turns into a singular dreadlock.

      But yeah! I haven’t found any totally natural DIY alternatives yet that work well for my hair, and I think it would be fun to try some if you end up finding any that you like, Laura!

      • Hi again! I want to add that even if you don’t have curly hair, shampoos that have curly-hair-directed labels may be a good idea if you are having dryness problems. I say this b/c curly hair needs oils, I mean it NEEDS OILS like a motherlover, in order not to turn into a ball of fuzz. But every scalp is unique, so it’s just something to try!

        • thanks for the recommendations! I have super thick coarse hair that is currently super short. I’ll definitely look into finding a shampoo that is sulfate free!

      • I make a solid shampoo bar/soap using coconut oil and sea salt. The coconut oil makes the bar lather a lot, and the sea salt helps add volume to fine hair like mine. It doesn’t take much to get enough suds and its way easier for traveling than a liquid shampoo. (The bar can also be used as a body soap).

        I love the oil method of face cleaning for traveling where you’re limited with how many liquids you can carry on. I really like jojoba.

      • I never really needed shampoo so I don’t have any suggestions, but I found diluted apple cider vinegar works wonderfully as a detangler. If you wash it off properly the smell should go away once it dries.

    • Try using something that is neutral pH, and as unscented as possible. I’ve used a vegan marseille soap for washing my hair that went along those lines and it worked wonders but I’ve since tried other soaps/shampoos with the same characteristics and it was fine. For me the biggest issue was pH and certain perfumed shampoos, probably because of the chemicals. I’ve also used olive oil to condition and to get rid of a really bad allergy I had once, and it’s worked great.

  17. I’ve been using store-bought emulsifying oils (DHC is my favorite, though I’m currently using Lierac because it’s all I could find) as a makeup remover pre-wash for many years and have often wondered how fatter my bank account might be if I could DIY. Maybe it’s about time to find out! Thanks for posting.

  18. i really want to try this but i’m scared because i went off birth control about two/three months ago and my skin FREAKED THE FUCK OUT and i’ve just now managed to get my face under control (my back is another story). does the adjustment period vary from person to person or is there a basic amount of breaking out that i should expect? my skin is normal to slightly oily.

  19. Wait so what do you do during the “adjustment period” when you are basically Oily McPizzaface for 2 whole months? That’s what is making me afraid to do it.

    • for me it was only about 2 weeks, so i just dealt with it. i didn’t look any oilier than normal, but it took all my self-control not to wash my face with soap because it felt so greasy until my skins stopped freaking out.

      • Thanks for replying! I could deal with the oily feeling, I just am going on vacation soon and was worried about looking pimply in all the pictures.

  20. This is freaking crazy. I tried this last night and it’s amazing. I didn’t have castor oil so I just used straight up extra virgin olive oil, and today I have much nicer skin. I have combination skin and my acne is a ton better. I woke up this morning and my face didn’t feel insanely oily and gross, which hasn’t happened since before I hit puberty. lol. One question: Normally after washing, my skin feels super dry so I use a drugstore moisurizer. My skin still feels a little bit dry after using straight up oil to clean my face (i have no idea why). Can I also use it as a moisturizer without wiping it off, or will that make me break out?

    • If you google the oil cleansing method you can come up with other articles on popular methods. When I did it I had a separate kind of oil (can’t remember now which one it was) that I used as moisturizer after my shower.

    • i use oil instead of lotion all the time. like even on my body. as long as you rub it in, you’re in business.

      • Tea tree on breakouts and then a different oil as a lotion? Or do you use the wash oil? Thanks for the post, btw! I’ve been meaning to try this for a while.

  21. Oh man, I needed this so bad. I don’t know how I can be so stupid about how to wash my face parts, but I can never make sense of all the different choices and methods.

  22. I did this today and it was amazing! My skin was so soft and clean feeling, and the ever-present oily patches on my face were gone!

  23. Where do you get these oils? Some of them I can imagine finding at the grocery store, others…not so much…

    • I know a lot of them are at trader joes (including tea tree oil). I found castor oil at the CVS, but it took me a while (it’s in the laxative section).

  24. I love this post! I have been using oil on my face for years now and while I was skeptical before I tried, I’m now a believer. If I’m wearing a lot of makeup I use the steaming-with-a-cloth approach and it works a charm. Gets even hardcore glittery eyeliner off. Otherwise I just rinse the oil off with water.

    Only I kinda use a fancy oil, it’s so good though:

  25. How often do you have to/can you do this? I currently wash my face twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. Should I keep that up if I switch to oil?

  26. So much info. ahhhh so overwhelmed. I spent 30 minutes going up and down all the aisles at CVS looking for oils. Def checking out Trader Joe’s out tomorrow. Thanks for the post!!

    • yes to trader joe’s! i’ve also found tons of different types of oils at a regular old grocery store in the baking aisle.

  27. oh my god ok so i’m in love with good skin and a couple months back i was extremely stressed and my skin got super dry in some spots and oily in other spots and i didn’t want to spend much money on fancy products so i did some research and i have a recommendation that really really works (for me). you only need to do this a couple times a week and if you have dry skin its rad. make a scrub of sugar, jojoba oil, and honey. you can use brown sugar if you have more sensitive skin, and i like doing that better than white sugar because it feels smoother. put that on your face after you take a shower or you can use it on other parts of your skin in the shower, doesn’t matter. wash that off and then if you want to get super classy you can use some lemon and rub some on your face. sounds weird but it works kind of like a toner and brightens up the skin. you can totally have the most amazing spa day at home just using shit from your kitchen. also feel free to experiment with different ingredients. just look up on google what’s good for your type of skin problem and you can use those ingredients in a mix/paste/scrub or whatever you want for much cheaper than store bought products.

  28. Pretty excited…the castor oil I ordered came in today, so gonna start tonight.
    One question. I was brought up believing in the power of moisturiser to prevent aging, particularly eye cream. I’ve used eye cream since the day I turned 20, and I’m reluctant to stop. It’s probably silly, but just in case. (by the time gay marriage is legalised in Australia I’ll be so old. I need to not have crows feet in my wedding photos :P)
    Anyway. Is this gonna actually be a good long term solution?

    • haha i have no idea. i mean, oil is moisturizing, and i’m all about cutting back on the sheer amount of shit i have on my bathroom counter (in my medicine cabinet, in my drawers, in my closet, etc….) so i got rid of other lotions. but in the wise words of some woman somewhere, you do you.

      • I am in love already. But will definitely need to keep some kind of moisturising happening. Also am trying to quit shampoo, I too am keen on getting rid of all my bottles and tubes!

  29. I know that I’m late to the table here, but I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks now, and although the initial reaction my naturally clear skin had (freaking out and producing so much more oil than I thought was possible,) was frightening- It’s now better than before! Clear, and soft, and no lotion or face powder any longer. Thanks for putting me onto this. Feels so much more natural.

  30. I somehow missed this article when it was originally published and now it’s 3:00 in the morning and I’m struggling not to just jump out of bed and slather olive oil all over my face right now just because that’s what I currently have in my kitchen. I will almost definitely be tracking down some sunflower seed oil tomorrow. I have SUCH acne problems and am really excited for anything that might make my skin look less like it belongs to a 13 year old without costing me an arm and a leg!

  31. Ijust use plain jojoba oil, but I ground up oats in a coffee grinder and use that as a gentle scrub after i rub the oil in.

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  33. Brace yourself for some oily days! But hey i heard a lot of positive feedback’s from using castor oil. You can definitely use this for skin, hair and treats fungal infection. Thank you for sharing this awesome regimen Laura!

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