A Beginner's Guide to DIY Cleansing Oil

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If you’ve never tried an oil cleanser before, now would be a good time. It’s a gentle way to remove makeup from your skin and it feels especially comforting after a day spent outdoors in the cold (or marinating next to a space heater on full blast).

If you’re wary about putting oil anywhere near your skin, consider this: Oil dissolves oil. By using the right oils to cleanse your skin (more on that later), you can effectively remove any makeup and dirt from your face while keeping your skin well-balanced and moisturized.

There are many different oil cleansers you can buy depending on your skin type and budget. (Mamonde Petal Spa Oil to Foam Cleanser is a longtime favorite because of the way it lathers nicely and rinses off clean). However, if you’re in the mood to concoct your own oil cleanser, we are happy to report that it is a fairly easy process. You just want to make sure you choose the best oils for your skin type.

How do you choose the best oil for your skin type?

Despite what the Internet may tell you, one size does not fit all when it comes to oils. Using an oil that isn’t compatible with your skin type (i.e., using a heavier or comedogenic one like olive oil when you have acne-prone skin) can clog pores and lead to further breakouts or irritation.

Also, we've found that we get better results when we combine more than one oil to make our custom cleanser. Two oils are more than sufficient here: a base oil that will make up the majority of your blend and a complimentary oil with either astringent or nourishing properties depending on your skin type.

Again, everyone’s skin is different so it will take some trial-and-error to see what your skin responds best to, but to help get you started, here are some recommendations for choosing your base oil:

  • If you have oily or acne-prone skin, try grapeseed, jojoba, or sweet almond oil as your base, which are lighter and less likely to clog your pores.
  • If you have dry or mature skin, try avocado, argan or pumpkin seed oil, which are richer and more nourishing.
  • If you have normal skin, jojoba and sunflower seed oil are a safe choice.

Now that you have your base or carrier oil picked out, it’s time to choose a complimentary oil to complete your blend:

  • If you have oily or acne-prone skin, try adding an astringent oil like hemp seed or pomegranate oil; rosehip oil can help quell inflammation caused by bigger spots.
  • If you have dry or mature skin, try almond or marula oil, which are higher in fatty acids and can help condition and calm skin.
  • If you have normal skin, argan oil is a great choice because it’s high in vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant to protect against environmental damage.

As is always the case when trying a new skincare product (DIY or store bought), make sure to do a small patch test along the inside of your arm to see how your skin reacts before applying it all over your face.

It’s also important to note here that since DIY oil cleansers don’t have any surfactants in them, we’d recommend doing a double cleanse, using your DIY concoction as the first step to remove your makeup and any surface oils, and your regular cleanser to remove anything remaining—especially if you have acne-prone skin. (For normal or dry skin, you can use a clean washcloth or reusable cotton rounds to wipe off the excess oil.)

What are the tools or items I’ll need to make a DIY oil cleanser?

  • A measuring cup or beaker
  • A small funnel (optional)
  • A clean glass bottle for storing your oil cleanser

Got it, ready for a recipe!

The good news is most DIY cleansing recipes we’ve found are fairly straightforward and can be tweaked as many times as it takes to fit your needs (which is arguably the best part about DIY products). But we’ll help you get started if this is your first time.

  1. Combine 1/3 cup of your complimentary oil with 2/3 cup of your base oil.
  2. Slowly funnel the blend into your glass bottle, secure the top, and roll it between your palms to mix the oils.
  3. Pour or drop a dime-sized amount of oil into your palms.
  4. Massage the oil over dry skin using upward circular motions. (If you wear eye makeup, gently rub the oil over your lids and lashes for a few extra seconds.)
  5. Follow up with a regular cleanser or use a wet washcloth to wipe off the excess oil.
  6. Finish with the rest of your normal skincare routine.

If you’re concerned about wasting too much oil in the process of finding your ideal blend, you can also scale down the ingredients to 1 teaspoon of your base or carrier oil to 3 teaspoons or your complimentary oil.

Monitor your skin over the next few days and if your face consistently feels tight after cleansing, cut back on the amount of complimentary oil (particularly if you’re using an astringent one) or increase the amount of base oil in your blend. If your skin is feeling excessively slick, add a little more astringent oil.

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