TikTok Fact Check: Can Oil Gritting *Really* Help Remove Blackheads?

We asked the experts

oil gritting a photo of a woman with a facial oil close up
Sergey Mironov/Getty Images

As a beauty editor, I’m always skeptical about trying TikTok skincare hacks. Sometimes they’re useful (like skin cycling), but for the most part, I give them serious side eye (looking at you, dandruff shampoo clearing up acne myth). The latest craze I’m not quite sure about is oil gritting. This buzzy technique promises to clear up pores and remove blackheads, and as someone with congested, acne-prone skin, I was intrigued. Before I jumped in on the action, I reached out to a few dermatologists to find out if oil gritting is the real deal. Let’s find out together if it’s a Tiktok must or a bust. 

Meet the Experts

  • Dr. Shuting Hu is a cosmetic chemist and CEO of Acaderma, a clean beauty skincare brand. She has seven years of experience in the skincare industry. She was previously a director at SkinData Research & Innovation at the University of Hong Kong, where she studied biology and how natural ingredients affect the skin.
  • Dr. Naana Boakye is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Bergen Dermatology in New Jersey. She has over 15 years of experience and has treated more than 18,000 patients. She has a medical degree from Temple University and a master's degree of public health from George Washington University. Dr. Boakye is also a member of the American Academy of Dermatology and Skin of Color Society.

What Is Oil Gritting?

Oil gritting is a skincare technique that involves massaging your face with an oil-based product for anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes. Fans of the method purport that it gives you a deeper cleanse than just washing your face as you normally would and the extended massaging clears up any impurities on the surface of your skin, also known as ‘grits’. Once the time is up, you rinse the oil off with warm water to reveal brighter, smoother skin. 

What Are the Benefits of Oil Gritting?

While TikTokers believe oil gritting can reduce the appearance of pores and get rid of blackheads, there’s actually no scientific evidence to prove that theory. However, Dr. Boakye says the technique may help clean the skin and lift excess sebum from pores. “The biggest benefit of oil gritting is the exfoliation [you get from it]. The ‘grits’ that you may see when you’re oil gritting are actually just small clumps of dead skin cells, which result from the friction of massaging. It can help promote a smoother complexion and texture due to the exfoliating benefits,” she explains. 

What Are the Downsides of Oil Gritting?

If you’re not double cleansing, the oil can be difficult to remove completely with just a rinse. As a result, it may leave a greasy residue that can lead to clogged pores and breakouts (which is the complete opposite of what we’re going for). Also, the excessive rubbing may feel irritating for some skin types.

What Are the Steps to Oil Gritting?

If you’re still curious and want to test out the technique, the steps are quite simple.

  1. Grab a cleansing oil (or face oil) and begin rubbing the oil in a circular motion for about 5 to 15 minutes, depending on what your skin can tolerate. Dr. Hu suggests focusing on the congested areas (like the nose, chin and forehead). 
  2. Rinse the oil and grits off with warm water and continue with a gentle cleanser. (Some TikTok creators take things a step further and add a clay mask or chemical exfoliator for an even deeper exfoliation.)
  3. Gently pat your face dry with a washcloth. 

How Often Should You Do Oil Gritting?

According to both dermatologists, for the most part, you should limit oil gritting to no more than once a week, though it depends on your skin type and sensitivity. Dr. Boakye notes, “It will vary from individual to individual, so I would consult with your dermatologist beforehand to ensure what’s suitable for you.”

Can All Skin Types Try Oil Gritting?

The experts say those with oily, acne-prone or sensitive skin should skip this trend. Dr. Hu explains, “It can irritate your skin and further damage the skin barrier. [Also, if you don’t] double cleanse after oil gritting, the residual oil can lead to inflammation and cause breakouts.” Plus, massaging the areas for a long period of time can result in redness, irritation and inflammation. If you have dry, combination or normal skin, you should be fine, but we’d still recommend a double cleanse.  

Does Oil Gritting Actually Work?

Sorry to break it to you, but oil gritting will not eliminate blackheads or minimize your pores. According to the experts, there is no scientific evidence nor clinical studies that prove this technique is effective at doing either. However, Dr. Boakye believes it can “be somewhat effective if done correctly! While it can’t actually remove sebaceous filaments or blackheads, the gentle massaging paired with the right oil can help with deep cleansing the skin, but the effectiveness will differ for everyone.”

If you are looking to clear up blackheads, consider chemical exfoliation instead. As previously reported, adding this step to your routine can help remove dead skin cells, reduce hyperpigmentation and improve skin texture overtime. Or simply leave it to the professionals and schedule an appointment with your dermatologist or esthetician. 

Cool concept, TikTok, but I’ll have to pass on this one. 

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Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...