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The oil cleansing method uses plant oils, either on their own or in a particular combination, to nourish and treat the skin.

Plant oils are inexpensive, and people have investigated their therapeutic effects for centuries around the world.

In this article, we explore oil cleansing’s potential benefits, how it works, how to cleanse different skin types, and potential side effects.

a woman holding a pipette that she is going to us for a oil cleansing methodShare on Pinterest
A person should use an oil that is correct for their type of skin.

If a person is unsure whether they should be using an oil cleanse on their skin, they can speak to their doctor.

People who want to use the oil cleansing method should first choose the most appropriate oil for their skin condition. They should then follow the instructions to get the best results.

Research has suggested the following skin conditions may respond well to an oil cleanse:

Acne: Clay jojoba oil masks

The application of clay jojoba oil face masks may help heal acne prone skin, according to some research.

An older 2012 observational preliminary study found clay jojoba masks helped treat both inflammatory and noninflammatory acne skin lesions when participants applied it two to three times a week for 6 weeks.

Clay jojoba was also effective in treating mild acne symptoms.

Burns: Olea ointment

Olea ointment contains honey, olive oil, and sesame oil, and some research has linked it to speeding up the burn healing process.

A small 2015 study found that when doctors applied olea to the burn wounds of 10 patients, it helped prevent infection and accelerate skin repair.

Researchers first washed the wounds and applied a 3–5-millimeter layer of ointment before closing the wound with a dressing.

Bedsores: Olive oil

Some researchers have associated olive oil with improving bedsore or pressure sore healing.

Olive oil contains more than 200 compounds, including phenolic substances, which have more antioxidant properties than vitamin E.

A 2016 study suggests that the application of olive oil in mice improves their pressure sore symptoms. The anti-inflammatory properties of the oil may have improved wound healing. Researchers will need to test these findings in humans, however.

Other benefits that this study associated with olive oil include reducing oxidative damage and promoting skin repair.

An oil cleanse may be a good option for rehydrating and improving elasticity in both postmenopausal and dry skin.

The most appropriate oils to use on these skin types are listed below:

Postmenopausal skin

Some research has associated argan oil with anti-aging properties that promote skin elasticity.

A 2015 study found argan oil improved skin elasticity in 60 postmenopausal females. The participants applied the oil to their skin, and half also consumed the oil in butter.

Dry skin

Natural oils may be good options to help maintain the skin’s barrier. The most appropriate oils for dry skin are:

  • Sunflower seed oil. This oil may preserve the skin barrier and improve skin hydration in adults. It contains more linoleic acid than olive oil.
  • Coconut oil. People with dry skin can try coconut oil as a moisturizer. It also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
  • Argan oil. When applied daily, argan oil may improve skin hydration by restoring its barrier function. Argan oil may also have a softening and relaxing effect.

Coconut oil and eczema in children

Some research has suggested that coconut oil could help alleviate mild eczema in children.

A 2018 review suggests that when doctors applied coconut oil to the skin, it decreased the severity of eczema symptoms and improved skin barrier function.

Newborn skin

Parents and caregivers should avoid applying natural oils to a newborn’s skin, as they may contribute to the development of skin rashes.

Learn more about home remedies for dry baby skin here.

Different oils have different properties. Each oil has its own strengths in treating various skin types and conditions.

The following table summarizes the uses of other oils:

Soybean oil This oil may decrease water loss from the skin and could have antioxidant properties. It may also protect against UV-B induced reddening of the skin
Peanut oil This oil may hydrate and protect the skin from UV radiation.
Sesame oil People have historically used this oil in Taiwanese medicine to relieve inflammation and joint pain.
Avocado oil This oil may be an excellent source of nutrients for dry, damaged, or chapped skin.
Borage oil This oil may improve the skin barrier in infants and children with skin and scalp rashes.
Jojoba oil This oil may repair damaged skin barriers. It may also have anti-inflammatory effects and be useful to treat skin infections, skin aging, and wound healing.
Oat oil People have used this oil for centuries to repair the skin barrier in a variety of skin conditions, including rashes, burns, and eczema.
Almond oil People can use this oil to improve complexion and skin tone. It might also reduce the visibility of stretch marks and prevent new ones from forming.
Bitter apricot oil This oil may be a candidate for psoriasis treatment.

People with a peanut allergy should be cautious when using peanut oil on their skin.

An older small study from the journal Cutis suggests that products containing refined peanut oil may be safe for people with sensitivities to peanuts. However, it is worth noting that this study only involved 14 people.

It may be wise for a person with a peanut allergy to check with their doctor first.

Oil-based cleansers may contain a mixture of ingredients. People should check the instructions and make sure the product is safe for them before applying it to their skin.

People may have different experiences with each oil-based cleanser. Dermatologists usually recommend trying out the product on a small area of skin before using it every day.

If a person’s skin is causing them concern, they should contact a doctor before applying these oils on their skin.

Researchers believe that the components of natural plant oils may act together to help protect the skin through the following processes:

  • maintaining the skin barrier
  • antioxidant activities
  • anti-inflammatory activity
  • antimicrobial activities
  • wound healing
  • anticancer processes

Different oils can be alternative or complementary treatments for dry skin and other skin diseases.

How well the oil cleansing method works depends on several factors, such as the composition of the oil and the skin’s condition.

The different components of oil include:

  • triglycerides
  • phospholipids
  • free fatty acids
  • phenolic compounds
  • antioxidants

It is hard to say how well the oil cleansing method works because of the number of variables that are present. Researchers need to conduct more studies before they can confirm their effectiveness.


Studying the efficacy of the oil cleansing method is challenging. Different oils have different ratios of fats and other compounds that have different effects on the skin barrier.

Oil extraction and refinement can also influence how the oil behaves on the skin.

When researchers are investigating the effectiveness of an oil, they tend to assess it on the following criteria:

  • the physiological benefits of each oil
  • the therapeutic potential of each oil
  • the extraction and refining methods
  • the effect of combining with other ingredients

As research grows, it will lead to a better understanding of plant oils and their benefits. This could help skin care companies utilize plant oils for skin care products.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommend the following tips to promote and maintain healthy skin:

  • using a water resistant sunscreen, minimum 30 sun protection factor (SPF), before going outside
  • avoiding smoking
  • checking for possible signs of skin cancer using self-exams
  • avoiding sunbathing and tanning beds and using a self-tanner
  • choosing skin products specifically for a skin type, for example, oily, dry, normal, combination, or sensitive
  • resisting the urge to scrub the skin clean
  • cleansing with lukewarm water and a mild cleanser applied circularly and rinsing well
  • wash the face at least twice a day (after waking up and before going to bed) and after sweating
  • limiting stress

Although people have used plant oils for centuries to improve skin conditions, dermatologists need more evidence before recommending their use.

People can use plant oils to complement traditional medicine but should speak with their doctor to make sure the product is safe. Not all oil-based cleansers are equally.

People must choose the correct product for their skin and follow the specified instructions.


The oils in this article are available to purchase in stores and online: