Discover the Oil Cleansing Method with Apoterra: Your Guide to Oil-Based Facial Cleansers and Balm Cleansing

Are you intrigued by the oil cleansing method, but not sure where to start? In this article, we'll answer all of your oil cleansing method questions so you can confidently introduce this beloved skincare practice into your routine.

meet the experts, esthetician hayley wood and skincare expert dominique caron

vetiver illuminating oil cleanser

The oil cleansing method, rooted in ancient traditions, has earned a reputation for its effective and gentle approach in the world of skincare. At Apoterra, we not only have a best selling oil cleanser, but also two multi-purpose customer favorites that some clients love to use as an oil cleanser and a balm cleanser. Let’s discover which oil cleansing method is right for you!



geisha wearing thick white facepaint

The oil cleansing method is a skincare technique that involves using natural oils to cleanse the face and remove impurities, makeup, and excess sebum. Instead of traditional water-based cleansers, this method relies on the principle that "like dissolves like," meaning that oil can effectively dissolve and lift away the oils and debris on your skin. 

The oil cleansing method has been a tried-and-true skincare staple throughout history, pre-dating the use of modern bar cleansers and liquid soaps by thousands of years. It was developed by many cultures, including the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, and was notably part of Cleopatra’s beauty regime as well as Japanese and Korean women’s practices in the 14th century.

Today, the oil cleansing method is still favored by many for its ability to cleanse without stripping the skin of its natural oils, leaving it balanced and moisturized. Different oils can be used for the oil cleansing method depending on skin type, making it a versatile approach to skincare. 


benefits of the oil cleansing method

The oil cleansing method is considered by many skincare professionals as a fundamental step for long-term skin health.

Hayley Wood, Therapeutic Skin Coach

The multitasking oil cleansing method combines gentleness and effectiveness, helping individuals achieve their skincare goals without the need for harsh ingredients or multiple steps. 

Here are some key benefits of the oil cleansing method:

  • Effective Makeup Removal: The oil cleansing method dissolves makeup, sunscreen, and debris from the skin by using oil. Unlike certain harsh makeup removers that contain drying ingredients like alcohol, oil-based facial cleansers are gentle and even provide hydration to the delicate eye area while cleansing.
  • Balancing Skin's Oil: Skip the squeaky clean! Conventional cleansers often leave skin feeling tight and uncomfortable due to the removal of natural oils. Oil-based facial cleansers, on the other hand, preserve these beneficial oils, promoting a healthier skin barrier and microbiome. This means that the oil cleansing method leaves the skin feeling hydrated, soft, and balanced.
  • Suitable for All Skin Types: oil cleansers are versatile and suitable for nearly every skin type and condition. This is because oil attracts oil. Whether your skin produces too much oil—leading to breakouts—or too little sebum—resulting in dryness—an oil cleanser can help restore balance.

Karina Jerez, The Sol Glow

The formulation of an oil cleanser and quality of its ingredients is essential for making the oil cleansing method suitable for a wide range of skin conditions. For instance, our Vetiver Illuminating oil cleanser is formulated to cater to acne-prone, mature skin, sensitized conditions, and dry skin.


oil cleansing method steps

Ready to try the oil cleansing method for yourself? Follow these simple steps:

Kindy Wright, Rogue Aesthetics Skincare

STEP 1. PREP: Secure loose hair away from your face and wash your hands. Keep a clean, dry washcloth handy for removal.

STEP 2. TAKE A PAUSE: Dispense 2-3 pumps (slightly less than the size of a quarter) of your chosen oil cleanser and gently massage it into your palms.

STEP 3. CLEANSE: Apply your oil cleanser to dry skin, covering your face, neck, and any areas with makeup. Take your time to massage the oil into your skin gently. Follow a facial massage tutorial for best results.

STEP 4. EMULSIFY: To transform your emulsifying oil cleanser into a cleansing milk*, add water to your hands and repeat the massage motions on your skin. If the product has soaked into your skin, add more water for emulsification. (If you are not using an emulsifying oil cleanser like our Vetiver Cleanser, you may be able to skip this step.

*Note: "Cleansing milk" is a term used to describe the product's texture and does not contain actual milk.

STEP 5.  REMOVAL: Wet a clean washcloth with cool to lukewarm water, depending on your skin's condition. Avoid using excessively hot water, as it may irritate the skin. Gently press the cloth onto your skin to remove the oil-based facial cleanser, makeup, and daily impurities.

STEP 6. FINISH SKINCARE ROUTINE: Follow up with a secondary cleanse using your Apoterra complexion soap if you favor the double cleanse method, or continue on to the rest of your skincare routine (making sure it includes a moisturizer). Keep in mind that not everyone needs a second cleanse, so tailor your skincare routine to your skin's specific needs.


face balm cleansing

If you have dry skin in need of deep repair, respond well to a particular facial balm, or just favor a more lush texture for your facial massage…balm cleansing might be for you! 

Unlike a facial cream, a typical facial balm is made of nearly 100% solidified oils. This means that once it is warmed in your hands and massaged into your skin, it shares many properties with liquid facial oils and oil cleansers. Not all balms will be suitable—some are primarily designed for dryness and effectively mimic chapstick for your face—but designated cleansing balms and multi-purpose facial balms with antioxidant and antibacterial ingredients like the Vitamin C Regenerative Balm are a great choice! 

Balm cleansing is essentially a subset of the oil cleansing method, so the benefits and steps in the previous sections can all be applied to balm cleansing as well. The main difference is who should try a liquid oil-based facial cleanser vs a balm oil cleansing method. Not sure? If you generally favor a facial balm over a facial oil for your skin concerns, balm cleansing might be right for you! 

Tips for the Balm Cleansing Method:

So you’ve decided to try balm cleansing as your oil cleansing method. We love this for you! To use, simply apply the balm to dry skin in a manner similar to applying an oil cleanser, giving special attention to massaging it into an oil consistency. Follow up by adding water and continuing to massage the skin. Finally, remove the balm using a damp face cloth.


At Apoterra, we have not one, not two, but three options for you to choose from for you to incorporate the oil cleansing method into your daily skincare routine! 

First is the Vetiver Illuminating Oil Cleanser, our designated oil cleanser. Ideal for individuals dealing with blackheads, breakouts, or dry skin, use this oil-based facial cleanser for your daily oil cleansing method to achieve a refreshed, clean, and well-hydrated complexion. Its formula also incorporates black cumin seed and tamanu oils for their antibacterial and brightening qualities.

Emily Davis, Stratum Aesthetics

Next up is the Vitamin C Regenerative Balm. This multi-tasking product is a great option for balm cleansing, which is effectively a sister of the same as the oil cleansing method growing in popularity. Balm cleansing can be even more nourishing for dry and sensitive skin because of its creamy texture containing a high concentration of organic plant-based butters and oils.

We also recommend the Sea Berry Balancing Facial Oil as an option for your oil cleansing method. This all-in-one facial oil is another multi-tasking product that combines the blemish-fighting properties of tamanu and tea tree oils, gentle pore-clearing exfoliation from sugar extract, and a potent blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids to combat premature aging—leaving your skin consistently clear, radiant, and youthful. Unlike the Vetiver Oil Cleanser, it doesn’t emulsify into a milk texture, but it is a great choice for the classic plant oils method.

Karina Jerez, The Sol Glow

Lastly, try our double cleansing kit for your oil cleansing method if you favor a deep cleanse from heavier products. The kit includes our most popular double cleanse combination, the Vetiver Illuminating Oil Cleanser and the Pumpkin and Wild Carrot Complexion soap, at a bundled rate.


oil cleansing method FAQs

Should my oil-based facial cleanser emulsify? This varies based on product design, but many oil cleansers on the market do not emulsify. The Apoterra Vetiver Illuminating Oil Cleanser does actually emulsify during the oil cleansing method. So be sure to add water after massaging it into your skin to achieve a milky consistency! 

Can oil cleansing be enough of a cleanse? Many find that the oil cleansing method alone is sufficient for their skincare needs. However, double cleansing with an oil cleanser and a water-based cleanser is also very popular, especially for those removing makeup and sunscreen. Our double cleanse kit features our most popular cleansing combination at a discounted price (view here!). 

Is the oil cleansing method best for the morning, evening, or both? The oil cleansing method is excellent at removing makeup, making it a preferred choice for evening routines. However, it's gentle enough for any skincare routine where cleansing is necessary.

Some oil-based facial cleansers make my eyes foggy, how can I avoid this? Applying less oil initially and adding more as needed can help prevent foggy eyes when using an oil cleanser for eye makeup removal. Remember that more oil doesn't necessarily mean better results. If you desire a deeper cleanse, consider the double cleanse method. This advice also applies to those who feel excessive residue on their skin after removal.


You've now gained a deeper understanding of the oil cleansing method and its myriad benefits. Incorporating the oil cleansing method into your skincare routine can lead to healthier, more radiant skin. Enjoy the journey to clearer, more balanced skin with oil cleansers and balm cleansing!

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