the maker + merchant guide to: oil cleansing

oil cleansing 101 // everything you need to know

jojoba oil for cleansing


Oil cleansing is one of the most popular skincare techniques that has been experiencing a resurgence this year and last, but what is it? And will it work for your skin type and concerns? And well, how do you do it? To find answers to all your oil cleansing questions and more, you're going to want to keep reading. 

a short history of cleansers 

Using plants and plant extracts for skincare, ritual, and protection is an ancient practice—as old as humankind. Our ancestors knew that those simple, effective ingredients are the underpinning of healthy skin. 

Soap making can be traced back to Babylon around 2800 BC, but the craft of combining fats and ash to make soap is very different from the modern commercial soap making we know today. Soap making transformed significantly in the 1900s after the invention of detergents, which then spawned a slew of personal and household cleaning products over the next several decades. 

 As a culture, we now bathe so frequently with antibacterial soaps that doctors warn against increasing antibiotic resistance, an unchecked rise in eczema, and many other skin conditions.   

maker and merchant oil cleansing how to oil cleanse oil cleansing for acne prone skin


what is oil cleansing?

Oil cleansing is when we use oil in place of our regular soap in our cleansing ritual. This can be done morning and/or night, but at M+M, we primarily like to focus on cleansing at night and only cleansing the skin in the morning if it really needs it. Oil cleansing can be a single-step process or be combined with another cleanser for what is called a double cleanse. 

Oil cleansing is fantastic to use in a double cleanse at night to gently remove and break down all of the makeup, sunscreen, and grime from the day, before heading in with a gentle cleanser as your second step, if needed. A double cleanse is recommended if you are wearing a full face of makeup or feeling particularly congested, but is not always needed after an oil cleanse. Do what feels right for your skin type! 

For many people, especially those brought up in the 'squeaky clean' generation, we were sold that to have effectively cleansed skin, you had to wash away your entire acid mantle and skin microbiome (sigh). Which only aggravates skin conditions and brings on impaired skin barrier defenses characterized by dryness, redness, flaking, and dehydration.

Others with oily, acne-prone, or combination skin may also be hesitant to slather their face with oil in fear that it will lead to even oilier skin or more breakouts. But oil cleansing is both effective and safe for cleansing (it won't break you out, in fact, it might even help with breakouts, but more on that later) because it harmonizes skin and maintains balance. 

Cleansers that leave your skin feeling too clean do so by reducing your acid mantle, which is an all important layer on top of our skin that functions as our first line of defense against infection. Oil cleansers, on the other hand, don't negatively impact the acid mantle- in fact, oil cleansing helps support a healthy acid mantle! Oil cleansing helps to remove dirt, oil, and makeup easily without stripping and upsetting the skin’s delicate microbiome. 

When oil cleansing with plant-based oils, you can quickly see a huge improvement in your complexion and acne, eczema, dryness, and other imbalances (if you have them) because it balances excess sebum, supports the skin microbiome, protects with antioxidants, and moisturizes without clogging pores.

maker and merchant oil cleanser

how to choose the right oil cleanser for you

The easiest way to find a good cleansing oil that works for you is based on your skin type. But in general, opting for a non-comedogenic oil with valuable skin benefits will work for all skin types. 

Oily and/or Acne-prone Skin: Oily skin needs oil cleansers too to help balance oil production and skin complexion. Oils like jojoba and grapeseed are lightweight, non-comedogenic, and perfect for oily skin types.

Dry Skin: Richer oils like sweet almond, and avocado are amazing for those with drier skin. 

Mature Skin: Opt for a nourishing oil that contains vitamins and antioxidants like vitamins C and E for collagen-boosting, protecting, and skin-nourishing properties.

Sensitive Skin: Those with sensitive skin need an oil cleanser that is gentle and free of fragrance, so stay away from those with added fragrance or essential oils.

Normal Skin: Those with normal skin just need to keep it basic with a moisturizing oil or a blend of several. We love jojoba oil for normal skin because it’s balancing properties. 

how to oil cleanse 

  • Massage several drops of Just Jojoba Oil (or the oil of your choice) onto the face and neck to loosen makeup, dirt, and pollution. 

  • Wet your hands with warm water and massage the skin to emulsify the oil.

  • Moisten a washcloth, (we’re partial to the Agave Cleansing Cloth) with warm water and gently swipe over skin to remove oil and makeup while gently exfoliating. 

  • Finish with a splash of warm water, if needed. 

  • While the skin is still slightly damp, press a few drops of Just Jojoba Oil into the skin for a balancing moisturizer.  

 You’ll notice your skin feeling cleansed but not tight, dry, or uncomfortable. Continue with your skincare routine like normal! 

maker and merchant gentle cleanse kit


If you’re looking to get started with oil cleansing, shop all of the Maker + Merchant oils here or check out our Gentle Cleansing Kit featuring our organic, cold-pressed Jojoba Oil, Agave Cleansing Cloth, and Tender Flower small batch soap- everything you need to get started!