Health Is Beauty

Starre’s DIY Cleansing Oil Recipe for Healthy, Beautiful Skin

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As I have written before, oil cleansing has radically changed my skin; it used to be dry with patches of oiliness, and I had horrible adult cystic acne. All that changed when I started cleansing with oils (and significantly reduced dairy in my diet), and I have heard the same story from enough people to realize that oil cleansing works beautifully for almost everyone.

The basic idea is that instead of “washing” your skin with soaps or detergents that strip your face of its natural oils (forcing your skin to produce even more oils, which causes breakouts and oily skin), you cleanse gently with oils, which remove dirt (and yes, makeup too) while leaving a moisturizing layer of natural oils on your skin. So skin doesn’t have to overproduce oil (and may even start making less).

Which feels GREAT—if you experience any kind of skin tightness after cleansing, you are being way too harsh to your skin. I have noticed that I haven’t developed any new wrinkles since I started oil cleansing (no joke!) and my pores are smaller and my skin more even. Here’s my recipe below, which is a bit on the richer side when it comes to cleansing oils, but as I mentioned, I have skin that’s a bit on the dryer side. Also, I don’t really want to bother with using an additional moisturizer—this does the trick for cleansing and moisturizing for me.

If you are new to oil cleansing, I recommend starting with just plain organic fair-trade coconut oil—use it for a couple of weeks and notice how your skin changes. If you find coconut oil is more than you need in terms of moisture, try Tatcha’s Camellia Oil Cleanser (or just plain Sweet Almond Oil like what’s linked below); if it’s about right, try Kari Gran’s delicious oil cleanser. My recipe is about the same or a bit more intense than the Kari Gran one and it’s the olive oil that makes it a bit heavier, so halve the olive oil if you want to go lighter.

Starre’s Cleansing Oil Recipe

1 tablespoon organic, extra virgin olive oil—for deep, long-lasting moisturizing

2 tablespoons Sweet Almond Oil (I love Aura Cacia’s)—a lighter oil that plays well with others and contains plenty of Vitamin A

1/2 tablespoon Calendula oil (Weleda)—Calendula is naturally healing so great for facial skin

1/8 tablespoon Sea Buckthorn Oil (Sibu)—a powerful oil that absorbs quickly and heals skin issues on it’s own

2 drops Lavender oil (Aura Cacia)—for aromatherapy and also natural anti-bacterial properties

3-4 drops Fairly-grown East Indian Sandalwood oil (look for Australian-grown)—for aromatherapy and also natural anti-bacterial properties (extra-sensitive skinned folks might want to test sandalwood for irritation first; I have zero problem with it)

Mix gently in a pump bottle—I prefer dark glass to keep the ingredients as fresh as possible.


To Use: Massage 1-2 pumps (about a dime-nickel’s worth) using upward motions, into your skin for at least a minute. Don’t forget your jawline and under your chin.

Close your eyes and breathe in the aromatherapy and take a few deep breaths.

Then rinse 5-6 times with warm to very warm (but not hot!) water. Pat dry.

I use additional eye cream but not moisturizer; also if you get oil near your eyes it can get into contact lenses easily, so don’t apply oil around your eyes, just rinse with water in that area. It won’t hurt if it gets in your eye a bit (at least, it doesn’t for me) but it will cloud contacts.

Let me know what you think of my recipe and if it works for you or you have any additions/subtractions in your own recipe!

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.