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Oil + Water specializes in micro-batch handcrafted skincare products made with high-quality organic ingredients and a strong focus on earth-friendly practices. Oil + Water's aim is to provide simple but luxurious, natural, and effective skincare products under the reductionist principle that less is more, and to promote awareness about clean beauty and eco-conscious living.


Read great tips and information from Oil + Water about clean skincare, product ingredients, and eco-friendly lifestyle.

How to Use Oils for Natural Skincare

Erika Martins

Hi friends! Thanks for checking out the Oil + Water blog, where I plan to share lots of tips and information with you about clean skincare. I want to start the blog by addressing the most common concern when switching to a natural skincare regimen: how to use oil in its pure form on the skin.


To many of you, especially those of you with already oily or acne-prone skin, this may seem like a recipe for disaster: a slick and shiny looking face, rampant breakouts, clogged pores, etc.! And as someone who hates that "greasy" feeling, to the extent of borderline OCD, I understand this concern all too well. We've all seen so many products promoted as "oil-free" that many of us have come to think that oil on the skin is a thing to get rid of and avoid at all costs. But oils are an essential component of healthy skin, and while it may seem counter-intuitive to apply them in their pure form, this is actually a practice that goes back to ancient times and has a remarkable balancing effect on the skin. With the recent proliferation of natural skincare brands like Oil + Water, oils are finally making a comeback, and I'm here to fill you in on what the buzz is all about.

So what do I mean by balancing?

In short, if you have oily skin, applying a face oil can actually help control and reduce natural sebum production, essentially by signaling to the skin that it already has enough oil and can stop making more. If you have dry skin, oils can restore essential nutrients and form a protective barrier to lock in moisture.

Not all oils will work for everyone of course, and some are better for certain skin types than others. In order to be effective and produce good results, the oils must be high-quality, pure, and unadulterated. Also remember that a little always goes a long way with oils, and like anything else, they should be used in moderation for the best results. If you use the right oil in the right amounts, it can do a phenomenal job of moisturizing dry, oily, OR combination skin because of its unique ability to selectively target different skin needs.

And for those of you like me who hate that greasy feeling, how does applying a face oil FEEL?  The answer is that it really depends on the oil - different oils sink in at different rates, and in fact many sink in so rapidly that they are actually considered "dry" oils.

I find that these types of oils leave your skin feeling even less "greasy" than many creams or lotions. I'll be doing lots more posts on different types of oils and their unique benefits, rates of absorption, etc., in the future, so stay tuned for more on this later. But know that there's really an oil for everyone, and as far as greasiness is concerned, the right oil or blend will absorb into your skin quickly without any residual weight, and will feel quite luxurious to apply. I love spritzing on an alcohol-free toner like a floral water or hydrosol before applying a face oil - this helps the oil to soak in even more effectively and it feels heavenly too!

If you're currently using creams or lotions and decide to switch to using oils instead, there's another huge benefit: you eliminate the need for an emulsifier and a preservative in your product.

Lotions and creams are emulsions of oil and water, the two building blocks of skincare. In these types of moisturizers, an emulsifier is necessary to keep the oil and the water in the formula from separating, and a preservative is necessary because, once water is present, bacteria, mold, and fungi will want to grow!

Especially because there are currently no 100% natural preservatives and emulsifiers that really work, oils are a cleaner and simpler solution than lotions or creams. Of course, there are more and more great options for safe emulsifiers and preservatives on the market every day, but skincare industry suppliers are still playing catch-up with the demand for more natural products, and they have some ground left to cover. Many commercial products still contain a host of other unnecessary chemicals to further stabilize emulsions and dramatically extend the shelf life of products. By using a simple natural oil or oil blend, you eliminate this concern completely and can be certain that you are reducing the chemical load on your skin as much as possible. Count me in!


Alright, so back to the scoop. Oils can be used to hydrate. But what about cleansing with oil? Believe it or not, oil makes a fantastic cleanser too! This has to do with the basic chemistry of oil and water.

Are you noticing a theme yet? ;)

Do you know what makes some mascaras waterproof? It's actually the fact that those particular formulas are oil-based, and because oil and water don't readily mix without some assistance (hence the need, as I mentioned above, for emulsifiers in products that contain both oil and water), water can't dissolve an oil-based formula. But oil can!

Because like dissolves like, oil when used as a cleanser will dissolve other oil-based things, like grime and impurities on the skin as well as any oil-based makeup, to deep clean while simultaneously hydrating and nourishing the skin with essential nutrients.

Sounds like a win-win, right?

In fact, oil cleansing is the very thing that got me interested in natural skincare, and that inspired me to create Oil + Water. I'll talk more about this in a subsequent post, but first I'll explain how oil cleansing works.

Typically, you take a small amount of your chosen carrier oil or oils (which in my case were olive and castor, in a ratio of 3:1) along with any essential oils you want to include (I left these out of my blend for the sake of simplicity) and you massage the mixture in a circular motion onto your face. After you've massaged for couple of minutes, you run a face towel under hot water - as hot as you can stand - and squeeze the excess water out, then place the towel over your face to let the hot steam penetrate your skin, loosen any dirt, and open up clogged pores. You repeat the steaming process a few times, then simply wipe your face gently with the towel to remove any dirt and excess oil. Voila! You have a clean, moisturized face! And the bonus is that the whole ritual is quite pleasurable and relaxing too.

So that's the basic run-down of using oils in your skincare routine. If you haven't tried oil for moisturizing or cleansing yet, I really encourage you to! It has worked wonders for me in making my skincare routine cleaner, simpler, healthier, and more enjoyable. If you're still skeptical, be reassured that it's something you can experiment with at home, at your own pace, and with just one or two simple carrier oils, until you feel comfortable and are ready to consider more luxury oil-based products.

Just be sure to get high quality oils and research their properties and how they might work for your skin type first. Now go get your glow on! Happy pampering!