How to Clean Your Face Naturally {31 days to cleaner living}

A great way to lower your exposure to toxins is to use a natural face wash. Even better is a natural face wash that won’t break the bank and I’ve found that in the “oil cleansing method”.

I always, always had dry and blotchy skin. I’ve always had breakouts. Nothing to major of course, but you still feel like everyone is noticing them. I mean for goodness sakes, I wasn’t 13 anymore! Puberty was supposed to be over!

I also used face lotion like it was going out of style. I’d scrub my skin so very squeaky clean and then use half a bottle of moisturizer to try to replenish. Unfortunately no matter what product I bought (and I’ve tried some pretty expensive ones!) or how I washed my face I was always…..flaky. And red.

The problem is, all of these conventional face products out there strip our skin of its natural oils, causing it to produce even more oil. And while you are washing your poor skin, it becomes aggravated from the drying effects of the cleansers, and now it’s vulnerable to the host of chemicals that are actually in the product. These chemicals can include carcinogens, developmental toxins, and endocrine disruptors.

Although the chemicals are supposedly in such small amounts that they “shouldn’t” make us sick, our skin is our largest organ. And what we put on our skin is absorbed into our body. These toxins are stored in our fat cells along as in other parts of our body, and it’s the fat cells that also produce different hormones our bodies need. If we are filling them full of toxins, how can they correctly balance hormones?

If our bodies are so busy fighting off potential cancer causing toxins, how can it allow our reproductive systems to flourish? A body that is busy multi tasking can only function properly for so long.

olive oil

photo credit: jonny2love

Natural Face Wash

An easy, effective, a not so costly way to go about lowering your exposure to toxins, all the while making your skin look better, is to use something called the Oil Cleansing method (OCM).

The Basics

You are cleansing your face with a mix of castor oil and another oil (I tend to use sunflower, but you can also use extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, etc.).
And before you stop reading, thinking I’m a total looney-toon for suggesting such a thing, let me just tell you that I have used this method for over 3 years and it really works!

I was even worried that going to a natural cleansing method that my skin would react and breakout until it was used to no more soap, but it did no such thing. (it’s actually quite common to see more breakouts when you first switch as your skin adjusts to a new cleansing routine) Now my skin is smoother, with no red and blotchy spots that I have to cover up with heavy foundation. I now only use a light organic powder when I go out. Actually, most times I forget so I go out wearing no powder at all.
In the summer I can actually go completely without moisturizer, and in the winter I use just a bit of extra virgin coconut oil when needed.

Down and dirty

The best thing about this method is that you can fine tune your own mix and change it with the seasons or your own hormonal fluctuations.

  • Have dry skin? Use 1 part castor oil to 9 parts sunflower oil
  • Normal skin? Use 2 parts castor oil to 8 parts sunflower oil
  • Oily skin? Use 3 parts castor oil to 7 parts sunflower oil

You can add more or less castor oil as needed. My first batch I used the ‘dry skin’ recommendation and now that it’s winter, I’ve noticed my face becoming a bit more dry, so my next batch I’ll mix at 1/2 part castor oil to 9 parts sunflower. You can always adjust and remake your mix, no more heading to the store to buy a different product!

My Routine

Each Most mornings I take a hot washcloth and hold it over my face until it cools slightly, repeating a few times, and then a light rinse. Pat dry.

Every other nightish I take a few drops of the oil and massage on to my face. (use your ring fingers, they don’t have as much strength as the others) I then use a hot, steamy washcloth and place over my face until cooled slightly (about 20 seconds or so), repeating a few times until most of the oil is dissolved. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

Every other night, when I don’t use the oil, I just follow my basic morning routine or if I’ve applied makeup I use just the carrier oil with no castor oil mixed in.

When I feel my skin may be getting a bit to oily or I feel the need to exfoliate I add about a half a teaspoon of sugar to the drops of oil and lightly scrub my face. I actually used this a lot more when I started using the oil cleansing method, as it took a couple of weeks for my skin to adjust.

When my skin starts getting a bit drier, I just smooth on a touch of coconut oil. It’s a great moisturizer!

Cost Savings

I spent $2.00 on the jar, $2.00 on the castor oil, and $6.00 on the sunflower oil. $10.00 total.

See the amount in the jar? It’s been four months and I’m just now needing to make more. (you seriously only need a couple drops each time you cleanse) I’m thinking I can make at least 5 batches of cleanser from these two bottles of oil, meaning that the $10.00 I’ve invested will last me longer than a year. Since I used to easily spend that in one month,I figure I save about $110.00 a year. Great for my pocketbook of course, but even better, it’s great for my body.

How to Clean Your Face Naturally {31 days to cleaner living}
  • Have dry skin? Use 1 part castor oil to 9 parts sunflower oil
  • Normal skin? Use 2 parts castor oil to 8 parts sunflower oil
  • Oily skin? Use 3 parts castor oil to 7 parts sunflower oil
Method of Preparation
  1. Combine in a jar
  2. Take a few drops of oil and massage onto face.
  3. Use hot, steamy washcloth and place over face until cooled slightly, repeating a few times until most of the oil is dissolved.
  4. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

face wash1


So do you use a natural face wash? If so, what’s your daily routine?

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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. Alison @ Wholesome Goodness says:

    I started using the oil cleansing method a few months ago too. I use more oil, though, probably because I wear makeup most days. Plus, I have oily skin. I use OCM every night, then apply a serum. In the mornings, I exfoliate with a rag or a little baking soda and water, then apply some good moisturizer. It’s working great for me! My skin has definitely improved, and I’ve cut way back on my skincare spending.

  2. James and Andrea says:

    I guess I’ve sort of been doing this. When I got married, my husband hopped into bed each night at bed time while I did my little toothbrush, contacts, face cleaning routine (using clearasil or something). My face broke out according to my hormonal calendar and not depending on how clean my face was. Anyway, to spend less time in the bathroom before bed, I started to skip cleaning my face at night (I didn’t wear that much make up anyway). At the same time, I switched my evening lotion from Eucerine to organic coconut oil. I was surprised to note that my face didn’t break out anymore than it had before and the coconut oil actually healed any infections. I should exfoliate a little more often, but other than that, my skin is healthier and clearer than ever, and I don’t have ANY cleaning routine–just my coconut oil application at bedtime.

  3. [email protected] says:

    A warm wash cloth (no rubbing) removes make-up? :-) I normally wouldn’t even have to ask, but pregnancy is not good to my face and I’ve resorted to concealer, which makes my face look bland, which then necessitates blush and mascara.

    I just want a naturally clear face! So I think I’ll try this…

  4. Beth – I normally don’t have a problem with makeup coming off after steaming my face with a hot cloth a few times. Every once in awhile I’ll just lightly wipe off, but I just try not to scrub. Or you could just use OCM each night your wear it. Pregnancy was not good for my face either the first 6 weeks! Not horrible teenage stuff, but bumpy and red. I ended up using a sugar scrub a few times a week during the worst of it to help exfoliate.

    I’ve also started using coconut oil as a moisturizer which has been working great now that the air is drier up here. Doesn’t leave my face greasy like I thought it would either! (It’s kind of a weird solid oil if you’ve never used it)

  5. [email protected] says:

    One more question: Where did you get that cute bottle? :-) How many ounces would you guess it is? I’m thinking of picking up some sunflower and castor oil when I go out tomorrow – I just have no idea where to store the concoction once I make it! :-)

  6. I found the bottle in the cooking section of our local supermarket/superstore. By the other glass oil bottles and measuring cups and cooking utensils. I’m guessing any store that sells cooking supplies might have something similar.

    Gina Reply:

    I ran out of soy sauce and I was using one of those little bottles of soy sauce that you see sitting on the tables at chinese restaurants and thought that it would be a great bottle to use for the OCM routine. It has the little spout on top that pours out either side. I am going to repurpose it today and start oil cleansing!

  7. I love the oil cleansing method and I’ve been using it for about 4 months also! I normally do it every other day though and also just use it in the shower/bath…that way I can “steam” my face without a wash cloth. If my face is too oily afterwards I use either a wash cloth or some baking soda to get the excess off. It is so relaxing though. Great article!

    Michelle Reply:

    @Marsha_M, When my homemade cleansing bar runs out, I’d like to try the OCM again. My problem is taking the time for it. I don’t typically wash my face except when in the shower daily. So do you apply the oil prior to getting in the shower and then don’t touch your face in the shower? Just wipe with a washcloth if needed at the end?

    donielle Reply:

    @Michelle, I also cleanse in the shower. I usually massage a bit of oil on my face after I’ve washed my hair (I like to wait until my pores are open a bit), leave it on for a few minutes, and then use a hot washcloth to steam it off. (I find my face is to oily if I don’t steam it with a hot cloth) It only adds and extra 2 or 3 minutes to my shower. I “should” massage the oil in longer…..but I don’t have the time for that anymore. 😉

  8. MacKenzie says:

    I’ve been using OCM for about a year now. I use about 20% caster oil and the rest olive oil. I have always had lots of skin problems (dryness, exzema, allergic reactions to makeup, etc) but my skin has been amazing this past year. I no longer need a moisturizer and only have have breakouts during “certain times of the month.”

  9. Love your post!

  10. I totally missed the “girl school” lesson on make up and face cleaning routines. Actually, my older sister took me to the drug store once, loaded me up with six or seven products, showed me how to use them all and I never did it again :) I’ve been lucky that I’ve never had bad acne or skin problems so that helps with the whole “I wash my face when I shower, or when I’m particularly gross” cleaning method.
    I’ve seen a couple people talking about this oil cleaning method. If I feel like I need to actually clean my face in the future I am totally going to try this! Thanks!

  11. Kelly the Kitchen Kop says:

    Hi Donielle!

    Castor oil is on my Meijer list now for my son who has mild acne.

    Thanks for joining in on the blog carnival!


  12. I have been using this method for about 4 days and my face is really breaking out. Is that just my skin purging itself? Also, I am doing it every night because I wear makeup everday for work. Should I maybe cut the amount of castor oil to be able to use it everyday or is there another way to take off my make up? Any advice would be great! Thanks!

    donielle Reply:

    @Jackie, How is it now? Any better yet? If you’re going from a very conventional wash to this you may see a lot more ‘purging’ going on than if you go from a natural wash to OCM. You can cut the amount of castor oil or you could use just oil. OCM is best if used just 3-4 times per week so on the other 15+ times you wash your face, try using just oil or warm water. Also make sure you’re taking time to steam your face each time as well. Oh, and an addition of a tsp of sugar can help for exfoliating once a week or so!

  13. Hi! I love your post! I would love to try this method of cleansing my face since I use raw honey (usually the white gold honey from Canada or any other raw white honey.) Honey contains vitamins, minerals and enzymes, plus it’s a natural antibiotic and moisturizer.

  14. I tried this a while ago, and to be honest, I probably didn’t do it long enough to see results. The one thing I did remember about it was that it actually seemed to take a while. I would do it every night and then wipe my face with a warm cloth in the morning. I may try it again. I really like the idea of it. I usually wash my face in the shower, but if I have done this the night before, maybe just wetting my face and then using some coconut oil if needed when I get out would suffice. I could easily only do the OCM 3 to 4 times a week because that is about how often (if that!) that I wear make up!

  15. I am SUPER interested in more feedback. I tried the OCM method (using about 2 parts Castor oil to about 6 parts Sunflower Oil – my favorite oil for my skin) last year and for two-ish weeks my dry, flaky, prone to chin breakouts skin was lovely, glowing, lustrous. And then. Oh my goodness – my entire face broke out into these small tiny, itchy bumps. Wow. It took over two weeks to get rid of them. It was awful. A friend of mine mentioned how strong castor oil is and she cautioned me against using it (some cultures won’t touch it, other cultures encourage you to drink it). Wow. I would love to try this method again but definitely a bit nervous. I’ll be following along to see if anyone else has helpful advice for those this didn’t work for…

    donielle Reply:

    @Betsy Tucker, A ratio of 2:6 definitely sounds like a lot! Since it’s the castor oil that pulls out the grime and natural oils, the skin will then start over producing those oils to compensate. Much like conventional face wash. I’d try a much lower ratio or just use the sunflower oil. The castor oil is a relatively new addition to OCM – people used just oils for cleansing for thousands of years! And also make sure that you steam all of the sunflower oil off so none is left on your face.

    The only other thing I can think of is that maybe something else was in the oil from processing it. Maybe try a different oil too.

    Betsy Tucker Reply:

    @donielle, I appreciate your follow up. I may just give this a try and see what happens again.

  16. I need to get back to this. I was doing it in the fall but then just stopped. Luckily (I guess? lol) I haven’t replaced it with anything, I just use water. I tend to use more like 30 – 40% castor oil and the rest avocado oil, because I tend towards oily skin. People with very oily skin might even need 50% castor oil. I also have added a few drops of lemon or grapefruit essential oil to help with toning. It’s amazing how moist yet “clean” my skin feels after doing this!

    donielle Reply:

    @Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama, Funny how many different variations of this are out there. The addition of castor oil though is a relatively new addition as people used to just use a basic oil. The one problem that comes with adding in more castor oil, is that it’s the oil that draws out impurities as well as natural skin oils. So the more castor oil, the more like conventional face wash we get to in the essence that it causes our skin to over produce oil. While someone may need a higher level of castor oil to begin with, lowering it to almost none really is best as the skin adjusts. A lot of times when women start OCM and break out, they think they need to add more castor oil when in fact if they added less it would cause the skin to produce less natural oils.

    If you haven’t replaced it with anything you could just use straight coconut oil or evoo without any issues. In fact, I have a jar of just coconut oil in my bathroom that I use for OCM, moisturizer and deodorant – nothing else added.

  17. I luckily don’t have to use much for my skin. I exfoliate with sugar and lemon juice maybe once a week or so, during a shower, and use an organic sensitive skin moisturizer when I get out of the shower. That’s it. I don’t ever bother to take off my makeup (yay for sexy “bedroom” look the next day). I wash my hair once every 3-4 days, and I don’t use shampoo, only conditioner. When I get out of the shower I put a palm full of coconut oil on my hair and comb it in. I’ve always found, even as a teenager, the more I mess with my skin/hair, the more likely I am to have problems with it. Honey makes a great mask too, if your having flaking/dry/combination issues. As a teenager I would dot it on zits and leave it for a couple hours, the zit was usually gone by the next day.

    donielle Reply:

    @Brittany, Sugar and lemon huh? I kind of like the sound of that! Thanks for sharing!

  18. I did the OCM for a while, but now I just use warm water to was and coconut oil as a moisturizer. Every once in a while I exfoliate with a little baking soda, although not as often as I should! :) My skin looks so much clearer and healthier than when I was using conventional face wash.

    donielle Reply:

    @Brittany, Never thought about exfoliating with baking soda…..

    And now that I’ve been doing this for years, i only do it once or twice a week. I do think my skin would be smoother if I at least used plain oil (I don’t need much if any castor oil) a bit more often though!

  19. Wow–this is fascinating! It kind of reminds of the oil-pulling concept that I did for a little while. I may just have to get myself some castor oil and try it! :)

    I used to have terrible break-outs, but I can trace it all back to eating HFC. 😛 Now that I avoid the stuff like the plague, my skin is clear and smooth. In the mornings I use either a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s Miracle soap (Peppermint is a wonderful pick-me-up!) or some of the homemade soap (from a friend of mine) that I keep at my sink for washing. After that, I follow with some coconut oil to which I’ve added a drop of lavender essential oil, since my husband objects to the smell of coconut. :) I have to admit, I often times don’t wash my face at night, but if I do I follow the same protocol. Easy!

  20. martine says:

    Isn’t better to use raw oil for this recipe?



    donielle Reply:

    @martine, I tend to like extra virgin oil for cleansing as I feel it has a few more benefits, though I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary either. But I prefer it. :-)

  21. Kelsey says:

    Wow, I have never heard of this! I’m going to try it, though. I just was reading about how toxic my facial cleanser is (even though it’s supposed to be “better” than most). I’ve been just using coconut oil (at night) and unrefined shea butter (in the morning) for my moisturizer, but even using those I’ve found my skin is still dry! So I’m definitely going to give this a try. Thanks!

  22. Hi there

    This castor oil – sunflower thing is interesting.
    I just recently jumped onto the natural skincare wagon 😛 and have been cleansing my face with honey for the last week and today with an added bit of baking powder for a scrub. My skin always feels soft after it and I dont need moisturiser.
    I also bought coconut oil and put a little to moisturise.. Hopefully itll make my skin nicer! I have annoying skin that breaks out randomly and with some acne scarring but recently has started to look marginally better
    I might try the castor oil if this doesnt go well
    Thanks for the post!

  23. I had been using an oil & seed cleanser/exfoliator by Boots (from UK but sold at Target) and liked it. I’m excited to try this – mixed it up yesterday & just used a dab on a couple of blemishes last night & wiped with a warm washcloth – those areas felt nice, & not oily. I put some cornmeal in for exfoliating, & used 2 parts castor oil to 8 parts coconut oil for starters.
    I wondered about castor oil, so looked it up on Wikipedia (I know, that’s why I’m asking this! LOL) It mentioned a study where castor oil taken orally was used as a contraceptive. I wonder if you think this would be a problem using it topically for someone who was TTC? It also mentioned that the molecular structure of castor oil allows it to penetrate the skin more deeply than other oils.

    donielle Reply:

    @Gigi, I definitely know that oral use is not recommended (for anyone) though from what I’ve come across I haven’t found that that topical use be horribly detrimental. BUT – castor oil can also be left out as well. In fact I’ve found that after a few months of using my mix, that I didn’t need any at all and now I use just coconut oil or sunflower oil. So if it concerns you, just use the carrier oil! :-)

  24. JUST what I was looking for. Thank you!

  25. Totally want to try this, but I’m a little scared. Does it work with cystic acne? (or is that pretty much a lost cause?) I’ve been doing the natural soaps, deoderant, shampoo, etc. I’m just now getting into natural facial business. I’ve tried pretty much everything on the market, so I’m thinking this might actually work. HA, because everything else didn’t. but I don’t want to make it worse, either.

    donielle Reply:

    @Emily, The women I’ve heard of that had it help with cystic acne also took some dietary changes too. Acne is more often a symptom of an internal issue than it is a cleanliness issue. I once heard a naturopath state that “the skin is like a mirror for the liver”, and that goes along with many other things that I’ve heard as well.

    So beyond how you cleanse your face, treating acne is all about cleansing and nourishing your liver. I’d personally try a gentle whole foods cleanse along with some herbs to make sure your liver is functioning at it’s prime. (

    It is possible to treat cystic acne – it’s just going to be a bit more work than for some. Personally I use to deal with acne, though not cystic and not very bad, but enough to be noticeable. Now I find that it only pops up when I slack on my eating habits.

  26. Hey, I want to know how much to add for each oil. I know u said parts, should I use a tsp or tbs?

    donielle Reply:

    @Tanya, I used a tablespoon, it made enough for quite a while but not so much that it lasted forever. :-)

  27. I’m so glad I found your blog! I haven’t been able to use anything on my skin and its been a mess since my son was born earlier in the year. Its always been really bad so I’m excited to find something natural to use on my skin. Would avocado oil work in place of sunflower oil? I can’t find that anywhere. What do you use for spf? Is ylang ylang essential oil ok for skin? I’m not fond of the scent of coconut oil on my skin but I love that scent so I think I’ll put some of that in it. Thanks!

  28. Hi, love your Blog :0), I have a question though, what is OCM? I am very new to all of the Natural ways of cleansing my face.

    Thanks so much for your reply~ :0)


    donielle Reply:

    @Juliette, OCM just stands for “Oil Cleansing Method” – the method I talk about in this post. :-)

  29. I did this for a while (with EVOO and castor oil) I found my skin was very spotty. Now I learn it could be because my olive oil isn’t what it says it is (at Crunchy Betty – It also takes a long time! I have been using raw honey to wash my face for the last four or five months and I much prefer it.


  1. […] like even more breakouts. After posting about it on Twitter I got some good advice from Donielle at Naturally Knocked Up and plan to tweak my routine a bit. I’ll post a more detailed review of the method after a […]

  2. […] I read a post over at Naturally Knocked Up about the OCM, and saw that she used a different type of oil and in different quantities than I had originally […]

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by NaturallyKnockedUp, Green Families. Green Families said: Going to try this! Thx! RT @donielle: Read It! Natural Face Wash – A great way to lower your exposure to toxins is to… […]

  4. […] I read a post over at Naturally Knocked Up about the OCM, and saw that she used a different type of oil and in different quantities than I had originally […]