Frugal skin care: olive oil cleanser

A friend of mine who has lovely skin told me that she uses olive oil to cleanse her skin.  She referred me to this article at Simple Mom for the details.   The gist of it is that a natural oil like olive oil works naturally to break down the oil in skin that can make your skin look dull and cause break-outs.  I liked the idea of such an affordable facial cleanser and gave it a try.   I loved the way it made my skin look and feel– clear and glowing and healthy.  My husband gave it a cautious try on a breakout on his face — he’d always thought of oil as the culprit in breakouts.   He was surprised that instead of making it worse, it cleared it right up.   And it didn’t leave his skin dry and flaky like his usual acne treatment.

When my 12 year old son heard about the olive oil cleanser, he wanted to try it too.   I was hesitant.  He has moderate acne, and I was really afraid the oil would make his skin worse.  However, we’ve tried a few different cleansers and acne creams (Proactiv and others) without much improvement, and he was anxious to try the oil cleanser.  Since he definitely has oily skin, I followed instructions at Simple Mom, and gave him a mix of half castor oil and half olive oil to try, instead of just plain olive oil.  He’s been using it for a week, and his skin is noticeably, definitely better.  He is pleased and I am too.

I’ve read recently that turmeric also can be helpful for acne-prone skin.   I am going to keep that in mind, and possibly mix it in with the oil if any of my kids seem to need a bit of extra help in clearing up blemishes.

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  1. this is awesome! I am hoping that I can get my teen to try it and am wondering if it will improve my little one’s eczema.

  2. Aren’t simple solutions like this one so great?! I love them even more because THEY WORK. Win-Win.

  3. They say in science that like dissolves like! 🙂

  4. Hmm.. I read about this awhile ago and tried just a very small dab of olive oil on my face. It was so incredibly sticky and gooey and oily and definitely did not “dissolve the oil away”. I washed my face all day and couldn’t get the slime off. I realize I wasn’t following the directions by mixing it with castor oil, but since just a tiny bit of olive oil went so disastrously, I didn’t even want to try it full force. For me it wasn’t so much about saving money as finding something that would work, since I have very very very oily skin. I’ve tried everything. Lately I’ve been having very good luck with Neutrogena’s new Skin ID ( and it’s not the most expensive thing out there (though not the cheapest, either). I may come back to this again if I run into trouble though … will definitely have to use the castor oil though!

  5. I’ve been doing the oil cleansing method for over a year and still love it! I had to adjust the ratio of olive oil to castor oil when I got pregnant and my skin got all weird but I think most skin types could find the right mix if they give it a try.

  6. Olive oil didn’t work as well for me but Ponds Cold Cream (just the classic cleanser in a big tub for $5) has been a miracle for my usual acne-prone skin. My husband loves it for himself, too. If you’re looking for simple and cheap, it’s not too far off. I’ve tried ProActiv and nearly everything ever made by Oxy, Nutrigena, Clearsil, etc and Clinique, Prescriptives, Estee Lauder… the basic cold cream is the winner for me. Glad you all found something that’s working so well for you!

  7. I am going to try this!

  8. Thanks! I will give it a try. My skin turned blah sometime after my 5th baby:-)

  9. I’ve been using the oil cleansing method since I moved to Hawaii in December and my skin reacted poorly with the humidity. I use sunflower oil instead of olive oil and I LOVE IT! I’ll never go back to conventional cleansers again.

  10. I’ll check that out. Also, you’ll love this: Crush two tablets of regular ol aspiring. Add a couple drops of water. Spread over your face. Wait til it dries. Rinse. Your skin will be beautiful and smooth and your pores will have disappeared.

  11. Noxema works for us – if actually *used*, which is not always the case with this stubborn teen boy – but I might pick up some castor oil next time I’m at the store.

  12. to turn the olive oil into an occasional ‘scrub/exfolient’ add some granulated or brown sugar to the oil to make a paste and *gently* massage onto your face. I don’t recommend that for broken or irritated skin though.

    Drying up oily skin with soap may clear oil from the skin temporarily but actually increases oil production because the skin tries to overcompensate. An oil-based cleanser like olive oil can actually trick the skin into producing less oil. The trick is not to use so much oil that you just make the skin oily yourself!

    I haven’t ever used Castor oil. How does it help? Does it kill the bacteria or does it help the skin in another way?

  13. oooh. lovin’ all these ideas! gonna definitely try the aspirin, oil, and castor oil!

  14. Great idea, I will give it a try. I would be cautious about adding the tumeric though, as it tends to stain.

  15. I have been researching this for about a week. Glad to hear you are having success with it. I read somewhere that you can add a drop of tea tree oil for acne prone skin. By the way I LOVE your, Family Feasts, book!!!!!!!!!

  16. A friend told me about something similar – a 1 to 1 ratio of coconut oil and olive oil. I’ve been using it for over a year now in the mornings after my shower – more like a lotion than a cleanser. It has worked great, and got me through the post partum hormones really well. With my first son, I had HORRIBLE acne after his birth. This time, I used the oil mix, and though I still had a small amount of acne, it was much better. I love how it makes my skin feel…

  17. My aunt with really bad acne had doctors prescribe and olive oil treatment. (This was back in the 60s.) It worked. To this day she has absolutely gorgeous skin.

    It also works on cradle cap for babies and minor rashes.

  18. Melissa says:

    I have never used just olive oil, however for a wonderful face scrub I use olive oil (just a bit) mixed with brown sugar and rub it all over my face, then rinse with warm water. I always wash with a facial soap first though … but I love this scrub because I live in Alaska and have very dry skin on some days and this always clears it up and it is always gentle if I have had any break outs.

  19. I JUST tried this and my skin feels SO good. Crazy!! I always thought to avoid anything with any oil in it, but as counterintuitive as it sounds, it really works.

  20. Coffeemom says:

    I use the DHC olive oil cleanser. Love it!! But now winder if I should try the mixt w castor oil and maybe save a little cash??? Worth a try! And for my teens and husband too.

  21. I am on tht regimen also! Through the same source…I like it. Cheap and effective! LOVE your blog. Best to you!

  22. Trying this today. Thanks for the heads up. We also started one child on the baking soda shampoo from the same site. Thanks for the heads up.

  23. I am 57 years old & have rosacea. I have tried numerous prescription medications for this condition but nothing has even come close to doing as much as the olive oil & castor oil cleanser. I too was always told to use oil-free products but I decided to give it a try & I am so glad I did. I also put a small amount of plain olive oil on my face after cleansing. It has made a world of difference in my skin.