How to Cleanse Your Face…with Castor Oil of All Things?!


I knew castor oil was great for promoting liver function (as in, a castor oil hot pack), but I didn’t realize that I could use it to cleanse my face. The whole idea is kind of odd, really, because castor oil is so very thick and greasy. The notion that you would use it to remove dirt, sweat, and impurities from your skin is almost counter-intuitive. But then I came across this great article on the oil-based cleansing method, and I just had to do a little more investigation.

The theory behind the oil-based cleansing method seemed kind of counter-intuitive to me at first: “Like dissolves like.” But then I remembered that the fundamental tenet underlying one of my all-time favorite healing disciplines, Homeopathy, is “Like cures like.” And they say that to manifest what you want in life, you have to think positive thoughts, because “Like attracts like.” So maybe it’s not so strange after all. In fact, more than one site recommended that the oilier your skin, the more Castor oil (as a ratio) you should use to clean it (check out this post on Crunchy Betty). Now as the owner of a spa for 7 years, I thought I’d seen it all, from using the purest, most organic, most natural ingredients to the latest and greatest in chemical peels, to taking food straight out of the refrigerator and slathering it on your skin. But I had NEVER heard of (or dreamt of) cleansing it with Castor oil. What the heck, I thought, I’ve got some extra Castor oil here. Why not give it a whirl?

2-3 of these castor beans, eaten whole, will kill a person within a few hours! And yet, I can use the oil to cleanse my face...funny how life works.

As I mentioned before, most sites recommended that the oilier your skin, the more Castor oil you use. Here is the rule of thirds from Crunchy Betty:

  • Oily skin: Use 2/3 castor oil to 1/3 carrier oil. (Or measure out 2 tsp castor oil and 1 tsp carrier oil.)
  • Normal skin: Use equal parts castor oil and carrier oil. (Measuring out 1-1/2 tsp castor oil and 1-1/2 tsp carrier oil.)
  • Dry skin: Use 1/3 castor oil and 2/3 carrier oil. (Again, 2 tsp carrier oil and 1 tsp castor oil.)

In my youth, my skin tended to be more oily. In my mid-30s, I noticed a distinct change towards dryness that I at first celebrated – for it meant less blackheads and whiteheads – but now heartily mourn. After all, dryness leads to the appearance of wrinkles and – GASP! – aging. In my mid-30s, I also noticed that I became a lot more hard-headed than I used be, which is why even though I read (and comprehended) the instructions to use less castor oil for drier skin, my mind discarded the advice because I figured, “I’m dry, so I need MORE oil.”

My first few attempts at castor oil cleansing, therefore, left my face feeling even more dry the very next day. Strange, right? I used more of the thick, greasy oil, but it left me feeling drier and tauter than ever. Hmm, hard-headed Mare realizes that perhaps heeding the advice of wiser women who’ve gone before might have its benefits after all. After a few trial-and-error runs, I think I’ve finally gotten the oil-cleansing method down, and I am really enjoying the results. Here is what I do:

  1. Wait until the kid is sleeping. I say this only half-jokingly, because the last thing you want is castor oil on your hands when your kid is running around, making a mess and requiring attention.
  2. Pour about a dime-size of castor oil and a quarter-size of olive oil onto my palm, and rub my hands together. (I am using the DRY SKIN blend, so please adjust accordingly for your skin – remember, don’t be hard-headed like me. Use LESS castor oil for skin that is DRIER, and MORE castor oil for skin that is OILIER.)
  3. Massage the oil into my face, using even, upward strokes. I start at my chin, and then move up in ever-widening circles. I spend the most time on my nose, where I can feel the residue of the daily grime collected in the folds. I take my time doing this, about 5 whole minutes (which is a LONG time, when you think about it).
  4. Wet a washcloth in hot water and wring it out.
  5. Then I put it over my face and pat dry, taking care not to rub or scrape at my skin.
  6. Once my face is dry, I apply some of my customized essential oil facial blend for additional moisturization.

And that’s it! All done with cleansing. Here are some other sites that talk about the Oil-Cleansing Method, giving both pros and cons, if you’re interested.

  4. – this post passionately debunks the Oil Cleansing Method.


About Mare

is a Master Herbalist, Certified Aromatherapist, and enthusiastic natural mommy to a beautiful tot of 2, the Little Apple. She shares her parenting adventures (sometimes mis-adventures) via this blog.
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