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Questions about oils and scrubs

Alisa asks…Will cleansing oil method clog pores, thus causing breakouts? Do we really need to double cleanse our face daily (even with or without makeup)? Or is it sufficient enough to just merely use cleansing oil to wash our faces? 2. Can we use olive oil as a serum before applying moisturizer? Is it effective? Or should we apply it after moisturizer? Is it true that chemical/enzyme exfoliation is the best way of exfoliating dead skin cells? I was told that apricot or sugar scrub wasn’t good for the skin, whereas jojoba scrub was a better preference. Why? I didn’t know if there’s any scientific reason behind it. Would love to hear your comments on the best scrub for face.

The Beauty Brains respond: 

1. There’s no single, absolute answer to this question. Some oils are comedogenic (meaning they tend to clog pores); other oils are not. That means that some oil cleansers will probably be fine on your face while others may cause problems. Unfortunately, the science of determining how likely a product is to clog pores is not very exact. Look for one that says “noncomedogenic” on the label and hopefully you won’t have any problems.

2. Many people swear by using olive oil (both before and after moisturizing.) It’s more of a matter of personal taste than anything else.

3. Chemical exfoliation (with an AHA) is the most proven way to exfoliate. Enzymes are not very stable and maybe become inactive in a formula due to heat and other factors. Scrubs certainly exfoliate too but sharp crystals (from sugar and salt) as well as pit fragments (from apricot) can scratch your skin. Many people get good results using jojoba beads because they are made of a soft wax like material. They won’t exfoliate as well as an AHA but they will be more gentle.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Eileen March 20, 2014, 10:54 am

    Hi Alisa,

    This is purely anecdotal but it will hopefully provide a practical insight. I’ve used cleansing oils for over 55 years and they’ve evolved from a heavy product to one that is light, easily rinsed off, and non-comedongenic. There are many wonderful cleansing oils available at different price points and composed of different oils. The good ones all have several things in common: They’re thoughtfully blended for the express purpose of removing makeup from the face, they are very light in texture, they emulsify and rinse off easily with water, they are non-comedongenic, and they are esthetically pleasing. I wear a full face of makeup and never have to double cleanse with the oil I’m currently using. I use a generous amount of oil, massage it over my face and neck, splash it off with water, and then go over my face and neck with a clean washcloth that has been wrung out in warm water. Makeup is completely removed; no breakouts. I learned to use oil from my mother who learned that method from her mother. Both of them always used cleansing oils and they both had clear and beautiful complexions. I’m sure good genes had a lot to do with it, but the point is that a refined, light-weight oil that is designed for the task is not going to play havoc with your skin nor is it going to require a second cleansing product.

    I’ve used enzyme powder as an exfoliant for about ten years now and have not had any problems with it going bad. I store it properly and usually use it up well within six months. Enzyme powders are meant to be used daily or several times a week depending on the formula. The powder is activated with water. You mix it with a bit of water and apply it to a damp face; let it set a minute before rinsing it off.

    When it comes to skin care, one size does not fit all. What works brilliantly for me might not be the best for you, but I thought that sharing my experience might be helpful.

  • Stacy March 21, 2014, 11:52 am

    Alisa, Check out: http://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/

    Paula Begoun has more detailed information about Oil Cleansing and exfoliation.

  • alisa March 25, 2014, 9:19 am

    Thanks for the response everyone, appreciate it a lot.

    Beauty Brains: I still don’t get the part of my question (Do we really need to double cleanse our face daily (even with or without makeup)? Or is it sufficient enough to just merely use cleansing oil to wash our faces?) would u mind to comment on this? thanks. I’ve also heard that AHA only scrubs off the outer skin layer whereas BHA scrubs off both inner & outer skin layer. Thus, BHA is a better choice than AHA. Is that true? Thirdly, is olive oil consider non-comedogenic?Paula’s website highly discourage this oil cleansing method, would love to hear ur opinion on this. Thanks once again.

    Eileen: thanks for the sharing, it’s very helpful & informative ^^ Just to clarify, do u feel like when the face is touched, it feels slightly sticky & greasy by using cleansing oil rather than the dry, tight feeling after using normal cleanser? I find that I need to use more water to wash my face by using cleansing oil compared to using cleanser, do u have the same experience? or perhaps I wash my face with the oil using the wrong method.

    Stacy: thanks a million for the link. appreciate it!

    • Randy Schueller March 25, 2014, 11:29 am


      1. If you don’t mind a slight oily residue then you can just use cleansing oil. (Assuming of course you’re not prone to breaking out from these oils.)
      2. BHA’s penetrate into the pores because they are oil soluble. That’s why they’re good for acne. AHA’s are fine for removing surface skin.
      3. Determining the comodeogenic rating of an ingredient is not an exact science but olive oil is rated as a “2” which means it is moderately comedogenic.

  • Zee August 21, 2014, 7:52 pm

    So happy to find this post, thanks for the great question Alisa, & all of the detailed responses Beauty Brains!

    Beauty Brains: I’ve heard that sugar naturally contains AHA, would you mind answering a question about that? If you make a sugar scrub with 1 cup of unrefined, unbleached organic whole cane sugar + 1/2 cup oil (ie extra-virgin coconut oil), and use ONLY 1/2 TEASPOON of that scrub daily on your face, does that contain enough natural AHA for chemical exfoliation in addition to the sugar crystal physical exfoliation?

    • Randy Schueller August 22, 2014, 6:14 am

      There are three reasons why I don’t think this will work:

      1. I can’t find a specific technical reference to show the amount of AHA in sugar but I believe it is very low.

      2. The concentration would have to be quite high for there to be enough AHA in 1/2 teaspoon to have an effect. (AHA’s are typically used at several %)

      3. Even if there was enough AHA the pH of a simple sugar mixture would not be low enough for the AHA to be active. (It needs to be somewhere between 3 and 4.)