Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Alternative Cleansing Methods

Hi Belle,

Seems like every time I open a magazine there’s a story about some new way to wash my face.  I’ve read about oil cleansing, using powders, or sponges treated with charcoal.  Have you tried any of these new fangled things?  Whatever happened to good, old soap?

Sincerely, Cleansed and Confused

Ha! I love this.  I think the beauty industry’s current obsession is how to wash your face.  I’ve seen all of the things you mentioned, and cleansing waters.

I recently bought this Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil.  I haven’t used it enough to review it yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.  The Beauty Department has the scoop on how to cleanse with oil.  If you want to make your own, here’s a good article on how to tailor your cleanser by skin type.

I’ve also heard good things about Josie Maran’s Argan cleanser and Ole Henriksen’s Pure Truth cleanser, which I sampled this summer.  If you’re looking for a drugstore brand, be careful.  Most of the cheaper brands use mineral oil as a primary ingredient, and that is the last thing you want.  This Eclos cleanser is probably your best $10 bet.

I use a Konjac charcoal sponge on my chest and shoulders.  It’s more effective than all of the soaps that say they treat body acne.  Dew Puff makes a sponge that costs about half as much.  You can also try African black soap for a detoxifying cleanser.

As for the facial cleansing powders, a male friend who suffers from terrible acne switched to Josie Maran’s powder cleanser and loves it.  For a less expensive option, bareMinerals offers a smaller size of their popular exfoliating cleanser.

If any of you have abandoned traditional soap for an alternative cleansing method, please leave your thoughts in the comments.



  1. Kat says:

    You should check out it’s a great resource for routines, product suggestions, and skincare basics.

    Also, the skincare addiction forum on reddit is wealth of information.

    Some misconceptions- there is nothing wrong with 100% mineral oil for a lot of people. African Black Soap has a very high pH value (around 9) and any traditional foam cleansers should have a pH of no more than 6 to preserve your skins moisture barrier. Castor oil can be very stringent, be careful using it on your face.

    January 26, 2015/Reply
  2. DHN says:

    Why is mineral oil the last thing you want? I’ve rediscovered cold cream – which uses mineral oil, right? – and seems great for the cold, dry winter air. But I often wonder if it is really getting my skin clean. Is there a reason I shouldn’t use it?

    January 26, 2015/Reply
    • Belle says:

      For some people, it’s really irritating. I was using a night cream that had it and my skin broke out like crazy. It depends on your skin, but mine hated it and my derm gave me this, “Duh” look when I told her what I was using.

      January 26, 2015/Reply
  3. Monica says:

    I recently started the oil cleansing method, and although its only been about a week I’m pretty happy with it. I have combination / oily skin and don’t have acne, but usually have small bumps on my face, especially around my hairline. My main reason for converting is to avoid the dry / oily vicious cycle where I’m constantly drying out or adding back moisture to my skin. I made my own mix of castor oil, jojoba oil and a dash of argan oil from Mountain Rose Herbs. I follow this method for use:

    Here are some tips to avoid pitfalls:

    My skin feels clean afterward, and I always swipe with a floral water toner (calendula, chamomile, rose, witch hazel combo) and my pads come back clean, no tint of makeup. My skin feels smooth and supple.

    I’m 33, so if I can prevent wrinkles from happening by keeping my skin moist, I’m hoping I can avoid the expensive creams and salves later!

    Thanks for the info about the sponge Belle, might be worth a look!

    January 26, 2015/Reply
  4. K says:

    I switched to Trader Joe’s jojoba oil as a makeup remover about a year ago and it’s fantastic (and super cheap!). Takes off even waterproof makeup without tugging.

    January 26, 2015/Reply
  5. Dani says:

    About two years ago, I switched to oil cleansing with coconut oil for two reasons:
    – I have chronically dry skin.
    – I wear makeup with good coverage because of acne scarring, and I try to make it last as long through the day as possible so that I don’t have to touch up at my desk. So, when it’s time to remove it, I make sure it ALL comes off.

    Oil cleansing is the only thing that guarantees complete removal of my makeup at night. I apply it to my dry skin, massage it around, remove the oil and melted makeup with either a washcloth or a good rinse under the shower head, and then proceed with using a gentle foaming cleanser. I follow up with serums and moisturizers as normal. Oil cleansing removes every stitch of my makeup, has really helped alleviate my acne issues, and improves the surface of my skin. I love it!

    January 26, 2015/Reply
  6. Andrea says:

    I’ve been using Clinique’s oil cleanser (I think it’s a Sephora exclusive) at night followed by Shiseido’s Ibuki Gentle Cleanser and really like the results. It’s a great balance for my combo skin!

    January 26, 2015/Reply
  7. S says:

    I’ve used Komenuka Bijin Cleansing Powder (from rice bran) for a number of years. With my combo skin that gets tight in the winter, I find it’s gentle lather yet “squeaky” clean doesn’t irritate at all. I get about 3 washes from each tube, so that’s ~$0.50 a wash. Nice, slight fragrance as well.

    Komenuka Bijin Cleansing Powder

    January 26, 2015/Reply
  8. TechWriter says:

    I go for African Black Soap (thank you for another great lead, Belle) and this little pore cleansing pad from Sephora . Very low-tech, but I’ve noticed that the under-skin bumps along my jawline have gotten better in the last few months using them.

    January 26, 2015/Reply
  9. Yael says:

    I’m using Baobab oil as a moisturizer, and sometimes as a cleanser. It is cheap ($10 from Pharmaca) and organic and pure. I love it!

    January 26, 2015/Reply
  10. susannah says:

    I’ve been using the oil cleansing method for years (I mix my own and I wipe off with a hot washcloth). I used to have quite a bit of redness and some cyst-like pimples around my jawline, and my skin was quite oily. Really lovely. My skin cleared up in a couple of weeks and I no longer have to wear foundation at all. It was like a miracle.

    January 26, 2015/Reply
    • b. says:

      Care to share your own mix?

      January 28, 2015/Reply
  11. SLG says:

    I think a lot of this just really depends on your skin (which I hate, because I hate experimenting with stuff that might go wrong on my skin). So… please don’t ban me from this blog 🙂 but I use straight-up baby oil with vitamin E on my face as a cleanser (a little bit on a warm wet wash cloth), and have for years. My skin is so dry that it sometimes breaks out from sheer dryness, and when I first started using baby oil, my skin cleared up within 24 hours, no joke.

    I’ve also had good luck with a homemade mixture of coconut oil and 100% vitamin E oil. I’ve just been too busy to mix it up recently! But again, I think this is because my skin is so super-dry that a daily cleansing with lightweight oil is exactly what it needs, and it might not be that way for everyone.

    January 26, 2015/Reply
  12. Katie says:

    Boscia Makeup Breakup cleansing oil is fantastic!! Gets all of your eye makeup off and feels/smells great.

    January 26, 2015/Reply
  13. Mia says:

    Can vouch for AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel; gentle enough to use daily or every other day for effective. You can get at Saphora.

    January 26, 2015/Reply
  14. Trixie says:

    I’m in my mid-50s,never had acne and my derm says my skin is about 10 years younger than my years. I have dry, fair skin and rarely use soap or cleanser … Use an oil based pad if I have to wear foundation (i do some tv), otherwise tepid water rinses and a soft cloth (if I’ve got no make up) and a decent moisturizer and eye cream day and night. I do get facials 4 times a year, but haven’t had peels or anything harsh. My doc has always said use as few cleaning products as possible, let your skin breathe ( don’t wear too much make up) , use a moisturizer that feels good to you and stay out of the sun. And drink more water. I used to fly a lot and tried to down 8oz every hour— a flight attendant with great skin suggested that.

    January 27, 2015/Reply
  15. VirginiaBelle says:

    I used to think anything beyond a rag and good luke-warm scrubbing would cause breakouts. Come to find out, it was the moisturizers afterwards that caused problems. Ever since I started doing a homemade olive oil and honey mask in the shower, I can use any cleanser (even the cheapies) with no ill effects. Mother Nature – 1. Beauty chemistry – 0.

    January 27, 2015/Reply
  16. lesley says:

    I would recommend looking up potential new cleansers on paula’s choice ( I’ve found it really helpful in identifying cleansers that will get the job done while not irritating your skin. Some of the best cleansers are budget friendly!

    I also would recommend double cleansing (cleansing twice!) either with an oil cleanser/gentle cleanser like cerave or just with a gentle cleanser. I wear a decent amount of makeup normally and this method helps me make sure all the dirt/makeup gets off my skin.

    January 27, 2015/Reply
  17. Rachel says:

    I second Paula’s Choice for skincare reviews, especially if you’re considering investing in higher end items or if you’re on a tight budget.

    I’ve experimented with oil cleansers, but I’m still sticking with Cetaphil.

    January 28, 2015/Reply