Hot Cloth Cleanser (or the portable Oil Cleansing Method)

Hot Cloth Cleanser (or the portable Oil Cleansing Method)

Have you heard about the Oil Cleansing Method? It’s practically an internet cult.

The idea is that you wash your face with … wait for it … OIL!  Yes, oil.  When I first heard about the Oil Cleansing Method (or OCM, for short), I thought it was crazy.  That it would never, ever work for my oily, problematic skin.

I’m always up for a homemade beauty experiment, so I gave it a try.  And it’s actually really good.  Really good!  The theory is that like dissolves like, so if you want to dissolve oil from your face, use oil.  And not just any oil, but the classic Castor Oil which as deep cleansing properties.  Then you steam it off with a hot washcloth.  It leaves your skin with a lovely rosy glow and deeply cleaned.

Anyway, if you want to learn more about OCM, check out Crunchy Betty’s post on the Oil Cleansing Method.

My major problem with OCM is that I travel – a lot.  And oil is really messy.  Even in a tightly closed bottle and inside a ziploc bag, I seem to get oil everywhere.

Around the same, time I started noticing advertisements for expensive & upscale  ‘hot cloth cleansers’.  It seemed like pretty much the same idea – massage a cream cleanser into your face, then steam off with a hot washcloth.  All for $30 per bottle.

I knew I could come up with a better solution.

If you’ve been around here for awhile, you’ve learned the basic technique of turning any oil into a salve using beeswax.  Like this daisy salve.

Every handmade beauty fan should have some beeswax in the cupboard because it makes regular oils so much more useful!

My idea with this hot cloth cleanser was to use the right proportions of oil for your skin type (mine is oily, so I use more castor oil), add some skin-suitable essential oils, then enough beeswax to make it thick-ish.  Not as solid as most salves.  I wanted a consistency that I could carry in my suitcase and not stress about.  Something I could scoop out with my fingers and massage into my face.  It has to be smooth, thick and smell good.  Oh, and it has to work.

The oils I mention below are for oily skin.  If you’re already using the OCM, use your regular blend of oils.  If you’re new to OCM, either try my blend below, or give it a week or two using liquid oils to learn the proportions that work best – then use that blend in this recipe.

If you can’t be bothered turning on the stove to make face cleanser – try using honey as a face mask instead.  It’s easy and really works!

Hot Cloth Cleanser

makes 100 grams

  • 25 g Castor Oil
  • 25 g Olive Oil
  • 30 g Cocoa Butter (or Shea Butter, if you’re prone to pore-clogging!)
  • 20 g Beeswax
  • 7 drops Rosemary essential oil
  • 7 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
  • 6 drops Lavender essential oil
  1. In a bain-marie or double boiler, combine castor oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, and beeswax.  Stir until beeswax and cocoa butter are melted.
  2. Remove from the heat.
  3. Stir in essential oils.
  4. Pour into jars. Let cool. Then close with a lid, and label (product name, ingredients and date!)
  5. Each jar of cleanser should last for 1 year (of course, you’ll probably use it up before then!)

How to use:

Use your fingertip to scoop out some cleanser.  Rub it between your fingers and then onto your face to melt.  Massage it into your skin with circular motions.  You might want to massage it in for 2 minutes, concentrating on those areas which need deep cleansing (nose, forehead and chin!).  Now run the faucet to get hand-hot water, and soak your washcloth in hot water.  Wring out the washcloth, and place the hot cloth over your face for a couple of minutes.  If it cools off, just rinse it in additional hot water and place on your face again.  Gently wipe off the cleanser with the hot washcloth.  Finish with a splash of cool water.  All clean!

Have you tried the oil cleansing method or a hot cloth cleanser? How did it work for you?

About the author

Amanda Cook is an author, entrepreneur, and alchemist. She helps successful women create lives of meaning & magic by connecting with the seasons. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, The Sunday Telegraph, Natural Health UK Magazine, and more. Learn more at

Amanda Cook is an author, entrepreneur, and alchemist. She helps successful women create lives of meaning & magic by connecting with the seasons. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, The Sunday Telegraph, Natural Health UK Magazine, and more. Learn more at

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  1. Hi! I’m about to dive into OCM . I have v.oily skin even though I’m approaching 50! What oils should I buy that are anti-ageing and combat my oiliness? Please help this newby! !

  2. Can you use this after you cleanse as a moisturizer? How about as a hand and body salve?

  3. Since I’m a big fan of the OCM I absolutely love your article 🙂 But I’m always wondering how to use this method when I’m away for a long period, especially the washcloths : considering using 1 per day, I have to bring a tons plus they have to stay wet in a bag for a while, waiting to be washed … uww. How do you deal with this major issue 😉 ? Love from France !

    1. Use the hotel washcloths?? 🙂 If you’re not at a hotel with laundry service, you could probably reuse one cloth for a couple of days, if you let them air-dry in between (though I don’t like to use it for more than 2-3 days for fear of bacteria…) Curious what other people do?

  4. instead of beeswax could I use soy wax? I just have lots of soy wax at the moment, and I use it for my deodorant. I do want to give this a try, and if soy wax is a bad idea I can totally go get me some beeswax. your thoughts?

  5. I’ce never tried the OCM method! I’ve only heard about using Coconut Oil as a moisturizer. Will definitely be trying this, thanks!

  6. hi… when i tried to find the lavender essential oil in mountianroseherbs, i find a lot of choices (not again!).. can you please let know which is best suitable to use…

    1. It should last for 1 year because it’s all oil-based ingredients. But if it starts to smell or look different, throw it out (always have to use common sense with DIY products)

  7. I already use OCM and like the idea of this because I travel a lot. My only concern is that this cleanser could still melt in my suitcase… Has this happened to you, or any suggestions?

    1. You COULD try putting a small square of saran wrap (I know — not super earth friendly :T) between the container and its lid? That’s a popular tip when moving.

  8. Is there a substitute for cocoa butter/shea butter? I cannot use either. Any suggestions? Thanks

  9. I love all these tips and ideas and recipes that you have to offer. I’ve been making my own beauty and skin care products for about 10 years now and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I study and practice holistic health and have tried most everything. The one type of oil that I give a ton of credit to would be emu oil. Emu oil is realistically the purest oil for using as skin care. It’s molecular size is smaller than our skin cells which is proven to get through all layers of the dermis. It also will not clog pores and has many other health benefits to our body and skin that are still in our new age discovery, yet has been around forever. Some people do have a problem with emu oil for its derived from an animal (emu). If this is not your concern then it can be beneficial to making a great cleanser and moisturizer. I would suggest using a small amount mixed with either raw honey and olive oil or just olive oil. I also would suggest to google emu oil to understand all aspects of it before buying into it. Thank for such a wonderful site.

    1. You can substitute the same amount of any essential oil that you like … or leave it out alltogether, it’s not required.

  10. Amanda I use the same oil blend on my body after showering and it finishes really fast! I use 3oz coconut oil, 1oz olive, and .3oz grapeseed. If I make the balm do you think that I could use this on my body. What do you suggest. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Loretta, yes of course you could use that blend on your body as a moisturizer. Let us know how it works!

  11. Hi there

    Coconut oil is not comodegenic if it is cold pressed and unrefined.
    Some coconut oils that have been highly processed and hydrogenated and this makes it comodogenic.
    Coconut oil is a fab product and it would be a shame to leave it out of our skincare simply because some manufacturers are altering its make-up through processing and we are unaware.

    Just a thought…

    One of the sites i got info from:

    1. I use cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil and once the weather got hot it did give me spots. I switched to almond and will switch back once autumn arrives. I don’t use a blend, just 100% of one oil.

      1. Hi Rosie, you might try adding some castor oil, it’s a deeper cleanse and I’ve found it helpful with spots/acne.

  12. Hi there, Love your blog! Im new to the diy thing 🙂 I was wanting to try this and also make some up for family in gifts ect
    My question is how can i adjust for dry skin types? Does anyone know of any changes they made? thanks!!!!

    1. Hi Olivia, for dry skin, just use less castor oil (add more olive oil to make up the difference).

  13. I tried it and I love it, I love your blog and I love you! Keep doing what you’re doing, its great!!!

  14. My skin DOES NOT like cocoa or shea butter- over time, I develop a slight itchy rash to it- is there something else I could use in lieu of those butters (don’t they provide the solidity?)

    1. You don’t need the butters, maybe sub some coconut oil, which is solid at room temp, or just use liquid oil and add more beeswax gradually, until you have the consistency you want. Try doing 30 grams beeswax and 70 grams oils and go from there?

      1. Thanks, I will try that. Now I just have to decide what scent I want. I’m thinking rose; I use that in a LOT of my bathroom stuff.

  15. Hey! I’ve been OCM-ing for about a month now. I mix my oils and a dab of honey as I use it. I also travel a lot and the oils are messy even at home. I was wondering, though, about adding some honey to this mix? Can anyone see potential problems I am missing? I’d be using pure/organic/raw honey. Any insight would be awesome. I’m new to the whole sorta crunchy lifestyle. Thanks!!

  16. I made this about a month ago (and was using OCM for about 3 months prior to that, perhaps longer). My batch yielded three small jars worth, and I ended up using the jar that I filled up last…first. If that makes sense. I only added lavender essential oil and absolutely loved it! I finished the first (last) jar, and started on another jar from that batch, and red bumps/acne popped up all over my forehead, cheeks, and jawline! The only thing I can think of is that someone more of the cocoa butter ended up in the first two jars then the last, and I’m having a reaction to the more intense cocoa butter. I’m going to make up another batch, substituting shea butter for the cocoa. According to this website I found, cocoa butter is highly comedogenic, and shea butter is not. Just FYI!

    1. Thanks JuJu – good catch!! I’ll give it a try with the shea butter to see how that affects the consistency. Have just updated the recipe with that comment. 🙂

      1. I’ve been cleansing with my new batch. Kept the proportions the same as you had listed (just swapped out the cocoa butter for shea), and I’m a) enjoying the consistency of it more and b) my face is clearing up! Woohoo! Thanks so much for putting this together- I am loving it!

  17. This is what cold-cream was originally for. I think the original cold-cream was made from olive oil, rosewater and beeswax.

  18. I use cold-pressed coconut oil and it works great, but I have every intention of trying this yummy-looking recipe. Amazing how my skin cleared up when I stopped using [expensive, organic] cleansers, and switched to coconut oil!

  19. I’ve been doing the OCM for a while now and I love it, too! Just made this “balm” version and it’s setting up in the containers now. Can’t wait to give it a try on my face! Thanks so much for creating and posting this! 🙂 (Also I added some tea tree oil to mine, because I use it in my cleansing oil)

  20. I’m a new OCM convert. I put my oil mix in an old dish soap (Palmolive) bottle. Probably is a bit big and still messy for travel. But at home it’s way less messy and I can squirt out just a dime sized amount. I’ll try the salve for travel. Thanks!

  21. Gosh I remember back when I was at school we made our own lip balm etc and I absolutely loved it. No idea why I never thought again of making my own beauty products. After all homemade is often best!

    I will definitely give this one a try!

  22. This is amazing!!! I have been buying a very well known product like this for a while now and costing a fortune! I tailored it slightly but kept to the 50g oil, 30g butter and 20g wax. I tried to recreate the expensive hot cloth cleanser by using.. 20g rosehip seed oil, 10g hemp seed oil, 20g borage seed oil; 30g shea butter and 20g beeswax. I then used 45drops of frankincense essential oil because it’s supposed to have amazing anti-wrinkle properties….Just perfect!

    Thank you so much for this 😀 Carley XXXX

  23. Hi everyone,

    With regards to the emu oil thread – it’s an animal based oil and subject to slightly different interactions with the skin. Olive oil, almond oil, apricot oil, even sunflower oil (the stuff you cook with!) all make fabulous skin products.

    Thanks Amanda for a brilliant suggestion. I must go find some beeswax now!

    cheers, Rina

    1. oh, now i understand, new in this new country and with new language i had to use the translator to understand castor oil is not from the animal IS A PLANT!!!!, sorry, my mistake.

  24. Ok, so I really want to try this, but am having trouble with the measurements. How would you convert the grams to something like tablespoons?

  25. in chile i used Emu oil since i was pregnat with excellent result, and my mother used it in her face, was excellent too, but the problem was the smell looks like bad cooking oil, the castor oil have the same problem?

    1. Hi Carooina, the castor oil does smell strong, but oils should never smell rancid. If they do smell rancid, throw them out and buy fresh. Some oils go off very quickly so it’s always best to store them in dark bottles or in a dark cupboard. I’ve never used emu oil so can’t tell you about that one!

      1. I’ve read that Emu oil comes from dead birds. If you want to use vegan products that might be a more conscientious way to go.

  26. I’ve been using the oil cleansing method. My face is less dry, but it doesn’t seem to be helping or hurting my acne at all. Maybe I did it wrong. I like the idea of making it portable.

    1. Brittany, it could be the oils you’re using. My acne has definitely improved since using the OCM, though it hasn’t gone away entirely. I use grapeseed oil plus the castor oil, and that has been better for oil and acne than using jojoba oil, which is what I started with. Olive oil doesn’t agree with my skin at all, and I really don’t care for the smell of it. I do have to moisturize after, and have been using a drop of tamanu oil mixed with a few drops of jojoba, and THAT has made the most difference in my skin. I think Tamanu oil must be magic… I also wash with honey in the morning, and I think that makes a big difference as well.

      1. I completely agree. Try a few different oil combinations and see what works for your skin.

        It’s a good idea to combine oils as needed (per use, just mix them in your hand) for a few weeks till you find the best combination.

      2. Thanks! I’ve never heard of tamanu oil before. Perhaps I’ll try some of that, too. I’m wondering now if the olive oil I’ve been using isn’t working so well.

  27. This sounds great, but I am concerned about beeswax clogging pores as well. I use the oil cleansing method with good results, but I get breakouts very easily.

    1. Never mind! I did some research and it turns out thats beeswax is noncomedogenic! Sweet 🙂

      1. Thanks Sarah! I did look that stuff up too, and it looks like the cocoa butter could be a pore-clogger though. But I have no idea if the cocoa butter is necessary to achieve the right consistency or not.

      2. Hi everyone, sorry for the slow response, I’ve been offline a few days with houseguests!!

        This recipe is really customizable. I included cocoa butter because it was listed on the ingredients of some fancy versions, and I had it on hand! But you could replace it with shea butter. I’ve been doing some research on cocoa butter being comedogenic, and it seems to depend on how your skin reacts to it.

        Also, you could leave out the ‘butters’ completely, and just add more beeswax. Like with the ‘daisy salve’ I made, you can turn any combination of oils into a salve by adding beeswax. Melt some beeswax in the oil, then place a little spoonful of it in the freezer for a couple minutes to let it ‘set’ and check the consistency. If it’s too soft, add more beeswax till you get the right thickness.

        Let me know what you try! I’m loving my solid OCM though, much less messy!

  28. Fabulous! I just may have to try this. I actually just ordered some glass bottles with droppers to help cut down the mess of my oil bottles, but I did worry about traveling with them.

    I am curious, tho, about the use of the cocoa butter. Is that necessary? I generally don’t care for the smell of it, but wonder if the consistency will be off without it. And the beeswax doesn’t clog your pores? I’ve only been doing OCM for a month, so some of this is still new to me. But I’m so in love with it that I’m afraid to mess it up…

  29. That is ingenious! I have been washing my face with honey, but I am slowly breaking out more and more. I thought about trying the oil cleansing method next, and now I think I just might have to.

    1. Hi Grace, are you removing your makeup before washing with honey? You could also try using a hot washcloth over the honey to get a deeper clean. It’s such a personal thing to find what works with your skin type!

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