Frugal Beauty Tip: Swap Your Makeup Remover

For full disclosure, I tend not to wear a lot of makeup in my normal day-to-day life. (I find that it makes me look older, and–blemishes excluded–I like how I look naturally.) But when I do “put my face on” I use the serious, heavy duty stuff that’s meant being photographed under intense lighting by HD cameras (for work). And if you’ve ever used that stuff, you know what a nightmare it can be to remove. It is, after all, meant to stick all day long, through sweat and the like.

Some things: I tend to avoid synthetic chemicals whenever possible, especially on my face. Sometimes I have sensitive skin. I dry out easily, but I also get pretty oily as the day wears on. Oh, and me and my family are certified penny-pinchers. And all of those things considered, I’m SO glad I discovered this beauty “trick.”

I say “trick,” because it’s really so simple. Instead of spending dollars on makeup remover, just use oil. Like, literally, olive oil. It works way better than any commercial makeup remover I’ve ever purchased, it’s great on sensitive skin, it’s safe to get near your eyes, and it’s hydrating. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Slather some oil on your face. If I measured it, it’d probably be about a teaspoon’s worth, which is way more than necessary. And like I said, you can use regular old olive oil, or if you want to get real fancy, you can upgrade to almond oil or grapeseed oil for about $4.00 at your local health-food store. (I use sweet almond oil. Example below.)
  2. Massage it all over wherever you’ve applied makeup (including your eyelids and underneath your eyes). Take your time and enjoy it! Pretend you’re getting an awesome, overpriced facial during which the esthetician tells you all about how Nicole Kidman swears by almond oil or whatever.
  3. Wipe the oil off of your face with a cotton-round or a clean washcloth.
  4. Wash your face as normal.

Easy peasy, right? And it’s way cheaper than springing for some commercial makeup remover (that’s probably half oil anyway!)

If you’re thinking that applying oil to your skin is bad or will cause breakouts, you’d be mistaken. Sure, certain oils are comedogenic (clog pores), but olive, almond, grapeseed, castor oil, and many many others are perfectly fine for your skin. In fact, they’re good for your skin. Each oil has it’s own beautifying properties (castor oil, for example, is a great cleansing agent, and is better for naturally oily skin), and if you really want to get fancy, you can make a custom blend of your own, specifically tailored to your skin needs. (Head over to Crunchy Betty and read all about it. Her website is BOMB for natural beauty remedies. Can’t recommend it highly enough.) And let’s not forget that oils are excellent at preventing premature aging, which in itself, is worth it for me.

If the idea of slathering your face with oil still makes you uncomfortable, bear in mind that you’ll still wash your face afterwards. It’s not like you’ll be going to bed with oil-face. (Yuck.)

The fact is that most people over-cleanse their skin and hair, stripping it of it’s natural oils, causing their hair and skin to overproduce oil to make up for it. It’s a vicious cycle. Would it surprise you to know that I wash my hair once or twice a week? (GASP!) That’s because I use an extra mild shampoo, and my hair doesn’t produce nearly as much oil as it used to. (It took a couple of weeks to for my hair to transition.) And would it surprise you to know that I use a facial cleansing oil and not the foamy stuff? “Like dissolves like,” so in order to best remove all of the dirty oil on my face, I should replace it with clean oil, not strip it entirely. It takes some getting used to (I happen to like frothy, foamy face-washes), but I promise you that once you give it a fair chance, you won’t go back.

In case you’re interested in knowing specifically what I use, here are my two favorite oils, with info, pictures and links from the manufacturer’s website:


NOW Sweet Almond Oil (Got mine at New Frontiers, but I’ll bet they carry it at Whole Foods, too.)

Condition: For skin in need of clean and natural nourishment, as a moisturizer or for massage.

Solution: 100% Pure Almond Oil is an all-natural oil that’s perfect for nourishing and reviving any skin type. Almond Oil is easily absorbed and won’t clog pores, promoting clear, soft, healthy skin. This all-natural skin-nourishing oil is ideal for the entire body. Almond Oil is an all-natural oil derived from pressed almonds. Vegetable-derived oils date back to Biblical times, when they were mixed with fragrant herbs to create traditional ointments.


NOW Grapeseed Oil (Got mine at New Frontiers, but I’ll bet they carry it at Whole Foods, too.)

Condition: Sensitive skin in need of an all natural moisturizer and protection from premature aging, without clogging pores and causing breakouts.

Solution: 100% Pure Grapeseed Oil is a light, odorless oil with mild astringent and emollient properties. This versatile oil contains numerous essential fatty acids including Linoleic, Oleic, Stearic, Palmitic, Myristic and Lauric. its rich, silky texture is perfect for soothing away dryness and irritation and is suitable for all skin types since it won’t clog pores or cause break-outs. Grapeseed Oil is perfect as a base for lotions, and it’s mild enough to use as a conditioner for all hair types.

Have questions? Fire away! I’m always happy to share information, especially if it can save you a few bucks. Enjoy the an-home facial!

***And in case you’re wondering, I did not receive any sort of compensation or gift or anything whatsoever for this post. I’m just super excited about skin-care. 🙂 ***

Leave a comment


  1. Since ancient times women have used olive oil in their beauty regime.

    It’s awesome to hear you’re a fan of olive oil for the face too! I just started using this wonderful smelling facial oil that’s a blend of olive oil and several essential oils including rosehip, argan, tamanu, lavender and sage. It feels amazing on my skin and since I started using it, my cheeks glow and I’ve not had a breakout (I started using it to get rid of acne and fade old scars).

    I discovered how good it was at removing makeup because after I wash my face and put it on, I then take a hot washcloth and slowly wipe over my entire face. Even though my skin looked clean, the olive oil removes things my peppermint Dr. Bronner’s missed ^_^

    Since I love it so much, I decided that when I go on vacation to Puerto Vallarta this week I’m tanning with olive oil. I’ve taken some of this facial oil and diluted it in extra virgin olive oil in a squirt bottle. No fake, crappy, mineral oil tanning lotions for me!

    Yes, us geek ladies have beauty tips to share too!

  2. Jenn

     /  July 5, 2012

    Hi MJ! Just found your blog, and I love it! 🙂 I was wondering what shampoo you use? I have super oily hair that requires me to wash it everyday. I’d love to be able to go every other day or so. 🙂 Thanks so much!

    • Welcome! So, I used to have oily hair too, but it turns out that was because the shampoos I used were really harsh. If you haven’t read much about it google “sulfates in shampoo” and read about the effects. Basically every major brand uses sulfates in their shampoos to make it sudsy, but the sudsy-ness isn’t what does the actual cleaning. One of the major side-effects of sulfates is that they strip your hair of all of its natural oils, and that causes you scalp to freak out, and then over-produce oil. So it’s cyclical. The more you wash your hair with a sulfate-shampoo, the more oily it becomes. So I switched from using “normal” shampoo, to using a “natural and organic” shampoo (and conditioner), and it has made a WORLD of difference. It took about a week or a week and a half for my hair to stop over-producing oil and finally equalize to being “normal,” but now I wash my hair two or three times a week. I use a shampoo by a company called “Original Sprout,” and oddly enough, it’s marketed as a baby shampoo. It’s pretty pricey, but since I’m usually washing my hair twice a week now, it lasts a long time.

      There’s always the possibility that your hair IS just naturally oily though, in which case I’d still opt for a sulfate-free shampoo, but something with rosemary because I hear that discourages oil production. Also, you might want to consider which kind of conditioner you’re using, because some conditioners do not mix well with oily hair. What texture is your hair naturally? Is it wavy or curly at all, like, if you don’t style it? I have a couple websites/books I could recommend you, depending.

      Sorry I just wrote you a book about shampoo. 🙂 Hope it helps!

      • engl

         /  December 16, 2012

        I also switched over from the generic shampoos like pantene to live clean, and my hair is silkier now. I’ve been going down the natural path and use grapeseed and apricot kernel oil with frankincense and lavender essential oils to moisturize. Honey to wash. But I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis, about once a week on the weekend, so I’m still looking for a good alternative to the foamers. I love grapeseed or any oil for eye makeup remover but don’t know what to do for concealer, foundation, and blush everywhere else. So you just massage on the oil, wipe off with cotton pad, and rinse with water? You don’t need to add any water before wiping off to emulsify the oils, or have hot water to open thd pores, etc? I’m just getting my face on a nice balance and would be saddened if it went downhill due to makeup residue, hence the questions. And your post was so informative and encouraging!

  3. Can I use Grapeseed Oil as a moisturizer for my face before apply make up? I have oily skin and I live in Southeast Asia


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    Melissa Jenna Godsey

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