What Is Oil Gritting? Experts Break Down The TikTok Beauty Hack

by | Apr 24, 2024 | Skincare

The quest for clear pores and smooth skin is never-ending, especially for those of us who are often fighting against oily skin and breakouts. So when a hack comes our way (think the glass skin trend or the skin flooding routine that made waves) that claims to give us the clearest and smoothest skin of our lives, we’re naturally inclined to want to learn everything and anything we can about it. The #beautyhack of the moment that has our undivided attention: oil gritting.

But does it actually work? To answer that, we turned to the experts. So before we—and you—go and start incorporating this into your everyday skincare routine, see what they had to say below.

Meet the experts: Anar Mikailov, MD, FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist and the co-founder of SkintensiveBlair Murphy-Rose, MD, FAAD is a board-certified cosmetic, medical and surgical dermatologist, and clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

What is oil gritting?

Oil gritting is an exfoliating technique, using an oil-based product and rubbing it onto the skin in hopes that it’ll extract blackheads and other debris. Dr. Mikailov says that it was popular in the late 2010s and now seems to be making a comeback, as many beauty trends do, on TikTok.

Essentially, you first rub an oil into the skin, then rinse it off with warm water and a washcloth. Sometimes, an intermediary step like a clay mask or an exfoliating acid is used before rinsing off with a warm washcloth.


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What are the benefits of oil gritting?

Many testimonials rave about the results, each claiming that oil gritting has shrunk their pores and eliminated blackheads. But Dr. Mikailov says to be wary as there are no clinical studies proving that this is an effective way to exfoliate skin.

“All information available is based on other individual experience rather than empirical research,” he says. “This approach alone will not break down dead cells, but it could help when combined with alpha- (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs).”

What are the downsides of oil gritting?

Oils aren’t the best ingredients to use to exfoliate, since they can leave a residue on the skin if not followed with a second cleanse, says Dr. Murphy-Rose. For that reason, she wouldn’t recommend this method, unless you have very dry skin that doesn’t break out.

“The truth is that it is difficult to remove all of the oils, even with a double cleanse,” she says. “So those with oily, acne-prone, or even ‘normal’ skin, rubbing oil all over skin and pushing it into pores will likely lead to breakouts. I see this issue time and time again among patients in my office.”

Milkailov agrees and adds that skin can also become irritated from so much rough handling, so you’ll want to be extra careful if you choose to do this.

Who can try oil gritting?

Both experts aren’t the biggest fans of this method and wouldn’t really recommend it for anyone. While it’s meant to help clear pores, Dr. Murphy-Rose says that rubbing more oil all over may end up pushing debris back into the pores and cause more breakouts. Dr. Mikailov adds that those with sensitive and acne-prone skin should definitely avoid this method altogether.

If you happen to have really dry skin, or are looking to break up oil-based makeup or water-resistant sunscreen, then Dr. Mikailov says it should be fine to do. He adds that you’re more likely to help get rid of sebaceous filaments, which are made up of oil and dead skin cells that just sit in your pores, as they are easier to dislodge than a blackhead. The absolute best way to exfoliate skin and get deep into those pores is with chemical exfoliators.

“The best way for clearer pores is through gentle exfoliation with a salicylic acid-based cleanser a few times a week, combined with collagen-stimulating ingredients like bakuchiol and retinol (loss of collagen can make pores appear bigger),” he says. “Using other very gentle exfoliating ingredients like polyhydroxy acids [PHAs] and certain AHAs can also help.”

How can I incorporate oil gritting into my skincare routine?

If you’re still determined to try this viral beauty hack, you can easily do it on your own. You’re essentially rubbing an oil all over the skin for about five to 15 minutes and rinsing it off with a warm washcloth. Mikailov suggests using an oil-based cleanser with jojoba oil or argan seed oil so that it’s gentle on the skin.

Dr. Murphy-Rose recommends using micellar water (we love the classic Bioderma or the La Roche-Posay Micellar Water) instead of oil since it’s a lot gentler on the skin and far less likely to clog pores. But she agrees with Dr. Mikailov and says that the best way to clear pores is to use a salicylic acid-based product.

“Salicylic acid is a great choice for clearing pores as the molecular size of this acid enables it to travel into pores to deeply clean and dissolve sebum,” she says. “Furthermore, its exfoliating action treats and prevents further clogging of pores.”

This article by Audrey Noble was originally published on Women’s Health US.

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