It’s nice when we are able to cut through all the misinformation and reconnect with a simple truth. Here we go. Are you ready? Oil is not bad for your skin. No, seriously! I’ll even take it a step further. After all the products labelled oil free, and all the advertising and marketing meant to teach us that oil causes breakouts, we are (re)learning quite the opposite.
The oil cleansing method (OCM) has regained popularity very quickly. I know, I know! “Oil cleansing” may sound like a contradiction to a lot of us, but the truth is that most of the cleansers that are on the market today effectually strip the protective layer of lipids, the natural oils that create a protective barrier to hold moisture in, from your face. What does the skin do when we strip away the natural oils? It produces more sebum to compensate. Excess dryness, and the over-production of sebum can lead to irritation and breakouts. I don’t know about you, but it was a little frustrating for me to learn that everything I did to control my breakouts was at best worsening them, and at worst causing them.
So how do you use the oil cleansing method? Well, it’s a very lengthy, detailed process, so grab a pen and paper and get ready to take some notes. Here we go. First, grab a bottle of oil from your kitchen. Next, rub it all over your face. Finally, wet a washcloth with very warm water. Lay the cloth over your face for 30 seconds to open your pores, then gently wipe the oil off. I tricked you! That’s it! That’s all there is to getting your skin clean and beautiful.
I have a feeling you’re not convinced. So HOW does the oil cleansing method work? Essentially there is a chemical process occurring, solubility, in which like dissolves like. A solute will dissolve best in a solvent that has a similar chemical structure to itself. The oil that you are applying is dissolving the old, dirty oils on your face, and gently washing them away. The oils that are left behind are clean and moisturizing. Your skin hasn’t been stripped of it’s natural layer of lipids, which leads to less irritation. And the best part is that oil dissolves eye makeup, too. It’s your makeup remover and cleanser all in one, inexpensive bottle! You may not even need to moisturize afterward.
So, let’s talk about what oils you should use. There is one oil that is more cleansing than the others – castor oil. You can grab a bottle of this at your local health food store. The last bottle I bought was 32oz for $12. I won’t need another bottle for quite a while! Castor oil is also very anti-bacterial, which is excellent to help control breakouts. It is also more drying than other oils, so use less or more of it depending on your personal skin issues, along with a second oil.
Choose your second oil based on your skin type. Here are just a few:
- Jojoba – this oil is closest to our body’s natural oil sebum, which makes it great for all skin types, especially acne prone skin.
- Grapeseed – excellent for all skin types, especially oily skin since this is such a light oil. It’s also very inexpensive, and can be found with the cooking oils.
- Avocado – great for dry and aging skin.
- Olive – excellent for all skin types, and you probably already have it in your kitchen.
- Apricot Kernel – wonderful for dry, aging, and normal skin.
- Argan – great for all skin types, especially aging skin. This is much pricier than the other oils, but packs quite a moisturizing punch.
You can also choose an essential oil to add. You can choose an oil based on it’s scent, but remember that essential oils have beneficial healing properties that vary from oil to oil. Rosemary cuts excess oil and is excellent for acne prone skin. Sandalwood is moisturizing. (Unfortunately, unsustainable harvesting practices have lead to the near extinction of the Sandalwood tree in India. However, Australian Sandalwood is a great alternative. The Australian government has very strict sustainable harvesting practices in place.) Lavender essential oil is great for any skin type, and works like a little miracle spot treatment. Dab a tiny drop on blemish and see results fast! Whatever essential oil you choose, you will only need to add a few drops to your cleansing oil since it is highly concentrated. A good rule of thumb is 1-2% of essential oil for your cleansing oil mixture. Mountainroseherbs.com is a great resource for information about essential oils and their benefits.
You can mix the ingredients together in another bottle, but until you’re sure which oils work best for your skin, and the ratio that’s right for you, I suggest mixing them in your hand at the time of use.
Keep in mind that it may take your skin a week or two of using the oil cleansing method before it finds a balance. I don’t recommend switching back and forth from your old sulfate containing cleanser to oil cleansing, as this will throw your skin further out of whack, and there’s already enough whack in this world! If you’re used to your skin being super squeaky clean after cleansing then the oil cleansing method may feel strange at first. Remind yourself what that super squeaky clean feeling meant – that you were stripping your skin of it’s healthy layer of lipids, which keeps your skin hydrated and fresh looking, and you’ll soon start to love the new feeling of cleansing with oil. If your face still feels tight and dry afterward, and you feel like you do need to moisturize, steer clear of waxy lotions and creams and apply a light layer of jojoba oil, or other moisturizing oil, and let is soak in. No, your face won’t look like an oil slick, but it WILL look dewy and radiant!
Do any of you currently use the OCM?? We’d love to hear your stories!