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11.06.2012

What the heck is oil cleansing???

I know, it sounds weird.  How can you cleanse with oil?  Especially the skin.  We have all been indoctronated to believe oil is poison to our skin and that "oil free" is something we should look for in skin care products... even moisturizers!  But I believe this trend, as well as the overuse of harsh cleansers and antibacterial products in facial cleansers, has damaged our complexions far more.


The first time I heard of oil cleansing was during a conversation with a friend.  She had just read "No More Dirty Looks" and was absolutely floored by the nature of the things we put on our skin.  She mentioned oil cleansing, I said "huh, that sounds interesting."  I didn't discount it, it was more like I  didn't think about it at all.  But I had already stopped using conventional facial cleansers and was using simple castille soap on my face, following up with virgin coconut oil to moisturize.

My face did improve significantly.  I had bad acne as a teenager, and while the degree lessened, as I grew up I kept waiting for the acne to go away.  Grown ups weren't supposed to get acne.  Yet there I was, 26 years old and still breaking out like a teenager.

The first thing that helped was when I stopped washing my face altogether.  I know, my mom cringes every time I say that (she still executes a 20 minute cleanse, mask, tone, moisturize routine every single night... I just don't have time for that!).  It's not like my face never gets cleaned, so I guess it's not really accurate to say I don't wash my face.  I wash my face when I shower, and without soap.  Then I get out and slather on the coconut oil.  Under this regimen (or lack of one...) my face nearly cleared up.

But I would still get breakouts now and then, and my nose was still a mess of blackheads and large poors.  Uck.  So I decided to look into this oil cleanser thing.  I figured it wouldn't be that different than what I was doing- rinse face, apply oil.

It is, but it isn't.

First of all, a blend of oils is recommended instead of just a single oil, because different oils have different properties.  Castor oil is the oil cleansing superstar, as it is great at dissolving and picking up dirt and impurities, but believe it or not, on its own castor oil would dry out your face (I know, that part blows my mind, but I've tried it and it's true...).  So the castor oil is blended with another oil that is right for your skin type- jojoba for oily or acne prone skin, apricot kernel or grapeseed oil for normal skin, and apricot kernel, avocado, or evening primrose oil for dry skin.  And other skin enhancers can be added- argon oil for aging skin, different essential oils or other more specialized seed oils either for their skin healing properties or their scent.  It is awesomely customizable.

Sound like a lot?  It's really simple to make.  And there is a simple formula:
  • Oily skin: 2/3 castor oil, 1/2 other oil
  • Normal skin: equal parts castor and other oil
  • Dry skin: 1/3 castor oil and 2/3 other oil
It's easy to do, as well:
  1. Rinse your face with warm water.
  2. Massage 4-5 drops of oil (or a small amount, about the size of a dime, to borrow from conditioner bottles), onto your damp face.  You're supposed to work upwards, but do your best:)  While you do this, run hot water over a washcloth.
  3. Wring out the washcloth then drape it over your face for 10-15 seconds.  This helps open your pores and gets the oils in there to pull out all the dirt and gunk.  You want the washcloth to be as warm as you can stand, but be careful not to burn yourself.
  4. Use the washcloth (and no, no soap... really) to wipe the oil off.
That's it!  Depending on your skin, you may or may not need to moisturize after doing this.  I usually have to moisturize a little around the cheeks, which I do with a little coconut oil.

A short word on choosing the right formula- if you think you have oily skin, I want you to think very carefully before choosing the oily skin formula.  I used to think I had oily skin.  Turns out I was just abusing my skin with cleansers and my skin was reacting by pumping out more oils to try to protect itself.  In actuality, my skin is dry and tiny bit sensitive- even the sensitive skin formula drys out parts of my face a little.  But how can you tell?  If your skin ever feels scaly or rough despite being oily, it's possibly you may actually have dry skin. 

Also remember that any change is going to temporarily freak your skin out- always give a new skin care routine a few weeks before making a decision on whether or not its working.  It only took my skin a week to adjust, but yours may be different.

Don't want to make your own?  I just listed three different formulas of oil cleansers in my Etsy shop.

This post has been shared at Real Food Forager's Fat Tuesday.

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