Oil cleansing may sound like a greasy mess, but I assure you it’s one of the best things you can do for your skin. Have you ever experienced that tight dry feeling after washing your face with cleansers? It’s the worst. It undoubtedly always left me wanting to dump a bottle of moisturizer on my face before my skin shattered from the dryness. I used to think that washing your face was a critical step for obtaining clear skin, but interestingly enough, back when I would wash my face twice a day (as my dermatologist recommended), my skin did not looking so hot and was the oiliest it had ever been.
Here’s the deal with washing your face: it’s pretty bad for your skin, especially if you’re using a soap-based cleanser, but even commercial cleansers are not a lot better. These cleansers strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving your face bare and wanting to overcompensate by producing even more oil. Why? Oil on your skin is a good thing! Yes, I know we’ve been led to believe that you want oil free products and to throw away anything that leaves your skin glistening rather than matte (powder, blotting strips…you know these), but truth be told, your natural face oils are protective and very healthy. These oils act as a protective layer to not only keep dirt and grime out of your pores, but when produced in normal amounts, they make your skin soft, keeping it naturally moisturized. And again, washing your skin till it’s squeaky clean and ridiculously dry will only make your skin produce more oil! Your body never wants to have its natural defenses down, so without your skin’s natural oils it is left bare without protection, producing more oil than it should, which continues every time you strip it, causing a vicious cycle.
I’m not going to pretend that I have glowing skin. I think I’ve come to the realization that my skin will never be flawless with that porcelain look celebrities display like it’s nothing (I’m sure they have other symptoms going on that are not visible). I still breakout from time to time, but the important and empowering thing is that I know what causes these flair ups, and I take full responsibility for the decisions that lead to my skin misbehaving, whether it’s diet, stress, or just not getting enough sleep: life happens. However, when I stopped following conventional advice and using low quality and processed junk on my face, including cleansers all together, I began to notice a HUGE difference in the texture and overall look of my skin. It wasn’t that I just stopped washing my face (at least at nighttime), but I also found a better regimen called oil cleansing. Truth be told, I was not a fan in the beginning: in fact, when I started experimenting with this method I broke out more. The more I read, the more I was convinced that this was supposed to happen and that I would stop purging “toxins” soon. Well, I didn’t, and my skin got worse, so I swore it off and made sure I spread the word how evil oil cleansing was. Turns out this was before I was aware of comedogenic oils and how some can clog your pores causing you to breakout. Once I put this piece of information together, I cautiously decided to give it another try using hempseed oil (100% non-comedogenic), rather than olive oil like many had suggested. The results were better than I could have imagined.
What is it?
If you’re not already familiar with oil cleansing, you can thank me later. The premise of Oil Cleansing is that oil dissolves oil. Remember that your skin naturally lubricates itself with oil, so we can’t be afraid of something that the body does innately. The body is incredible and always on your side. Anything it does is simply a response to how it’s being cared for, but it will always do what it can to protect you. With that said, I can’t emphasize enough how oil alone will not cause acne, there are many other factors to consider here. Oil cleansing uses plant oils to dissolve oil that is deep inside your pores, along with other dirt and grime that has hardened. The right kind of oil makes all the difference (as with the personal experience I mentioned above). In addition to just using oil, this method also opens up your pores using steam to effectively remove the impurities.
Read this part carefully as it is very important to not only make sure you’re oil cleansing correctly, but also that you get the most benefits out of the oil mixture according to your skin type.
- The base of your personal oil cleanse will always consist of Castor oil as the foundation. I was not a fan of this oil to begin with as it is very thick and sticky, but it’s a great base oil, of which you only need a small amount. In other words, less is definitely more with this oil. Also, castor oil contains incredible health benefits, including being antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal (awesome for acne!). Although, like many oils, be cautious when looking to purchase a particular type as many are sprayed heavily with pesticides, deodorizers and worse (not something you want to be putting on your skin). This is the brand I use and trust here. Note that Castor oil is quite powerful, so if you have a reaction to it, stop using it for a few days. Afterwards, try making another small sample with a more dilute concentration in your oil cleanser.
- Next, you want to find another type of oil(s) that will mesh with your skin type. Since castor oil is quite thick and its medicinal properties are concentrated, you want to dilute this with a thinner oil that also makes for a more satisfying feel to the face. Traditionally, olive oil and sunflower seed oil are recommended, but I would advise against these because of their comedogenic properties, which again can clog up pores, especially for people already prone to acne. This may not be the case for everyone, but in my experience, I would stay away if you tend to breakout easily. Instead, the oils I have tried and really love as a part of my routine are jojoba, and hempseed oil.
If you don’t know by now, I’m a stickler for quality, especially in plant fats, which are delicate and need to be extracted, handled and properly stored from the time they are manufactured until they reach the consumer. Jojoba is one of my all-time favorite oils, while hempseed is one of my newer favorites. You can read more about why I love both here and their incredible health benefits for the skin. Don’t be afraid to mix and match and experiment. The key here is to find a balanced personalized formula that works for you.
Those with dry skin will want less castor oil. Those with oily skin will want to blend in more. Finding your perfect combination of oils will probably take a little bit of trial and error, so start with very small batches. Once you know what your ratio of oils looks like, you’ll be able to blend much more at a time for convenience.
Here is a guideline to help you find a ratio for your oils based on your skin type. Note I’m recommending jojoba and hempseed for those who are sensitive to breaking out, otherwise you may want to try a quality olive oil that may work better for your skin type:
- Oily skin:30% castor oil/ 30% jojoba/ 40% hempseed
- Combination/ Normal Skin:20% castor oil / 80% jojoba
- Dry Skin:10% castor oil / 70% jojoba/ 20% hempseed
Feel free to change these ratios after experimenting to whatever works and feels best for your skin.
Keep in mind that castor oil is needed as your “detox” oil to deep cleanse your pores, but the amount will be different for everyone, and always use less if you feel your skin is feeling too dry. In the beginning, I highly recommend starting with very small samples, that way you don’t have to toss these precious oils when you start working on a new batch. When I first started, I made a one-time cleanse sample every night for the first week as I wanted to get the feel for what my skin needed.
I personally have an interesting skin type that went from super oily when I was younger, to super dry and flakey as I was transitioning and getting my health on track, to now I would say more normal/dry. This was all within the last 10 years (thank you, hormones). Therefore, the blend that works for my acne prone skin type
How To Do It
What you need:
- 2 or more oils to make your oil cleanser, such as castor oil, jojoba, hempseed oil or any other oil that works for your skin type.
- Small glass bottles for mixing and storing (you can also use a dropper bottle)
- A clean washcloth
- Hot water (for steaming)
This cleansing routine is meant to be done every night, and only at night; however, this is a DEEP cleansing routine, so give your skin some time to adjust and get use to the change – it can take a few days, or a couple weeks. If you find that your skin is getting too dry, irritated, or stressed in any way, reduce the frequency to every other night rather than 7 times a week. Remember that the wrong combination of oils could also be causing this effect. In the morning, all you need to do is splash your face with cold water and pat dry with a clean washcloth and you’re ready for your next steps, whether that’s a toner, moisturizer, or sunscreen.
A note on mixing, handling and storing: I mix my oil blend directly into small glass bottles, like these here, to avoid any bacterial contamination. Once you are ready to make the next batch – just simply clean out the bottle with hot water and a non-toxic, no fragrance soap, such as this one here.
What To Do:
- After your oil cleanser is blended and ready to go, pour a quarter of the amount into the palm of your hand and rub gently together with both hands. Begin to massage the oil on your face gently in circular motions to remove any makeup and dirt.
- Continue to massage the oil into your pores, especially the areas where you break out the most. Don’t rush, just keep working away as the oil has time to dissolve the deeply hidden grime. I do this for a about 2-3 minutes, but you may want to start with even 5 or more to make sure the oil is penetrating deeply enough.
- After your face is saturated with oil, turn on the hot water (until you see steam) and dampen your washcloth. You don’t want to burn your skin, but it needs to be hot enough so that you can open up your pores to remove all the gunk. This will also remove the excess oil on your face, but still leave it soft and moisturized.
- Wring the washcloth out and lay on your face, completely covering it. Allow it to sit there for at least a full minute or until it begins to cool to room temperature. Then you can wipe your entire face removing the oil. Rinse the washcloth again in the hot water. If you want to be water conscious (we’re in an extreme drought here in California), you can boil a pot of water and have it nearby. Alternatively, you can turn on the shower and use the hot water as it heats up faster.
- You can keep soaking the washcloth into the hot water, wring it out, applying to your face several times until you feel clean and satisfied with how your skin feels. Make sure all the oil is removed, but there is no need to scrub your face. The oil will naturally remove everything for you.
- You shouldn’t have to moisturize after oil cleansing, but if you feel like your skin is left a bit dry and would like a little more love, I tend to use any mixture of these oils simply by themselves to get some extra TLC (and antioxidants!) into my skincare routine. All you need is a drop or two, rub together between your palms and pat onto your face, do not rub on. The oils transfer nicely, leaving your skin glowing. Side note: Cleanse and apply any additional oil to your skin at least an hour before bedtime to allow the oil to penetrate and be taken in by the skin rather than have it rub off on your pillow.
“If we know what our body is going to do and understand the process, we can then understand what it takes to control it and achieve the results we want. Clear skin is attainable.” – The Oil Cleansing Method Website
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