Despite this lengthy overview of Oil Cleansing Method (OCM), this ancient method of removing the ick that happens to our face is actually quite SIMPLE. In the end, it takes all of 4 minutes and there is a good chance it will save you $ in the long run since most folks report not needing to apply much (or any!) type of moisturizer oil or blend after.
Ancient? Yes. Dating back thousands of years, there are historical references from ancient Rome with earlier references in literature. Speaking of ancient, side note: The first documented medicine is called Aryuvedic Medicine:
“Ayurveda was first recorded in the Veda, the world’s oldest existing literature. The three most important Veda texts containing the original and complete knowledge of Ayurveda, believed to be over 1200 years old, is still in use today. These Ayurvedic teachings were customarily passed on orally from teacher to student for over 1000 years…Ayurveda greatly influenced health care practices in the east and the west. By 400 AD Ayurvedic works were translated into Chinese; by 700 AD Chinese scholars were studying medicine in India at Nalanda University. Having passed the test of experience it remains essentially the same now as at its inception… numerous commentators over the centuries have added insight with their analyses.”
Anywho, most commercial soap is laden with toxins and rich with bulky ingredients that force lathering. The more bubbles that your fancy soap creates, the more it’s stripping your face of its natural lipids, fats, and proteins that your face needs. Yes, your skin needs these! From here on out, the more the lather, the worse for your skin.
As we have all been hearing that the use of antibacterial soap is actually harming us – making us more susceptible to the things we are trying to remove. The same goes for your $20-$30 (and more! barf) facial antibacterial soap that is actually killing everything on your face – the bad bacteria and the good bacteria.
Now I understand why this feels a bit counterintuitive. Many have oily skin and thus often have acne problems. And doesn’t all the oil gunk up your pores? Actually, no! Some simple science here folks, oil dissolves oil. Think about your salad dressing, oil and vinegar- no matter how much you shake that shit, it simply won’t fully mix. This is what’s happening on your face. Oil is literally “water fearing” or hydrophobic and the ideal way to remove the oil/sebum is by using a similar composition to dissolve it. Like dissolves like.
Wellness Mama says:
The best way to dissolve a non-polar solvent like sebum/oil, is by using another non-polar solvent similar in composition: Other oils. By using the right oils, you can cleanse your pores of dirt and bacteria naturally, gently and effectively, while replacing the dirty oil with beneficial ones extracted from natural botanicals, vegetables and fruit that heal, protect and nourish your skin. When done properly and consistently, the OCM can clear the skin from issues like oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, blackheads, whiteheads and other problems caused by mild to moderate acne–while leaving your skin healthy, balanced and properly moisturized.
Let’s discuss some oil. Many you will be familiar with and some perhaps not. These “carrier” oils are not the same as essential oils. E.O.s can be incorporated into your OCM and will add another level of benefit. OCM is popular with all ages and skin types. Each face is different and you may need to tweak your ratios to fit your ever changing skin.
Oily skin: Try a blend of 30% castor oil to 70% sunflower seed oil.
Balanced Skin: Try a blend of 20% castor oil to 80% sunflower seed oil.
Dry Skin: Try a blend of 10% castor oil to 90% sunflower seed oil.
Skin will adjust to daily use especially if you begin with the right lineolic ratio. You can begin by introducing it 2-3 times a week for a couple of weeks, then two 3-4 times a week and maintain a balance that works for your skin. It adds a little time to the nightly regimen (RRR) but I often balance this out with my Small Batch Cleansing Wipes that mimic this method but is perfect for traveling or the bedside oops, I forgot to wash my face. Some even prefer these wipes as it leaves your skin equally supple and clear.
As with any new routine or habit, there may be a period of adjustment for your skin. The first week may result in a breakout (gasp!) as the impurities in your skin get ousted. Don’t give up so fast, young Padawan….we all have lived through a pimple or two before. The long-term benefits of spending less money, living chemical/toxin free and the supple fresh skin it leaves will outweigh a breakout.
You are welcome to do this when it works with your schedule but most often this is done in the evening.
Warm washcloth to open up your pores, don’t skip this. Open those harvesters of dirt up!
Add about a quarter size amount or more in the beginning to your clean hands and massage in circular motion on your face for about 30-45 seconds.
You might consider one added step here, although not necessary. Take this opportunity to do a simple lymph massage on your face. This helps “drain” the face of extra fluids. It flushes out some toxins, helps with puffiness and keeps things circulating (more blood moving, means more oxygen reaching your face). It’s just a great time for some all around #facelove….Someday I will torture you with some facial yoga too. You have a spare minute to do this don’t ya? HERE KILL TIME WITH THESE
After finishing your rubdown, finish with laying a freshly warmed cloth over your face. Let it sit for a bit to allow the oils to penetrate and killing off any remaining lurking bacteria.
DONE! I like to wait for a couple of minutes before finishing up whatever is next in the regimen – whether it’s night time stuff or getting ready for the day, pre-makeup. If you feel like you need a little moisturizer after this (sometimes I do, especially in the winter), glaze your face with your favorite oil blend.
Let's Talk Oils
We talked about the lineolic/oleanic ratios and what does that #sciencey stuff mean to you? Coming up with the right blend that works for your skin type.
Castor Oil is often the main component in OCM so I am starting with it. It’s got a bit of a bad rap and as long as it’s sourced properly, there is nothing to fear. Well except, perhaps that it can be drying if overused.
The ratio of linoelic acid (low) then sebum becomes thick and cloggy. Acne prone skin is high in olenic acid. Sooo, in summary, if skin is dry decrease the amount of castor oil in the blend. (p.s. Castor Oil is also a bit controversial**)
Sweet Almond Oil: This is one of my go-to oils for many things. We go through a lot of it in our house. Add it to the tub, after shower, straight to the body/ face. It soothes, softens, reconditions. Know to lighten dark circles under your eyes. All skin types, especially slightly oily
Avocado Oil: In our house, this lives in the kitchen but it’s often left in the bathroom. Great for cooking. Great for cranky skin suffering from psoriasis and eczema. Rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs) and Vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and E. Dry skin, Aging Skin
Borage Seed Oil: We don’t use this that often in our house. Not because it isn’t wonderful. Known to be calming to skin and to reduce inflammation. Also good for acne, rosacea and eczema. Known to promote blood flow.
Grapeseed Oil: First exposure to grapeseed oil was in massage therapy class. It’s a lovely lightweight oil with low odor. The skin tolerates it well and soaks it up. and great for folks with lots of sensitivities. All skin types, especially oily!
Hazelnut Oil: Astringent and good for oily skin Hazelnut Oil could be used in place of Castor Oil
Hemp Seed Oil: This oil is another one that would live in the bathroom but it should be kept refrigerated, especially if you are consuming it. This oil is EXCELLENT for you – internally and externally. Deserving of a dedicated post alone, this is one of nature’s perfect things. Nutrition for your skin as it is rich in protein, antioxidants, and mineral. Contains Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, D, and E with high amounts of chlorophyll. Great for skin suffering from eczema, psoriasis, acne. Another oil that is lovely for dry skin too.
Jojoba Oil: all skin types, but very desirable for acne-prone skin
Sunflower Oil: All Skin Types ? or No
Olive Oil: All Skin Types *
Apricot Kernal: Dry, Aging and Normal Skin
Argan Oil: This is one of my personal go-to oils. Mostly because you can put that stuff everywhere. Hair, Skin, Nails -aaallll good! Not to be confused with the marketing juggernaut Moroccan Oil. All skin types, especially aging skin.
Tamanu Oil: All skin types – pricey
Coconut Oil:This beloved oil is wonderful for many, many things. However, I am not a fan of this oil being used heavily on the face. It solidifies at 76 degrees F which can sometimes be a pain. It’s not the best of acne prone skin as it’s rated a 4 on comedogenic scale. That is to say, it’s a wonderful oil to use in limited amounts. It removes make-up beautifully.
Try these enhancements: Switch to a Microfiber Cloth
As previously mentioned, adding 2-3 drops of therapeutic grade essential oils like carrot seed, frankincense, lavender, rose, rose geranium) will benefit your skin tremendously.
References / Additional Reading