Adventures in Oil Cleansing

I love oils. If a package arrives for me, my husband jokes that it’s either oils or boots. And while J cooks with his oils, I mostly use mine topically. I’ve tried jojoba, argan, sea buckthorn, tea tree, coconut, olive, sesame, sunflower, avocado, castor, emu, fermented cod liver – the list goes on and on.

But I also love (loved?) my Clarisonic skin brush and I never thought two inexpensive oils would pretty much replace the pricey Clarisonic and fancy cleanser. Details of the oil cleansing method (or OCM) can be found here or here, however, this is the basic rundown:

You’ll need two different oils: castor oil and a nourishing carrier oil (popular choices include jojoba, sweet almond, avocado, olive, sunflower and coconut). Coconut oil is thought to be one of the more comedogenic or acne causing oils but I haven’t had any issues. I’ve tried avocado and sunflower and keep coming back to coconut it has anti-microbial properties and a more pleasing texture to me.

You’ll mix the two oils depending on your skin type. Castor oil has the deep cleansing properties that make this method effective so the more oily your completion the more castor oil you can use. In my own experience, I’ve been successful with 4 parts coconut oil to one part castor oil or with the summer weather, 3 parts coconut to one part castor. You can mix up a batch each time you wash your face or keep a small amount pre-made in a resalable jar. There’s lots of wiggle room to play with different carrier oils and different ratios. It’s encouraged to make individual or tiny batches when you first start out so you can find the formula that works best for you before you mix a big jar. I find even just quarter cup of oil mixture (that’s roughly one tablespoon castor oil) lasts me a long time.

After you have your oil blend, take a small amount in your hands, rub your palms together and start massaging your face, focusing on areas like your nose and chin. You’d think rubbing oil on your skin would feel gross—it actually feels super-luxurious, something I imagine Cleopatra doing. It’s recommended that you massage the oil into your skin for about a minute. Depending on the night, I like to go a little longer.

Now the cool part happens—things start to get grainy as you can actually feel the dried sebum of your pores coming out of your skin. It’s the rule that like dissolves like: the oil of the cleanser dissolves the hardened oil in your pores. There is something very satisfying about a super successful oil cleansing experience! Once you’ve massaged for a couple minutes or more, take a wet, hot washcloth, squeeze out the excess water and place over your face for about 30 seconds or so for a quick steam. You can do that again once the washcloth cools or you can start wiping the oil off your face. Don’t skip this step as it helps open up the pores and softens the oil so it’s easier to remove. You’ll likely have a little oil still on your face (it’s not going to feel squeaky clean) but you still want to end with a tiny amount of another nourishing oil or moisturizer (I like this argan oil). That’s it!

Right away, I saw that my skin was smoother and plumper and after continuous use I still think it looks slightly better (definitely not any worse) than with my Clarisonic and traditional, chemical-laden product regimen. Sometimes I do breakout and think I should try my old way of cleansing again. When I do, I break out MORE and my face feels raw. I never thought I’d retire my Clarisonic skin brush and I can’t say I’ll never use it again. For right now, I’ll stick with the natural and gentle chemical-free oil cleansing.

Drop falling from dropper of essential oil, aromatherapy essence

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