It has been over two years since I threw away my conventional makeup remover, face wash, and facial moisturizer. Why would I do such a thing, you ask? I’m going to let you in on one of my favorite all-natural “hippie” beauty routines. Specifically, my skin care routine.
For two years now, I have been washing my face with oil.
Let me explain.
I discovered the oil cleansing method during the summer of 2011. I was intrigued by how easy it looked, and loved how natural it was. Even more, it is ridiculously inexpensive, which made my little frugal heart jump for joy. The thought of freeing myself from three very pricey conventional products, and replacing them with one frugal, all natural, option had me sold.
I have what you would consider “normal” skin. It’s rarely oily, and occasionally dry during the winter months. I don’t have many concerns with my skin, but prior to using the oil cleansing method, I would breakout with a handful of pimples about once a month. Since using the OCM, my skin feels softer, cleaner, and I rarely breakout anymore.
At this point you’re probably wondering why anyone in their right mind would clean their face with oil. Aren’t we all trying to remove oil from our face? That is a great question. This is a fairly in-depth post, so stick with me!
What is the oil cleansing method?
Before I dive into the nitty-gritty details about the OCM, I need to mention something about the cosmetic industry, and the conventional products many of us (myself included) have been using for our entire lives. Did you know that the FDA does not assess the safety of personal care products, or their ingredients? When we purchase beauty products we are putting full trust into that particular cosmetic company to provide us with a safe product. Sadly, most mainstream products on the market today have ingredients in them that are linked to cancer, infertility, learning disabilities, and much more.
Two years ago I began a journey to a more natural lifestyle, and changing up my beauty products was near the top of the list. This fantastic video titled The Story of Cosmetics is really worth checking out. It gives a brief, but very clear picture of how the cosmetic industry works. I don’t regret taking the time I did to educate myself on these things.
The thought of using oil to wash and nourish my skin, without any toxic chemicals, was incredibly appealing to me. With my newfound knowledge about conventional cosmetics, I was willing to give the OCM a shot.
Contrary to popular belief, oil does not make your face oily. Crazy, right?! One of the basic tenets of chemistry is “like dissolves like.” In this case, “oil dissolves oil” and is the foundation of how the OCM works. Conventional products make claims like “grease cutting,” “antibacterial,” and “oil free.” We’ve been led to believe that we must rid our skin of every bit of oil in order for it to be healthy. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Conventional products use toxic chemicals to strip our skin of their natural oils leaving it dry, tight, patchy, and irritated. When the natural oils are removed from our skin, our body will often overcompensate to produce more oil. This leaves our faces greasy and slick. Or, the opposite may happen, leaving you with perpetually dry skin causing you to need a constant supply of moisturizer (this was me). Our natural oils are intended to protect, heal, and moisturize our skin. Dirt, bacteria and hormones are some of the leading causes of pimples, cysts, blackheads, and other facial impurities. Not too much oil.
Essentially, “The basic concept of this skin care and cleansing method is that the oil used to massage your skin will dissolve the oil that has hardened with impurities and found itself stuck in your pores. The steam will open your pores, allowing the oil to be easily removed. Should you need it, the smallest drop of the same oil formula patted over damp skin will provide the necessary lubrication to keep your skin from over-compensating in oil production.” From The Oil Cleansing Method.
Good quality oils will heal and nourish your skin while removing any dirt and impurities that may cause facial blemishes. It’s truly that simple.
Why do I love the oil cleansing method?
- It’s a safe and all-natural option. I love that I can use extra virgin olive oil (which I always have on hand), and other inexpensive oil options in my mix.
- It’s frugal. My small bottle of oil will last me 3-4 weeks! I love that it replaces three expensive conventional products that I used for many years (makeup remover, facial cleanser, and facial moisturizer).
- It’s easy to use on a nightly basis. The OCM doesn’t take much more time that washing your face with soap. It’s has a couple more steps involved, but it’s still ridiculously easy.
- It can be adapted for all skin types. The OCM gently removes dirty oil, leaving your skin fresh, clean and moisturized. Even the most sensitive skin should react well to this method.
- It feels great! Imagine having your own mini facial every night before bed.
How do I clean my face with oil?
At this point you might be intrigued like I was, but have no desire to smell like a salad. I understand, and I had the same concern as well. After my first try at the OCM, I asked Adam to smell my face and give me his honest opinion.
Yes, he smelled my face.
We can assure you that you will not smell like a bottle of vinaigrette, or your Italian grandmother’s kitchen after you’re done.
Here are the steps I follow. The great thing about this method is that you can adapt it to your own skin needs, as there is definitely not one right way to do it.
1) Make your oil mix
There are many different oils you can use for this method, but I use a mix of organic extra virgin olive oil and castor oil, which is typically the most popular pairing. These two are also the most frugal.
It’s important to remember that castor oil has cleansing properties and will draw out the dirt from your skin. Too much castor oil in your mix may leave your skin too dry. Extra virgin olive oil works as a moisturizer and healer. Too much olive oil may leave those with oiler skin too greasy.
Here are some suggested ratios for making your mix. If you want to experiment with this for a night or two, I would suggest using a teaspoon to measure out your oils instead of making a larger batch. Remember that this may take a little trial and error, but once you find out what works, it should be very easy to reproduce!
- Normal Skin: Equal parts of extra virgin olive oil and castor oil. This is what I use.
- Dry Skin: One part castor oil and three parts extra virgin olive oil.
- Oily Skin: One part extra virgin olive oil and three parts castor oil.
I keep my mix in a small travel-size bottle, and it will last me 3-4 weeks.
2) Remove any makeup
Did you know that olive oil is a fantastic makeup remover? I typically put a few drops of my oil mix onto a cotton pad (be sure to shake the bottle well) and gently rub away my eye makeup. It works just as well, if not better, than my old conventional (expensive!) makeup remover cloths. Be careful not to get any oil in your eyes. It can sting a little.
I use an all-natural mineral makeup, so at this point I’m not too concerned with removing any base or blush I may be wearing. The rest of my makeup will come off easily during the next step.
3) Rub the oil into your face
This is the fun part! I know it might be tempting, but DO NOT wet your face with water for this step. After shaking your mix well, put about a quarter sized drop of your oil mix into the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together, and then massage it into your DRY face with your fingertips. I typically do this for about a minute or two, always massaging the skin in an upward motion. Gravity doesn’t need any help here!
4) Time to steam
Wet a washcloth under hot water, ring out any excess, and place it over your face. The steam from the washcloth will open your pores, allowing the impurities and dead skin to be released. Hold it there until it reaches room temperature, and repeat if you would like. I typically do this 2-3 times taking a minute or two to enjoy my mini-facial before bed.
5) Wipe off any excess oil
After you steam your face, use the washcloth to gently remove any remaining oil. If you were wearing light makeup it will come off at this point, along with the dead skin, dirt, and bacteria that does not belong there either. If you feel like you need it, you can use a tiny drop of your oil mix to moisturize your face as well. It should absorb into your skin very easily!
Here’s a quick video tutorial. Please excuse the poor lighting and my one thousand “um’s.”
At this point, if you’re like me, your skin should feel very soft, moisturized (but not greasy), and not too tight or dry. It should feel just right. I will use this method to clean my skin 5-7 nights a week. In the morning I only need to splash my face with some warm water, and use a little olive oil to moisturize. My skin has never felt cleaner and softer!
I haven’t tried any other oil mixes, but I know that jojoba oil, almond oil, flaxseed oil, and sunflower seed oil are other common oils used in this method.
You can also experiment with essential oils if you would like. Tea tree oil is a great antiseptic and works wonderfully on acne! You can easily add a few drops to your oil mix, but I have never tried it. However, I will use tea tree oil to “spot treat” the occasional blemish, and have had great success with it.