I was trying to think back on what got me so excited about green beauty and making more of my own beauty products using simple, safe ingredients. I realized the Oil Cleansing Method (also known as OCM) first got me excited about it. The oil cleansing method was life-changing for me in the skin care department for both its effectiveness and how much it transformed the look and feel of my skin. If you are not familiar with the oil cleansing method, it is exactly how it sounds; a method of cleansing your skin with oil in place of your traditional face cleansers and makeup removers.
As someone who suffered with acne for most of my life, I had been taught to avoid anything with oil. Little did I know, using oil on my face was going to be one of the keys to helping me finally clear up my skin. There are many benefits for using oil to cleanse your face.
Oil Cleansing Method Benefits
- Natural and non-toxic – Using oils to cleanse with is a great natural way to stay away from harmful ingredients in skincare. Just steer clear of mineral oil which is an unnatural petroleum based oil that is responsible for giving oil in skincare a bad name.
- Removes makeup – Oil cleansing is seriously the best method I have found for removing makeup. The mixture of oil and steam remove makeup like a dream as it is great for both water and oil soluble makeup products.
- Dissolves dirt and impurities – Oil is insoluble in water which helps in its ability to bind to substances and dislodge dirt and other impurities that could clog your pores.
- Balances oil production – You know the saying ‘like dissolves like,’ that is the same concept here. Oil dissolves oil so it is great at removing excess oil that would be responsible for clogging your pores but it does so in a way that is not stripping the skin of its sebum which keeps the skin in a balanced state.
- Hydrates the skin – It is oil after all so it helps keep the skin moist and supple.
- Doesn’t ruin the pH balance or acid mantel on your skin – So many traditional cleansers have harsh ingredients that throw off your skin’s delicate pH balance and remove the acid mantel which is what protects your skin from bacteria and other contaminants. Oil has no pH level so it won’t affect the pH level of your skin or strip it of its protective coating. Learning how to care for your skin without altering the pH or removing the precious acid mantel is vital to your skins overall health.
- Anti-aging – Plant-based oils are full of antioxidants which are good at neutralizing free radicals that can damage the skin and cause premature aging.
- Acne-clearing – Because oil cleansing removes dirt and bacteria and regulates oil production, it is great at fighting acne.
- Customizable – Based on your skin type and needs, the oil or oil combination used when oil cleansing can be customized for what works best with your skin.
- Relaxing – Massaging your skin with oil and steaming your face clean with a warm washcloth is an extremely relaxing ritual to do at the end of the day.
How to Oil Cleanse
Oil cleansing is very simple to do. Just pick the oil or oil combination of choice (more on this below). Put a little less than a teaspoon in the palm of your freshly washed hands. Then, on a dry face (don’t wet your skin first), massage the oil into your face and closed eye area if removing eye makeup.
Once you have massaged the oil into your skin, wet a clean washcloth with water that is hot but not scalding. Wring it out and place it over your skin. This will create a heated steam effect and help to remove the oils and impurities from your skin. You can leave it on between 30 seconds to a minute or until it cools. Then, use the same washcloth to gently rub your skin to remove any remaining oil or makeup. This will provide a very gentle exfoliating effect at the same time.
If you like to keep skin care low maintenance, you may decide this is the only step you need in your nighttime skincare routine as it will leave your skin both clean and hydrated, or add a little bit more of the oil if your skin feels a little dry. Otherwise, just complete your skincare routine as you normally would after any cleansing step.
If you would like a visual demonstration on how to oil cleanse, this is my favorite demonstration video on YouTube that was done by the channel CloudyApples.
How to Pick Oils for Oil Cleansing Method
Although there are many oil cleansing products on the market, I think it is far better and more cost-effective to just make your own. That way you can also customize it based on your skin type and what your skin best reacts to by having complete control over the ingredients.
Oil cleansing can be as simple as just using one oil or using a mixture of oils. It is best to pick oils based on your skin type and here are some suggestions on how to do that.
One thing to take into consideration when choosing an oil for oil cleansing is the oil’s comedogenic rating. A comedogenic rating refers to how likely the oil is to clog your pores. Another thing to take into consideration when picking oils for your skin is the linoleic acid content vs. oleic acid. People who are acne prone tend to have low levels of linoleic acid in their skins surface lipids so using an oil with high linoleic acid content can help balance the ratio out for clearer skin. If your skin is on the dryer side and not acne prone, you may want to choose oils that are higher in oleic acid.
Here is a great resource to find not only the comedogenic rating of oils but also their linoleic and oleic acid content. https://www.holistichealthherbalist.com/complete-list-of-comedogenic-oils/
It may take some trial and error to find the best oil or oil combination for your skin but don’t give up! The benefits will be well worth it.
Photo Credit Yastremska/bigstock.com
Popular Oil Choices for Oil Cleansing
- Castor Oil – Castor oil is popular in oil cleansing. Castor oil is considered the most cleansing and dissolving oil which is why it is so popular in the oil cleansing method. Castor oil can be drying and must always be used alongside another oil. If you use castor oil, use less if you have dryer skin and more if your skin is oilier.
- Hazelnut Oil – Some people use this oil as a replacement for castor oil in oil cleansing as it is also an astringent and cleans pores, but it’s more hydrating then castor oil.
- Avocado Oil – Great for dry skin as it is very moisturizing and has a high oleic acid content. It does have a comedogenic rating of three though, so it may be an oil to avoid if you are very acne prone.
- Sweet Almond Oil – Sweet almond oil is suitable for most skin types making it a popular option. It has a low comedogenic rating of two.
- Jajoba Oil – Jajoba is technically a wax not an oil but it is very popular in oil cleansing because it so closely matches skin’s natural sebum.
- Olive Oil – A popular choice in oil cleansing probably because most people already have it on hand. Some people complain of breakouts when using it so it is not one I personally recommend.
- Hemp Oil – This is what I use by itself for my oil cleansing process as it has a comedogenic rating of 0 and is high in linoleic acid both which are great for acne prone skin. The one disadvantage is it is not shelf stable so it is best kept in the fridge.
- Coconut Oil – Some people swear by it because of its antibacterial properties but with the high comedogenic rating of 4 other people may find it to be more pore clogging. If you are acne prone may want to stay away from using coconut oil on your face.
- Grapeseed Oil – Grapeseed oil has a comedogenic rating of 1 and high linoleic acid content so it is also good for acne prone skin.
Additional Tips for the Oil Cleansing Method
- It is important to always use a clean washcloth when doing the oil cleansing method. These are the ones I love to use. Your washcloths may get stained, especially if removing eye makeup, so you may want to have a set specifically for oil cleansing.
- A glass dropper bottle is great to use when making your oil cleanser. Even if you only use one oil, it is easier to dispense oil from a glass dropper bottle than a large oil bottle.
- Just as you want to make sure your washcloth is clean, make sure you wash your hands before oil cleansing or doing any skin care.
- Oil cleansing is best done at night to get the makeup, dirt, and grime off your face for the day. In the morning, there is no need to cleanse your skin again, just splash your face with some water, use a toner or hydrosol, then complete your morning skin care routine as usual.
- Oil cleansing can be done nightly but some people only do it a few times a week or when they want to remove a full face of makeup. Do what works best for you.
- Finding the right oil or oil combination can take some trial and error. It is not uncommon for your face to purge a little in the first week so you may experience some breakouts. After a week or two your face should start to calm down but it may take about a month to see the full benefits of oil cleansing. If you suspect that your skin is reacting negatively to an oil you are using, it is best to switch right away to another oil. Usually a negative skin reaction is associated with a specific oil not the cleansing method itself.
- You can also add essential oils if you want to your cleansing mixture but I don’t recommend adding these until you have already found the oil cleansing mixture you like and know works well on your skin. Be careful if you do use essential oils not to overdo it (less is more), avoid the eye area, and follow all essential oil cautions.
- Do a patch test with the oil or oil combination you are going to use before applying all over your face for the first time.
– Elizabeth Hemmings, author of Easy Green Cleaning
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