Monday, May 26, 2014

My Continuation of the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) for my Acne-Prone Skin

Last month I wrote a post about my disastrous foray into the oil cleansing method (OCM). The OCM exists under the philosophy that like destroys like, meaning that oil combats oil. Therefore, cleansing your face with oil will dissolve oils on your skin. However, the key is to choosing the right oil for your skin. My first attempt at the OCM, which I rode out for several weeks, was absolutely horrid. I used a mixture of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Castor Oil, and Tea Tree Oil which left my skin became spotty and painful - well you can read all about it here

After some research, I found out that Olive Oil is extremely high in oleic acid, an acid that my acne-prone skin's sebum is composed of. By adding more oleic acid to my skin, I was just adding to the bad oils that produce excess sebum. Gross, huh? With this research, I set out to find a better balance of oils, ones low in oleic acid and higher in linoleic acid (the good acid). In the end, I came up with a great mixture of grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, castor oil, and tamanu oil.

You guys. I have been using this mixture for over a month now and it is amazing. I wash with it every other day - okay sometimes I'll use it two days in a row - and always in the evening because it will leave your skin slightly oily (and then my makeup runs which is hot, obviously). 

Here is why it's so amazing: Not only are my break outs less frequent, but they heal much more quickly (overnight, even). My blackheads - the ones I thought I'd have plaguing my nose for the rest of my life - have diminished significantly. In fact, I don't even notice them anymore! My pores seem smaller, especially those on my cheeks and my chin. The dark circles under my eyes are lighter, presumably from the intense moisture my eye-area is now doused in. My skin is much more balanced, meaning I don't get a greasy T-Zone midday. My skin is also less sensitive. Where I used to get red blotches, my skin tone is much more even. Oh and the completely unexpected pro? My eyelashes! They are thicker and longer. I quit curling my lashes a couple of years ago after I noticed they had turned sparse and short, and this oil mixture is boosting significant growth in my lashes. There have been several times when I haven't even bothered with mascara because they're becoming so long and thick. Rad.

To help you understand how I chose my mixture, I decided to quickly discuss each of the oils. They're all important in making my skin what it is.

Castor Oil is pretty much the only staple of the OCM, being recommended for all OCM mixtures regardless of your other carrier oils. It's a highly antibacterial, somewhat balanced oil, with more linoleic acid than oleic acid. Castor Oil is very thick & chemical smelling (uck), and it's ideal for making skin extremely soft and supple. I even use it now and then as a body moisturizer. However, prolonged use of castor oil will also dry the skin out. For this reason, I only use one part castor oil.

Note: I purchased my castor oil at the local natural foods co-op.

I use two parts sunflower oil, even though it's high in oleic acid. Sunflower oil is fatty and high in vitamins A, D, and E, making it nutrient rich for my face. This oil is definitely the most moisturizing of the set, which is important as my sensitive skin dries out very quickly and has a tendency to get blotchy.

Note: I purchased my Sunflower Oil from Mountain Rose Herbs here.

I counteract the oleic-acid-rich sunflower oil with two parts grapeseed oil, which is extremely high in linoleic acid. Because grapeseed oil is high in linoleic acid, it helps dissolve excess sebum in my skin - meaning fewer break outs! Grapeseed oil is easily absorbed and non-allergenic, making it great for sensitive skin such as mine. I'm hoping that its absorption qualities help the other oils in my mixture absorb more easily as well.

Note: I purchased my grapeseed oil from Mountain Rose Herbs here.

My final carrier oil is one I happened upon by chance: tamanu oil. I use one part of this rich, nutty-smelling oil in my mixture. Although it is a slightly balanced oil - higher in oleic acid than linoleic acid - I chose to use it in my OCM mixture for its healing properties. Years of fighting acne and other spots has left my porcelain pale skin with quite a few scars. I was drawn to this oil for its skin healing properties, as well as its anti-neuralgic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antibiotic, and antioxidant properties. Yeah, you guys, that's a lot of anti's. Basically it means that it's great for sensitive and acne-prone skin, and has regenerative properties to help with skin healing. It's like an oil from the gods, in other words.

Note: I purchased my tamanu oil from Mountain Rose Herbs here.

You'll notice that I excluded Tea Tree Oil from my mixture this time around. I use it as a spot treatment instead, finding it too harsh to use all over my face every day. I also use less castor oil than my previous mixture as I found it too aggressive on my skin.

To review: my mixture is two parts grapeseed oil, two parts sunflower oil, one part castor oil, & one part tamanu oil. This is a great mixture of nutrient-rich oils with skin regenerating properties, featuring oils mostly higher in linoleic acids than oleic acids, making it superb for acne-prone and sensitive skin.

Other important notes: I wash my face with my OCM mixture every other night before bed. I always follow up my cleanse with a facial lotion. In the morning and on days between the oil cleanse, I wash my face with Lush's Angels on Bare Skin. I use an exfoliating face wash once or twice a week. I use a face mask at least once a week - the mask changes every week, but I love Queen Helene Mint Julep and Lush's Mask of Magnaminty.

Why my skin loves the OCM: Fewer & less severe break outs, fewer blackheads, more even skin tone, reduced pores, brighter under-eye area, longer lashes, more balanced skin (no midday oily T-Zones!)

Why I love the OCM: Way better than loading my skin up on harsh chemicals, doubles as a make-up remover, feels great to massage into skin, inexpensive (a little goes a long way!), leaves my skin feeling fresh and supple, rather than stripped down.

A few complaints: Oil can be messy & has a tendency to leak everywhere. It's not easy to transport the oil mixture around, meaning that I can't use it on nights I'm away from home. It also doesn't smell amazing, sort of a musky, nutty smell mixed with a bit of the chemical smell of castor oil. It's not appalling, but it's not a refreshing cool cucumber scent either.

What are your experiences with the oil cleansing method? Are you more encouraged to try it for yourself, or still skeptical?


  1. I definitely want to try this. My skin had cleared up completely and i thought awesome this is the end of my teenage bad skin. But then about a year ago i started breaking out really bad and now it is cystic and painful and continuing to worsen out of control. I had bad skin in my teens but nothing at all like this. Im starting accutane soon even though im hesitant. I wouldnt mind the awful spots so much but the pain is just too bad. Ive tried almost all the antibiotics and topical prescriptions out there in the past year and no improvement. Im afraid im hurting my immune system... Anyways this sounds worth a try. Thanks for the tips and review!

    1. Hey Hanna! Ugh, I remember the cystic acne. It's so so so painful. That really is the worst part is how painful it makes your entire face. I've heard some horror stories with Accutane, so be careful! My sister, who is abhorrent about natural remedies, had to go to the ER several times because it dried out her entire body so badly. But, maybe it's gotten better since then! Anyways, I definitely recommend giving the OCM a try. Integrating natural products into my skincare regime is what I credit as clearing up my cystic acne - those products being tea tree oil and rosewater toner - and I highly recommend giving a more natural routine a try. Unfortunately cystic acne can become immune to harsh chemicals, which is what happened to my skin over time. Thanks for stopping by, and let me know if you try a more natural routine! I'm always looking for more tips & tricks.

  2. Well this sounds all sorts of awesome - I am forever struggling with my skin (as with yours mine is oily, prone to - constant - breakouts, scarring and enlarged pores, specifically blackheads on my nose and chin) so you've definitely got me toying with the idea. When you say wash with it, what exactly do you do? (sorry if that's a really silly question!). I can't seem to ever get my skin to a point where I'm ok with it, so this may be my breakthrough!

    1. Not a silly question at all! I didn't go into details on how to actually wash your face with it, as there are so many resources on the web about it already. Try Crunchy Betty ( as her articles are awesome. But basically you just massage it into your skin for a couple of minutes, steam your face with a hot wash cloth, and wipe the oil off. I think it'll help balance out the oils in your skin - it helped with mine! - and it's the only thing that has budged my blackheads. I thought I'd have them for the rest of my life! Let me know if you give it a try! You use Lush right now, right?

  3. As a result of your first post about needing to balance the acids in the oils for skin type, I've changed my mixture as well. I was having the same troubles with my sensitive, blemish-prone skin. Can I just say--YAY??!! Thank you for that info. My skin is now nearly completely clear, glowing, flake-free, and much more even. I've changed my base oil to grapeseed- 2 parts grapeseed to one part avocado oil for it's healing and moisturizing nutrients, with a teeny bit of castor because it's so drying for me. Happy, happy skin! I've even given up makeup for the most part since it looks so nice. Just some eye makeup and lipstick if I'm going out :)

    1. Yay! I'm SO glad to hear that you changed your mixture! Isn't the difference simply amazing?? I considered trying avocado oil as well, but decided it might be a bit too rich for my skin. I also use way less make-up which feels great. Who knew that oil would be the magic ingredient? I'm wondering - how often do you use your mixture?

    2. I'm a lot older than you are, so I can use it every night. My skin needs the moisture, but everything other than the oils was making it break out. I've had more troubles with my skin as an adult than I ever had as a teenager and I tried SO many products, avoiding everything with oil like the plague. Right- who knew?? I think exfoliating is key too, and the oils make it that much easier for your skin to release the dead cells.

    3. Yes, my skin is very thin so it looses moisture quickly! Hence why I still use moisturizer even after an oil cleanse. I'm going to start using it every day and see how it goes, because the days that I do use it, my skin is so much more radiant than the days that I don't!

  4. My skin is sensitive and acne-prone, yet dry (somehow!) around my nose and chin. I've been using grapeseed oil in the evenings and have definitely noticed a HUGE difference! What a difference a bit of research takes, right? I had a bit of trial and error myself. Glad to know I wasn't alone :)

    1. Grapeseed oil is amazing, isn't it?? If your skin is dry, try adding some sunflower oil into your mix. It's super moisturizing! Trial & error is definitely the way to go. I'm considering adding a bit more grapeseed oil into my differs when the season changes just how your skin reacts, too.


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