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?