Primal Beauty: The Oil Cleansing Method

26 Aug

Yes, please wash your face 3 times a day with dish soap.

So far I haven’t exactly been following through on my promise of posting fantastic all-natural product reviews.  (Except for this one.)  I know, I know, I’ve completely let you down and you’re all broken up about it, so please accept my apologies.  I fully intend to rectify the situation.  Just not today.  Wait, don’t start the booing and hissing yet!  This actually is a review, just not of a product.  Technically.

For the past few months I’ve been washing and moisturizing my face with oil.  If you haven’t heard of the Oil Cleansing Method (or OCM), you probably think I’ve gone mad.

I should probably say up front that I’ve never had much trouble with my complexion, so I can’t personally attest to whether or not oil cleansing will help clear up problem skin – which is the question I see most often on message boards.  What I do have is pretty average skin that is starting to show some lines around my eyes and mouth, can look a little dull, and still gets a blemish here and there…ya know, skin that’s fine, but could stand to look a little brighter.  Firmer.  Just…I don’t know…better in general.

It started at 20?! Well, I'm just screwed.

So like everyone, I’m always on the lookout for something that will actually deliver that brighter, clearer, fresher complexion.  But I’m also wary of anything that sounds like it might bring about the dreaded flare-up.  Soooo…rubbing oil all over your face?!  Wouldn’t that just make your skin…oily?  Wouldn’t it make it break out?!

At some point I realized this line of thinking felt familiar.  Sort of like people arguing that eating fat will make you fat…right?  Huh.  Now, I’m not a nutritionist or a dermatologist, so I’m not claiming the two things are in any way related.  But my “light bulb moment” went a little something like this:  If Conventional Wisdom can be so wrong about nutrition, maybe Conventional Wisdom could be wrong about skincare too.  It seemed worth a shot.

If you’re like me and are attracted to pretty packaging, you just gotta let that go in order to do this.  Here are my not-at-all-pretty products:

Not-cute oil bottles. Somewhat-cute blue bottle for mixing.

I know I name-drop them in just about every article and I swear to god I’m not on their payroll, but I’m gonna save you some time here and say go straight to Whole Foods for your oils.  Trust me on this.  I thought, “Oh, Castor Oil.  I’ve never actually bought any, but I’ve heard of it my whole life.  You can get it at any pharmacy…Right?”  Nope.  Couldn’t find it at my CVS, Rite-Aid, Ralph’s, Pavillion’s, or even Target.  Target was the most surprising.  I even asked the girl working in the pharmacy section if they carried it, and was greeted with a completely confused, no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about kind of look, complete with furrowed brow and a bewildered “Castor…oil?”   Revealing that I planned to wash my face with it did not help clarify matters at all and – tired of being judged by a teenager – I muttered “Nevermind” and left.  Only when I was back in the car did it occur to me that she must have thought I intended to coat my face in Castrol motor oil.

The adorable girl working in the Whole Foods beauty aisle, however, knew exactly what I wanted and lead me to an entire section of skincare oils.  She even had recommendations of some of her favorites.  So, really, I’m not kidding.  Just go there and be done with it.  (Full disclosure: As you can see, the Jojoba Oil and Tea Tree Oil are from Trader Joe’s – which is also awesome, but I don’t remember seeing Castor Oil there.)

This site will tell you absolutely everything you need to know if you want to try oil cleansing yourself, so I won’t bore you with all the how-to details here.  But basically, Castor Oil does the cleansing, and it needs to be diluted with a “secondary oil” – usually Grapeseed, Jojoba, Olive, or Sunflower Seed.  It sounds odd, but Castor Oil is such a strong cleansing agent that it can make your skin dry if you use too much of it.  I really couldn’t tell you the exact ratio of oils that I use, because I adjust it depending on how my skin is doing on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis.  I start with a 50/50 ratio of Castor Oil to Grapeseed or Jojoba Oil.  If my skin feels a little dry or tight, I add a little more of the second oil to the mixture.  On the other hand, if my skin is a little oily, I’ll add a bit more Castor and maybe a drop of Tea Tree Oil.

Soft as a baby's butt.

In the morning, I just splash my face with water.  And as for moisturizers, I still use an eye cream (right now I’m trying Yes To Blueberries) but I just use Jojoba Oil to moisturize the rest of my face.  I’m sure I’d be fine with using oil around my eyes as well, if I didn’t wear glasses.  The oil inevitably gets in my eyelashes, which then brush against the lenses leaving oily smudges.  (Yes, I have very long lashes.  It’s a curse I’m willing to live with.)  So after about a week of cleaning my glasses every ten minutes, I gave up on that.

I know I admitted earlier that I never had much trouble with my complexion before starting the OCM, so it’s probably not much of an endorsement for me to gush about how clear and soft and bright my skin became after starting it.  But here’s something that I think does speak volumes.  Recently I had a crazy week of getting home late, combined with no time to do laundry – leaving me with no clean washclothes for the steaming step – so I got lazy and starting using my old facewash again.  I cannot tell you how angry this made my face!  My skin became flaky, dull, and dry literally overnight.  I even woke up with a few new blemishes.  So I got my act together, did a load of laundry, started the oil cleansing again, and just as quickly my skin calmed down and cleared up.

Sometimes I forget how tired, moody, and bloated I felt when I ate grains and sugary carbs, until I break down and have an enormous bagel for breakfast.  (Gasp!  Yes, it does happen sometimes, though not very often…)  In the same way, I couldn’t really see the difference oil cleansing made until I stopped doing it.  Until that point I hadn’t decided yet if putting the extra time and effort into my nightly routine was really worth it…But apparently my face made the decision for me.

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7 Responses to “Primal Beauty: The Oil Cleansing Method”

  1. Thom August 27, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    Haha. Castrol Motor Oil. SW-40 for that well lubricated look. I really dig the info on natural approach to skin care:
    I have horrible oily skin. I’ve been using honey mixed with baking soda and lemon juice. It seems to neutralize uneven splotchy skin and is beginning to repair some acne scars. And prevent future breakouts. Tea tree oil at CVS is in the nail polish department for some odd reason. Also, I’m trying to get rid of pockmarks. Been using cocoa butter. Do you have any other remedies that might help?

    • Shannon August 27, 2011 at 11:48 am #

      I’ve read that Rosehip Seed Oil is good for healing/fading scars because it’s rich in Vitamins A & E and essential fatty acids. I’m planning to add it into my oil cleansing mix for an anti-aging boost!

  2. Shirley @ gfe August 28, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    Thanks for sharing! I have some castor oil. I bought it for an oil “pack” method to get rid of pain I was having in my legs a few years back … an alternative treatment for sure. Anyway I never used either the oil or the method. What about coconut oil? Isn’t that always a good one to use for the face? I’ve used it as a moisturizer before. I have read that when we have oily skin (as I do) that we think we need less oil, but in fact, using oil makes our skin less oily. I don’t remember the “why” though. I just go tthe MadeOn hard lotion to review. It contains beeswax, coconut oil, and shea butter. I’ll have to read if it’s designed for the face, too. It’s hard, but your body temp warms it up to spreadable consistency. The beeswax holds in the moisture. Anyway, thanks, Shannon! I’ll do some reading and give it a try!


    • tastyeatsathome August 28, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

      Shirley, I just recently started using coconut oil as my moisturizer – not just on my face either, but as an all over lotion. Love it. I have combination skin, and even in this dreaded heat we’ve been having, my face isn’t oily. In fact, it looks brighter. I haven’t heard of the Oil Cleansing Method, so thanks Shannon, I’m gonna have to check this out!

      • Shannon August 29, 2011 at 1:35 am #

        Hey y’all! :) I actually just bought some coconut oil a few days ago (really to use for cooking) and haven’t tried it as a moisturizer yet. But I’ve heard of a lot of people using it on their face too, so I’ll have to give it a try!

  3. Cathy August 30, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    Shannon, my Mom’s oldest sister (Aunt Frances) used oils/creams to cleanse/moisturize her face all her life…she just passed this year at 99 and has always had a soft, smooth complexion free of deep wrinkles! Amazing. I use coconut oil for both cooking and to slather on as a body moisturizer! I’ve read on some health/wellness sites that it is also good for health to ingest about a tablespoon of it a day! Love your blog!
    Cousin Cathy

    • Shannon August 30, 2011 at 8:55 am #

      Well, that’s all the endorsement I need to keep it up! I’m trying coconut oil this week since so many people love it, and I already had some for cooking. I really like it so far! Thanks for checking out the blog! :)

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