Guess what? I haven’t washed my face in two months! Shocking for someone dealing with acne. But wait a minute… let me tell you what I am doing – the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). Totally minimized my routine, saved me tons of cash, and now my skin is hydrated without increased breakouts.
In this article, we’ll go over the different oils, directions, and whether it works for acneic skin. Scroll to the very bottom to see the other homemade skincare weapons in my arsenal.
Oil cleansing is surprisingly logical. For one, it helps bring your natural oils back into balance, just like I talked about in my article on moisturizing with olive oil. For another, the OCM utilizes astringent oils that pull impurities out of the skin. What this leaves you with is clean skin that hasn’t been stripped of its natural moisture.
I’ve been a slave to skincare products for a couple decades. I started in junior high so by now the bill has racked up to thousands of dollars. This has always been the most tied-down, product-heavy area of my lifestyle.
Here’s why this is important to someone with acne.
If you use foundation or concealer to hide your acne, you will need to “wash” it off at the end of the day.
What I really wanted to do was stop washing my face entirely and let the natural oils do their thing. But… I have light scarring and uneven skin and some red pimples. I’m not comfortable being in social situations with a bare face. I aim to heal my skin enough to get there, but until I do…
At this point, I apply cover up on just those splotchy areas. This is a great step for me considering that for over a decade I covered my entire face in foundation every day to hide my acne.
My go-to cover up is Jane Iredale’s Disappear concealer. I love the results – it fades any redness and hides my zits decently enough. I haven’t found anything as effective so, for now, it’s worth the price! Though it works pretty dang well, it does not have an ingredients list I fully approve of. I share this with you in the spirit of full disclosure, and if you know of a product with a more pure ingredients list that works equally well, please share it in the comments!
If I’m having a low profile day around the house or just running errands, I don’t use any concealer or makeup. I figure I will eventually not have anything to cover up so using it is temporary!
Anyways, the point is that I need to remove my coverup at the end of the day, so doing nothing isn’t an option. I originally discovered the Oil Cleansing Method as a way to remove my makeup at the end of the day.
Make Your Mix
You start by creating your own, specific-to-your-skin mix of two different oils, a carrier and a cleanser. The ratio that depends on whether your skin is dry, oily, or normal. For example, you’d use less cleanser versus carrier if you have dry skin. The cleansing oils are naturally astringent and so great for pulling impurities out of the skin. The carrier oils help balance out your skin’s natural oils and moisturize.
Many people who switch over have noticed an adjustment period of a couple weeks as the skin’s natural oils balance out. I don’t remember having any adjustment, but just be aware in case it happens to you. Also, those with really dry skin may not be able to tolerate any amount of cleansing oil, and you can experiment with using one of the other oils as your carrier or just use one type of oil period.
Olive Oil (comedogenic?)
Coconut Oil (comedogenic?)
When you purchase your oils, make sure you get organic, cold pressed, and pure. Determining the best oils for your skin type and your ideal ratio might take a little while. For help deciding where to start, check out Mommypotamus’ article.
For the week until I knew the right mix for me, I just poured a little of each oil in my hand each night to mix. Eventually, I pre-mixed my preferred ratio in a glass bottle and I’ve been carrying that with me the last 40+ days of my North American road trip. So simple!
Despite my acne, I would say that my skin is more normal than oily. I have been using a mix of 1:1 jojoba oil to castor oil and that seems to work for me.
*A note on castor oil. I just started using hazelnut oil a couple of nights ago. I decided to switch after learning about the unsafe practices and toxicity to workers involved in the production of castor oil. The standard cleansing oil in pretty much every OCM article is castor oil, so I’ll give you an update later on how the hazelnut oil works as a sub. So far so good.
Clean Your Face with Oil
Massage a quarter-sized dollop of oil mix into your dry face. Work it in for a minute or two.
Soak a clean washcloth in hot water (but not so hot it can burn you), wring out, then apply to your face. Leave on for a minute or until it cools down. The steam helps the oils penetrate.
Use the washcloth to gently remove the remaining oil. Your skin will still have a light layer and feel hydrated and supple. That’s it!
But Does it Work for Acne?
As with hair and the no ‘poo method, the trend in the raw food and natural living world is towards not washing your face at all and letting your natural oils balance out. And there are many success stories out there. There are also a lot of people who say oil cleansing healed their acne. I think it depends on whether your skin problems were due to negative reactions to product ingredients, over-irritating the skin, or some other topical reason.
You can also find numerous success stories in forums, videos, and blogs where women have gone raw, healed their skin completely, and stopped using any products. Obviously diet has a huge effect on your skin. But sometimes even cleaning up your diet and skincare routine won’t cure acne if the underlying cause is hormonal or something more complicated. I’ve made all the right changes without the miraculous transformation.
Let me tell you about my results with Oil Cleansing.
I do this at night before bed and nothing in the morning. You can imagine how free I feel after 15+ years of cleanser, toner, acne gel, and moisturizer twice a day every day. Now I only have to travel with one skincare product! It’s even easy to do camping – I just wipe away the oil with a facecloth instead of steaming.
My skin feels more hydrated and supple since I started the OCM. I have been doing this for two months, and my acne has not gotten any worse. Yet, I have saved money and simplified my routine. That alone makes it worthwhile in my eyes. Under any pimples or old acne scars, my face looks dewy and wonderful.
I do think I’ve seen some improvement in my acne though it has not been a magical clearing. But then again, I’m working on hormonal acne. Just realize that the OCM is not your magic bullet for getting rid of acne if it’s due to hormones or diet. That being said, it probably won’t hurt anything, and you might be one of those success stories.
One warning for those of you who are acne-prone.
Finding the right oil mix for your skin is very individual and might take some tweaking. There is a lot of variation online for which oils are recommended and which carrier oils are said to be comedogenic. I’d say to start with a couple and test things out on your own skin to see how it responds.
Here are some examples. Coconut oil is said to be comedogenic, but at the same time, there are many people who swear by it. I started off using it, and it repeatedly gave me these little white heads around my mouth. I’ve also heard that olive oil is comedogenic, but I haven’t experienced that one myself. I’ve even heard that jojoba oil is comedogenic, and I’ve been using it fine for 2 months.
Grapeseed oil is said to be good for sensitive skin since it is non-allergenic. That might be a safe one to try, especially if you have oily skin.
Beyond the Oil Cleansing Method
I used to routinely exfoliate and since I started doing the OCM, I ditched all my other routines and only did the oil. After a while I could tell that there was a natural build-up of dead skin cells on my face. So, I added an exfoliation each week, and that did the trick. I’ve been experimenting with food based recipes with ingredients from my kitchen.
Among my favorites are:
The strawberry banana acne mask from The Flaming Vegan which uses mashed banana and strawberries applied to the skin for 15 minutes. Salicylic acid in the strawberries works on the acne while the bananas hydrate. Those are two pretty easy fruits to have around. In the winter, thaw out frozen strawberries to use. It tingled while the mask was on, and afterwards it did feel like any buildup was removed.
The nutmeg exfoliator from Crunchy Betty. I mixed ground nutmeg with non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened coconut-almond because that’s what we had) in the palm of my hand and then massaged it into my face for 5-10 minutes. I think I’ll be incorporating that one weekly. My skin felt really smooth and soft afterwards with no irritation. And all I really needed was ground nutmeg, which apparently is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and astringent. But also nourishing, who knew?
To spot-treat zits, I use tea tree oil in a base of castor oil. Just a few drops tea tree in an ounce of castor. Then I dab a little on each active whitehead or pimple in the evening after oil cleansing and by morning it’s usually on its way out.
Now your turn. What’s your favorite oil mix for the OCM? Leave it in the comments.