For the past few months I haven’t been particularly happy with my skin – it hasn’t seemed nearly as smooth and my glow is gone, replaced by a lovely mid-day oil slick across my forehead. Last week I was dutifully compiling my research and anecdotes for a Curvy Girl Guide article on dealing with adult acne and I kept coming across the Oil Cleansing Method on the internet. I’d heard of it before when some other bloggers mentioned trying it and I was intrigued to say the least. The final straw came when I was fiddling around with the camera on my new iPhone 4 a few days later (higher resolution and a ZOOM -HELLO FACE) and realized that all these fancy cameras…. make the make-up I’m using to cover my skin up look like lumpy clown paint.
The oil cleanse method was looking better and better.
I googled around so I could read every blogger ever who had tried it and then I checked out the page that seems to be the OCM bible. I also realized my most favorite Cetaphil “oily skin” cleanser is actually made with castor oil……armed with knowledge (power!) I hit up my local Whole Foods for supplies- a pump bottle, castor oil and sunflower seed oil. I picked these oils after reading about different mixtures (some people like extra virgin olive oil, others claim it is too heavy) although sweet almond oil, jojoba and grapeseed oil seemed popular as well. The only “must” is the castor oil, which is the cleansing component.
- The actual oil blend: my first blend was 25% castor oil & 75% sunflower seed oil. I used this for two cleanse cycles and started developing dry patches – I’d gone too heavy on my carrier oil (the castor) and too light on the hydrating oil. It also smelled…awful…due to the castor oil. Time to reformulate.
- I stopped at Trader Joes and picked up a bottle of tea tree oil and jojoba oil. I washed my pump bottle out and made a new blend: 20% castor oil, 25% jojoba oil and 55% sunflower seed oil with 3 drops of tea tree oil for added anti-septic properties and a fresh smell. (All in all I have invested about $20 at this point, although I credit that to the low low prices on tea tree oil at Trader Joes.)
Why these oils? The theory behind the OCM is that castor oil is actually an incredibly cleansing, detoxifying and oil-melting oil (after all: like dissolves like) that is the perfect molecular build up to sink deep into your skin, like all those face washes promise to do. By mixing it with something clean and hydrating you dissolve all the crud in your pores and then provide natural moisture for your skin.
How do you do it?
- Start running your sink with hot water and soak a washcloth in it.
- Wash your hands and dry them.
- Now take a generous pump of your oil blend…and start rubbing it into your face. It dissolves make up (even mascara) and you just want to relax and rub it all in – play a song or two on your iPod, but give it time to really soak.
- Then, wring out your steaming hot washcloth and place it over your face until it cools off. Repeat this cycle a few times, letting your pores open up. They can then release the junk inside of them, and then oils can really sink in. After a few hot steams, wipe all the oil off with the warm wash cloth. Pat dry – if your skin feels dry, a smidge of jojoba oil rubbed in will do the trick.
I’m still in the “purge” stage, where all the gunk in my pores is coming to the surface and leaving a lovely trail of destruction, but in the areas where I’m not breaking out my skin looks pretty awesome. I’m only 5 days in and the pores on my nose and cheeks have gotten so small I really cannot see them any more. Yesterday was my first day in the office (i.e. wearing makeup all day) and when I got home my forehead oil slick was greatly diminished – I’m hoping it continues to calm down as I keep going with the OCM. I’m shocked at how smooth and glow-y my skin has gotten in less than a week and I’m hoping the purge part of the cycle is over quickly! The castor oil really is drying, so if you get dry patches reformulate your mix. I have added some VitaminE cream to the dry spots I got in the first few days, and they should be gone by tomorrow.
- Edited to add: I do the OCM in the evening, and then in the morning if I feel like I need it I use a small squirt of Cetaphil to rinse my face in the shower, followed by a thin thin layer of jojoba oil when I get out instead of my usual moisturizer. And as always, after that, a layer of sunscreen, I’m partial to Neutrogena.
- Edited to add (September, 2011): after using the OCM to get my skin where I wanted it, I only use it once or twice a week to get a good deep cleansing. The rest of the week I use Purity by Philosophy face wash, and either jojoba oil or Hope in a Jar (by Philosophy) to moisturize. Still partial to Neutrogena sunscreen. I also discovered the OCM blend is *perfect* for washing bike chain grease off your legs! Go figure.
So…what do you think?