Oil Cleansing Method

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.

The verdict?

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?


Although I find the word “foodie” to be so 2008 there is no denying my husband and I are foodies. Exotic food, comfort food, unusually made food – we like to read about it, taste it and learn about it. There are few foods I draw the line at (ok fine, no mushrooms please) and if I had to collect anything, it would be cookbooks.

(Side note: I find the world “collect” to be very scary because all it take is some subtle mention in a conversation that you like owls, or salt and pepper shakers and then everyone gloms onto it and you become that weird 80 year old lady whose home is full of owls of all shapes and sizes, brought home in suitcases and from craft fairs and lovingly made by great grandchildren with an abundance of Elmer’s glue and craft feathers. Sadly, you realize, you really only liked that one original owl, but hey you collect them now! Enjoy your owls you crazy old bat!)

Anyway. B and I take certain “holidays” (I use the term loosely) to break open some of the fancier cookbooks and make more complex meals together while listening to old jazz & drinking red wine. Yesterday I told B the time had come to select a menu for February 14th (since we refuse to pay too much for a boring prix fix menu) and we decided to once again make a meal from our favorite of all culinary guides:

Bow down taste buds, bow down. We settled on caramelized sea scallops & asparagus coins, and by “we” I mean B, while I dutifully wrote down the ingredients before heading to the grocery store. After dinner last night (a simple red pepper and asparagus risotto) I figured I should look at the recipes for today before going to bed, just in case something needed to do its thing overnight. Which is why last night B and I found ourselves whipping up parsley water, clarified butter and chive oil.


I think we can all agree that next year I’ll be choosing the recipes.

Table for Two

It is a truth, universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a February calendar is in need of a smack upside the head.

She most likely takes one of two routes, a) the bitter whiner who moans about being alloooone in the world or b) the overzealous significant other who wants to wax on about her “perfect” schmoopie whilst simultaneous demanding flowers, dinner, chocolates and jewelry, demanded while updating her Facebook status continually about her “Amazing Man.”

Myself? I prefer to celebrate February 15th, the greatest day of the year, also known as Half Priced Chocolate Day. I stop by Godiva every year to scoop up a heart shaped box of my favorite ganaches at 50% off and I enjoy every morsel of them while tucking away the sweet card B gave me the day before.

I could go on and on about B now, telling you how perfect he is and how much I love him, while insinuating that no one else will ever be as lucky as me because I married him and you didn’t, neener neener neener. But I won’t – because seriously y’all, you know that I married him. Clearly I’m in love with him. No need to beat a dead horse. He is perfect for me and that is what matters. We celebrate that every day with little things, big actions and kind words, and we use February 14th as a reason to make a nice meal at home and swap cards with hand-written sentiments inside.

No, I abhor Valentine’s Day becuase it brings back all your insecurities of those stupid middle school candy-gram swaps, while you sat with a hollow feeling tummy as the class Secretary handed out the candy-grams to your class, your heart beating quickly as she passed your desk – maybe this one is for me?! - before dropping off the box of confection hearts or stupid carnation at the person who sat behind you. It was always a competition to see who got the most tokens of affection, and simple math tells me it was only one girl per school which means the vast majority of women stood back feeling a smidgen disappointed. These feelings of disappointment are brought to the surface every year, turning them into the aforementioned bitter Betty or simpering Sallie come February. And lets face it, no one likes Betty or Sally.

I like to use Valentines Day as a day to celebrate all my loves. Send my friend’s funny cards with some chocolate. Send my parent’s a gift card to go to the movies together. Remind my brother that even though we gave each other noogies for 10 years straight, hey dude, I love you. I’ll send my nephew a cartoon card and stick a dollar inside for his piggy bank and I’ll put a note in my husband’s lunch box reminding him that I’m his Valentine for forever so you know, ball/chain, how does eternity feel to you? I’ll end it with a smiley face of course. Obviously.

So, on the Friday before Valentines Day I encourage you to cancel those over priced dinner reservations with a fixed menu (chicken, steak or butternut squash ravioli) and remember that lovers don’t let lovers eat at a table for two that used to be a table for four but has been retrofitted to cram as many couples into the room as possible while drinking the complimentary (read: horrific) red martini complete with swizzle stick shaped liked Cupid’s bow. It just isn’t right man.

Face Time

Today I’m over at the Curvy Girl Guide talking about skin and face products (that sound you heard was all the men clicking the “X” button in the right hand corner) – come on over and enter to win a $25 Sephora gift card. Good luck!

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