This review is not going to be as straightforward as my review of the no 'poo method. However, I did love oil cleansing. It's just that, with my skin woes, things are always going to be a bit complicated...
The first three weeks of oil cleansing were incredible. I mean, off the charts, nothing has cleared my skin up that quickly without leaving it cracked and dry, outstanding results.
I followed the instructions outlined here. I massaged the oil mixture on to my dry face (makeup and all if you wear it, yes, really!) with clean hands. I thought it would feel gross to rub oil on my face, but it was actually pretty soothing. I massaged it in for a few minutes, and then I steamed my face. I did this by running a wash cloth under very hot water, wringing it out a bit, and then letting it sit on my face until it cooled (usually about 30 seconds). Once the cloth had cooled, I gently wiped off my entire face, rinsed the wash cloth, and repeated the process. Personally I do this 4 times. I find this is enough to get the oil off of the surface of my face, while still leaving enough to keep me moisturized. My first reaction on the first night of using the oil cleansing method: "Afterward my face didn’t feel dry, or oily, or tight, or anything. It just felt like normal, healthy skin. I did have a noticeable glow, and my pores were already much smaller. My skin was also much more even toned, and a few bumps I already had were noticeably decreased in size"
I continued on in this manner for a few more days. My skin kept getting better and better. It was glowing and soft, my pores were almost invisible, and my blackheads were disappearing. I also noticed a reduction in fine lines around my eyes- rubbing oil into your skin definitely helps in that regard. Bobby confirmed that the oil cleansing was the best thing I had ever done for my skin overall, because it worked immediately and didn't give me crappy side effects. He said that my skin looked 80% better from the 2nd day on. About 4 days in, I was googling around to get more information on castor oil, and I read that it is a natural anti-inflammatory, which explains why it helps with acne. I also found that the properties of castor oil allow it to penetrate the skin more deeply than other oils, which is why it can clean out your pores. And then, on a forum for oil cleansing, I stumbled upon a comment by a woman who said that oil cleansing was the only thing that cleared up her adult onset, cystic acne (oh, hello, that's me to a T). She mentioned that she rubbed in circles for at least 5 minutes, and usually 10, until she started to feel grit, like sand. I immediately remembered that I, too, had been feeling a grittiness after a few minutes- I assumed it was just my face oil reacting to the oil mixture, or dead skin being rubbed off. Turns out, it was neither of those things. She went on to say that if you look at your hands, you can see the blackheads/whiteheads that have been pulled out of your pores all over your palms. What the what? That is kind of gross but also a good way to tell if it works. That night, I massaged a bit longer, and worked the oil in deeper in places where I felt that gritty feeling. Sure enough, I looked at my palms (sorry if this is grossing any of you out) and there were flecks of black and white all over them- easily 20 or 30 flecks- aka 20 or 30 potential future blemishes that would have pissed me off. That was huge proof to me (on top of the way my skin was looking) that the oil cleansing method is legitimate. How many times had I scrubbed my skin with medicated exfoliating wash trying to get blackheads to go away? I can't even count. Yet I could gently rub oil into my face and those same stubborn jerks would just slide right out? Dammit, oil cleansing method, where have you been the last 13 years?!
Anyway, I was going right along having a grand old time with the oil cleansing method for right at 3 weeks. And then, out of nowhere, I started to break out, all along my jaw, the week before my period. Hormonal acne strikes again! However, even when broken out, my skin looked healthier than when I was on Retin-A, with clear skin that was cracked and dry, flaking constantly. So despite the breakout I kept at the oil cleansing, because the previous 3 weeks had proven to me that it wasn't the cause of it- my wonky body was. Thanks, ovaries.
The oil cleansing method takes a bit more time than just washing quickly with a face wash, but in my mind those extra 10 minutes a night are well worth it. I bike pretty much every day, at least 10 miles, and work out 6 out of 7 days a week. I had no problem getting sweat and grime and sunscreen and the occasional bit of powder/eye shadow off of my face with the oil. In the morning I would just gently wipe my face with a clean warm wash cloth, and then splash cold water on it and go. The hormonal breakout at the end of week 3 confirmed to me that I still need to get a handle on that side of things. For the last few days I've been experimenting with putting Retin-A on my face for two nights, taking a break for one night, and then repeating, and that has been working out really well. For anyone on Accutane or Retin-A or other drying medications for acne, the oil cleansing method will probably be a godsend. And I think that if you don't have acne prone skin the oil cleansing method will probably make your skin look even healthier than it already is. If you do have great skin, take a moment to realize just how incredibly lucky you are. Oh for the reckless joy of going to bed without washing one's face... or using a random drugstore mask and being able to relax without thinking, over and over again on a loop "isthisgoingtobreakmeoutisthisgoingtobreakmeoutOMGwhatifthisbreaksmeout". For 3 weeks out of 4, at least, the oil cleansing method lets me experience what it's like to be one of those people with good genes and good skin.