Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hygienic Hippies: Washing My Face With Oil- The Verdict

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.

Castor oil is the active participant that really cleans your face, so if you're going to do oil cleansing you must have it. I picked this castor oil up at Whole Foods for a pretty decent price. You want cold pressed and cold processed because this creates a more pure end product. It won't be in the oil section, it will be in the medicine/health and beauty section since technically one is not supposed to ingest it (although pregnant women past their due date do so often as a way to try and jump start labor, and I have seen it used as a "cleanse").
I picked up grapeseed oil because it is a thinner/lighter oil than olive oil. A lot of the oil cleansing method info on the 'net recommends sunflower oil, but grapeseed worked for me from the start so I'm not messing around with a good thing.
The ratios of castor oil to your oil of choice are totally dependent upon your individual skin type. The castor oil will actually dry your skin out if you use too much of it. I found that a 50/50 ratio worked perfectly. I do think that if you have oily skin or are acne prone you probably shouldn't go less than 50% castor oil, and maybe even a bit more. I found that 1/3 grapeseed to 2/3 castor oil was too much- after two nights, I started getting flaky.

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.


  1. Hey! I found your blog from "That Wife" who linked to your "no 'poo" post. (which i tired once and totally chickened out of on the 3rd day. FAIL!) Anyhow, if you've never tried Rodan and Fields Unblemish - it is the BEST product I have ever used. My friend who had hormonal cystic acne, used it and her face is better than ever. I never got bad cysts but I did gets tons of little white heads everywhere and those have been gone for months! Let me know if you want more info!

  2. Hey there, thanks for coming over :) I've never heard of that product but I'm always down to try new things. I'm off to Google it now!

  3. So...what did your research tell you? You can also google images of before and after or I can email you some. I loved the products so much that I became a rep for the company so I can share the love! I really love telling people about products that change their whole skin and in some cases helps change their lives. If you want more info...or to order and try (60 day money back guarantee!)...let me know. my email is cgreen41 hotmail (My name is Courtney (with a u)) :)

  4. Well, my concern is that the active ingredients in two of the products are ingredients I've tried on my face before, with no success. I've used another one of their products- Proactiv- once when it first came out and again back in 2006 after they improved the formula. I think what I'm going to do for now is to stick with my Retin-A/ oil cleansing experiment, and if that falls through then I will check out Unblemish. I will definitely e-mail you when I do, though!

  5. I could go on and on about why/how these products are far superior to Proactiv (which I used for 5 years). Step 3 has Benzol Peroxide in it, but it is separated from the rest of the ingredients because they found that it loses its effectiveness when combined. So it is much more effective than products that have the Benzol Peroxide mixed in. Anyhow...do what you gotta do! If you want, email me your email address and I can add you to my email newsletter list. I send it out once a month and it would be a great way to keep in touch! Hope you have a great week!

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