Okay, okay, you're going to think I've gone loonies. But for the past few weeks, I've been trying out this new facial cleansing method using oils - the Oil Cleansing Method, or OCM. No, these are not oil cleansers, they are pure, first cold press, straight up oils.
I know, you're thinking me smearing my face with oils would clog the hell out of my pores. I thought that too, until I tried it and was shocked to be proven wrong. Remember, your skin produces oil, so it's not like it can't take the substance. Also, the stuff that plugs up your pores are extra sebum and solidified oil and dirt. And sometimes, your pores can be clogged so deep down regular soaps and cleansers just can't reach them. But you know, where regular soaps and oils can't reach, there are other oils that can. That's basically the principle for this oil cleansing method - using oils to dissolve oils.
But first, the psychological hurdle. I think this is the biggest challenge for many people, myself included. Think about it this way, oil cleansers are becoming more and more popular these days. However, even though oil cleansers are oil-based, they also have other chemical ingredients and detergent that make them soluble in water so you can feel good about rinsing them off your face. Even then, it took me a looooooong time to work up the nerve to try an oil cleanser given the problems I've had with my oily t-zones. After a few years of using DHC olive oil-based Deep Cleansing Oil, the idea of putting oils on my face isn't that strange anymore. And yet, going from an oil cleanser to 100% oil was a bit scary still. I had to convince myself that I'm already putting oil on my face, and that it wouldn't hurt to put a little more :D
For a thorough introduction of the Oil Cleansing Method, its benefits, and specific how-to instructions, please visit The Oil Cleansing Method website. I got all my information from there and Makeup Alley. If you do a Google search for "oil cleansing method" or "OCM," you'll also find tons of information on this topics with several message boards where people discuss their run-ins with the oils.
1 - A "primary" cleansing oil
The primary cleansing oil must be Castor oil, which has "cleansing, healing, and anti-inflammatory characteristics," according to The Oil Cleansing Method. It can be found at a conventional grocery store among the "laxatives" (Castor oil is a natural laxative), or if it's not there then go to the pharmacy section and ask for it. At Whole Foods, health food stores, alternative medicine, or other herbal shops, it can be found around the bath & body section.
2 - A "secondary" carrier oil
The secondary carrier oil, as the website says, serves the purpose of "moisturizing, nurturing, and helping the Castor oil penetrate" deep into your skin to dissolve the sebum and solidified oil in addition to drawing the dirt out to the surface of your skin. Most people, including myself, use Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the secondary carrier oil. The Oil Cleansing Method recommends Sunflower Seed Oil. However, you could practically use any type of vegetable oil you wish, provided the oil is the first cold press. There are folks who mix a few types of secondary oils together, like olive and jojoba, adding in a few drops of essential oils even for aromatherapy. If you're starting out though, I would recommend sticking with the basic recipe. You don't know how your skin will respond yet, so it's best not to experiment at this stage. There isn't an exact brand to use either, so just pick one you like. Most people just use whatever that's in their kitchen!
The Personal Blend
The oil blend itself is customized to the need of your skin. If your skin is oily, use 75% Castor oil and 25% secondary oil. If your skin is dry, use 25% Castor oil and 75% secondary oil. Most people start out with 50-50% and then adjust as needed.
Right now, I use 25% Castor oil and 75% Olive oil for my combination dry. I may adjust to use less Castor oil, depending on my skin's moisture level in the next few weeks. And even though this oil cleansing method is effective in my case, it should not be used frequently. OCM is absolutely NOT for daily use, as the Castor oil will deep fry your skin. My regiment is every 3rd night. With the nights in between, I just use my regular DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.
What To Do
You will need your personal oil blend, a wash cloth, and hot water:
- Start with your dry face, and there's no need to remove makeup prior. After all, this is a cleansing method. If you need to clean your face to...clean it, what's the point? Just letting you know, OCM took my waterproof sunscreen right off, so it isn't exactly wimpy...
- Using circular motion, slowly and deeply massage a good amount of the oil blend onto your face for 2-3 minutes.
- Wet the wash cloth in hot water, wring it out, and press it against your face until it cools (about 30 seconds). Yes, this is to open up your pores with the hot steam, making it easier for the dissolved oil and loosened dirt to be wiped clean.
- Use your cooled wash cloth to gently wipe the oil residue off of your face.
- Rinse oil residue from the wash cloth with hot water, wring, and repeat the steaming again before using the cooled wash cloth to wipe more oil off.
Most people do the steaming 2-3 times. Personally, I found that steaming any more than 3 times will dry my skin out! Also, when I'm too thorough or harsh with wiping the residue oil off, my skin will also dry out. When this happens, I just dab a tiny tiny little bit of Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream wherever it feels dry, usually right above my lips, around the laugh lines, and the ball of my cheeks. Other than that, a separate moisturizer is not required for most folks.
Many people use this oil cleansing method right before bed. I am a bit nervous about it still, so I do this before my night shower. Unlike other commercial oil cleansers that requires a follow up cleanser to get rid of the residues, it is NOT recommended to use an additional facial cleanser after OCM. I don't use an additional cleanser in the shower with OCM, and I could imagine another cleanser would have a drying effect with my skin.
The Typical Experience
With OCM, most people experience at least 1 of the below:
1. A temporary enlargement of their pores: it makes sense, because of the heat generated while you're massaging the oil into your skin and also during steaming. Someone offers another explanation that because oil and dirt are being drawn to the surface of your skin, they make your pores appear larger as they make their way out. After you have wiped the oil residue off and give your face some time cool off, everything will return to normal.
2. The sensation of tiny sand-like grains: guess what they are - yes, sebum, and solidified oil and dirt! Eww... Of course it depends on how congested your skin is too, so not everyone experiences this. I felt several grains the first time, and subsequently after that I felt only a couple each time.
3. Other: depending on the condition of your skin, you may experience some purging (minor blemishes and blackheads, NOT cystic acne) as you would with other commercial cleansing oils, you may experience a brightening effect, a total change in skin texture, etc., the list goes on...
4. Adverse reaction: as in, massive breaking out due to irritation. Unfortunately, OCM doesn't work for everyone. When this happens, most people tweak their oil blend to use a different secondary oil (olive, jojoba, and sunflower seed oil aren't for everybody!), switch back to their oil cleansers, or just stop using OCM altogether and go back to their previous routines.
It took me 3 weeks to notice clearer, smoother skin with less obvious pores, although they haven't disappeared (and they're not going to!). If you're looking for something that will make your pores disappear, OCM won't be that miracle (and I don't know if such miracle exists). BUT, if it works for you it will clear out the gunk in your skin, allowing your pores to function properly as they should be.
I would say OCM has evened out my skin tone as well as I used to get some blotches every once in a while due to the oiliness of my t-zones and the dryness of my cheeks. In addition, occurence of the occasional pimple reduced substantially (with the exception of the inevitable one or two during, you know, that time of the month...). Despite my expectation of a huge eruption shortly after the first stint, it never came!
Another thing I experienced was the brightening effect. After the first couple of times, the next day I would look like someone's shining a flashlight onto my face - all day long! It wasn't a soft focus or inner glow or hazy-after-bath glow like some people reports but was just a very strange but obvious brightening. I reckon it's not a bad thing :D
I took these pictures just yesterday night, right after showering and towel-drying my hair. I had no makeup on. Not even moisturizers. Just bare skin! And these pictures are not doctored, cause that would defeat the whole purpose of posting to begin with! As you can tell, I'm not exactly good at taking pictures of myself. The angle is kind of strange because I don't know the "right" angle or the "good" pose. In addition, holding the camera up to my face is just a bitch! See why I don't do FOTN very often? It's such a pain!
I am very happy with my results, although now I'm kind of bummed about not taking a "before" picture...Damn! Didn't even occur to me when I started OCM! I really was skeptical about it, so I didn't expect much. Oh well...
I know lots of folks have been using Extra Virgin Olive Oil as a facial moisturizer, body oil, hair mask, etc. I'm not quite there yet, at least not with my current beloved Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream. Using oil to clean my face is already a giant step for me. I know, I'm a total chickenshit!
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