Growing up, I scrubbed my face with Noxzema and seared it with SeaBreeze Astringent Toner, bracing myself for the uncomfortable tingle, all in the name for keeping my skin oil-free and hopefully pimple-free. Do you remember those days too? It didn’t always work out that way, and I had some stressful times with acne as a teen and young adult. Since oil, both self-produced, in skin products and food was the enemy, I was surprised a few years later to learn about cleansing oils. These have become very popular in the past few years.
Likewise, we’ve come to realize that there are healthy oils and fats that we need to eat in moderation to keep our bodies functioning optimally. These supply essential fatty acids important for brain and nerve function, cardiovascular health and clear, radiant skin. It’s been great to tasty items like nuts, avocado, olive oil and coconut back into our diets in moderate quantities.
Armed with the thought that we could scrub out pimples and dry up oil, we were well-meaningly taught to vigorously cleanse our faces with bar soap, foaming cleansers and even ground up apricot pits. This served to strip the oil from our skin, leaving our largest organ feeling tight and dry. Our skin then over-compensates for the lack of moisture by creating more oil, and so the vicious cycle begins
But oil isn’t dirty. Instead it’s a healthy secretion that helps lubricate the skin. But when hormones, stress or over-cleansing cause pores to produce too much, this oil can become infused with bacteria, clog pores and cause acne.
So how might oil be used as a cleanser? It seems counter-intuitive, but different types of oils can be really effective cleansers. Stephanie Strauss of The Beauty Bottle offered these thoughts on the oil cleansing method: “Oil used to massage your skin will dissolve the oil that has hardened with impurities and found itself stuck in your pores. A steamy warm washcloth will open your pores, allowing the oil to be easily removed. Should you need it, the smallest drop of the same oil formula patted over damp skin will provide the necessary lubrication to keep your skin from over-compensating in oil production.”
She suggests a mixture of castor oil and sunflower seed oil, but olive, argon and coconut oils have also been used. Big name brands such as MAC, Shu Uemera, Laura Mercier, Josie Moran and Fancl produce popular cleansing oils for their lines.
If you want to try to make your own skin cleansing oil blend, Strauss suggests the following:
- Oily Skin: Try a blend of 30% Castor Oil to 70% Sunflower Seed Oil.
- Balanced Skin: Try a blend of 20% Castor Oil to 80% Sunflower Seed Oil.
- Dry Skin: Try a blend of 10% Castor Oil to 90% Sunflower Seed Oil.
You can try extra virgin olive oil instead of sunflower if you’d like, and she suggests making a batch and storing it in a clean 4 ounce flip top bottle. Most people do the oil cleansing method in the evening, and just use a soft washcloth and water in the morning. You’ll need a soft washcloth, the oil cleansing, and hot water. Massage the oil into your skin for a couple of minutes. She suggests you do some deep breathing and release stress while doing this facial massage. Then, hold a warm steamy washcloth on your face until it cools. Think of it as steaming your pores open. Then wipe your face with the washcloth, but don’t scrub. Rinse the washcloth, and then repeat a couple of times if necessary. The warm steamy washcloth is not a great choice for those with Rosacea, but I’ve loved the feel of my skin after trying this, especially on cold weather days. Let me know if you try it.