Oil: Not Just For Cooking Anymore!

Alright ladies, listen up—I’m about to speak some truth.

Ready? Here it is.

We live in an oil-centric world.

There, I said it. Can we all just agree on this simple fact? I mean, this blog isn’t about gas prices or politics or billionaire oil tycoons or conflict in the middle east, so we don’t even need get into those things…but I think we can all agree that from our cars to our cooking,  we are totally digging the oil. (HA! No pun intended—slash—pun totally intended!) Agreed? Awesome.

NOW…One thing that I do NOT depend on oil for?

Washing my face.

Until now.

But first, here is some more real talk: I have problem skin. Always have, and I’m afraid I always will. I’m never without a “blemish”… and around that super-fun time of the month, it can get downright 13-year-old-girlish around here. I’ve tried different skincare lines, different scrubs, different spot treatments…I’ve gotten facials, I’ve upped my water intake, I wash my pillowcases often, I’ve switched my makeup, I’ve bought the Clarisonic…I’ve prayed, I’ve meditated, I’ve screamed, I’ve cried…well, you get the picture.

Acne is one of life’s totally-not-fun things. Here is what my skincare arsenal looked like last week.

But what if it looked like this……?

Crazy, yes?

I was listening to the Simple Mom podcast on Homefries last week, and in one of the episodes Tsh and her guest Megan from SortaCrunchy talked about how they both are WASHING THEIR FACES WITH OIL. This necessitates the all caps and bold type because, as you can imagine, I was like, “There is NO WAY that ANYONE washes their face with OIL. NO. WAY.”

My years of acne warfare has taught me that oil is the enemy. Your face is oily, the oil clogs your pores, you get huge zits. That is the way of the world. You must get rid of the oil with gritty cleansers and benzoyl peroxide and harsh astringents. And then you must soothe your dry, flaky, raw skin with lotion that has more benzoyl peroxide and nasty chemicals in it. And then pray whilst standing at the ready with your salicylic acid spot treatment, just in case it becomes necessary to burn your face off with acid. That is just the way it goes.

But…this washing your face with oil idea? I was intrigued. Very intrigued. My insatiable curiosity, combined with my total aversion to actually work when I’m at work, meant that I had to learn more. I read Megan’s post about washing her face with oil, and I googled more.

Turns out, it sorta makes sense…!!

Harsh cleansers strip your face of all of it’s natural oils—the ones that keep your skin moisturized and protected. When you strip those oils, your skin goes into oil production overdrive trying to replace them. Your skin gets greasy and your pores get clogged. You wash your face again. Your skin in freaking out. Vicious cycle ensues.

BUT. Basic chemistry tells us that “like dissolves like”. I drew doodles on my binder in chemistry class all those years ago and forgot this basic concept, but it sounds vaguely familiar. Anyway, the concept of “The Oil Cleansing Method”, or OCM, is that you use a combination of oils with cleansing and moisturizing properties to cleanse your skin. The oils dissolve the excess oil on your face and in your pores, wash away dirt and take off your makeup. Then you rinse your face with a steamy hot washcloth—i.e., plain old water—and you’re good to go.

Worth a try? I debated for several days. I read and re-read articles. Then I decided. WHY THE HECK NOT? My zillion-dollars-worth of Proactiv isn’t helping me much. Why not try something totally out of the box?

There is a long list of possible oil combinations—everything from avocado to sunflower to grapeseed oils. After some research and a trip to Whole Foods and my own pantry, here is what I ended up with:

1. Castor Oil: Your main cleansing oil. Cold expeller-pressed.

2. Sweet Almond Oil: Also expeller-pressed. A light and really moisturizing oil.

3. Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Another good moisturizing oil, and a little cheaper than the other two oils.

4. Tea Tree Essential Oil: Good for acne—add a drop or two each time you wash your face.

I found an empty travel-size plastic bottle in my bathroom cabinet and I made some hash marks on it for mixing my oils. I decided to go with a 1/3 castor, 1/3 almond, 1/3 olive oil mix.

The castor oil went in first. The almond went on top of that—it’s less dense than the castor oil and floated on top. The olive oil went in last—much richer in color and also dense like the castor oil. A good shake and a good labeling—and you’re set.

Now, you know that if I’m really going to try this crazy idea, I’m going to have to document it. Documenting it properly requires “before” pictures. Putting “before” pictures of your broken-out face with no makeup on the internet is vaguely terrifying. But, since I’m big on the real talk today, here you go:

Cropping the pictures made them look slightly less awkward. (And only very slightly less terrifying. Now I know why they put those big black bars over people’s faces in embarrassing pictures.) You can see that I really break out around the corners of my mouth, also I have this big blemish right on the edge of my lip and several large blemishes on my cheeks and my temples. Other than that, I just have a lot of uneven skin tone from past breakouts, large and plugged up pores, some dry flaky skin, and a lot of hope that the oil cleansing method will work it’s magic on my poor little face. I’ve read a lot of rave reviews, so I’m ready for it to completely revolutionize the way I care for my skin.

Clarisonic, stand down!

I might not need you for a while.

How about you? Have you ever heard of the Oil Cleansing Method? Ever tried it? I’d love to hear your experience…and stay tuned for updates on my oil cleansing method adventure!