Monday, August 15, 2011

You want me to put WHAT on my face to clean it?

This weekend I decided to do a little research into the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM for short).

A lot of beauty bloggers love OCM. It's a favorite recommendation on rosacea and acne forums too, which is what started me down the research path. Because, let's face it, I'm soon to be 37 years old, with very oily skin and I'm still breaking out like a teenager in spots, let alone the itchy, burning, red hell that is rosacea. I'll try anything that's supposed to help those two conditions at least once, though the thought of putting oil on my oily face didn't make sense. The proponents of the method rave about it, especially OCM's ability to clear the pores of old, deeply set-in plugs. Some people talk about the oil massage part feeling like they were using a facial scrub from the number of plugs that were coming out. The articles I read made a good argument for at least giving it a go, so it was with a "Oh, what the hell" attitude that I decided to do just that.

I did okay in high school Chemistry but nearly flunked out of college Chemistry, so the only thing I really know about the mechanics of the oil cleansing method is that like dissolves like, although if you click that link, consider yourself warned for a very long Wikipedia article on solubility.

There are all kinds of recipes online to use in OCM. Most of them boil down to a mixture of Castor Oil and a carrier oil, such as Olive Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Sunflower Oil, etc. Some recipes tell you to use more Castor Oil and less carrier oil, some do the opposite. Some say you should NEVER use more than few drops of Castor Oil, some have it as much 70% of the mixture. That's not even starting on the essential oils you can add to the mix to give you even more skin benefits. But the basics are this - Castor Oil acts as a cleansing agent and the carrier oil acts to dilute the Castor Oil (which is very thick and viscous) so it will sink into your pores and clean out all the yucky stuff, as well as provide skin moisturizing and nourishing benefits.

Confused yet? Yeah, me too. Still, we must press on in the name of science and skin relief!

So far, I've used OCM three times at home. I decided to try a simple mixture of Castor Oil and Sweet Almond Oil, since it was a recommended carrier oil for oily, sensitive and *ahem* aging skin types. I am using the basic method of cleansing using OCM, which is as follows:

1. Wash your hands well, then mix your oils. Some people use their hand for this. I use a small glass container and a measuring spoon that I wash out with soap every night.

2. Apply the oil to your face. Some people recommend getting your face a little wet before taking this step, some say to just put it on top of your makeup because the oil will clean off your makeup too. It's really up to you what's best for you. I tend to wet my face with a little warm water.

3. Warm the oil in your hands a bit, then massage the oil into your face, starting at the center and working out toward your hairline. Do this for X number of minutes (I haven't been keeping track so for me the time is "Until my arms get tired and I want to stop.")

4. Wet a wash cloth or face towel in hot water, the hottest water you can stand. Wring it out and put it on your face, on top of the oil. Don't rub. Don't scrub. Just sit there under the wash cloth until it cools down, then gently wipe the oil from your face. Repeat as needed until your face feels clean.

Here are the results so far:

Day 1: 2-to-1 mixture of Castor Oil and Sweet Almond Oil. Massaged in and steamed/removed once. My face felt clean, not too tight, but slightly itchy.

Day 2: 2-to-1 mixture of Sweet Almond Oil and Castor Oil. Massaged in and steamed/removed once. Definitely some plug removal and "scrubby" feeling during the massage. Not itchy afterwards. My face felt clean and moisturized. I skipped my evening moisturizer and just applied MetroCream afterwards. My face still felt very smooth the next morning, and not irritated.

Day 3: 2-to-1 mixture of Castor Oil and Sweet Almond Oil. Massaged in and steamed/removed once. Again, my skin felt clean, just a bit tight and slightly itchy again. This makes me think that the oily skin recipe that is heavier on the Castor Oil is a little too much for my skin. On the upside, I am seeing a bit of the "glowy" effects you're supposed to get from OCM, and this morning applying my BB cream (the use of which is another post for later), my skin took it effortlessly and felt very smooth indeed.

So far, I like the results from OCM. I tend to keep Sweet Almond Oil and Castor Oil in the house anyway, so I haven't lost any money from trying this method out. I haven't had any breakouts from the "purging" yet, and my face does feel clean but not stripped and the redness from my rosacea seems to be calming down a bit. We'll see how this goes!


  1. I just tried it with fifty fifty castor oil and olive oil. Then I showered. I feel clean but not dry. Will try it again tomorrow and see if any crap comes loose. I am very zit prone (still! At my age!) and am also starting to get my first fine lines, so if something cheap actually works, I am all for it.

  2. Is this a just-at-night thing to take off makeup, or both morning and night?

    Cause I have the oiliest skin EVER, I don't break out much but I really get the wet sheen that no blotting paper or powder can control.  And if this might help, well, I'm willing to give it a go.  Also where does one find oils like that? 

  3. For me it's a just-at-night thing. Some people use OCM twice a day and swear by it. I'd say try it once a day to start and go from there.

    I got my oils at my local food Coop. (Joey and I are Coop owners), but you can usually get them at a well stocked grocery store with a natural care aisle, a Whole Foods, or a local naturalist/herbal remedy shop, or even a massage or yoga studio.

    Castor oil is about $5 for a small bottle and I think my sweet almond oil was $9. Both bottles will last me for a good three months or so considering that you use about a teaspoon of oil per cleansing.

  4. You're such a trove of information!  Thank you.  :-)  (I tried to make this a reply but I don't think Disqus wants to listen to me tonight, sorry)

  5. I’ve been using the oil cleansing method for three weeks now. While I have noticed some real improvements I have also began to break out in an area that was once clear. I have since lowered my castor oil dosage and raised the sunflower oil dose. After a small break in cleansing (4 days)I have started a new system where I cleanse every other day. I guess my question is how long should the adjustment period take? Should I try a different oil to end the new breakouts? HELP!!!


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