For the most part, we are a culture obsessed with personal cleanliness; we have shelves brimming with soaps, shampoos, deodorants, cleansers, anti-bacterial wipes and a host of other products to keep us fresh and sparkling.
But what if we have it all wrong?
And now, even face soap – one of the most sacred weapons in the beauty routine arsenal – is being ditched by a legion of reformed women who have turned to cleaning their faces with oil.
Why would someone clean their face with the very thing they are trying to remove from their face? Well, there are plenty of reasons, and they make perfect sense, as crazy as it may sound. Consider the following:
It actually cleans your skin
Dr. Heather Rogers, a Seattle dermatologist, told Today.com that scientifically speaking, the oil cleansing method (OCM to those in the know) is logical.
“The concept is that like dissolves like,” she said. “If you put oil onto your skin, it will then combine with the oils that are layered on your skin. ... It will also cut through some of the dirt, and the grease.”
Many OCM adherents use a mix of castor oil with another type of oil; and as it turns out, castor oil is close to a surfactant, an important substance in soaps. “Castor oil, it’s actually closer to a surfactant than the other oils,” Rogers said. In castor oil, she explains, “there’s a part that likes oil, so it connects to the oil on your skin, and there’s a part that likes water, so it allows the oils to be carried away by the water."
While soap strips away the natural oils in your skin and can lead to dryness, oil doesn’t, leaving skin quenched and potentially alleviating your need to apply moisturizer.
It can clear up acne
For many people, cleansing with oil works to clear acne. A post on acne.org notes that most commercial facial cleansers and toners use chemicals to strip the skin’s oil, an action that irritates the skin and causes it to produce more oil as a result. “When done properly and consistently, the OCM can clear the skin from issues like oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, blackheads, whiteheads and other problems caused by mild to moderate acne — while leaving your skin healthy, balanced and properly moisturized,” says the site.
It’s potentially better for your health
Do you need to be slathering your face with petroleum distillates, parabens, sodium laurel sulfates and synthetic fragrances? If you select cold-pressed or expeller-pressed organic oils, you will be treating your face to sumptuous natural products that are better for your body and, depending on the oils you use, easier on your wallet.
It’s better for the planet
Soaps with triclosan and other chemicals end up going down the drain … and then find their way to aquatic habitats. In rivers and streams, these chemicals are thought to affect how fish mate and spawn, scientists warn, even when the substances are not present at levels high enough to cause visible damage.
Although it might take a few weeks for your skin to adjust, most OCM advocates testify to softer skin and a big boost in the radiance department.
No need to pre-clean your skin, just give it a quick rinse with warm water. Pour some oil in your hand and rub it gently all over your face. Massage for two minutes and then let sit for 30 seconds. Soak a washcloth in hot water and cover your face with it; leave it there for 15 seconds or so, then begin to wipe the oil away. Rinse the washcloth and repeat until the oil is gone.
You get to make custom blends
Because who doesn't like to play scientist from time to time? Unlike pre-made commercial products, you can customize the oils you use. You can start with castor oil for its surfactant-like properties and its low cost, but it can be drying so other oils can be added. Crunchy Betty, the blog that has become the go-to place for all things OCM, recommends the addition of the following oils:
Jojoba: all skin types, but very desirable for acne-prone skin
Sweet almond: all skin types, especially oily
Grapeseed: all skin types, especially oily
Avocado: dry and aging skin
Sunflower seed: all skin types
Apricot kernel: dry, aging and normal skin
Argan: all skin types, especially aging skin
Plus, you can add a few drops of pure essential oil for an extra kick. And note: while coconut oil is truly a wonder, it is a comedogenic and may block pores, so it may be best to skip this one for cleansing.
For more on incorporating oils into your beauty practice: