If you are looking for a more natural route you may be interested in the Burt's Bees line. They even have an acne line. I didn't even try their acne stuff because they have other cleansers that are also very beneficial to skin regardless of acne or not. Plenty of reviews out there of acne prone people finding success with their cleansers in general. I am one of them. It would probably be a good product to use in conjunction with the rest of your regimen. Or they have it all to formulate your own from their products.
I would not use Olive Oil for OCM. The majority of people who have bad experiences with OCM start with Olive Oil. Here is an article someone wrote about trying and troubleshooting OCM. First on the list is no olive or coconut oils.
The trick to all of this is to know your skin and know ingredients. You should be able to formulate your "perfect" product as if you were going to make it (like what Dan did) and then go out and find a product that is closest. With as many stores and online stores selling products, you can find pretty much any formulation. There is even an online store where you can purchase glycerin and lotion bases so that you can buy the ingredients you want and then mix your own.
The best advice I saw in the original post was to NOT go off of the claims on the packaging. I don't care how "gentle, mild, non-comedegenic, or non-drying" the packaging says. Many times the ingredients will not hold up to its claims. They make their money off of ignorance and people who do not do their research. Many of the Eucerin, Clinique, and Purpose cleansers have ingredients similar to shampoo - so stop wasting your money and you might as well use your shampoo to wash your face. My hubby does it with no issues. If you're sensitive to fragrance I wouldn't use shampoo, but otherwise seriously, there are quite a few similarities. Paula's Choice is little different, even including one of my skin's favorites, Sunflower Oil Even though it is kinda far down the list. In my cleanser it is the second ingredient and I chose that cleanser bc of its ingredients, not because of what the package says.
There are many essential oils that are beneficial to skin if you do your research, even eucalyptus oil. I use tea tree oil. I also use witch hazel (a little diluted) and it works great for me. All of these were on the original post's irritant list.
Resources I use to research products:
Reviews (especially makeup alley)
EWG Skin Deep's database of ingredients
YouTube reviews where you actually get to SEE the results of products being reviewed
Yes, this takes a lot of trial and error but do not just mindlessly try products according to advertising. Start reading all ingredients and keeping track of what works and what doesn't. You will probably start noticing a pattern. I would spend 20 minutes in the skin care isle just looking up ingredients on my phone. It wasn't until I started doing this when my skin finally started to get clear. I also realized that nothing in the drug store isle was even close to a formula I wanted to put on my skin. I do love Burt's Bees though, and they have conveniently expanded to big retailers like Target and Walmart.
So sorry smarie, I hope your skin gets better fast! I had one of my worst breakouts from some cover girl makeup that had myristate something or other in it and I remember how awful it was just all of a sudden and worse than I had ever seen my skin. I could not WAIT to get past that. I just threw out that makeup and continued with my current regimen and all went back to normal over a week or so. If I could pick a gentle cleanser now to calm skin like that it would have to be the Burt's bees line. I use the sensitive cleanser but if you read reviews a lot of their cleansers get great reviews from acne prone people just because it DOES allow your skin to stay at a normal pH. It has a lot of beneficial ingredients in it and nothing that should aggravate you more. It's super gentle and moisturizing. That's what I would try.
The oil cleansing method worked for me but the first and only oils I tried seem to work for more people than olive oil or coconut oil which seem to be the top oils mentioned on introductory how-to's and I don't know why. I used grapeseed oil and sunflower oil (very close to safflower oil) and while I decided not use OCM as a sole way to clean (time consuming, went through so many washcloths lol) I still use the mix of those oils as makeup remover, I add some to my toner, and I have used it as a moisturizer too. My skin was so healthy using OCM. I guess I got really lucky. I would not use oils from a grocery store unless it was whole foods and the oils were all organic and expeller pressed oils. I did a lot of research before choosing my oils.
You never know what makes the difference but in case someone looking to do OCM reads this, it did work for me and my skin loved it. I think you just have to find the right oils and for many acne sufferers it's not in olive or coconut oils. I used a small amount of castor oil too, not a lot at all.
You're right, it does take patience and it is the worst waiting game. You'll get through it though and leave this all behind. Crossing my fingers for you that your new regimen will solve it quickly!