I have stopped buying commercial cleansers and toners for my face and basically switched to an all natural way to clean my face called the Oil Cleansing Method. My skin has NEVER LOOKED BETTER and since I've started I haven't had any breakouts. People of all skin types with all sorts of different issues (including acne) use the OCM and love it.
The Oil Cleansing Method/OCM
OK, this might sound scary to some of you but this cleansing method uses OIL directly applied to your face. Are you cringing yet? lol It breaks down like this: A common misconception concerning oil and acne is that oil causes acne. This is not true. Oil alone does not cause acne--other factors like age, hormones and prolonged clogging of the pores of trapped bacteria, dead skin cells and dirt are the actual contributors to acne. The sebum your skin naturally creates is there to protect and heal it. Ideally, oil is GOOD for your skin.
Water cannot dissolve oil, so the vast majority of today's cleansers and toners use chemicals to strip your skin of its oil which irritates it and causes it to produce MORE oil as a result. So why do SO many acne-related products say "oil-free"? Because the oil-acne myth is universally celebrated and sworn by and selling their products using the "oil-free" gimmick makes companies more money.
Fact: Oil dissolves oil. One of the most basic principals of chemistry is that "like dissolves like." The best way to desolve a non-polar solvent like sebum/oil, is by using another non-polar solvent similar in composition: Other oils. By using the right oils, you can cleanse your pores of dirt and bacteria naturally, gently and effectively, while replacing the dirty oil with beneficial ones extracted from natural botanicals, vegetables and fruit that heal, protect and nourish your skin. 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.
If you have severe or cystic acne, I recommend going to a dermatologist before you try anything else, including OCM, and working with one to find the best medical solutions for you.
The basic OCM blend is of castor oil and extra virgin olive oil. Castor oil is fantastic at drawing dirt, bacetria and other nasty stuff trapped in your pores, while healing your skin. Extra virgin olive oil works as a moisturizer and is fortified with antioxidants.
The ratio of castor oil to EVOO will vary depending on the person. The typical starting ratio is 50/50 castor oil to EVOO. For oily or acne-prone skin, a ratio of 75% castor oil to 25% EVOO will work better. For dry or flaky skin, a ratio 25% castor oil to 75% EVOO is good.
However, you should find the right blend for you. A lot of OCM users cut out the EVOO all together--especially those with oily or acne-prone skin, since it is a heavier oil and in rare cases has even caused people to break out. Many people replace it with other oils like Grapeseed oil, which is light, quick to absorb and is known for its astringent properties. Jojoba oil is another popular choice because it is a great natural moisturizer, is non-comedogetic and mimics the skin's own natural sebum. Other popular oils are Avocado oil, Apricot Kernal oil and Evening Primrose oil--all have extremely low pore-clogging probabilities.
I use 60% castor oil, 20% grapeseed oil and 20% jojoba oil. I also add Tea Tree oil, which is a great antiseptic and is popularly used as treatment for acne. Another great oil to use for acne-prone/oily skin is Hazelnut oil, which I, personally, will be trying out next (swapping out the grapeseed for it).
How to do OCM
- You take some of your oil blend and massage it into your face (have you fainted, yet?). Do it gently and avoid scrubbing because that can be irritating to your skin.
- Then, you take a washcloth dampened in warm to hot water (depending on your tolerance--but don't burn yourself!) and drape it over/hold it up to your face and leave it there until it's around room temperature. What you're doing is steaming your face and opening your pores so the castor oil can draw out the dirt and dead skin cells and the other oil(s) can condition your skin. Take this time to relax or unwind.
- After you're done, gently massage the oil on your face again to free all of the trapped dirt and dead skin cells. Rinse off your washcloth, wring it out and steam your face again. This can be repeated as many times as you like, depending on how much time you have on your hands. It may take you a few OCM sessions to get your routine down and maximize your time efficiency.
- When you've finished steaming, rinse off your washcloth, wring it out and gently start wiping the oil away. This gets rid of the dirt and dead skin cells you have freed that can lead to acne. Depending on how freaked out you are by now, you can rinse the washcloth off and keep wipe again to make sure the excess oil is off of your face. Then, splash your face with cold water to close your pores and then pat your face dry.
There are two different types of oil for OCM: Carrier oils and Essential oils. Carrier oils (or "fixed oils") are good base oils to penetrate your skin and maximize the delivery of essential oils. Essential oils are strong, concentrated oils, commonly extracted from botanicals and fruit, that are used in small amounts and heavily diluted in other (carrier/base) oils. Different oils of both carrier and essential have their own preferred uses and benefits for different types of skin issues. Essential oils are not a necessity for OCM to work, as carrier oils already do a great job at it, but if you like experimenting or want to tailor your blend further for your own skin, using the right essential oils may be beneficial.
Castor oil, Extra Virgin Olive oil, Jojoba oil, Grapeseed oil and Hazelnut oil are classified amongst carrier/fixed oils. Other oils like Tea Tree oil are essential oils.
OCM is also, apparently, great for removing makeup (apply the oil directly over the makeup).
The best part of OCM? Your face is not greasy afterward and it is properly moisturized--no more need for irritating chemical toners and astringents or those crappy moisturizers that just add chemicals to your skin which clogs your pores. If you do find that your skin starts to become a little on the dry side (which does happen with some people), try using a very small dab of EVOO or Jojoba over your face after cleansing and/or cut down on the castor oil and increase the other oils.
Some people prefer to steam their face using other methods. I know many people will massage the oil onto their face when they jump in the shower, do the rest of their routine and let the steam from the shower do the work and then wipe off their face as their last step. My boyfriend does his OCM this way and he usually has pretty behaved skin except for blackheads all over his nose. After just a couple of weeks since starting OCM himself, his face is looking fantastic now and his blackheads are almost gone completely.
Note: If you have acne and your existing pimples look red and irritated after you're done, don't freak out. This just means that the pores on which they reside have been opened and drained of their gunk. Be patient. With just a little persistence, your skin will clear and will have the proper conditions for healing itself.
Some people OCM morning and evening and some do it only in the morning or only in the evening and others do it a couple to several times a week--while just using water to rinse their face off when they're not OCMing. You can decide what works best for you.
If you've got nothing left to lose or you're brave enough to try something new, I seriously recommend the OCM.
I've been using OCM for weeks now and my zits have pretty much vanished. What I love is that my skin is all tame and glowy and all of that other good stuff now--all the time. I do it every night and in the morning I usually put on my Concha Nacar cream and/or just rinse my face off good with warm water and a washcloth. OCM as my major life-saver, In conjunction with the small number of other treatments and products I use, my skin is now virtually clear, healing more every day, improving in tone and texture and making me happier with it than I ever have been.
Other things I use/do for my skin:
For extra deep cleaning of my pores, treating the occasional blemish, aiding in reducing the severity of post-acne marks and improving my skin tone, quality and texture in general, I use this all-natural cream called Concha Nacar, by a small Latin American company, which is a treatment that utilizes Mother of Pearl/Oyster Shell Powder, among a short list of only six, simple, great, natural ingredients that are beneficial to the skin. Mother of Pearl has been used by native Latin Americans and the Chinese for centuries for the treatment of an array of skin issues and general beautifying of the skin. I usually use this in the morning, but it's not rare that I use it at night before cleansing, either. My post about it is here:
After cleansing, I use a homemade, all-natural toner consisting primarily of Apple Cider Vinegar and Green Tea. It also utilizes a little bit of aspirin. It is fantastic at balancing my skin, reducing redness, controlling shine, drying up any blemishes and evening out my skin tone. My post about it (as well as the recipe) is here:
Aspirin Tea Mask
Aspirin breaks down into a wonderful beta-hydroxy acid which is oil-soluble and excellent at penetrating pores beneath the sebum and dissolving/exfoliating dead skin cells. I combine it with the leaves from a bag of Green Tea, which is high in essential anti-oxidants that protect against harmful agents and stimulate circulation which is good for healing and skin tone. After I rinse this mask off, my skin is soft, bright, even-toned and fresh looking. My post about it is here:
Some basic oils that may be beneficial for acne-prone skin:
Flax Seed oil
Perilla Seed oil
Seabuckthorn Berry oil
Watermelon Seed oil
Bergamot oil *
Lemongrass oil *
Litsea oil *~
Rosemary oil (avoid if you have high blood pressure)
Tea Tree (may be irritant to some, do a skin-patch test first)
* = Strong photosensitizer; avoid contact with direct sunlight for at least 4 hours after application
~ = Not recommended for sensitive skin
Links to other pages discussions about OCM:
Be sure to come back and keep us updated on your progress.