By foreign oil, I don't mean the sticky petroleum that powers America's motorways and clogs her atmosphere. We're talking a different kind of liquid gold here - from Italy, France, Spain, Tunisia, Greece - the delicious stuff we drizzle on salads, swirl into skillets, put on our faces....
Put on our faces? Yes. Here at Micawber Towers, we clean our faces with olive oil (mixed with a bit of cold-pressed castor oil). It's called the Oil Cleansing Method, and it sounds completely nuts - but it really works.
(If you are one of those blessed with a happy complexion that responds well to soap and water, feel free to stop reading at any point.) :)
To many of us, who grew up with the idea that Oily Skin is a Bad Thing, the thought of cleaning our faces with oil seems horribly wrong. But a little oil is actually a Good Thing for your skin - the trick is to find the right balance. I happen to have sensitive combination skin - with rosacea - and nothing I've tried in the past works as well, as simply, and as inexpensively as the Oil Cleansing Method.
Based on the principle that oil dissolves oil (and it's true - I've tried it on a splattery stove with great success), cleansing with oil has many advantages:
- It gently removes dirt, sweat, dead skin, and excess oil(!), without stripping away important moisture.
- It leaves behind a thin layer of protection for the delicate facial skin, eliminating the need for additional moisturizers.
- It's utterly simple, and healthily natural* - no chemicals, preservatives, or scents.
- Ingredients are readily available, and can be mixed up at a moment's notice.
- It can be endlessly, and instantly, customized to suit your skin's particular needs.
- From a financial standpoint, it's ridiculously low-cost.
- On an ecological level, it keeps innumerable bottles and boxes out of our landfills.
Castor oil is the key to the Oil Cleansing Method - but it must be used sparingly, and combined with a secondary oil. Extra-virgin olive oil and sunflower seed oil are probably the two most commonly used; I have also seen references to almond, grapeseed, jojoba, and others. (We use extra-virgin olive oil, since we buy it in bulk and it's always on hand.) There's no hard-and-fast ratio for combining the oils; it's best to experiment and find what works best for your skin. (Click here or on the link below for some suggested ratios.) Essential oils can also be added if you like.
So what are the steps involved in Oil Cleansing? Here's what I do: In my bathroom, I keep a little jar of mixed oils (about 75% extra-virgin olive oil and 25% cold-pressed castor oil). To clean my face, I pour a bit of the oil onto the fingertips of one hand, pat against the fingertips of the other hand, and apply to my face in a circular massaging motion, covering the area from jawline to cheekbones. Because of my rosacea**, I pay special attention to the areas of my face that tend to get bumpy, and rub a little longer there.
To rinse, I wet my washcloth with hot water, ring it out, and hold it against my face for a moment. (This is supposed to open the pores and release accumulated gunk. I don't know if that actually happens, but the warm washcloth feels very relaxing.) Then I wipe my entire face with the washcloth, scrubbing gently at any bumpy bits - then rinse the washcloth, and I'm done***.
(You may be wondering whether this leaves the washcloth oily - but it doesn't. I think the castor oil causes everything to rinse out cleanly.)
I've been using the Oil Cleansing Method for about three years now, and I'll never go back to any other cleanser. Not only does the oil mixture clean my skin gently and thoroughly, it's also extremely versatile. A very thin layer, applied to slightly damp skin, makes a terrific moisturizer. A thicker layer works wonders in winter to protect exposed skin from the cold and wind. (One Miracle Product Does It All!)
If you've read this far (without being horrified), you may be interested in the following link...
...for a comprehensive article which explains in detail the theory and practice of Oil Cleansing. (You can also Google "Oil Cleansing Method".)
As with any alternative cleaning method, Oil Cleansing is not for everyone. But it certainly works for me - and if you're looking for a gentle, inexpensive, healthy facial cleaner, it may work for you too.
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*The word "natural" has been so overworked of late that I hesitate to use it. Arsenic is natural too - does that mean it's good for us?
**Another advantage of this method: I can exfoliate all I want (though I still only spot-exfoliate where needed, and never two days in a row) without irritating my skin or exacerbating the rosacea.
***What about the forehead and eye area? I don't use the oil around my eyes because there's no need; the washcloth cleans that area sufficiently. (Since I use pure mineral makeup and don't wear mascara, there's not much to clean.) For the forehead: Because I have bangs, I only use the oil on my forehead if I'm about to shower and wash my hair, and I'm careful to clean it off very thoroughly so my bangs don't get oily. On non-hairwashing days, I just wipe well with the warm washcloth, letting the water and friction do the job. :)
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