If five years ago someone told me, that I would be smearing oil all over my face, I would be like No way! Oils are for salads, not human faces! At that time, I was a member of “squeaky clean skin” camp. Using oil-rich products for combination and acne-prone was the biggest no-no. That’s what I’ve been told by media, dermatologists and all the people with the same skin problems.
I’ve decided to give OCM a try in the act of desperation when once again cold air and indoor heating during winter months changed my skin into greased, bumpy, itchy cardboard.
I was pretty much helpless in finding cleaner/moisturizer combo that would bring relief to my dehydrated skin without causing any more breakouts. It wasn’t a miracle solution from the very beginning. In fact, it took me over a year to find the OCM version which works for my skin type. I would like to share with you some insights I have learned during that time.
The Basic OCM Formula
Google knows everything, including the basic formula for Oil Cleansing Method which looks pretty much like this:
Massage the blend of castor oil (10% for dry skin, 20% for combination skin, 30% for oily skin) and base oil (any cold pressed, plant-based oil) into your skin for few minutes.
Put a hot, damp cloth on your face. Wait for another few minutes until it gets cold, and wipe off the oil. Repeat entire process if needed (when you, for instance, removing makeup).
Castor oil is claimed to have properties of dissolving sebum. The higher content of this ultra thick oil, the stronger cleaning (and drying) properties. The hot cloth “mini sauna” should open your pores to clean even deeper.
The OCM turned out to work much better and faster for removing makeup that traditional makeup removers+ cotton pad combo I was using so far. I was experimenting with the majority of cold pressed oils available on the market with some better and worse results. Some oils clog my skin, or simply I can’t stand their smell.
In overall my skin improved dramatically. The face became less blotchy. The number of blemishes dropped. Still, the hydration level wasn’t even close to giving me a comfort of not thinking always about how tight my face is.
Oil-Water Cleansing Method
When I started cleaning my face with oils, I’ve quickly noticed that even though my face feels cleansed and smooth, there is only a minimal improvement in dehydration and tightness. Also, it felt like oil isn’t penetrating the skin. It makes sense.
Oils lock the moisture inside the skin, but if there weren’t much water in a first place, no matter how much oil you put on your face, it wouldn’t make your skin well hydrated. Besides, high level of hydration makes your skin more plumped and improves the oil absorption.
My cleansing routine was improved by adding water to each step of OCM:
I splash my face with water several times before the oil application (even with full makeup on).
Next, I add some water to the oil before massaging it into the skin.
My face is pretty much soaking wet at this point. As a final touch, I apply few drops high-quality unrefined oil to provide extra nourishment and prevent water from evaporating. No more flakiness, tightness, or itching.
Is Castor Oil + Base Oil Blend Necessary?
One day I’ve run out of my OCM blend and decided to use whatever I had available at that time, and that was unrefined rosehip oil.
You know, what? I couldn’t see the difference in cleaning properties. In fact, my skin felt slightly more nourished. I know it’s more expensive, but because I use so much water during each step of O(W)CM even small bottle of oil last much longer.
Hot Stuff & Massages
I found it out during extremely hot summer when the absolutely last thought on my mind was to put a hot towel on my face. I’ve used warm water instead and kept the cloth slightly longer on my face. The skin felt more hydrated and relaxed. Someone who said that super hot baths dehydrate the skin was right. The higher temperature intensifies water evaporation within skin layers.
Also, the hot cloth compresses are the reason why people with rosacea or broken capillaries skin are not advised to perform traditional OCM on their skin. Hot water expands blood vessels and makes them more visible and prone to breakage and swelling.
I never going back to the hot cloth compresses again, and for sure broken capillaries around my nose will be grateful for this act of mercy.
Another important aspect that should be pointed out is the technique of wiping out the oil from your skin. There are some true OCM masochist videos on YouTube who not only use a piping hot compresses but also wipe off their skin in the manner of dockyards workers removing rust from old ships.
For goodness sake, you are washing your living skin, not the dishes!
It should a gentle rub, rather than violent scrubbing, which by the way causes wrinkles and accelerates breakage of capillaries.
Being gentle while performing OCM has Spa like relaxing effect for your body, skin, and mind. Pamper your skin instead of torturing it.
Few Words About Face Cloths
I’ve tried them all: microfiber, cotton terry towels (usually sold) as face towels along with regular bath towels), flannel, and muslin.
I find flannel and muslin too soft for my thick skin. I believe that would work much better for delicate, couperose complexions. When comparing microfiber and terry towels I would say, they have similar scrubbing properties.
Be aware that not all microfibre cloths are the same. Those with 100% polyester content are terrible. They don’t absorb water and oil so fast and tend to stick to the skin almost like Velcro when even minimal flakiness or dryness occurs. The good quality ones contain around 30% of polyamide and 70% of polyester.
For last two years, I’ve been using cotton terry towels. They cost only a few dollars and are made of cotton which obviously, is more environment-friendly than polyester or polyamide. I wash them after each use and replace with new ones every 2-3 months.
All cloths used daily for OCM tend to accumulate some oil residue after long use, even when washed after each use with a strong detergent. It not only changes the cloth’s absorbing properties but also goes rancid when exposed to the air, light, and bathroom humidity.
If your cloth starts smelling funky- get rid of it ASAP. Bacteria (including those causing acne) love this type of environment. On top of that oils that went rancid contain a large dose of free radicals – those little, nasty buggers are blamed for premature aging or even cancer.
When Pores Don’t Want to Cooperate
Welcome to the dark side of OCM. If your skin is prone to clogging, it’s possible that some oils will amplify this process. Usually, it’s the matter of finding the ideal oil match for your skin. The pricey doesn’t mean the better. Furthermore, the comedogenic (pore-clogging) rating could be very misleading.
For instance, my pores clog easily after using argan oil which has the comedogenic rating of O (declared as non-comedogenic). Lab Muffin explained the effectiveness of these comedogenic ratings.
Another trick to minimize the risk of clogging is aligning O(W)CM with the regular application (1-2 times weekly) of clay masks. While drying out after application, they literary suck out oil and dirt from pores and make them look slightly smaller.
A rule of thumb the oily/combination skin has a higher tendency of clogging than normal, mature or dry skin. In fact, two people with the same skin type can experience a different level of skin congestion. We can blame genetical and environmental factors here.
On the beginning, I was performing O(W)CM twice a day: after waking up and before going to bed. Then, as a part of the experiment with my skin, I’ve started incorporating very minimalistic approach to the skincare routine. It turned out that in my case “Less is more.” I’ve switched to one O(W)CM daily, performed on the evening to remove a makeup and to prepare the skin for the night regeneration.
In the morning, I clean my skin with lukewarm water only and massage it gently with terry towel before applying my “moisturizer” – the blend of cold pressed oil and hyaluronic acid or gluconolactone diluted in water.
It sounds incredibly simplified, but it gives me another point of improvement on the to way to winning back the high level of hydration. It feels like the skin can take itself when you don’t overuse cosmetic products.
Essential Oils Are Not Essentials
If you have your favorite essential oil from a proven source, go ahead and add few drops to a cleansing oil for extra aromatherapy effect. Be aware that it’s not a good idea if you have sensitive eyes and skin. The cleansing oil is distributed all over your face and very close to eyes’ mucous membranes. Essential oils are well known for their sensitizing properties that increase at the time of use.
On top of that some oils, mainly derived from citrus fruits have phototoxic properties what means they cause skin rash and sunburn when exposed to the sun.
It’s also important to use a proven source, ideally to buy them directly from renowned manufacturers. The growing popularity of essential oils attracted many shady companies distributing counterfeit products which contain many unknown, possibly toxic and contaminated substances.
O(W)CM Practical Use for Lazybones
O(W)CM “By Chance” – splash your face with oil before taking a bath or shower. Wash your entire body leaving face as last then massage the oil in and wipe with damp cloth.
Multi-task travel kit – one oil bottle to rule them all: face cleaner, face/body lotion, makeup remover, hand cream (fast absorbing oils will be better here for apparent reasons), shaving oil, cuticle oil, hair mask, etc. So much space saved in your luggage!
Yes, I’m hooked on O(W)CM. There were some love-hate moments, but so far, I didn’t find any better way to keep my skin well hydrated, less blemished, smooth, and balanced.
My forehead still has some shine moments on a regular basis when not wearing makeup, but they are not followed by sebum waterfalls anymore. The blotchiness was reduced by around 50% all over my face.
Another good side effects: My lashes are super long and rarely fall out. Furthermore, regular oil massages improved the look of cuticles and strength of nails.
The cotton cloth works great as a gentle scrubbing tool which saves me time and money on scrubs. However, combining O(W)CM with different massage tools can bring even more benefits. For the last couple of months, I’ve been incorporating the silicone pad of even deeper cleanse and as improvement of anti-wrinkle massage. It’s so relaxing, to the point of making me sleepy, every time I use it.
The efficient O(W)CM is based on finding the oil matching well to your skin type and remembering about adding water to each step of the cleansing process.
Good luck in your oily endeavors and feel free to ask me any questions.