Oil Cleansing Basics

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Oil Cleansing 101...

Oil cleansing seems like a misnomer, no? Cleansing? With oil? By now one of you is clutching onto their precious cleanse, tone, moisturise with white-knuckled ferocity. 

Let me explain. Oil cleansing is not a new or crazy concept. Men and women back in ancient times, would take hours cleansing and detoxifying their faces and bodies using various oil blends depending on what their skincare needs were. 

Basic Chem 101. Oil dissolves oil. That's as basic as I can get without outing myself a total brick when it comes to anything science-y. Your body naturally produces oil (sebum) and because oil is so vilified as comedogenic, we tend to favour chemical concoctions that actually overstimulate the production of our natural oils. Next thing you know your face looks like a pizza. Not ideal. 

Acne.org explains better:
“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.”

Oil cleansing naturally, gently and effectively torpedoes the build up of impurities, sebum and environmental nasties having a chill session on your face. Contrary to what some may believe, pores are not windows, they do not open and close. So no, you're not doing yourself a massive disservice by cleansing with oil.

Sure a lot of factors go into the general well-being of your skin. Your diet, the amount of water you drink, your age, your caffeine consumption. Yada yada. I could go on. This is just an alternative way of cleaning your face naturally.

Here's what you'll need:

1. A soft (damp) muslin or microfibre washcloth
2. Hot (not scalding water)
3. Your oil blend 

Here's what you should do

1. Come as you are. Dirty face and all. No pre-clean. No dampening. Just apply a small amount of oil directly to your face and MASSAGE it in using the tips of your fingers. Be very careful with your eye area, I use my ring fingers. 
2. Massage in your oil. Really work it in there for at least 2 minutes.
3. Place your washcloth in the hot water. Carefully wring it out and cover the entirety of your face. This is an important step. You're steaming your face and softening the gunk that's on it. Repeat. I tend to do this thrice. or when I'm feeling lazy I let the steam from the shower do this for me. Knock yourself out.
4. Gently wipe your skin clean using your damp washcloth in circular motions. Really make sure that any any oil residue is removed. 

Optional step: 

5. Massage some moisturiser on your skin. I like the baby softness so I bypass that bit and run a witch-hazel and rosewater "toner" on my face. 

Which oil blend to use 

You can email me to get a blend that's more specific for your skin's condition. I don't use anything but Almond oil with a few drops of Argan oil (only when I'm feeling a bit bougie).

When my perioral dermatitis flares up I use extra virgin olive oil with a little tea tree oil.

This needn't be overly complicated. There is a natural oil or blend for dry, oily, combination, normal, reptilian skin. Whatever you have, all you need is a little time and research.


Wash your washcloths often and well. Don't forget your pillowcases too. A little vinegar will kill any oily residue and disinfect material. Never use the a body towel on your face. Separate towels have separate functions.

Your skin will need about a week to adjust. Mine purged for a week. Breakouts. Lava like pustules. Inflammation.The works. The detox was worth it. Patience child. 

Quality ingredients mean quality skin health - Never buy anything that isn’t organic and cold/expeller pressed.

And if you have a nut allergy - opt for seed oils. There are loads of varieties. 

Have fun

(picture credit: fineartamerica.com)

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