Thursday, June 23, 2011
You want me to wash my face with what?!
OIL?! (insert incredulous tone and disbelieving expression here)
And “Oil cleans oil is a scientific principle,” you insist? That sounds counter-intuitive, but I won't claim to remember my Chemistry principles.
I have oily skin, and for me, that has also meant problematic skin. Oil clogs pore and contributes to acne so I have spent many years trying to dry out my skin. Until last month, my daily regimen consisted of washing with a salicylic acid cleanser in the morning and in the evening. In the evening, I also continued with a salicylic acid scrub and a salicylic acid mask. As long as I followed this routine, I had relatively few breakouts; however, if I deviated even slightly, the breakouts drastically escalated.
I was unhappy with this treatment for several reasons:
1. It involved too many chemicals. Salicylic acid cannot be good for anyone’s skin, especially in 4 doses per day.
2. It was drying my skin and it often looked that way. It lacked that healthy glow. Anytime I complained about my oily skin, my mom quickly reminded me that oily skin tends to wrinkle less and that one day I would be thankful for it. I began to worry that by unnaturally drying out my skin, I would eliminate all its benefits.
3. It may seem paradoxical, but by drying out my skin, I was also increasing its oil production, creating a vicious cycle. My skin responded to the dryness by overproducing oil. The result was a oily film over red, dry skin - not the way I wanted to describe my skin.
Still, I did not know what to do, and I kept holding to the promise that my skin would produce less oil as I aged, another of my mom’s assurances.
About 2 months ago, I came across a post on Simply Mom about the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) where – yes! – it said that I should be cleaning my oily skin with oil - and that science backed the theory. I was wary but intrigued mainly because it was different and radical; I was dissatisfied with my current regimen and open to trying something radical! I was still leery, however, because the post’s author described her skin as pretty problem-free; her only concern was its recent lack of luster.
Still, I continued my research with Crunchy Betty’s post Nitty Gritty on the Oil Cleansing Method. This post changed my skepticism to cautious hope. She explains that castor oil, the base oil of any cleansing mixture, is the drying and anti-bacterial agent. She then lists many types of carrier oils for different skin needs, and there were oils for acne-prone skin – jojoba, sweet almond, and grapeseed. For oily skin, she recommends a ratio of 2/3 castor oil and 1/3 carrier oil. Because I am nearing my mid-thirties and I am becoming increasingly concerned about lines and wrinkles, I decided to use her ratio of 1/3 castor oil, 1/3 jojoba oil (for oil skin) and 1/3 avocado oil (for aging skin). I also decided to add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil because of its antiseptic properties. I had a formula, and I set out to buy my ingredients.
I bought 6 ounces of castor oil for approximately $5.00, 4 ounces of avocado oil for $9.99, 2 ounces of jojoba oil for $8.99 and 0.85 ounces of tea tree oil for $12.99; not a cheap experiment, but one I thought worth making. I bought my supplies and then set them in a cabinet for a month because I was terrified. What if my face turned into an oil slick? Still, I was intrigued. A month ago, when I had some extended time off of work (hint: time for my skin to return to “normal” if it was a disaster), I conducted my trial.
I mixed 1 ounce of each oil in a recyled travel mouthwash bottle, added a few drops of tea tree oil and then followed the steps meticulously:
1. Put a quarter size amount of oil in your palm and massage into face for 2 minutes.
2. Steam a towel, and place over massaged faced for 1 minute, allowing the steam to open and cleanse pores.
3. Rinse towel and while still warm, wipe residue off of face.
My skin felt clean and not at all oily! I had long suspected that my usual cleansing routine was not removing all of my makeup, and this time, I did not have that feeling. I was also reminded that eye makeup removers are usually oil-based. There must be something to this “like cleanses like,” “oil cleanses oil” thing. I now cleanse my skin with the OCM every night and follow it with eye cream and serum. In the mornings, I wash with Origins Checks and Balances followed by tinted moisturizer that I make with an SPF lotion and my liquid foundation. A month later, my skin may not look like the airbrushed complexions in the magazines, but it is definitely improved and healthier. I no longer have red, dry skin, and surprisingly, my skin – while naturally oily – is less oily than it was. Mostly, it looks and feels balanced.
*I mix one ounce of each oil which gives me three ounces of cleanser. This lasts me approximately one month at one wash/day.
*I store my mixture in a recycled travel mouthwash container because it is a good size and because the top is child-proof. On some of the referenced posts, I noticed people storing it in a fliptop bottle and while that may make dispensing easier, I think it is also more easily spilt. We recently took an overnight trip, and I did not have to worry about the top opening in my travel bag.
*Use only a quarter size amount; any more is unnecessary and requires additional wiping to remove the residue.