Let’s talk about oils again. This time we will leave the area of cooking oils and the healthy fats we should include in our diet, and instead, we will focus on the use of oils on the skin. Most of us probably picture oily skin, acne, shiny foreheads, blackheads, and clogged pores when talking about using oils on our skin. Some of us may even think no way am I putting oil on my face! But you would be missing out on probably the most effective skin care method that is available. Skin type is actually something we can change, it is not like a blood type you are not born with dry skin and you don’t have to live with dry skin. Our skin type changes throughout our life (sometimes even throughout the year) based on many factors including diet, hormonal imbalance, weather, or stress. Products we use on our face play another major role. In the previous article in this series we learned how certain foods affect our skin, and also how certain ingredients in the products of the mainstream skincare industry hurt our bodies some by adding to our toxic load, and others by attacking the microbiome of our skin.
Here is the thing: our skin naturally produces oils. This is a fact nobody can change. It is a natural process intended to keep our skin moisturized and protected, not dry, flaky, and feeling tight. When we use a conventional drugstore cleanser that is designed to strip those natural oils away from our face and give us that shine-free look, what happens is that our skin starts to over-compensate for this loss of natural oils and starts producing more! If we strip our skin of naturally produced oils daily (some of us even twice a day), place layers of primers, foundations, and powders on top of it, we only achieve more natural oil production. Our skin defends itself by using these natural oils to create a barrier between the epidermis and the unknown, toxic, and harmful substances in the products we use and our environment. Our natural oils do not clog our pores and they do not cause breakouts. If we remove oils from our skin, we leave it vulnerable; our pores are left unprotected and open for any toxin to enter. These toxins, makeup, dust, and dirt clog our pores, which can drive more oil production, and voila! You’ve got oily skin.
Acne is generally a problem of inner hormonal imbalances, which is why teenagers in puberty suffer from acne so commonly, and why women in a particular stage of their menstrual cycle experience breakouts. Hormones drive so much in our bodies. We previously learned about toxins, heavy metals, and certain chemicals being hormonal disruptors, so the connection between acne and the products of Big Cosmo is pretty obvious. Allergies, particularly to dairy, soy, eggs, and grains, are another common cause of acne, and very often it can be the only indication of undiagnosed Celiac disease. I personally break out after eating too much sugar. Our skin is also attacked by pollutants in the air, dust, and dirt, makeup build up all these factors leave some kind of unwanted residue on our skin, causing inflammation in our epidermis which we later see as a breakout. And unless we stop abusing our skin and stripping the oils it naturally produces to heal and protect itself, we will most certainly have oily and acne prone skin for life. But it doesn’t have to be this way! To break the cycle we need to work along with our skin, not against it. This is where the ancient method of oil cleansing comes in, the most effective method of maintaining your skin health, reducing and balancing excess oil production, healing and preventing acne, preventing clogged pores, and removing all unwanted residue from the skin.
How Does It Work?
If you are thinking how is putting more oil on my skin going to help me with excess oil production and actually make my skin clean?, hear me out. Basic chemistry teaches us that like dissolves like, so in our case, oils dissolve oils. Applying high quality, cold pressed oils from plants, nuts, and seeds to your skin will dissolve the excess sebum (natural skin oils) that is clogging your pores along with dirt, makeup, and environmental gunk, making it so much easier to remove. Cleansers that are designed to strip away all of the oils from the skin can never do this they are not able to dissolve and release the build up from deep in your pores, they only mechanically take away what is on the surface of your epidermis; and we don’t want that anymore we know better now. Our skin needs oil and the cold pressed oils from plants that we are going to discuss are chemically very close to our skins naturally produced oils, plus they all have specific benefits our skin can gain from using them as cleansers at least once a day. Before we dive into the how-to of oil cleansing, let’s discuss something very important: the adjustment period.
As with every change in every aspect of our lifestyle, there is a certain period of time when things might not look very optimistic or maybe seem even worse than pre-change. Just like with diet changes or starting a new exercise regime, our body (and skin in this case) needs a certain period to adapt, to adjust, and to start reacting the way we want it to. We have a tendency to rush things and be pretty impatient when they do not flow along with our plan. We live in a society in which we are accustomed to instant gratification and immediate success, but some things need time. It could take a week, it could be ten days, it could be three weeks, but your skin will adjust. Trust me. I have been there myself, on the edge of giving up, with a greasy t-zone and jawline covered with acne that was never there before I know. You have to think about all those long years you spent abusing your skin with harsh cleansers and remember that this change will definitely not happen overnight (over a month, maybe). But it will happen. And you are going to see major improvements very soon. Please, don’t give up on your skin, it will never give up on you either, and you honestly owe it to yourself.
How To Oil Cleanse
There are only three things you need in order to cleanse your skin: warm water, the cleansing oil of your choice (see options below), and a washcloth big enough to cover your face. The process is very simple; I personally like to do it in the shower, but you can use your bathroom sink just as easily. First, soak your clean washcloth in warm water (not too hot, you are going to be putting this on your face soon). Second, pour some cleansing oil to the palm of your hand (not too much, around one tablespoon) and warm it up between your palms. Now massage your oil across your entire face, including the eye area (close your eyes while doing this, of course), and massage your skin for a couple of minutes. This gentle massage will not only slowly dissolve all the sebum, dirt, and makeup on your face, but also stimulates blood flow in your skin. Enjoy this process like a mini self-massage, pamper yourself, and let it be a meditative, loving moment in your day.
After a few minutes (make it five, be good to yourself), take your warm washcloth and cover your face with it. The heat from the damp cloth will further open your pores, allowing nutrients from your oil to soak in and nourish your skin even more, plus it will make the oils easier to remove. Once your cloth is no longer warm, wipe away all the oil from your face with it, use both sides, and be gentle here this is also gentle exfoliation for your skin. I promise it will not leave your face oily or feeling dirty. Your skin will be soft and nourished. Once you remove all the oil with your cloth, you are done! That was it, easy peasy! Be sure to wash your washcloth after every use, especially if you are using it to remove your makeup. It is best to use a clean cloth each day and to thoroughly rinse and dry out the used cloth before adding it to the laundry pile. You don’t need to put them in your washing machine; you can hand wash them in the sink using some natural soap like Dr. Bronner’s or my favorite Miracle Soap, and hang to dry. Congratulations, you just learned the most effective, inexpensive, and easy cleansing method ever!
You might be asking how often you should cleanse your face like this. You might find it hard to believe, but you actually don’t have to cleanse your face in the morning evening cleansing before bedtime is enough. Overnight, your skin will produce some of its natural oils (which with time will be less and less, as you skin balances out), but there will be no need to wipe that off with another dose of cleanser or more oil. You can just splash your face with cool water and you are good to go. I recommend oil cleansing in the evening as a part of your nighttime routine, during a bath or shower, or after brushing your teeth. Unless you sleep in a pile of coal, I doubt there will be any dirt for you to have to cleanse away in the morning. By turning away from harsh chemical cleansers, you have already showed your skin some love, and we know love takes time. Any more questions? Oh of course, what oils should we use?
Best Oil To Use
There is no universal formula because just like every body has different metabolic needs, every skin type requires a different approach. Oil cleansing can be actually done two different ways basic oil cleansing and deep oil cleansing. Basic oil cleansing only requires one basic oil by default, but feel free to come up with your own blend based on the recommendations below as well as your personal experience. It may take a while before you discover the perfect oil or oil blend for your specific skin type. Deep cleansing is perfect for those who wear heavy makeup on a regular basis, want to fix some serious ongoing skin issues or are exposed to more skin irritants at work or at home than the average office worker. Deep cleansing always involves castor oil (see below) and one of the additional nourishing oils of your preference. Castor oil is very thick and has very strong cleansing properties, and for some people, it can be actually drying, so the drier your face, the lower the ratio of castor oil you want to use. Creating your own oil blend is easy and fun, and at the end of this post, I will teach you how to do it. You can honestly go as simple as using extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil from your pantry to cleanse your skin they both are a great, inexpensive, and convenient options. Sometimes when I travel and only have my tallow cream with me, I use that as a cleanser, and it works perfectly too. You don’t have to invest in your cleansing routine more than what you already have at home, but if you want to give your skin some extra nourishment, here are your best options.
Castor oil is one of the most beneficial, nourishing oils for both external and internal use. It has strong natural antibacterial properties, high levels of Vitamin E, and its high content of ricinoleic acid makes it perfect for skin and hair. It has been used for a very long time to treat acne and heal post-acne scarring and discolorations. It is very thick in consistency and usually is not used as a stand-alone oil externally. When ingested, it works as a strong laxative and can help to induce labor. Some of you might be familiar with castor oil packs, if not, check them out too!
Jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax, obtained by cold pressing jojoba seeds. This oil mimics the natural sebum of our skin, so it is one of the best oils to use in natural skincare as our skin is able to recognize it, which can help to reduce excess oil production (our skin can be tricked into believing that there is already enough and stop over-producing). This is very helpful for very oily skin that has been treated with harsh chemicals for a very long time and needs that extra boost to recover. Jojoba oil has no odor and absorbs into the skin without leaving a greasy residue. It is rich in Vitamin E, a vital anti-oxidant.
Argan oil is a very precious oil with a long tradition in natural skincare. It contains natural anti-inflammatory agents that help to reduce blemishes and discoloration, and its high vitamin E content helps prevent cell oxidation. Similar to jojoba oil, argan oil is very potent in sebum regulation of our skin, making it particularly helpful for those with oily and acne prone skin. Good quality argan oil is usually on the more pricey side, but its benefits are well worth it. I like alternating jojoba and argan oil in my skincare routine and in my homemade oil blends.
Hemp seed oil
Hemp seed oil is wonderful for rejuvenating and moisturizing skin. It has a lot of beneficial properties when ingested, and when applied topically it works as an effective anti-inflammatory, anti-acne, and anti-aging agent; it also aids in the healing of dry patches, lesions, and wounds. It is perfect for dry skin as it balances out the natural moisture levels, it is not greasy, and it has a very nice nutty aroma and flavor. I like having hemp seed oil as a regular part of my routine, especially during winter when my skin tends to be drier, and use it as a moisturizer (and sometimes even take a sip of it when nobody is watching).
Tamanu oil is known mostly for its regenerative properties: it is able to promote and speed up the healing of damaged and scarred skin, acne marks, or open wounds. It has the ability to encourage the growth of new skin tissue, making this oil a super healing tool I always keep in my bathroom cabinet. It has all kinds of benefits on top of that: it is anti-bacterial, antibiotic, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory anti all the bad stuff that can happen to your skin, and pro-healing and making your skin strong and safe.
Neem oil is another popular anti-inflammatory oil, used to treat acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and it also helps with wound healing. It is antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, helps to regenerate cells, and prevent infections. Neem oil or neem bark are very often used in natural toothpastes, shampoos, or moisturizers for these reasons. It has also been used internally to treat dysbiosis in the gut microbiome.
To add even more nourishment and healing power, consider using a few drops of essential oils in your mix. These oils are very concentrated and many of them should not be used on the skin undiluted, but adding a drop or two in your base oil will make your own signature oil blend even better. This is entirely optional. Some popular choices are Lavender oil (antibacterial, skin healing properties, soothing, and calming), Patchouli oil (tightens the pores, regulates oil production, reduces wrinkles), Geranium oil (soothing inflammation and calming down irritated skin, helping to increase blood circulation and skin elasticity), or Tea tree oil (antiseptic, healing acne and wounds do not use near the eyes or mucous membranes… it burns!). Essential oils are a huge topic that deserves a space of its own, but these few examples are very often used by natural skin care and aromatherapy experts. My personal secret recipe is a combination of lavender, sandalwood, and cedarwood.
Extra bonus tip
Adding a small amount of Manuka honey with a 12+ rating to your cleansing oil will bring you even more amazing benefits! Raw honey has antibacterial properties and contains enzymes and probiotics that are excellent for the skin. Honey is gentle to the skin and helps to add moisture without stripping the natural oils. Raw honey works perfectly when added to your carrier oil, but it performs great on its own as a face wash. It also helps with the healing of cuts and burns. It will not leave your face sticky and attractive for insects, but the benefits are still pretty sweet!
How To Blend Oils
The easiest thing you can do is simply purchase a bottle of any of these basic oils above and use it on its own. A word on this: be sure to always get the best quality possible these oils to go directly onto your skin! Also, choose a brand that sells oils in dark-colored glass bottles, like these. Sunlight can easily damage the fragile fatty acids in these precious oils by oxidation. For this reason, always keep your oils in dark bottles and away from direct sunlight. Another note on oxidation chooses the smaller packaging available. A little bit of these oils goes a long way and it will take you a while to finish the whole bottle, especially when you use more than one and alternate between them. The shelf life of these oils is usually less than six months and you would not want to use spoiled, rancid oils on your face, right? Even if you are tempted to buy a big batch for the discount price, don’t do it. It is likely to spoil before you even reach a third of the bottle unless you share the larger size between friends.
If you decide to use castor oil as a part of your oil blend, use a maximum of 30% of the total volume of your bottle. The drier your skin is, the less castor oil you should use, so 30% of castor and 70% of any other basic oil (often called carrier oil) is a perfect combo for oily skin, 20/80 ratio is good for combination skin, and not more than 15% of castor oil is ideal for dry skin. Your carrier oil might be just one single oil, or a mixture of more depending on your personal preference. Based on my experience, I recommend starting with one single type of oil at a time and using that one exclusively and religiously for a few weeks and see how it works for you. While coconut oil causes me to break out, jojoba and argan never do that to my skin. But your skin will be different and your needs might change during the year (summer calls for lighter oils like jojoba, while winter usually requires something richer, like olive oil or hemp seed oil).
You can of course purchase some pre-made mixes of oil blends to try out, but I think making your own blend is way more fun and personal. These oil blends also make a perfect gift, even though you might not have the best judgment about the needs of your best friends (mothers, sisters, etc) skin, a simple oil blend made with super nourishing oils will not hurt anyone’s epidermis. And also, this method is not a privilege reserved for ladies! If you know a guy who suffers from skin issues, or if you are a guy that is battling oily skin, using oils to cleanse your face is really as basic as brushing your teeth. It may be particularly beneficial to those who work in industrial settings where they are exposed to the elements and more environmental toxins. Women might be using oil cleansing to remove their makeup and all that stuff, but it doesn’t mean you can’t borrow skin cleansing technique from them and use it to your own advantage. Banish your skin problems for good by choosing the right food for your body as well as proper nutrition and care for your skin! When you hear the phrase healthy inside and out, our skin is what represents the out here. The adjustment period might be tough and seem never-ending, but once you pass through that awkward phase, your true, healthy, and naturally beautiful skin will reveal itself. And trust me, that feeling will be something no makeup will ever give you.