The Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)
This is another post that I’ve been meaning to do FOREVER! I’ve been asked a few times about my skin care regimen and given that I recently turned 40, this seemed as good a time as any to finally “talk” about it!!
My Skin Story
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to tell you that I am completely lazy about my skin. I wash, tone, treat and moisturize in the morning. Other than that, the only thing that I do regularly is use Chapstick or whatever other lip moisturizer I happen to have in my purse. I really don’t wash my face at night because I don’t wear foundation or powder on a daily basis (hence the perpetually shiny T-zone) and I can only be bothered with grooming/filling my eyebrows and applying lip gloss every now and again. However, I know that isn’t an excuse for not washing my face at night, because air pollutants cause “dirty” skin. So, yeah, I know!! I’m sorry, I told you I’m lazy with my skin.
I also really don’t do regular facials. Once in a blue moon I’ll do an exfoliating scrub, which I’ll talk about a little later. Ultimately, I think that diet and sleep play large roles in healthy skin. Given that I generally eat well, drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep (well, that is, until I started this blog!), I think that I’ve won half the battle.
I will also say that the best my skin has ever looked was when I was following The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet: A Simple 3-Part Plan to Lose the Fat, the Wrinkles and the Years. This diet focused on good protein, healthy fats, colorful fruits and veggies and complex carbs to foster weight loss while improving the appearance of skin. Seriously y’all, I glowed when I followed the diet that largely relied on eggs, turkey, salmon, blueberries, organic apples, flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds and leafy greens. Shoot, I need to dust off my book for the next GOC!!
My Skin Care Regimen
Anyway, so, what do I do now? Well, I’ve been using a prescription facial cleanser and topical spot treatment for a decade. In my late 20s/early 30s, I started experiencing break-outs on my previously clear skin. I think that they were attributable to a lot of stress at work and a hormone imbalance caused by fibroids and a frequent cycle. I got the hormonal imbalance and cycle under control through my “lady doctor” *lol* and went to the dermatologist to address my skin issues. My biggest concern was the sebaceous cyst (you know those hard, puss-filled and painful pimples) that would inevitably develop shortly before my cycle, would never go away unless it was popped and left a scar, regardless of whether I touched it or not. Those jokers were the secondary bane of my existence (the first was the stresser at work) and resulted in a forehead and right cheek covered in scars.
When I visited the dermatologist, he gave me scripts for Clenia (the facial cleanser) and Duac (the topical solution). To those, I added my homemade astringent concoction of witch hazel and effervescent Vitamin C, which really seems to remove the dead skin cells without drying my skin, and Neutrogena Healthy Skin Lotion with SPF as my daily moisturizer. I used those morning and night for a year or so, then just started using them mostly in the morning once my skin was consistently clear.
The OCM Experiment
In the Fall of 2010, I discovered the Oil Cleansing Method via MopTopMaven. I marveled at her gorgoues skin, read her post about ditching conventional, store bought facial cleansers after struggling with acne for years, watched her video tutorial several times and decided I wanted to try the natural route.
Beautiful skin, right?!?! So, although I hadn’t had a break-out in years and had nary a scar, I thought it would be great to use all natural products to care for my skin. In addition, I thought that the OCM would probably help eliminate the fine lines I was starting to see in order to continue the legacy of “Black Don’t Crack.” But, what’s that saying? If it ain’t broke …?
So, off I went to follow MopTopMaven’s regimen of grapeseed/castor/hazelnut oils to cleanse, a green tea astringent to tone and grapeseed oil to moisturize. I also incorporated bentonite clay masks once a week and brown sugar/raw honey scrubs twice a week. I stuck with it for about two months, trying different oils and adjusting the amounts used. I waited it out to see if my skin was just “detoxing” and the oil was just bringing all the impurities to the surface to eventually promote flawless skin. But, despite my best efforts, my skin was revolting!! I was experiencing consistent and constant break-outs, pimples that would never clear and, of course, these were accompanied with new scars. Finally, in December, I had enough and returned to my trusty Clenia and Duac.
Unfortunately, despite the return to my aces and normal regimen, it took months for my skin to regain its equilibrium. I followed the OCM for about 2 1/2 months and it took my skin about 3-4 months to stop breaking out and several more months for the majority of the scars to fade.
I wish that Michelle of Radiant Brown Beauty had written this post, Say No to Oil Cleansing, when I first decided to experiment wih OCM!! Although I still might have tried it, I would have been better prepared for the potentially disastrous side effects and aborted more quickly!!
What I will say is this. During my experiment and the aftermath, I discovered some natural solutions that worked for me. I conducted some internet research and found that applying aspirin crushed and dissolved in water with a little honey reduced inflammation and helped clear my pimples more quickly when the Clenia and Duac didn’t seem to be working. I also learned that applying a raw honey and lemon mix to my scars for 15-30 minutes a day seemed to help fade them more quickly. Michelle explained the science behind those results in the comments on her “Say No” post: “[The aspirin] works … because [it] has salicylic acid in it, a common ingredient found in many acne products. The honey is great and you probably saw such success because you used raw honey which is pure and absorbs bacteria.”
And, although the oil cleansing part of MopTopMaven’s OCM regimen didn’t work well for me, the bentonite clay mask and brown sugar/raw honey scrub were keepers. Although I don’t do them often, I would like to incorporate a scrub once a week and mask every two weeks. We’ll see if I ever get there.
Although the OCM didn’t work for me personally, many seem to find great success with it. Ultimately, I am just sharing my experience so that others who are researching it can learn about the good, the bad and the ugly and decide for themselves whether oil cleansing is for them. I also hope that it’ll help others to detect the “early warning signs,” so that they can make an informed decision about whether to continue the process, adjust their mixes and/or get out while the getting is good.
Have you tried/do you practice the Oil Cleansing Method? What mixes did/do you use? How would you describe your experience (successful, mediocre, abysmal)?
My face definitely broke out around age 25. I also had clear skin prior to this. I got prescription meds from the dermatologist. I remember asking her how long I had to use them and there pretty much was no end date. The most she said was that I could drop down to using it weekly for maintenance, rather than daily. I wasn’t feeling that and I think that once a week when I used it, it threw off the moisture balance in my face and my face didn’t know how to reapond.
Long story short, the more attention I pay to my skin, the better it looks. By attention I mean washing and moisturizing it.
I use CeraVe face wash (very similar to Cetaphil) and a moisture dew moisturizer from the dermatologist that has an aloe base. I just started washing my face with honey and noticed how remarkably clear it was. I also do a moisturizing face masks at least twice a week. Of course when I don’t keep up with my regimen my face rebels.
Shelli… can you please wash ur face in the night?!?! Thanks!!! Lol
Sorry for the long comment. Lol
Girl, you know that I love a long response!! Is CeraVe cheaper than Cetaphil, cuz that junk is expensive?! LOL!! My sister uses it on my niece who has eczema.
In regard to the honey washes, I do want to start doing those. Do you wash first, then use the honey or just honey to wash? Do you let it sit on your face or wash it immediately? If you let it sit, for how long and how often are you doing the wash? I know I read on your blog that some had problems using it daily. So, wondering if you are doing it weekly, bi-weekly?
And … ummmm … yeah, nah in regard to washing at night regularly. If it ain’t broke … !!!! LOL!!
I have had incredibly oily, sensitive, ance prone skin pretty much since my teens. I use the oil cleansing method daily and my skin looks great. However because of that I changed my mix a bit to take care of my now occasional break outs. I now use one part grapeseed oil, two parts castor oil, 10 drops of rosemary oil and added aloe vera juice (naturally contains salicylic acid). My skin seems to like the cleanser but i do have some persistent old acne scars so I’ll definitely try the raw honey/lemon mixture for those.
Jay, I think my skin REALLY didn’t agree with the grapeseed oil. I didn’t say this above, but not only was I getting pimples, I was getting those sebaceous ones!! I just couldn’t!! What I could start using is shea butter on my face to moisturize again. That seemed to work okay. But, I was too traumatized by the long-ended break-outs to try oil cleansing again … if I don’t get it right … TRAGEDY!! LOL!! But so glad it works for you and I like getting balanced opinions and hearing the success stories of others!! So, thank you for commenting lady:)!
I tried the oil cleansing method as well and my skin rejected it. After that I went to a dermatologist who diagnosed me with “adult onset acne” so I did whatever the doctor said and spent an “S” load of money on prescribed medications and skin treaments only to continue to break out which ended up breaking both my heart and my wallet,
After that debacle I said to heck with all of it and bought a jar of raw organic honey and started using it twice a day about a month ago and my skin has calmed down tremendously. I also started using the Aloe juice and Aloe gel, which was originally purchased to use in my hair, to tone and moisturize my skin with a couple of drops (literally) of Jojoba oil as a moisturizer. I also do the lemon and honey masks which I absolutely love (and it tastes so darned good!). But as for the oil cleansing method, it didn’t work out for me at all.
Mmmmm … you got me thinking about trying the aloe juice/gel w/jojoba oil! During the summer, I’ll mix the Neutrogena Healthy Skin with aloe vera gel to make my moisturizer lighter. I find that my skin is dry using aloe alone. I’m still afraid to try an oil with the aloe gel … but, maybe I’ll give it a try and if I get a pimple, I’ll stop immediately rather than keep using it and aggravating the problem. Yeah, that’s the ticket!!
And so glad you found a solution Ivy!! Awesome!
I LOVE that you posted this today because I have been having a very similar problem. My skin was doing probably the best ive ever seen it a little over a month ago, just washing with Black Soap twice a day or the Out of Africa Complexion Bar.
However, due to random outbreaks for years, I had all types of scarring. I wanted an all natural treatment, so i decided to try the honey wash. It seem to start clearing the scars almost immediately. I decideded to try an organic raw honey and lemon juice mask…2 days later…DISASTER. I actually have real acne on my forhead and chin and it isnt going away and its been over a month. I am so devasted by my skin and I am about to go see a dermatologist. From now on im definitely going to suscribe to the ” if it aint broke” mindset because my skin is no joke.
( Also Shelli, you must be a mind reader because all I wanted today was to figure out what to do about my skin, and how to make a hair length t-shirt haha perfection!)
it’s crazy. I’ve read pros for oil cleansing but so many more cons.. thanks for sharing my post. There are so many variables with this method (knowing what oils to use, just the amount of oils, how frequent etc.)…..too much to be trying to figure it all out.
The OCM worked well for me. I had hyperpigmentation caused by acne; Within two weeks of using my regular acne treatment during the day and washing my face with coconut oil and castor oil at night my skin was completely clear of scarring. Pure Awesomeness.
At night I pretty much mix the oils together in my palm, slather it on my face, massage for a couple minutes, steam, massage again, and wiped majority of the oils off (Leaving a very small amount on while i sleep). That works for me.
I use the OCM, but only about four times a week(60% grapeseed, 40% castor). My skin is dry, and has a tendency to be sensitive. I tried it every night, but my face hated it. Now I only wash with it every other day. I’ve never done the astringent, and I completely dropped the grapeseed oil moisture regimen, using Aveeno instead.
I too am a fan of the OCM. People stop me in the street to ask me about my ‘radiant’ skin. Ive had my fam members, friends, coworkers asking me why I looked so beautiful (yea this method is great for my self-esteem!!).
I have slightly dry, average skin (i break out around my period, or when stressed). Ever since using the OCM, my breakouts have been reduced by ~70%. My skin is supple and my scars have become slightly lighter. I now exclusively use this method (started around 4 mo ago).
Now the only problem I have with it is it takes quite awhile to get a oil mix down, mine is still not perfected… 10% olive oil/35% castor oil/55% sunflower seed oil).
I wash my face ~2-3x/wk (massaging the oils in for 5 mins, steaming, then wiping … leaving just a lil bit behind. The rest of the time, I just take a paper towel, wet it and lightly blot/rinse my face). FYI I dont wear any makeup.
I’m very low maintenance like you. Wash my face once a day. I tried OCM and it was a complete fail. I was actually washing my face twice a day with it. But I found I got huge painful pimples or zits and after a while I had to admit it was not working.
Thanks for all the feedback!! It really is great to read what others experienced with this method and how they modified it to work for them or went with something different! I definitely picked up a couple things I want to try from reading these comments!! Thank you!!
I have tried natural regimens for my face twice over the past year or so and each time it starts off okay and my skin is so soft but then it breaks out like crazy. I was trying to wean myself off of this cheap but effective, over the counter Clean and Clear product I use called Persa Gel 10–which basically releases oxygen to kill bacteria–but I should’ve stuck with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” motto. My skin rebels everytime I try the au natural route. I like Neutrogena naturals cleanser and moisturizers or I sometimes use Olay moisturizers since they have sunscreen added, but as long as I have that gel stuff my skin is almost always smoove except for around…ahem…that special time. Even then it’s only a bump here or there. Mario Badescu is a great line too, I used to use their cleanser and moisturizer but it was kind of pricey because of shipping.
I now incorporate natural treats like raw honey washes, bentonite clay masks, exfoliants and pure aloe vera just to pack a moisture punch, tone, brighten, or whatever. Even then, I know the thing keeping my skin clear is that persa gel. I can switch up all my other products as long as I have that. Sometimes I don’t even wash my face with cleanser, I may just wipe it down with some hot water, put on that cheapo gel and bounce since it doesn’t dry my skin out. Sigh. Looks like I’m stuck with it lol.
And I like that I can even my skin out by taking a stroll on a sunny day, I get exercise and my skin always looks smoother when I have a tan.
I’m glad I stumbled upon this. As of late, my skin has resembled a war zone. The breakouts have been unruly and I damn near tried everything! I definitely want to try the honey and lemon mix. It aids in combatting hyper pigmentation, yes?
Yes, definitely helped me with hyperpigmenation!! I keep saying I need to start doing it again for the few slightly dark spots I have remaining!!
Ooh!!! Excellent! You used raw honey? Sorry about the questions. LOL!
No problemo!! I’ve used both, regular and raw honey. But, I got the raw honey specifically for facial treatments. Supposed to be better:)!