Beauty: The Oil Cleansing Method


This is an odd thing for a beauty box/beauty product obsessive to say, but, my favourite face cleanser is one I make myself and the main ingredient is something you would normally cook with. I remember reading about the oil cleansing method (or OCM for short) through a forum or through Livejournal. I have greasy skin that sometimes tends towards combination skin and am prone to breakouts and throughout my teenaged years I assumed face washes specifically designed for greasy skin were my best bet. I now realise that's not true. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that every single foaming face wash I've ever used has been quite damaging to my skin, in terms of drying it out, or making me overproduce oil on my face to compensate, or giving me horrendous breakouts. Some have even stripped so much from my face that its been left red and sore (and I don't have sensitive skin or any particular allergies to products that I'm aware of). If a face wash makes your skin feel dry, you'll end up piling on moisturiser to compensate, and you'll probably end up a greasy mess a few hours later.

When I first read about OCM I'll admit I thought it was lunacy. My skin is already oily, why on earth would I pour more oil on it?! But if you think about oil, it dissolves in other oils, and not in water. You can break it down with detergents (so soap and soup like products) as anyone who has done the dishes will know, but that will take every last bit of oil away. If you do that, your skin won't have anything, and will freak out, and will produce masses to compensate for its loss. And there you have it, the vicious cycle begins. I was still skeptical though, but when I first read about it, I figured I had nothing to lose. I tried it and I was really impressed with the results and anyone I've recommended it to has said the same.

Basically, OCM requires two ingredients, castor oil and extra virgin olive oil (often shortened to EVOO which is the funniest acronym ever. EVOOOOOO!) Olive oil was used by the Romans as a cleanser and those Romans knew a thing or two about many things. I remember reading this one sentence about castor oil that said 'castor oil will leave your body in a much better condition than it found it in) and that is as true for the face as it is internally. To make up oil for OCM you pour two two into a bottle together, and I find slightly more olive oil than castor oil is needed on my face. You can then add other oils to your mix for other benefits. Vitamin E oil is great for skin and for scarring so any acne scars will benefit there. Tea tree oil is great for spot prone skin. I hate the smell of it but I know its good for my skin so I use it. You could use less EVOO and add jojoba oil or sweet almond oil instead. I sometimes use samples of facial oils in my mixes too, like a small sample I had of the Balance Me Radiance Skin Facial Oil.

Here's how I make my mix these days:


On the far right is an empty bottle that I use to keep my mix in. I have previously recycled shower gel bottles from Lush or The Body Shop. Those are actually better than the bottle I'm using now as they tend to have a 'nozzle' top, which is better for controlling how much oil comes out of the bottle. Then there is some Tea Tree Oil, some Vitamin E Oil, some Castor Oil and some Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Literally just the stuff I buy in Tesco to cook with.


I then pour in the castor oil. This is a bit under half the bottle as you can see.


Then I added the EVOO. Because it was cold in my house it made a nice layered effect at first! I then add a small amount of vitamin E oil and an even smaller amount of tea tree oil and shook it up. I like to leave a gap in the bottle and not fill it up to the brim so if I need to make any adjustments I can after the first time of trying it on my face.


And here's the finished article! Using it is very simple. You pour about a tablespoon's worth into your hand and rub it between  both palms to warm it up before smearing it all over a dry face. No need to take your makeup off first, this stuff is excellent at makeup removal, even tonnes of eyeliner and mascara (if you wear a lot, like I do, its best to leave the eye area till last). Spend the time to give your face a good massage with this stuff, so the oil can pick up all the dirt and nastiness on your face. Massage your eye area last, with your eyes closed, nice and gently. Get a face cloth and run some tap water on it, hot but not too hot so it would damage your skin. Wring out the cloth and, whilst its nice and steamy, tip your head back and press the cloth to your face. The steam will help open up your pores. You can do this a couple of times before rinsing the cloth out and using it to wipe off all the oil. Keep rinsing the cloth under the water until the oil has been removed from your face. You can follow this up with a splash of cold water to close your pores at the end. You can be quite firm with your skin when removing the oil, this will also act as an exfoliator.

I find this leaves a very slight residue on my face but only in the same way a moisturiser would. In fact when I used the OCM I only tend to need moisturiser in the winter time and never during the summer, which is pretty good going. I used to follow up my night time OCM routine with a tiny amount of neat vitamin E oil but now  tend to use up facial oil samples or serums which are just as good.

Earlier I mentioned about leaving a gap to adjust your mix. If your skin feels a tiny bit dry and tight when you're all done, the chances are you have a bit too much castor oil in your mix for your face (you can also tell this by how thick the oil is when you pour it into your hand sometimes, I know I can for my preference). If it feels too thin and runny, a bit more castor oil will do it. If you think your skin can handle a few more drops of tea tree, you can add them, if it needs a bit more TLC, you can splash in some more vitamin E. I find its a real trial and error process and what my skin will need will depend on the weather and how much abuse I've given it with make-up, etc.

I find myself going back to the OCM time and time again. The only comercially produced product I've found that I liked as much was Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish, but it wasn't able to remove my make-up in the same way as this is.

I buy my EVOO from Tesco, or Lidl, and you can buy Castor Oil, Vitamin E Oil and Tea Trea Oil on Ebay. I've used this seller for castor oil, this seller for vitamin E oil and this seller again for tea tree oil (although my current bottle is I think from Holland and Barrett). When I started doing this method what must have been 10 years ago (how can I be so old?!?!), skin oils etc weren't nearly so popular. Now that they're huge I'm going to spend some time looking at ingredients lists on some of the most talked about to see what other oils I could add to my mix to produce even better results. Maybe I'll make up a batch of my own face oil to use after OCM as well, who knows?!

Have you tried OCM before? What did you think? What oils do you rate for your skin type on your face? I'd love to know your thoughts!

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  1. I use DHC oil for cleansing, It breaks down when water is applied so washes off really easily but this also looks great, will give it a go!

    1. I have a sample of that actually that I've been meaning to try, there's no reason why I wouldn't like it if I like this so much, thanks for reminding me about it!

  2. Hi,
    I just wanted to let you know I nominated you for a Leibster award,

    Happy New Year
    Elyse Silver

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.