On a fairly regular basis, particularly when someone learns my age, I am asked how I keep my skin so young and healthy-looking. What's my secret, what products do I use?
Since 2003, I have not put any soap, cleanser, or moisturizer on my face. The only thing I do put on it is pure, organic plant oils. If I wear makeup, which is rare these days, I use the oil as a makeup remover.
My skin has never been softer. It is neither dry nor oily, and before it was both. While I still have the occasional mild acne breakout at specific points in my menstrual cycle, it tends to be fairly mild and heals quickly. And I am regularly mistaken for 15 or more years younger than I actually am. (I'm 41.)
Ready to re-think everything you know about cleaning your skin?
The thing is, when you use soap or cleanser on your skin, you are stripping your skin of its natural oils. But those oils have a purpose - they make your skin softer and more supple and they provide a protective layer to keep dirt out of your pores. When you strip the natural oils off your skin, your skin responds in the only fashion it can: it produces more oil. So a few hours after you've stripped your skin down to [what feels like] super-clean, it's an oil slick again. You probably either re-"clean" it, blot the oil, or cake the oil with powder to absorb it. And the process begins again.
In reality, when your skin has that "super-clean" feeling, it is unprotected and vulnerable. After a while, you will learn to feel comfortable with a natural amount of oil on your face... it will not be nearly as oily as the bounce-back oiliness you probably have now.
According to instructables user @tigator, "...I used to have rosacea, and not even those prescription creams helped. However (and you rosacea sufferers may be happy to hear this), since doing oil cleansing my rosacea is GONE - completely. :) I highly recommend those with mild to moderate rosacea to give this a try. I'm not promising it will work for you, but it certainly took my rosacea away."
DISCLAIMER: The information shared here is based on the experiences and research of the author and other healers known to her. This information is shared with the understanding that you accept complete responsibility for your own health and well-being. You have a unique body, the action of each remedy is unique, and health care is full of variables. The results of any treatment suggested herein cannot always be anticipated and never guaranteed. The author is not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any remedies, procedures, or preparations included here. Consult your inner guidance, knowledgeable friends, and trained healers in addition to the words written here.
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Step 1: Choosing Your Oil
Most instructions I've seen for this method suggest using either pure extra-virgin olive oil ("EVOO") or a mixture of EVOO and castor oil. I recommend starting with a lighter oil like sesame, almond, or avocado.
I do recommend using organic plant oils only. Don't use mineral oil, and avoid non-organic oils if you can.
Many people have asked me about using a variety of oils. I'm including this information on comedogenic (pore clogging) and non-comedogenic (non pore clogging) oils, which is copied from a page on www.soapnuts.com since that site seems to have gone down. Please note that I have only tried a few of these oils myself. Do your own research and experimentation to find the oil or combination of oils that works best for your skin. Unless you're having a bad reaction, like an allergy, I recommend choosing an oil to start with and using it for at least a month before you switch to something else.
Low Pore Clogging Probability:
Almond (Sweet Almond) oil
Apricot Kernal Oil
Evening Primrose Oil
Medium Pore-Clogging Probability:
Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
Sulfonated Castor Oil
High Pore-Clogging Probability:
Wheat Germ Oil
Using a small funnel, fill a small container (I use an empty 1-ounce dropper bottle) with your chosen oil. Be sure the bottle is clean and dry. Moisture inside the bottle can cause the oil to mold or go rancid. You can buy these dropper bottles for around $0.75 to $2.00 each.
I like to add a bit of tea tree oil to my basic oil because I feel like its germ-killing properties help avoid acne breakouts. Some folks use lavender. Just be sure you only add a very small amount - in a little 1-ounce dropper bottle I add 1 or 2 drops of essential oil.
Step 2: Time to "Wash"!
Okay, this is it. This is where you do this thing that, if you're like the vast majority of people who've heard makeup and facial cleanser commercials your whole life, you're sure is totally and completely backwards. Adding oil to your face probably feels counterproductive to you.
My challenge to you: Try this for one month. Your skin is going to feel oilier at first because it is so habituated to overproducing oil that it will take a little while for it to settle down to a natural level. Your skin may also have more acne than usual during this adjustment period. This isn't because the extra oil is clogging your pores (the light plant oils we're using here are noncomedogenic) but because your skin is cleansing and detoxifying itself. Give it the month and see what you think of your new skin.
Start by running your tap water until it is at about the hottest temperature you can reasonably withstand on your face. It will cool quickly, but you don't want to burn your skin! Wet a washcloth in this hot water and drape it over your face. I like to press the cloth against my face a bit with my hands. What you're doing here is letting the warmth and steam soften the oils currently on your skin and loosen any dirt that's on your skin.
Step 3: Apply the Oil & Massage
While your face is still warm and moist, put a dropperful of your oil in the palm of your hand. Apply it evenly to your fingertips and palms. Lay your hands over your face to begin applying the oil. Lightly apply oil to your entire face - forehead, cheeks, nose, chin, lips, eyelids. (Careful around the eyes if you've put an essential oil in there!) If you have mascara on, be sure you carefully coat your lashes with oil, too.
Now massage your entire face using small circular motions of your fingertips. Slow down, relax a minute, and take your time. Make this a nice, enjoyable part of your daily routine.
When you're done massaging it in, let the oil sit on your skin for 1-5 minutes. I usually do my face cleansing in the shower, so while the oil is sitting on my face I do other shower stuff. Some people recommend covering your face with the hot wet cloth here.
Step 4: Remove the Oil (and Dead Skin Cells and Dirt!)
Heat your water up again and soak your washcloth in it just as you did earlier. Using circular motions again, gently exfoliate your entire face, which will remove the oil, dead skin cells that have accumulated on your face, and any dirt on your face. Be sure to do your lips too - this leaves them very smooth and soft.
Step 5: Rinse
Next you want to run your tap water so it's nice and cold. Scoop it up in your hands and splash it on your face. This gives a bit of rinsing and also tightens up your pores.
Pat your skin dry with a soft towel.
Once your face is dry, if your skin feels a bit tight, take just one drop of your face oil, spread it on your fingertips and pat it onto your face where it feels tight. Once your face is accustomed to this new method, you probably won't have to do this step.
Step 6: Glow!
Your face will glow with healthy skin.
I recommend beginning with doing this cleansing method every day for one month. After that you may find that doing it less often works better for you. At this point, after years of treating my skin with oil, I only apply oil to my face once every few days or so. On the days in between, I do the rest of the method (steam, massage, exfoliate, rinse, dry) without adding any oil.
Laundry Tip: Do not wash the washcloths you use for this with any other laundry, whether clothing or towels. The oil will spread through the entire washload and after a while all of your laundry will smell like old oil. I hang my face cloths to dry after using them and keep the dry waiting-to-be-washed cloths together separately from the rest of my laundry. When I have enough to wash, I run them with the hottest possible water in both the wash and the rinse cycle. I add a few drops of orange or lemon essential oil (which cut the oil nicely) and a tiny amount (1 teaspoon to a full load) of liquid dish soap. You can also buy a detergent sold for massage therapists called "Oil Be Gone". It's kind of expensive, but used only on your face cloths, it will last forever. Buy the powdered type, it seems to work better than the liquid.
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