This post contains affiliate links of things I have actually purchased and use. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to click on the link, but if you do buy, I get a little kick-back from Amazon. 🙂
A little over 2 years ago I got on an “all natural” product kick. I was already eating a “chemical free” diet, due to my sulfite sensitivity, so it seemed like the next step. I had hopes that making my own would be easier, less expensive, and be just better. There was also the bonus that I wouldn’t be subjecting my body, and my family, to anything potentially toxic, nor would the grey water from my drains contribute to any sort of pollution or toxic buildup on our surrounding land or the farm next door.
I went all out. I made my own laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, stain pre-treater/remover, all-purpose cleaner, scouring powder, hand soap, bar soap, and hair detangler. I tried other things like vinegar for a glass cleaner, dishwasher rinse aid, and fabric softener, the “no-poo” method for my hair, and “oil cleansing” my face.
Fast forward, and only a few of the “natural/chemical free” methods have stuck around.
Oil cleansing is just what it sounds like: you clean your facial skin with oils. Now I know this sounds totally counterintuitive. I thought so too at first. Luckily, I have been blessed with generally cooperative, sometimes dry skin, and my kids were young and didn’t yet even notice what was going on with their skin (neither did their peers), so we weren’t risking much going into it.
So the very basic*, key ideas are:
- the oils used (assuming they are good quality oils) contain no chemicals or artificial anything
- like attracts like. So the oils (especially the castor oil) attract and pull the oil/sebum from your pores allowing for gentle removal.
If you’d like to know more of the science behind oil cleansing, I highly suggest doing some extra research and deciding whether or not it’s right for you and your skin.
The method (again, very basic*):
- mix the oils to the most appropriate ratio for your skin
- massage the mixture onto your skin for two minutes
- wet a clean washcloth in as-hot-as-you-can-take-it water, and drape it over your face until it cools
- rinse and wring the washcloth, and repeat the hot washcloth drape
- follow up with a moisturizing oil of choice, if needed
As I said, I’ve been blessed with fairly good skin. It does tend to run on the dry side, and I get a pimple every now and again (less often now with the oil cleansing). I do get the pore buildup of sebum, especially on my nose and chin (again, less now).
My son’s skin:
He’s a teenager, and hormonal. He tends to get full on pimples on his nose, chin, and hairline/forehead area and also large blackheads from time to time. He has constantly oily skin, and breaks out on his chest and back as well.
My daughter’s skin:
My daughter, also a hormonal teenager, has a even level of moisture, but gets little mini-pimple-like bumps all over her face. She also gets tiny blackheads all over. Every now and again, she’ll get a full grown pimple.
I started very basically. I bought some oils. I mixed them in my hand to start with a few drops of each, at about half and half ratio. My first set of oils was (literally the ones I bought and used):
The castor oil is the “cleaner” and the jojoba oil helps balance the moisture in a noncomedogenic (non-pore-clogging) way. According to this site, jojoba rates as a “2,” or “moderately low” likelihood to clog pores. Plus I found on some other sites that jojoba is good for dry skin and older skin. It seemed like a good starting point.
Half and half turned out to be too much castor oil for me and left my skin dry and itchy. So I backed off to 1 part castor oil to 3 parts jojoba, and that seemed to work initially, as long as I followed up the routine with a few extra drops of jojoba as a moisturizer.
But after a few weeks, I didn’t like the level of oil that was left on my face after. Jojoba is a heavier, thicker oil. If I cleansed in the evening before bed, I didn’t mind it so much, and my skin was very moisturized and clear by morning. But when I did it in the morning, it felt like hours before my skin absorbed everything and I felt a little like I was walking around with an oil slick on my face. So I switched to sweet almond oil in my cleanser (at the same 1 to 3 ratio) and morning moisturizer, and keeping the jojoba for an evening moisturizer. (Since I use sweet almond oil for a number of other things, I bought a big bottle, and really like quality of other products this company offers.) Now that I liked, a lot. I went all summer with no pop-up pimples, no dry skin, no oily skin. It was great! I even got to where I could cleanse every other day (with a water only rinse in between) and maintain clear, good feeling, even skin.
Then winter came. My skin tends to dry up something fierce in the winter, and for whatever reason, I would end up with a very red face every day, as if I’d been out in the blustery cold. I couldn’t find anything online that corresponded with what was going on with my skin with the oils I was using, and my skin wasn’t especially dry or itchy, just really red. So I tried switching again, this time to avocado oil in the cleansing blend. Avocado oil is a little heavier than the sweet almond oil, but not as much as the jojoba oil. Plus I knew it is full of all those good for you internally fats, and there are some very luxurious masks you can make with avocados, so it seemed like a good choice to me.
The end results:
This is what I’ve stuck with for the last year+ (i.e. all four seasons, no issues). It’s also what my kids use. I really like this brand, but I have bought NOW solutions (I sometimes find them a bit cheaper, especially in the bundles), and have also been happy with their products. The Sky Organics does seem a little richer to me, and it has the handy pump bottle which I totally reuse! Once the pump bottle was a quarter empty, I simply added the castor oil to it and give it a good shake before each use. One pump is just enough to do my whole face. I switch between the avocado oil (winter) and sweet almond oil (summer) for moisturizing, and use the jojoba at night when I want a bit extra.
Now for the great parts:
- It works great as a makeup remover, even waterproof mascara comes right off
- I can actually feel the sebum (stuff that clogs your pores) get pulled out as I massage my face
- With the amount we use, and not having to cleanse every day, a bottle of the mix lasts for months and months, which winds up being much cheaper in the long run
- It works for all three of us, with very different skin. So no buying-and-trying different “products” for each skin type and need and change
- When my kids get lazy and don’t cleanse their faces for a few days and start to break out again, one good cleansing and a swipe of yarrow tincture on a cotton ball is usually enough to clear everything up again.
- We use the oils for other things too: extra moisture for hair, taming flyaways, crafting other products, infusing with herbs for topical medicines, massage, etc. Can’t do all that with Noxzema!
And lastly, my kids aren’t starting out dependent on artificial ingredients or salicylic acid to keep their skin clear. They are hormonally over producing at times right now, but that will end. Rather than constantly stripping their skin of the natural oils (which leads to overproduction of oil), and replacing it with artificial moisturizer, their skin can learn the right amount of oil to produce to keep them healthy and glowing through their lifetime.
*the basic background and instructions I gave my kids to get them going. Breaking it down into easy-to-understand steps seemed to make the “weirdness” of the whole thing a little easier for them to follow and accomplish correctly.