Winter is generally not skin’s finest time. Drier air brings drier skin. Lack of sun exposure can lead to more breakouts (yup, moderate sun exposure can help prevent acne). And paler skin may also make any blemishes more noticeable.
During winter, it’s not uncommon to experience more skin problems, many of them even contradictory. How do you treat dry skin and breakouts at the same time?!
Enter “oil cleansing,” a still-under-the-radar facial cleansing method that gets rave reviews from those in the know. It’s been found to work for people of basically all skin types, clearing up acne, moisturizing dry skin, and leaving an overall radiant glow.
Sebaceous glands below the skin produce oil (sebum), which is needed for protecting skin from the elements (sebum waterproofs skin, as well as guards against bacteria and fungi). Pretty essential stuff. That’s why it’s no secret that over-cleansing causes more oily skin–you’re basically training your skin to produce more oil to make up for what you’re stripping away. (And the same goes for hair!)
The reason oil cleansing works is that like dissolves like. Oil dissolves oil. And, in addition to cleansing away the “dirty” oil on your skin, the new oil you apply serves as a moisturizer too. (Plus, based on the oil blend you choose, you’re moisturizing with beneficial oils containing antimicrobial properties that further protect and nourish your skin.)
How to oil cleanse:
First, you’ll have to choose your oils. There are a lot of possible variations, based on your skin type, skin issue du jour, and what you have around. (See below for more details.)
Then, follow these steps:
- Wet your face with warm water.
- Massage a quarter-sized dollop of your oil blend into your skin for a couple minutes. (Take your time!)
- Wipe off oil with a washcloth and warm water. (Some people recommend using a microfiber cloth for a fuller cleanse–it helps wipe more “dirty” oil away after the cleanse.)
- This is an extra step if you feel that you need more moisture: Splash cool water on your face to close your pores. Dab a drop or two of a gentle, moisturizing oil on your skin and don’t wipe off.
You’ll only need to oil cleanse once a day (morning or evening, your choice), and just rinse your face with water (and maybe a microfiber cloth) the other time. Gasp! But really. And, since oil cleansing does remove oil, if you’re on the dry side, you can probably get away with oil cleansing only every other day.
Choosing oil blends
Castor oil is the base of the cleanse. It’s highly antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, so gives the best, deepest cleanse. But because it can be drying, you’ll need to mix it with another more gentle and nourishing oil.
Common choices for secondary oils are:
- Almond: nourishing and moisturizing, great for dry skin
- Jojoba: moisturizing, good for all skin types
- Olive: nourishing and moisturizing, good for dry skin
- Sunflower: non-comedogenic, good for acne-prone skin
- Hemp: non-comedogenic, good for acne-prone skin
All oils can easily be purchased on Amazon.com.
- Oily Skin: 2/3 castor, 1/3 secondary oil
- Combination Skin: 1/2 castor, 1/2 secondary oil
- Dry Skin: 1/3 castor, 2/3 secondary oil
You may want to experiment to see what works best for you. Start by mixing small amounts in your palm and see how they feel. When you find your optimum blend, you can mix larger quantities and store your oil blend in a clean container that you don’t stick your hands into. You want to keep it bacteria-free.
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Note from Mel: Although I was initially hesitant to “clean” my face with oil, I’ve been using the oil cleansing method for the past month. I haven’t experienced any breakouts or dry skin since the day I started (both have been intermittent problems for me in the past). I tend to have sensitive skin, so was surprised how easily my skin transitioned to this method. But some people find that it takes their skin a week or two to get used to the routine–it’s apparently not uncommon to experience worse acne for a short period of time before you see a benefit. But most every account of oil cleansing I came across did see a benefit!