Rebecca's Ponderings

May 20, 2011

Dirty Little Secret

Filed under: Life — Rebecca @ 10:12 am
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Oil for the face?!?

I have a secret: I have always hated the skin God gave me. Somehow, I ended up with sensitive, combination skin that also develops hives when I eat certain foods. In high school, I tried the harsh chemical cleansing pads only to find that they caused the condition to worsen. Then I tried the gentle cream cleansers, but they did not really get my skin clean. Through the years I tried the home party brands; the expensive, hypoallergenic department store brands; and even plain water. I finally settled on an olive oil bar with an Epsom salt scrub followed by a honey toner. It worked somewhat, but my face still had blackheads, dry patches and hormonal breakouts.

Finally, I was researching natural skin and body care and ran across some strange idea called the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). I was intrigued. The basic ideas behind this method were very different from conventional skincare, but they made sense.

The first premise is that some oil is good for our skin. It is protective. That is why God designed our skin to produce oils. Stripping the face bare leaves the skin dry and vulnerable. Or worse, it causes the skin to produce more oil, leading to more cleansing, leading to more production, etc. It is a vicious cycle that I have found myself trapped in more than once.

The second premise is that oil dissolves oil. There are tons of oil-free cleansers and creams on the market today promising to clear up oily skin. How ridiculous is that! The ancient Greeks and Romans knew better; their bathing routine included smoothing oil on their skin and then scraping it off with a strigil. Even I, who managed to get a D in high school chemistry (I seriously tried to flunk that class… but that is a secret I will save for a different post.), know that like dissolves like. Oil dissolves oil.

So, how does this OCM work? First, you need castor oil. It is well-known for its cleansing and conditioning properties. According to, it even helps build collagen and eliminates dark under-eye circles. Castor oil works so well that it must be diluted with a carrier oil or it will dry out the skin. Common carrier oils include olive and sunflower. Personally, I like coconut oil because of its healing properties.

Your ratio of castor oil to carrier oil will vary depending on your skin type. A website dedicated to the OCM gives the following recommendations. They are a good place to start:

For oily skin: 30% castor to 70% carrier
For combination skin: 20% castor to 80% carrier
For dry skin: 10% castor to 90% carrier

Each person is a little different, and you may discover that your skin produces less oil as you start to nourish it rather than stripping it bare. My skin also changes with the seasons. Use these general guidelines and then adjust as necessary. I actually like the fact that I can customize the formula to meet my body’s changing needs. I also add a few drops of myrrh essential oil to mine; it is healing and makes me feel like Queen Esther.

To use it, pour a small (quarter-size) amount into your palm. Gently massage it onto your dry face. It will remove dirt, oil, makeup, whatever. Be sure to spend more time in problem areas. Don’t rush the process, use it to relax and unwind from the stress of the day. Then, take a washcloth and rinse it in hot water. Place it over your face and let the steam open your pores. Leave the cloth on your face until it is room temperature. Wipe your face. Rinse the cloth, and repeat. Wipe your entire face, rinsing the cloth as necessary. Be sure to pay attention to the areas along the hairline and jaw. Finish with a splash of cold water to close the pores. That is it.

It is not necessary to do the oil cleansing method every time you clean your face. I usually do this in the evening and then just splash my face with water several times in the morning. There is no need for toner because there is no soap residue. In the rare instance that I need a moisturizer, a tiny bit of lotion bar does the job beautifully. Occasionally, I will still use Epsom salts for my chin.

I hesitate to post this because I know that all of my friends will be inspecting my skin the next time we meet. My skin is not perfect. In all though, I am very happy with the results. The pores on my nose are clear. The stubborn blackheads on my chin have been greatly reduced. My face is not greasy. I no longer get cyclical breakouts that linger for weeks. Even my occasional hives clear up more quickly. There are no rough, dry patches. My skin looks brighter and feels softer and more nourished than ever.

So now you know my dirty little secret. I encourage my friends to at least try the OCM. It is incredibly inexpensive. It does take slightly more time than soap. Consider it as a mini spa; treat yourself like a queen for five minutes a day. Like me, you just might discover that you now love the skin God gave you.


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