Non-Toxic Tuesday | Oil Cleansing Method

by Tierney Johnson in


Welcome to the first post in what I hope will be a series called Non-Toxic Tuesday! Every Tuesday (or maybe I should say on "select Tuesdays" to spare myself the commitment... I have commitment issues!) I hope to do a series on living non-toxic, focusing on personal care and cosmetic products. While the numbers regarding exactly how much of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our body vary, one fact rings consistently true: our skin DOES absorb some of what is put on it, and it absorbs it very well. Consider nicotine patches and patch-based birth control. They work for a reason, and to deny that your skin is absorbing what you're putting on it is just downright crazy. Am I trying to cause you to panic and get caught up in the "everything is toxic/everything is killing us" mentality? No, because that will just stress you out, which will probably more negatively impact your health. Check out this brief article from the Huffington Post if you're interested in learning about being aware and selective of what you put in/on/around your body. If you're on board, let's do this together :) 

The Oil Cleansing Method

What is that, you ask? It's actually a method of face washing that uses... oil! Sound contradictory? It's actually a fact that oil dissolves oil. Or, if you have a background in chemistry, you will probably be familiar with the phrase "like dissolves like." That's the principal in play with the OCM. The oils you massage onto your face are meant to draw out and dissolve the oils already in your pores and on your face. The OCM is also FANTASTIC at removing makeup. I only wear makeup occasionally, and previously had raccoon eyes for a week after wearing mascara even just once because it was impossible to wash off. Not any more! I haven't been using the OCM long enough to testify personally of anything other than the fact that it removes makeup like a boss. 

Now those of you with oily skin might be cringing at the thought of rubbing more oil onto your face. But fear not, because the OCM works for all skin types, and an unbelievable number of people have had great success clearing up/maintaining their skin using the OCM. People with oily skin many times make the problem worse by drying their skin out... causing their body to produce MORE oil. Even www.acne.org has a section about the OCM and it appears that many battling severe acne have used it successfully, although it might take some time to figure out which oils and ratios work best for your skin.

If you are looking for an inexpensive and generally easy way to live a more natural, less toxic lifestyle... the OCM is for you!

What You Need

The foundational oil for the OCM for all skin types is castor oil (or hazelnut oil if you don't want to use castor), which if I understand correctly actually draws "stuff" out of your pores, is a bit drying, and is antibacterial in nature. The amount of castor oil used in proportion to other oils depends on your skin type. Here's a list of "carrier" oils that are mixed with the castor oil to use the OCM. This list and the ratio list below were taken from Crunchy Betty!

  • Jojoba (good for all skin types, but very desirable for acne-prone skin)
  • Sweet almond (good for all skin types, especially oily)
  • Grapeseed (good for all skin types, especially oily)
  • Avocado (good for dry and aging skin)
  • Sunflower Seed (good for all skin types)
  • Apricot Kernel (good for dry, aging, and normal skin)
  • Argan (good for all skin types, especially aging skin… very pricey)
  • Tamanu (good for all skin types… very pricey)
  • Olive (not recommended for use)
  • Coconut Oil (not recommended for use)

Here are a few ratios to give you someplace to start:

  • Oily skin: Use 2/3 castor oil to 1/3 carrier oil... or measure out 2 tsp castor oil and 1 tsp carrier oil.
  • Normal skin: Use equal parts castor oil and carrier oil... or measure out 1-1/2 tsp castor oil and 1-1/2 tsp carrier oil. 
  • Dry skin: Use 1/3 castor oil and 2/3 carrier oil... or 2 tsp carrier oil and 1 tsp castor oil. 

Again, it might take some time to figure out what works for you. Olive and coconut oil are not recommended simply because many people have had serious issues while using them. This doesn't mean they won't work for you... but I wouldn't risk it, personally. I think sunflower oil is probably the most inexpensive and easiest to obtain of all the oils listed above. In fact, it's also easy/inexpensive to buy organic! I have normal skin and use a mix of castor oil and sunflower oil.

How to do the OCM

What you need:

Your oil blend (I mix enough for few weeks and store it in a jar in my bathroom)

Clean washcloth

Hot water

1. Massage oil onto dry, dirty face. Some sources say to massage upwards for at least two minutes, then let the oil sit for an additional 30 seconds or so. I just try to make sure I've thoroughly saturated my entire face, focusing on problem areas and the areas that I've applied makeup.

2. Wet a clean washcloth with hot water. Not hot enough that it will burn you... but as hot as you can comfortably stand. Set the unfolded washcloth over your entire face, letting your pores open. Leave it on until it cools.

3. Use the washcloth to wipe the oil off your skin. You can rinse the cloth and repeat until your makeup and the oil are removed. Be sure to remove all the oil! 

There are a few things to keep in mind, the most important being that it might take a few weeks for your skin to adjust to this new method of cleansing. In fact, you skin might get worse for a while- but stick with it and give the OCM a fair chance. If after several weeks you do not notice an improvement, try switching up your ratios and/or the oils that you're using. It's probably not a good idea to switch between the OCM and other methods of face cleansing because you won't be able to tell if it's working. I use the OCM exclusively to wash my face, but I only cleanse it once in the evening at most, and I have noticed that my skin is a little "worse" than it was before as it goes through the detox/adjustment stage, although I'm hoping that will be resolved with time and continued use of the OCM. I also exfoliate occasionally AFTER CLEANING MY FACE using a simple mix of baking soda and water. Happy cleansing, and happy non-toxic Tuesday!

What do you thing? Would you try the OCM? Maybe you already use it! Feel free to share your yays and nays by commenting below!

Additional Resources

Crunchy Betty: OCM

Crunchy Betty: Troubleshooting OCM

Wellness Mama: OCM

The Oil Cleansing Method Website