Ancient Wisdom: Cleansing Oil with Oil

Oil cleansing is an ancient practice used by early Egyptian cultures for skin purification and nourishment. Unfortunately, this practice was nearly lost after the invention of industrialized facial cleansers. Whether you have dry, oily, acneic or combination skin, this “alternative” cleansing practice can benefit just about anyone. The idea of oil cleansing is based on principles of chemistry which tell us that “like dissolves like”. 

The oils that coat the surface of your skin are dissolved best by using another solvent similar in composition. If done properly and consistently, this method of facial cleansing can balance oil secretion in oily skin, hydrate dry skin, decrease blackhead/whiteheads or acne, and nourish deep layers of the epidermis for a healthier complexion.

When you massage quality oils into the skin a few things happen. First, you immediately begin to mechanically emulsify the natural oils found on your skin. Then, the cleansing oil essentially envelops the emulsified oils, dirt, and sweat on your skin, allowing for their easy removal. Now think of that greasy pot that needed an extra wash to get clean: when you oil cleanse first, your standard cleanse will easily wash away any remaining residue, leaving your skin soft and dirt-free.

Now, think of the chapped lips that became softer after applying an occlusive and hydrating substance. Softening the skin (with the use of oils) allows for dried, dead skin cells to be easily sloughed off. Now imagine the opposite: if you excessively wash your skin or dry it out chemically, your skin cells become harder and stick together in an attempt to retain as much moisture as possible. This eventually leads to clogged pores and wrinkled skin. If you are starting to see these signs of skin damage (aging), it may be time to give the ancient practice of oil cleansing a try. 

The first step is choosing your oils. I like using jojoba, argan or hemp seed oil with a few drops of lavender essential oil (for fragrance and added antibacterial properties) but sesame, almond, avocado, sunflower and olive oil work great as well. You can mix one or two of these oils together if you like; it’s important to test these things out on your own to see what your skin responds best to. It’s a fun project and you won’t harm your skin during the process!

When you find your oil(s) of choice, start by massaging a small amount on dry skin (if you wear make up, oils work as an amazing makeup remover). Make small circular motions on your skin for at least 1-2 minutes (3-4 minutes is best). The longer you massage the oil in the better; you really want to work it in so that all the dirt and impurities can be swept away easily when you remove it.
The next step involves removal of the oil which can be done one of several ways (again, play with it to see what works best for you). If you are using oil to remove makeup, I recommend using option three (below)  for cleansing the skin.

Option one is to use organic cotton rounds or a warm washcloth to gently wipe the excess oil off the skin. This method may be ideal for dry skin so that a moderate layer of oil remains on the skin to act as a moisturizing agent. You can leave the skin as is, or add a light moisturizer (or sunscreen) over your gently wiped face (note; coconut oil has a natural SPF of 4).

Option two is to jump in a steamy shower with a wet washcloth and gently dab your face with it to remove some of the oil. This method will leave a small amount of oil left behind on your skin, so this method may work great for normal to dry (or dehydrated) skin.

Option three can be used for any skin type but may be the best option for oilier types. After massaging oil into the skin, wet your hands and pour a small amount of your facial cleanser onto your fingers, creating the same circular motions on the skin for an additional two minutes. The face wash will emulsify the oil, allowing you to completely remove it from the skin. In addition, dirt, blackheads and impurities will be lifted and swept away along with the oil. Wet your hands again and massage the cleanser into the skin again for another 30 seconds. Repeat this a few more times until you feel that most of the oil has been removed. Then dab your face dry with a clean towel. Follow with your serums and moisturizers if you feel you need extra hydration. 

People with oily skin are generally afraid to try this method of cleansing. Although it may take a few weeks for your skin to adjust, almost everyone who tries this method ends up loving it. Eventually, your skin will start sending messages to your oil glands to stop or slow down the oil secretion process because it is no longer needed (many times our skin produces more oil as a means to compensate for the lack of oil on the surface of skin). Lubricating the pores also makes it easier for blackheads to be removed, in fact, some oil plugs may even pop right out during the process. Good luck and have fun!

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