Thursday, 21 June 2012

Living Chemical Free, Part 6: Oil Cleansing Method

Previously, on Living Chemical Free:

Part 1 talked about washing hair without any shampoo, with additional uses of baking soda listed in Part 2.

In Part 3, I give you my homemade deodorant recipe.

Part 4 gets a little nutty. Soap nutty, that is. Oh, I should have been a comedian!

And if you want to dump the toothbrush and toothpaste, in Part 5 I'll give you alternatives to black teeth.

Oil Cleansing Method

Today I want to talk to you about your face washing routine. Do you use a cleanser? When I was a teenager, my mom took me to the Clinique counter where I got a simple set of makeup and a foaming cleanser to wash the stuff off.

I don't have any horror stories to tell about washing my face. Sometimes I did it, often I didn't, and I had the average amount of facial breakouts as a result.

However, something that annoyed me when I realised it in my late teens or early 20s, was when I noticed that my blackheads weren't going away. Nope. They took up residence in my pores when I was 13 or so, and got comfortable.

I've tried a few different things. Popping them doesn't yield permanent results. (I know, gross, but seriously - we all do it) Those cool little sticky strips that pull out several dozen blackheads at once don't, either. Face masks, toner washes, hydrogen peroxide, homemade oatmeal soaps, and so on. Nothing made much of a difference.

But where those other concoctions went wrong was at the very basic level of chemistry: like dissolves like. In a nutshell, that link states that the same molecules, arranged in different but similar solutions, become "miscible" when combined together. They are pratically interchangeable.

When I came across the idea of the oil cleansing method, and people touted it as a way to get rid of blackheads, I was intrigued. I am now in my 30s, and those blackheads are not going away. If someone told me I would still have zits and blocked pores at this age when I was first going through puberty, I probably would have cried.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have tried oil cleansing a grand total of two times. I can't guarantee that it gets rid of blackheads entirely, because I think you would have to do it regularly, a couple of times a week or even daily for a long stretch of time before getting consistent results. But! I did see a real reduction in blackheads.

I think I really need to incorporate this into a weekly routine, because it has to be worked around my hair washing schedule. As much as I appreciate the chemistry component of using oil to wash oil off my face, I still don't want it getting in my hairline on a non-wash day.

So my plan is this: On a hair wash day, when I wake up, I need to prepare my baking soda mixture first thing so it is cooled enough to pour on my scalp an hour or so later. After that is mixed, I can take a few minutes to wash my face.

1. I've already mixed the oil in advance and left it in the kitchen (be prepared to label the jar, because to my family it looks like honey!). This website has a great list of oil ratios to use, depending on skin type. You want to use a mix of castor oil and a carrier oil (olive oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, etc); I used half castor oil and half olive oil because I thought it was a good starting point. If you have oily skin, increase the castor oil to 2/3 and decrease the carrier oil to 1/3. If you have dry skin, do the opposite - 1/3 castor oil and 2/3 carrier oil.

2. Get a bunch of face cloths wet and ready. One of the main reasons I do this in the kitchen is because you want the cloths hot and wet to steam your skin a bit. Rather than waste a bunch of hot water, I zap them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds at a time, when I'm ready to use one.

3. Wet your face with hot water, pour a little oil in the palm of your hand, and start massaging it into the skin.

4. Rub the oil into your face for a good 10 minutes. Make sure to focus on the areas that give you the most trouble - for me it is my nose and chin, and if I don't take the time to rub the oil into those areas thoroughly, I don't get the best results.

5. Get a hot, wet cloth and hold it on your face for a minute or two. Then start wiping your face.

6. Once the cloth cools down, heat another one and wipe your face again.

7. Repeat the above step until you have washed all the oil off.

8. Enjoy the feeling of sparkling clean skin! Marvel at the lack of blackheads (maybe)!

A small warning: Some people online mention a settling in period, much like giving up shampoo, where the pores of their skin become unclogged but the skin keeps over-producing sebum in reaction to using harsh soaps and cleansers. This could make someone feel disheartened and think that the oil cleansing is making his/her face WORSE.

It was suggested that the person stick with it, and wait for a week or two before making a judgement. There should be a substantial difference in the skin's reaction by then.

For another discussion on the oil cleansing method, go here.

This post is more of an informative type one rather than a personal recommendation. I haven't done it enough to say "Yes! It's totally awesome and has changed my life!"

I haven't ever worn makeup regularly or washed my face with soap morning and night. I have often felt bad about the washing thing, like I was slovenly or something, but now I don't think so. Recently someone thought that I was in my early 20s, so my makeup-less, soap-less face must be doing ok from an ageing standpoint!

Or, maybe, those blackheads and zits give me a youthful appearance. Who knows.

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