A Mini-Guide to the Oil Cleansing Method

Last year, one of my lovely readers suggested that I try the Oil Cleansing Method, also called OCM, to decrease the oiliness of my skin. I was familiar with the concept of using oils to benefit my combination skin, but I had never thought about cleansing my face with them. I mainly reserved oils for moisturizing purposes. I finally gave it a try and was quite pleased with the results, as my skin looked clear and supple. Note: I do not use this method regularly because I am frequently reviewing new products.

The OCM is sometimes recommended as a means for clearing up acne breakouts. While I do believe that it could help some people topically, I would highly recommend addressing an acne problem with a Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner and a dermatologist. Acne is most often triggered by issues related to poor nutrition, digestion problems and hormonal imbalances. A good skincare regimen will help, but it will not solve the problem.

The concept behind the OCM is that “oil dissolves oil,” therefore massaging an oil into the skin will dissolve the oils accumulated on the skin during the day. While that works, as someone who has combination skin with an oily T-Zone prone to congestion, I cannot stress enough the importance of removing the oils properly from the skin. When the oils are not completely removed they lead to congested and clogged pores and cause more breakouts. With that said, be sure to pay attention to the removal step and if your skin feels slightly dry after cleansing try to use a light moisturizing oil like argan oil, which is balancing and appropriate for combination/oily skin types. (A study has shown that argan oil is effective at regulating sebum production.)

The two oils recommended for the OCM are castor oil and olive oil in a 50:50 ratio for normal skin types. The ratio recommended for oily skin types changes to 75:25, and to 25:75 for dry skin types (castor:olive respectively). However, I opted to use different oils and I swapped castor and olive oil with hazelnut and grapeseed oil simply because after trying with different oils, those are the two that I found which leave my skin looking better. Other oils that can be used for the OCM are sweet almond oil, avocado oil, and hemp seed oil.

How to cleanse with the OCM:

1. Prepare your oil mixture, and have two soft face towels on hand.

2. Pour a tablespoon of the oil mixture into the palm of your hand and begin to massage it on your face in circular motions. Make sure to be gentle, especially if you have delicate skin.

3. Continue to massage the skin for 1-2 minutes, allowing the oils to penetrate the skin.

4. Wet one of your face towels with hot (but not scalding) water and place it on your face so that your entire face is covered.

5. Keep the towel on your face until it cools off.

6. Wipe your face (very gently) to remove the oil, rinse the towel, and repeat steps 4 through 6 another time, or as long as needed to remove the oils completely.

*Note: Make sure the oil has been completely removed to prevent your pores from getting clogged.

Repeat the OCM about 2-3 times a week, once a day (preferably in the evening).

Some people like to add essential oils to the mixture as well. However, essential oils can be very irritating to the skin, especially if not properly diluted. Therefore, unless you already know that your skin does not react poorly to the essential oils you want to add, skip them. Some of the essential oils that people like to add to the mixture are tea tree oil and lavender oil, for their antiseptic properties.

If you suffer from severe acne, make sure to consult a dermatologist before trying the OCM.

Photo credits: Lilly Wallace

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