Today I want to share with you a super effective, minimal and zero waste method to clean, purify and moisturise your skin: the oil cleansing method.
How oil cleansing can simplify your skincare routine and reduce waste
Let’s admit it. We've all been through that phase of using a million different detergents with the promise that they can illuminate and purify our skin, get rid of excess oil or fight acne. The reality is that detergents are formulated to clean your skin, but they also strip the natural oils from your skin.
When this happens, our skin works hard to produce more oil than normal, causing oily skin and blemishes.
Instead, the oil cleansing method works based on the idea that "oil is able to dissolve oil". If we choose to simply dissolve our original oil (the sebum) with new and pure natural oil, we can clean our skin without disrupting its balance.
What's best is that oil cleansing is suitable for all skin types.
All you need is a blend of oils of your choice, a reusable glass dropper bottle, and a cotton or bamboo fibre cloth pad. You can cleanse your skin before going to bed or in the morning, and you can even use it to remove your make-up. It makes it the perfect method to adopt if you want to switch to a more simplified, minimal, natural skincare routine.
How to choose the right oil for you
When choosing which oil works best for your skin, keep in mind the following parameters:
First and foremost, it is extremely important that you choose high quality, cold pressed oils that have not been obtained by chemical extraction methods. When possible, choose unrefined and organic.
Although you can definitely oil cleanse with just one oil type, a balanced mix of oils can really bring wonders to your skin. This is essentially because every oil has a unique fatty acid profile, which donates exclusive properties to the oil. While some oils might have similar properties, other oils might lack something you can complement with another oil.
Have you ever heard of the comedogenic scale? On a scale from 0 to 5, it is based on the absorption rate of an oil and measures the likelihood that has to clog your pores. That being said, we should not be choosing an oil based on this assumption alone.
Some oils with a higher comedogenic scale (for example, avocado oil) might do wonders for extremely dry skin. Some other oils, like castor oil, with a very low comedogenic rating, might be drying to the skin. This is why we love mixing different oil types that can bring the right balance to the skin.
The 4 Oils Strategy
Although you don’t have to do this, you can create an effective and balanced oil cleanser by applying the following "strategy":
Ideally, the base of your oil cleansing mix should be an oil with cleansing and antibacterial properties. The star oil with these properties often used in the oil cleansing method is castor oil. Castor oil has amazing astringent properties and works beautifully in drawing impurities that can cause potential acne breakouts off your skin. The quantity of castor oil you can use will depend on your skin type. Start with 30% of your whole formulation and work your way down if you have dry skin.
Too much castor oil can be drying, so use it sparingly if you have dry skin. If you have extremely dry or very sensitive skin, you can completely skip the castor oil and add a little bit of coconut oil instead, which has natural amazing anti-bacterial and cleansing properties. Keep in mind that during cold temperatures the coconut oil will solidify. You could use fractionated coconut oil, which does not solidify, but keep in mind that this will have a different fatty acid profile to coconut oil.
Choose the oil that works best for your skin type! Add up to 50% of this oil to your castor oil base. Depending on your skin type, you could choose between hemp seed oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil etc. If you want, you can also mix two different oils at 25% each.
Finally, and again this is optional, for the remaining 20% you could add a more luxurious oil with unique properties. These are normally also very expensive but can truly top up and complement your oil blend in a unique way.
Some “luxurious” oils are, for example, argan, jojoba, tamanu oil, sea buckthorn oil, evening primrose oil, rosehip oil. If you prefer to stick to using only your core oil/s, simply up your core oil percentage by 20%.
This is also entirely optional and I would skip this step if you have very sensitive skin. If you want to include essential oils, adjust your oil base to leave room for up to 0.5% maximum of essential oils of your total recipe. I normally choose essential oils that are suitable to use on the face, such as lavender, sandalwood, tea tree, frankincense. Among citrus essential oils I like grapefruit, sweet orange and neroli. Bear in mind that citrus essential oils contain photosensitizers, so make sure to wear them at night or avoid any sun exposure. Never add essential oils if you will be applying the oil next to your eyes.
Ready to make your own oil cleanser recipe?
Now that you know how to choose the oils and essential oils that work better for your skin, you can have fun and try to make your own oil cleanser at home.
I have included below some recipe recommendations and ratios you can draw inspiration from. Feel free to swap the oils around according to what you think works best for you!
Combination, Oily or Acne Prone skin
30% castor oil
50% core oil: grapeseed oil, hemp seed oil, safflower oil
20% luxury oil: tamanu, sea buckthorn oil, argan oil
optional: up to 0.5% essential oil: lavender, tea tree, palmarosa, lemongrass, geranium, grapefruit, sweet orange, neroli.
20% castor oil
60% core oil: sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, ricebran oil, sunflower oil, olive oil
20% luxury oil: evening primrose oil, rosehip seed oil, argan oil, jojoba.
Optional: up to 0.5% essential oil: lavender, geranium, sandalwood, frankincesce, cedarwood.
Very Dry/Sensitive skin
0%-10% castor oil
80% core oil: avocado oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, ricebran oil, sunflower oil
20% luxury oil: neem oil, jojoba, argan.
How to use your own oil cleanser every day
Applying your oil blend could not be easier! All you need is a soft, bamboo fibre or cotton cloth. If you want to remove make up from small areas like your eyes, you can use reusable cotton roundels.
Pair your homemade oil cleanser with reusable make up roundels for a zero waste routine
Wash your hands well, dry them and then squeeze 4-5 drops of the oil into the palm of your hand.
Distribute the oil between your hands and start massaging it once the face, including the neck, in circular movements. This will take you between one to three minutes. Just enjoy it and don't rush it. If you need to remove any eye make up, add a couple of drops of oil to a wet cotton roundel and gently scrub any make-up away. Rinse and repeat if necessary.
Dampen your face cloth with warm/hot water, squeeze any excess water out and place the hot towel over your face for a few seconds. Repeat if necessary, making sure to cover the neck area as well. Massage your skin before removing the cloth. If you feel you still have some of the oil left on your skin you can use a simple wet towel to scrub any excess oil off.
Using an oil cleanser morning and night dramatically cuts down the number of products you're using
Dry your face with a towel and enjoy the amazing feeling of soft, purified skin!
You can use this method once or twice a day. I personally like a more cleansing oil blend at night and a more moisturising oil blend in the morning when my skin feels super dry. By applying this method I feel less the need of applying a cream.
As with many natural switches, your skin may undergo a transitioning period and there is still a chance that you will have some skin blemishes during the adjustment period. If you feel that this method is not working well for you, try to change the oils that you are using.
I truly believe that the oil cleansing method can really simplify your skincare routine dramatically. We really don’t need as many different products, but sometimes are the simpler things that can truly make a difference.
Many oils can be bought in glass jars, and, whenever this is not possible, you can buy a larger size bottle that will last you longer. Just make sure you read the label as some oils (such as grapeseed and hemp seed oil) have a shorter shelf life.
A cleanser, a moisturiser, a make up remover, all in a 30 ml reusable dropper bottle. Are you ready to simplify your skincare routine?
This article has been written in collaboration with Pebble Magazine, check out more of their amazing content on sustainable living!