Is the oil cleansing method totally whack?
July 21, 2011 12:43 PM   Subscribe

The oil cleansing method for skincare. Have you used it? How'd it work out (esp. for you acne-prone combination skin sorts)? How long did it take for your skin to adjust to the regimen? What's your routine?
posted by liketitanic to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
(previous thread)
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:47 PM on July 21, 2011

I use it, and my skin has overall been softer and more even, plus I have fewer breakouts/blackheads (my pores are a lot clearer than they were for a long time). I use a combo of about 4 parts light olive oil to 1 part castor oil, plus a few drops of tea tree oil; it took some trial and error to get the combination that was right for me.

I just rub it on at night and take everything off with a warm, moist washcloth. That's it. I don't moisturize much at night anymore because I don't need to. In the mornings, I mostly just rinse my face and put on a moisturizer (with sunscreen). Occasionally (maybe once a week or so) I use an exfoliating cleanser. My whole regimen has gotten a lot simpler.
posted by scody at 12:59 PM on July 21, 2011

I have used it. Still do when I feel in need of a deep clean, though I usually just go with water and a washcloth now.

My skin (combination but not acne-prone in a very dry high desert climate) did really well with it—when I first started using it every day, I had a couple days of very tight, dry skin all over. I started moisturizing with a tiny bit of oil afterwards, and then after a week my skin stopped needing the extra moisture. The overall skin tone seemed to even out and I had that fresh baby skin thing going. My pores seemed to hang onto dirt less firmly, so they looked smaller.

My sister (combination, very acne prone, in a humid climate) started it at the same time and saw about two weeks of improvement. Then her skin went CRAZY and she developed a ton of acne all at once. It didn't improve after a couple weeks, so she stopped with the OCM. The acne went away.

We both used a castor/almond oil mix, rubbing it in for two minutes, then steaming for two minutes, and wiping off with a hot washcloth. We both did it every night. I found that every night was too harsh for me and started doing it once a week, just using water and a washcloth in the meantime.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:03 PM on July 21, 2011

I use olive and castor oil on my acne-prone, combination. I no longer have break outs or dry patches. My skintone has evened out to the point that I don't feel the need to wear base makeup or concealer. I only do it once every week to 2 weeks, and I use water and a wash cloth morning and night the rest of the time.

To be honest, though, I suspect the biggest reason for improvement is that I'm no longer slathering my face with unnatural chemicals in the form of makeup, exfoliants, fancy cleansers, moisturizers, anti-aging creams, etc. The cycle of stripping out and replacing natural oils with artificial chemicals doesn't really make sense, after all. Regardless of what's actually going on with my skin, I like the method because it has given me a new way of thinking about skin care and I believe I'm better off for it.
posted by Eumachia L F at 1:29 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had a bad experience with it as I detailed in the thread that Horselover Phattie mentions above. I had beautiful, flawless skin for the first three weeks (oh, that skin), and then the cystic acne started. I'd never had cystic acne before, but kept with the OCM in hopes that the flawless skin would return, but it didn't. The cystic acne stopped immediately when I quit the OCM. After recommendations from AskMeFi in other threads, I decided to try Cetaphil (cleansing bar and lotion). It's been seven months on Cetaphil and my skin is in great shape.

Oddly, the OCM dried my face out a lot (in addition to the cystic acne), not just when I was on it but for several months afterwards. My face is still much drier than it was before the OCM- flaky dry. I usually have really greasy skin in early spring, but that didn't happen this year.

Anyway, many people will tell you to try to adjust the oils to fit your face if it's not working, and it has this ring of "if it's not working, it's you that is the problem, not the OCM". Lots of people seem to have good results, but many people have bad results. Don't feel guilty about walking away without trying *every* oil combination out there. It didn't work for me; it may not work for you.
posted by aabbbiee at 1:46 PM on July 21, 2011

My skin is quite oily and this method has helped balance things out.

I use a combination of grapeseed oil (75%) and castor oil (25%). I find that the grapeseed oil is much silkier than olive.

My routine is to run my face under hot water in the shower, rub 1/2 teaspoon into my skin and let it sit while I do my regular shower routine. Then I rinse well at the end and pat dry with a towel.
posted by annaramma at 1:52 PM on July 21, 2011

Seconding aabbbiee. It didn't work out for me. I wasn't prone to acne to begin with, and only ever washed with Cetaphil. My good period with OCM lasted more than three weeks -- more like 2 or 3 months -- but then I started getting huge zits. Not clusters, just one at a time, but very large and painful. I switched from olive oil to safflower, but it didn't help. Stopping OCM and going back to Cetaphil fixed things.
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 1:52 PM on July 21, 2011

I use jojoba only, just under a dime. Massage in quickly and remove with a warm washcloth. I think I've been using this for five or six years now. Olive oil was too heavy, jojoba is great for getting gunk out of your pores. Occasionally I do a sugar/oil scrub or an aspirin mask.

Combination, prone to acne, wear makeup.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:21 PM on July 21, 2011

I've used it, and still do occasionally. I did half castor and half olive oil. When I first started it worked really well after a week for a month or so. When I hit PMS-time, it just didn't seem to be a match for the craziness my hormones wanted to throw at it. I do try to use it now when my skin feels too dry or irritated, but also just often stick to water/washcloth or a mild scrub.
posted by bizzyb at 3:54 PM on July 21, 2011

I finally settled on a mixture of about 5 parts jojoba oil, 3 parts mineral oil, and 1 part tea tree oil. It worked pretty well for me, but I had some messes.

Eventually I switched over to Pond's Original Cold Cream (the one with only like 5 ingredients, no crazy multi-syllabic chemicals). It's pretty much the same thing as the OCM, but less sloppy. And it smells like rosewater instead of weird oils!
posted by ErikaB at 4:16 PM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

I tried OCM for about 4 months, in the winter it worked ok. Never amazing but I like the simpleness and knowing what I was putting on my face. Once it started to warm up and get humid around it kind of stopped working. I tried many different variations on the ratio and couldn't get it to work. I gave up and switched to which has been quite good (beyond the fact that I'm not a big fan of benzoyl peroxide). I know many people on here love it, but for me it unfortunately didn't work, I really wanted it to.
posted by DJWeezy at 5:41 PM on July 21, 2011

Just chiming in to say, I considered OCM, but through a strange circumstance, ended up with some Pond's Cold Cream . .and yeah. Love it. I do the Pond's at night (remove with a warm wash cloth, not tissue, but whatever works for you) and a gentle exfoliation scrub for my day wash. My cheeks feel like a baby's butt and (knock wood) I can't think of the last time I had a serious pimple. Bonus: It removes waterproof mascara. Thus, I cannot remember the last time I bought eyemakeup remover.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:51 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ponds cold cream here too. I used the OCM but had to keep futzing with the ratios and in the end went to cold cream since it was basically, oil in an emulsion form.
posted by jadepearl at 6:32 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have otherwise insanely oily skin and I have been doing the OCM for maybe a year now. 90% castor oil, 10% grapeseed oil, then I add several drops of tea tree oil to the 3 oz bottle I mix up (lasts a LONG time). I put oil on my face before I go in the shower and wipe it off with a wash cloth. I don't do anything else to my skin except wear make-up -- i.e. no moisturizer because they all irritate my skin and make it oily.

My skin has been great; I frequently get compliments on it. I still get some hormonal acne a week out of the month, but that's it. Also, I only wash my face during my morning shower; I know it's awful and all that, but I never remove my make-up at night because I'm too lazy. I've had no issues with my make-up making me break out.
posted by Nattie at 9:15 PM on July 21, 2011

I wanted to reiterate that if you want to try cold cream, be sure to get the original (or the store-brand equivalent). They have a ton of variants now, and it can be hard to track down the original.

The ingredients in the original are: mineral oil, water, beeswax, ceresin, sodium borate, fragrance, carbomer.
posted by ErikaB at 11:28 AM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

I have definitely had a breakout after starting, including a serious cystic pimple BUT I think it's working. The massage part is REALLY important--the firm pressure is what pulls out blackheads and sebum plugs. Also important: using clean pillowcases and not reusing dirty washcloths.
posted by liketitanic at 1:02 PM on August 3, 2011

I am now pretty sure it is totally whack and has ruined my skin.
posted by liketitanic at 4:06 PM on October 4, 2011

posted by liketitanic at 7:18 AM on December 2, 2011

I still recommend Cetaphil. Twice a day, both soap & lotion, with Pond's Cold Cream first to remove makeup if you wear it. The scars from my OCM-induced cystic acne have cleared up now, a year after quitting, and if I get pimples, it's because I'm slacking on washing twice a day. Vitamin A also helps (yes, seriously).

Good luck!
posted by aabbbiee at 12:14 PM on December 2, 2011


I'm sorry OCM didn't work for you, but Paula Begoun 1) is not a scientist 2) wants to sell her own products. Though she might be a good jumping-off place to start research, she is not by any means the final word. From your link, here's what she says:

Dissolving oil from the surface of your skin cannot affect what is happening below the surface, inside the pore, or in your body, where these hormones are generated. Using cleansing oil may remove facial oil from the surface of your skin, but that's about all it can do.

This is not an argument against OCM: this is true of all cleansers- they only work on the "surface", including the ones sold by Paula Begoun.

... and that's her only argument. She argues about the other statements on the OCM site, but they are just generalities of "mainstream" cleansers. Of course not all cleansers strip oils or are highly fragranced- (cold cream is made from oils and has been used for decades). That's not an argument against the efficacy of using oil to cleanse one's face. Again, this doesn't mean washing your face with straight oil works for everyone, but she has not made any good arguments for why it may not help skin that don't equally apply to every other cleanser, including the ones she sells. If we want to carry her argument even further, since sebum production is caused by hormones, and cleansers can't get to where that sebum is produced, it shouldn't make any sort of difference what you wash your face with. I doubt even Paula believes that, since she sells half a dozen different cleansers on her site.

And FWIW, I think the OCM website has plenty of voodoo on it as well. Hot steam is not good for your skin on a regular basis, and pores can't open and close. However, their lack of science doesn't mean Paula's poor arguments are worthwhile.

PS: just because something doesn't work for you doesn't mean it is "totally whack". That sort of implies the untruthfulness or freakiness of the people that it does work for. I understand your frustration, but skin and skincare are highly individualized and something not working for someone doesn't make it "whack".
posted by oneirodynia at 5:12 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

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