Many of us have grown up using harsh cleansers and exfoliating products; all in the hopes of attaining clear and healthy skin. Personally I grew up having acne-prone skin and have combated breakouts most of my life. Speaking from experience I know that it can be devastating and have detrimental effects on one’s self-image.
Problems with Commercial Skin Care Products & Solutions
As I became more aware of what I was applying to my skin, I ditched the Noxzema and blemish remedies that contained benzoyl peroxide. These items were not only perpetuating my breakouts, but also drying out my skin. I came to realize that body care products and cosmetics are not regulated by the FDA, therefore companies can add whatever cheap chemicals and heavy metals that they wish, in order to make certain items more appealing to the consumer. For example, formaldehyde (embalming fluid) is added to body care items as a preservative, especially if the item is water based. However, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing). Why would anyone want that on their skin?! After learning this, I began choosing items based on their ingredient list. If I could pronounce and understand what the ingredients were listed on the label, I would consider it safe and try the item.
Eventually I started to use natural and organic products. The health of my skin improved, but I was still having breakouts. At the same time, I started to work on my diet; eliminating processed carbs, sugar and junk foods. My skin improved even further. However, I was not satisfied. I still wanted flawless skin.
Oil Washing to Improve Acne
While reading a book on ancient Greece, I came across information about their overall bathing and hygiene regimens. This included oil washing or oil cleansing. Since oil dissolves oil, massaging it into the skin actually helps soften and dissolve impurities. In Greece they used a tool called a strigil after applying olive oil to the body. This instrument scraped away dirt and sweat, leaving the skin clean. Often times after cleansing with olive oil, the ancient Greeks would then bathe in hot, steamy waters to open up the pores of the skin.
I found this technique to be interesting so I did a little more research. I found that even today a lot of people have had great success in the improvement of their skin through oil washing. However, the very thought of massaging oil onto my face was very counterintuitive. I was still skeptical, but I decided to give it a try.
Choosing High Quality Oils
It is important to use high quality oils to cleanse the face. Vegetable oils should be organic and cold-pressed. Since I have acne-prone skin I stuck with oils that are light with a very low comedogenic (acne causing) rating. Some examples include hemp, sunflower, grapeseed, apricot kernel, jojoba and safflower oils. My first oil cleansing blend consisted of equal parts of jojoba, sunflower, and grapeseed oils. I massaged the oil mixture into my face and neck for about a minute and then removed the oil with a hot and steamy washcloth (as hot and steamy as I could handle comfortably). I would actually get the washcloth wet and apply the steamy cloth to my face and neck about 3 times, rinsing the washcloth in between each time with hot water. If my skin seemed dry afterward, I would apply light oils such as argan or jojoba.
Why Oil Washing Works
It took a few weeks to notice the improvement in my skin, but the difference was amazing! I had a lot less breakouts and my skin wasn’t so dry. A lot of times, I don’t even have to apply a moisturizer after washing my face, which was a must previous to the oil washing. The cleansers that I used before would actually strip my skin of beneficial oils, thus drying it out. Our skin has a natural pH of about 5.5, which is slightly acidic. This acidic condition actually helps protect our skin from harmful bacteria and environmental conditions and is known as the acid mantle. When you “wash” away your acid mantle, your skin is more susceptible to invading microbial action and environmental factors, creating conditions such as inflammation and dry skin.
We also have beneficial bacteria that exist on the surface of the skin. These beneficial skin microbiota help prevent transient harmful bacteria from colonizing and causing problems on the skin’s surface. Washing with conventional cleansers can disrupt your unique population of skin flora, thus washing away your natural protection.
Try it out!
Oil washing has been a great experience for me. I wish I had known about this method years earlier. I have been doing this for about two years now and I love it! If you haven’t tried it and are curious, I highly recommend giving it a chance. And give it a few weeks. Your skin needs to adjust to your new cleansing technique!