The Oil Cleansing Method: Don’t Believe The Hype September 16 2013, 1 Comment

Recently there has been much attention and even a little controversy surrounding a new beauty regimen for cleansing the face. This new fad is called the oil cleansing method. It is based on the notion that oil will attract oil and dissolve or diminish the oils that naturally exist in your skin, but this is one trend where I think the skeptics have it right.

Although there is a lot of truth in the idea that oils attract other oils that is simply not how the oil that causes acne or oily skin works. Those oils don’t just sit on the surface of skin, but are rather deep inside the pores behind dirt, dead skin cells and other anatomical debris and is constantly being regenerated by hyperactive glands. So, those of you who are skeptics were right.

Applying oil to an already oily complexion won’t do much to remove oil at a deeper level or solve the problem of hyperactive glands. Following the method long-term may actually damage your skin’s ability to regulate it’s own oil production and cause blood vessels to burst in some of the most delicate skin on your body.

Let’s Break Down The Method

The most commonly used oils in the process are castor oil or sunflower oil.blemished skin

Basically you rub the oils into your face while meditating (yes, the original oil cleansing method requires you to meditate and give your skin positive affirmations aloud).  The last step asks you to use hot water and steam to remove the oil.

For those people who report seeing success using the method, it is most likely due to the massage and vitamin E in the oils typically used. Using oils on your skin which contain vitamin E is a great way to treat skin (even oily skin) and massage is a proven way to improve skin tone and relax the underlying muscles in the face. That is just about where the benefits of this method stop.

While the process is easy to understand the science behind it defies logic and the subsequent steps may even be harmful.

Skin Mantras and the Placebo Effect

Let’s start with the easiest part of the myth to debunk. Saying nice things about your skin isn’t going to clean your face. You already knew that, but I just thought I’d say it again. The skin mantra portion of the oil cleansing method is likely meant to enhance the placebo effect. Although positive thinking truly does have a positive impact on people’s health (it helps people cope with stress), it doesn’t help keep skin clean. Period.


Is This Really Just a Facial Massage?

Massage DirectionsThe short answer is-- yes. Which is why some small group of very vociferous advocates online have likely seen results. The object of the oil cleansing method is to deep clean while balancing the skin's moisture level and to control or manipulate oil production. After carefully reviewing this method, it seems fairly obvious to us that the oil cleansing method is really a facial massage complete with massage oils, steam, and even meditation. This is probably a fine occasional treat for skin, but it doesn’t mean that the method is likely to live up to its claims after long-term, daily use.

If you are using an oil to replace moisture, then a lightweight oil similar in structure to your skin's natural sebum like jojoba oil would probably be best as it is very easily absorbed into the skin. These oils should not be thought of as cleansers, but rather emollient moisturizers that offer high levels of Vitamin E.


Steam Cleaning Your Face is a Bad Idea

Your face is not a dirty dress shirt and steam cleaning one of the most delicate areas of your body is worse than a bad idea. The benefits of a massage for your face cannot be argued away, however, any cleansing that takes place in this method is due to the steaming and not the oils.  After reading about the technique it becomes clear that what will open your pores and remove the impurities is not the oil, but the steam which is also a part of the oil cleansing process. Placing a hot rag directly onto your face (which is how you remove the excess oils) can cause damage to the blood vessels present on the surface of your skin causing irritation, discoloration, drying and redness. This is why proponents of this method suggest that the skin may be dry afterwards and recommend that you  put a little of the oil on your face after the cleaning. This method simply does not provide a daily (or even weekly) solution for cleansing your face. Even some of the biggest advocates for this method recommend you do it, but not too frequently.

Oils Are Great, But That’s Nothing New

Oil massaged into the skin is nothing new. We humans have been massaging the skin for centuries with essential oils, but lets call a spade a spade here. This is a massage. We are all aware of the numerous benefits of replacing the oils the skin loses throughout the day because of exposure to the harsh elements. Dried out skin is dull and lifeless in appearance and can lead to wrinkling, age spots, blemishes and discoloration. Moisture is the friend of great glowing complexions.

One of the oils being recommended for the oil cleansing method is castor oil. It is a very heavy oil which can lead to the clogging of pores and a heavy, greasy after effect.

Oils are not a face wash, but are definitely a good choice for gently removing makeup without the drying and harsh effects of some make up removers that use alcohol. This is only effective, however, because makeup sits on the surface of your skin and you wash away the oils using facewash or soap afterward.

While it is a fact that some oils including castor oil have wonderful medicinal healing properties; castor oil’s anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties do not automatically equate to it being a natural cleanser. Depending on your skin type when using the oil-cleansing method, castor oil is about 10-30% of the recommended

Face Washoil blend the other 70-90% can be any cold-pressed vegetable oil that you may use in your kitchen for cooking. Over time this treatment can only lead to breakouts and irritation to your skin. That is why the method probably recommends steaming to try and remove most of the oil that could get trapped in your pores.

There Are Natural Face Washes That Work

All cleansers are not the enemy. Harsh cleansers filled with artificial additives and preservatives, harsh acids and mystery chemicals are definitely not the solution, however, they are not the only cleansers available. We recommend an all-natural gentle foaming cleanser such as the Vibrant Visage Foaming Wash.  It’s a no-fuss, no-muss pH-balanced cleanser offered by natural skin care company Sydelle Cosmetics that will gently cleanse your face without the drying effects of harsh chemicals or the damage that can result from steaming. It will gently remove build up from your pores and wash away with just warm water. It has a mix of mild soaps and organic extracts that will add the moisture you seek in order to retain your skins elasticity, luster and  youthful glow.