I frowned. This wasn’t exactly what I’d been looking for when I’d typed the words “homemade facial cleanser” into the Google search bar. To be honest, I’d been hoping for something more along the lines of the natural, herb-centric cream that I had been using… just a bit less wasteful and a touch cheaper. Instead, there it was: oil as a substitute cleanser.
I took a moment to read a few of the articles (there were a lot of them) and noticed that each promoted this counterintuitive method of removing grime as the best thing since the washcloth. The reasoning seemed sound(ish): when we clean our faces, we strip them of the natural oils which protect them and in doing so open our pores to invasion by all sorts of nasty stuff that promotes everything from acne to rosacea. Using just oil and water, however, allows our skin to do what comes naturally… and results in all sorts of advantages like brighter, softer skin.
After a few minutes of careful contemplation, I decided to give it a try and popped onto my favorite online shopping outlet for two simple ingredients: almond oil and tea tree oil. (According to one article, the addition of 8-10 drops of the latter to 1.5 oz. of any other oil of my choice would result in an increased resistance to acne. While I’m not prone to zits, it seemed like a good idea.) My products arrived in the mail a few days later and I quickly mixed the two oils in a small container and set the solution in my bathroom cabinet.
For the first several days, I cleansed twice a day – wetting my face to remove any dirt on the surface, then opening the pores with hot water and massaging in the oil. After allowing it to sit for about five minutes, I’d use a washcloth soaked in hot water to remove any residual oils, then douse my face in cold water to close the pores. It wasn’t long before cleansing became a daily ritual rather than a twice daily ritual. My skin had taken to the oil like a duck to water and I felt clean most of the time.
Perhaps of even greater interest was the way in which my combination skin was reacting to the new cleanser. Aside from the promised effects, I was also experiencing something unique: an imperviousness to windburn. I had forgotten to apply my moisturizer several days in a row (my skin felt moist, so it simply slipped my mind) and on both occasions had been exposed to a chilly gusting breeze throughout the day. When I returned home, my skin was still soft, supple, and it’s normal olive tone. Not surprisingly, the oily solution also reduced my encounters with sunburn. (After all, most things burn more readily when they are dry… and my skin was not!) I was hooked. Oil as a cleanser really is the best thing for skin since the invention of the washcloth!
Take a look online and you’ll find a selection of interesting recipes for this homemade cleanser. You can use just about any oil you like, though I’d stick to lighter selections like almond or sunflower. These will help prevent breakouts rather than promote them. I’d also advise that you give the practice some time. One of the articles I read suggested a trial period of one month and I’m inclined to agree. Cleansing your skin with oil feels a bit strange at first and it takes some time to get used to it feeling “normal”. Once you do, however, you won’t want to go back!
If you’ve had some experience using oil as a facial cleanser, please feel free to share it (as well as any of your favorite cleanser recipes) below. After all, adventures are always best when shared with a few good friends willing to take a risk!