Did you know oil cleansing dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans? They would rub olive and other oils all over their skin and then scrape it off, along with all the dirt and grime of the day, with an instrument called the stigil. They would then jump in the bath and soak off. Soap was not produced on a wide scale until the Industrial era so people made do with natural oils. As well as cleansing, oils such as almond and olive were also used as facial oils. They were anti aging, softening, improved complexion and, combined with honey, helped fade spots, according to Pliny the Elder. The ancients certainly knew what they were talking about! Before the Greeks and Romans, the Egyptians used castor, olive and sesame oils in their beauty regimens and the Aboriginal people used emu oil.
As you may have gathered, oil cleansing is simply cleansing with an oil. It is based on the principle of like dissolves like: oil dissolves oil. Today, we have access to a huge variety of fabulous facial oils to cleanse dirt and makeup off our faces, which is a much gentler and more skin-loving way of removing makeup and dirt than harsh, chemical-laden makeup removers and cleansers. The oil easily dissolves oil-based makeup, mascara and foundation, leaving your face conditioned and replenished. Even if you don’t use it to remove makeup, massaging oil into your skin before bed is a lovely routine for clean, soft and nourished skin. You will be guaranteed to wake up with a soft, plumped, dewy complexion in the morning.
Typically we would use harsh chemical makeup removers and skin cleansers (full of chemicals too if you read the label) which rub off your skin’s natural oils along with the makeup and dirt. This is disrupts the skin's natural balance and leaves our skin feeling tight and dry. We would then apply a moisturiser (more chemicals if it’s a conventional store-bought one) to try and moisturise and replenish our skin. Cleansing with oil cuts out all toxic baddies and wipes away dirt and makeup while nourishing our skin, all in one swoop.The oil dissolves and loosens dirt and impurities on our skin and in our pores; once wiped away it leaves your face clean, moisturised and glowy, replenished with natural, good-for-you oils.
Not all oils are suitable for all skin types, however. Depending on your skin type, use the following guide for creating a cleansing oil blend.
Try heavier, more nourishing oils such as olive and avocado oil, apricot kernel oil and rosehip oil to deeply moisturise your skin. Camellia seed oil, squalane, meadowfoam and baobab oil are also wonderful for dry skin. You can add in a drop of rose, geranium or lavender essential oil for extra nourishment.
Try these nourishing oils: avocado or olive oil, rosehip, pomegranate seed, sea buckthorn berry, apricot kernel, carrot seed oil, squalane, borage, evening primrose, red raspberry seed, meadowfoam and baobab oil. Add in some rose, frankincense or myrrh essential oilor even some vitamin E oil. For mature skin you want to get as many nutrients and good oils in as possible so blend together multiple oils.
Avoid coconut, avocado, olive and castor oil as these oils may clog pores and cause increased oiliness and skin problems. Rather try lighter oils such as jojoba, sweet almond, Abyssinian seed or grapeseed oil. Add in some tea tree, lavender oil or grapefruit essential oil to combat oiliness and pimples. Follow a ‘thirds' ratio for making up your oil cleansing blend. For example: 1/3 jojoba, 1/3 grapeseed, 1/3 sweet almond + 1 drop of essential oil.
Tamanu, jojoba, meadowfoam, red raspberry seed, apricot kernel, argan oil and hemp seed oil are all good for combination skin types. Follow a fourths ratio of oils, eg. 1/4 argan, 1/4 red raspberry, 1/4 hemp and 1/4 tamanu, plus any essential oils. You can also add in some vitamin E oil.
Try oils blended with antibacterial and acne-fighting tea tree and lavender or even lemon. Jojoba oil is a good choice as a light carrier oil. Meadowfoam oil is also nice, as is red raspberry seed oil, evening primrose and borage seed oil.
Here is an example of a cleanser recipe for normal skin. Substitute or add in the oils according to your skin type and needs.
1 tsp jojoba oil
1 tsp meadowfoam seed oil
1 tsp argan oil
1 tsp red raspberry oil
1 drop vitamin E oil
1-2 drops chamomile, lavender, rose or frankincense essential oil
Add your oils to a pipette bottle and shake gently to combine. The pipette is great for easy application.
Prep your face by holding a warm damp face cloth over your skin. This steams your pores and opens them. Then gently massage your cleansing oil into your skin, making sure to cover every area. This will dissolve sunscreen, makeup, dirt and sweat. Then take a warm wet face cloth and wipe it all away. Finally apply a hydrosol or moisturising oil to your fresh, clean skin.
You can also oil cleanse in the shower. We recommend you do this at night so your skin can soak up all the goodness while you sleep. You also won’t need to overly cleanse your face in the morning.
If you just want to remove makeup quickly and not do a whole cleansing routine, you can add a few drops of your cleansing oil to a pad or piece of cotton wool and wipe away makeup. I find it even dissolves water resistant mascara easily, no need for any special mascara removers.
It is not necessary to oil cleanse every night, though many people do. Get to know your skin and its needs. You may need to do it more or less often depending on your work environment, stress levels, or even the weather (my skin becomes extremely dry in winter but more oily in summer).
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