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Oil Cleansing

What is an oil cleansing method?

A regular oil cleansing method is a simple, soap-free skin care practice. All you need are a skin care oil, essential oils, warm water and a washcloth. During an oil cleansing, impurities from your skin's surface mix into the cleansing oil, which is then removed using a warm, damp washcloth. Added bonuses: a delightful facial massage and steam are an integral part of cleansing in this way — it isn't just about the oil.

How it works

It might seem backward to think that oil will clean your skin, but the oil cleansing method is based on the fundamental principle in chemistry that "like dissolves like." During an oil cleansing, oil on the surface of your face attracts the oils in the skin and any debris attached to them. When the surface oil is removed, it will remove oil and debris from your skin and pores.

The ideal time to undertake an oil cleansing is at the end of the day. This will give your face a chance to absorb the nutrients from the oil and provide some recovery time after being exposed to make-up and the elements all day, especially if you do not apply additional moisturizers or make-up after.

Depending on how your complexion adjusts, a once-daily treatment is plenty, or as little as one to three times per week. Keep in mind that it might take your skin a few days or weeks to adjust. Before you start using the oil cleansing method, we recommend trying it on a small section of your skin and consulting your dermatologist if you have concerns.

Choosing a skin care oil

Choosing the right skin care oil for your oil cleansing method is very important. You'll need to understand a bit about the properties of the oil you select as well as your own skin.

Always choose minimally refined, botanical skin care oils, organic if you prefer. These varieties of nut and seed oils are made up of a combination of unsaturated and saturated fatty acids. To understand how the oil might feel on your skin, look at the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids (see table). The more unsaturated an oil is, the more absorbent it is, while the more saturated an oil is, the more likely it is to remain near or on the surface of your skin. Choose your oil based on the absorbency you find is appropriate for your skin.

Oil Balance of:
unsaturated fatty acids/saturated fatty acids (approximate)
Jojoba98/2
Sweet Almond93/7
Rosehip92/8
Apricot Kernel91/9
Grapeseed88/12
Macadamia87/13
Sesame86/14
Argan80/20
Baobab76/24
Tamanu72/28

Adding essential oils

Further enhance your oil cleansing by adding essential oils. Different essential oils provide distinct skin care benefits, such as purifying and cleansing tea tree or nourishing sandalwood. Choose your essential oil based on what your preferred benefit is.

The percentage of essential oil in the blend should fall between .5 to 4 percent (no more). Start with the least amount of essential oil possible and work up from there to what is most comfortable and effective for your skin. Since this is a facial application, less is definitely more. If you find your skin feels dry, you may want to decrease the essential oil amount before adjusting the carrier oil(s) you selected.

Everyone's skin is different and it may take some experimentation to find the right skin care oil and essential oil combination for your skin. Once you hit on the ideal combination, you can pre-mix a larger quantity and store the blend up to 1 year in a glass bottle or jar for easier application.


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