Why the Oil Cleansing Method Is Not for All Skin Types

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Being quite familiar with castor oil, the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) and my deep affection for natural skin care oils, I like to experiment and play with different skin care routines and test how they work. Recently I decided to use the OCM as my primary method of cleansing and realized two things which I think are pretty important to emphasize.

1)    Putting oil on dry skin is an uphill battle. Instead I recommend wetting the face first with lukewarm to warm water. Apply your oil mix to damp skin as the oil is able to actually go into your pores more easily and carry out impurities.

The original instructions explain to apply the oil to dry skin and massage in well. While there certainly is some absorption, it’s clear that damp skin absorbs oils more readily. And if the goal is to absorb the oils so that they can then work their magic in the pores, we want to make sure it gets in there.

Next is an even more important point that I remembered after experimenting:

2)    Regular steaming and use of hot water is irritating to sensitive skin and those with “hot” skin conditions. This may not be news to you but it is important to remember when choosing a skin care routine.

So OCM on a regular, continual basis is not good for people with:

  • Rosacea
  • Certain types of acne
  • Sensitive, inflamed skin or those prone to it

Though I do not have these conditions, my Ayurvedic constitution is Pitta and I tend toward sensitive, reactive skin (that is where it goes when I am off balance).

I noticed two things happening:

1)    The pores around my cheek/nose area were getting bigger. When I discontinued OCM, they returned to normal size. Applying cold water did not change this.

2)    My skin began to flare up with what appeared to be slight rosacea. My nose began to have some bumps that I thought were blackheads coming out but they lasted longer.

So I have deduced that based on energetic theory and my experiences, the use of the hot water/steam step can exacerbate and perhaps trigger inflammation, including large pores and rosacea.

With that being said, the original guide does recommend not overdoing it which will vary for each person. I think once or twice a month would be sufficient.

Those with Vata- predominant constitutions may benefit from more frequent OCM.

I do practice abhyanga (daily oil self massage) to which OCM is similar. It is not the oils causing the problem, it is the applied heat.

What I offer as alternative for us Pitta types for deep cleansing:

  • Use a honey mask and pat it onto the skin to remove blackheads and other impurities from the pores.
  • Make a mix of green clay, buttermilk powder and beet kvass (or other fermented juice like homemade sauerkraut). A bit of jojoba oil can be added to keep it from being too drying. Use this as a mask and rinse off before it gets too hard.

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