The Theory: So, as I told you last week, the oil cleansing method is a theory of facial cleansing that like dissolves like (a verifiable chemical fact) and thus, if you want to clean your face of oil, oil is the way to go. Although by that same reasoning, if I want to get the impurities off my face, I should slather my face in more impurities. I’m not sure that follows. But like any enthusiastic lemming, I’ll let the obvious go and just do as I’m told, damnit.
Here’s what you do: 1 part castor oil to 3 parts olive oil (or other carrier oil, as long as it’s plant-based, take your pick). Mix it in a container, put about a quarter-sized dollop into one hand. Rub it into your face for a minute, being careful to address problem areas like the chin and side of the nose, wherever your face-centric nasties like to hole up and party. Then get a hot-hot-hot (but not so hot you’ll sue) wet washcloth and set that on your face. Then just stand there and think of England, for about a minute or so, while the towel sucks in and out with your breath and makes you casually wonder if breathing in steaming oil is good for your lungs. (Gotta be! It’s plant-based! Then again, so is tobacco.) After that minute is over, rub it off your face with the washcloth and marvel at your radiant skin which, according to all promises, will be Three-Mile-Island-levels of radiant.
The result: The first time I tried this was in the shower, right before Alastair and I were set to go out for a dinner date. I thought, what better time to have radiant skin than when on a date, right? So I went into the shower, slathered my face,
rubbed massaged why does everything sound dirty? for a minute, ran the hot-hot-hot water, wet the washcloth, put it over my face, stood there feeling a little silly for sixty seconds, and then wiped it all off. Then I washed my hair with baking soda and conditioned it with apple cider vinegar. Did all the rest of my bathing duties, threw on my robe and went into the bedroom, where this exchange took place:
Alastair: How was your shower?
Me: I think I have oil in my eye.
Me: Yeah. (shutting one eye) All the lights look fuzzy out of this one eye. (Blinking wildly) Oh, well. It’s plant-based, and it shouldn’t hurt. It’s just an oil slick on my eyeball.
Me: Also, I have apple cider vinegar smell. I’m very salad-like.
Alastair: I don’t know about salad-like. Saladish, perhaps.
Alastair: Salad adjacent.
I walked over to him.
Me: Look at my face. It’s supposed to be radiant. Is it radiant?
Alastair examined my face.
Alastair: I try to be objective about these things, but yeah, you look good.
Of course, this is the same man who says I’m beautiful when I wake up drooling on his chest in the morning. He may not be objective, but he’s mine, and I love him.
Also, when I mentioned that I definitely smell like apple cider vinegar, he said, “Yes, and now every time I see a salad, I get kinda turned on.”
2nd OCM: I don’t generally wash my face unless I’m in the shower, and since I shower every couple of days, that’s when I wash. I am amused by the circus I go through now. Mix the baking soda and water, mix the conditioning rinse (trying lemon juice this week), get a washcloth to soak in hot water and put on my face. It’s this whole thing. I do miss simple showers, and the flower smell, but I’m not ready to go back.
Anyway, I took a shower and did the oil cleansing again, complete with the hot washcloth. This time, no oil in the eyes! It seems an odd thing to celebrate, but there you go. Also, I’m not a fan of the smell of oil, and when you’re wearing a hot washcloth on your face, you really get to smell the oil. Ugh.
Now, I don’t tend to break out (every now and again, when ovulating or menstruating, I might get a blemish, but it’s pretty rare) so what I’m basing this on is how my skin feels. This time, it felt a little dry, and I had to moisturize. That means too much castor oil; I went in, added some olive oil and some drops of orange essential oil (love the smell of citrus).
3rd OCM: Smells a little better because of the orange, but the feel of it is still just weird. Water beads off my face and dribbles down. I feel like I’ve been doused in RainX. So, that’s weird. My pores are not miraculously clean; they’re just as dirty as before, but no dirtier. My previous cleanser wasn’t able to clear those out entirely, either, and I think it’s just because I’m old, my pores run deep like my bitterness, and you’re gonna need some kind of suction to get those babies clean, and that’s where I draw the line. I’m not breaking out, and my skin definitely looks no worse than before. I still have to use moisturizer, but not every day, and my face doesn’t feel as dry as before. So that’s something.
I asked Alastair, and he says I look better, that he’s noticed it and my skin is more luminous. So, take that for what it’s worth.
Bottom line, will I continue with the OCM? Probably until the pre-mixed bottle runs out. After that, I’ve got a scrub made from sugar, olive oil and dried grapefruit rind that I’ll do for a while until that runs out. Once that’s done, I’ll reassess, but if I go back to soap, it’s going to be super mild and super simple. I’m convinced that 99% of the stuff they sell for your face doesn’t do what it promises, and you just don’t need it.
No Shampoo Update: I hate the smell of the apple cider vinegar, so I tried lemon juice from concentrate. Didn’t work better, and didn’t actually smell much better. Fresh lemon juice is really the only way to go, but am I gonna squeeze a lemon before every shower? No. On another day, I tried beer; Alastair and I rarely drink beer, but we got a six pack one night and I nabbed one for this experiment. I liked the smell better; some people hate the smell of beer, I love it, reminds me of college where I had me a very, very good time. I poured about half on my head and drank the other half, realizing that even in college I never drank beer in the shower, so I’d just had a new experience! Which is exciting; the older I get, the fewer of those, “Hey, this is new!” moments I have. The beer was good, but not great, at conditioning my hair. Better than lemon juice, not so good as ACV. So I went back to ACV.
Something did change this week, though. At first, when I started this, my hair felt kind of… ropey in the shower. I don’t know how else to explain it; it clumped together in little ropes, and even combing the ACV through my hair with a wide-toothed comb was a bit of a struggle. Now, it’s all easy, and it feels good. Not super smooth, the way that a good conditioner makes it feel, at the cost of the weight of all that product in your hair. Just nice. Natural. Healthy.
And it turns out, I have curly hair. This is what it looks like after washing with just baking soda and ACV, air dried, no fuss.
Not bad, huh?
Bottom line, I’m sold. Cheap, natural, easy, no chemicals, and my hair looks better. Aside from missing the floral scent and the lather, which I don’t miss all that much, I don’t think there’s a reason to go back to regular shampoo. I’m happy.
Next Week’s Try-It: Homemade Deodorant. Ha!