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Cleansers - Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)

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rated 3.3(352 reviews)

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rated 2 of 5 on 5/26/2014 3:34:00 AM More reviews by DJCupcakes

Age: 25-29 Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Brown

A bit of background first: My skin has always been combination/oily, acne-prone, and prone to clogged pores. Back when I spent a lot of time on the Skincare Board, I tried oil cleansing, but not of the "oil cleansing method" variety: just straight-up massaging in the oil, wiping off, and then following with a cleanser. I tried this with both mineral oil (shudder) and coconut oil. Both had bad results, so I swore off oil cleansing altogether.

After years of reading about the WONDERS of the actual Oil Cleansing Method, I finally gave in and gave it a shot. At the time I used this, my skin was actually quite clear. I had some pesky clogged pores/blackheads that had been there for years and that I more or less considered permanent, but no active acne at all. I used a 50/50 mixture of castor oil (Home Health Cold Pressed & Cold Processed Castor Oil; I do not recommend the kind you find in the laxative aisle) and grapeseed oil (Trader Joe's Grapeseed Oil from the cooking aisle).

Here was my method: I would take a substantial amount of the oil mixture and apply it with clean, dry hands to my dry face. I would massage it around for a few minutes with my fingers. Then I would take a clean washcloth, soak it in hot water, wring it out, and place it on my face for several seconds until it cooled. I would repeat the cloth process 2-3 times. Then, finally, I would use the cloth to wipe off the oil, rinsing the cloth in hot running water in between wipes. When I had wiped it all off, I followed with my regular cleanser.

A few observations: Yes, I did notice it taking clogs out of my pores. I would actually feel and see the little granules coming out of my skin. Much like using a pore strip, it was both gross and fascinating. When I had washed my skin, I would instantly see "smaller"/clearer pores. It was incredible. My skin would be pink/red from the heat and rubbing, but it always went away by the next morning, so I was okay with that. My skin began to take on a lovely glow, and with every use, more and more clogs came out. Parts of my skin that had been bumpy and clogged for years were suddenly smooth to the touch. This stage lasted for about a month. I was thrilled.

Then came the repercussions. The redness in my skin started taking longer and longer to go away, and the healthy glow began to dull. I figured I was just being a little too rough and started rubbing a bit less, using cooler water, wiping more gently. My skin grew dehydrated and began to flake. I adjusted my oil mixture to no avail. Although I continued to remove clogs with each cleansing, I was also starting to get active, inflamed acne again. So while I had fewer blackheads/milia, I was getting more zits. It didn't make sense. I figured maybe I was experiencing the fabled "purging," so I pressed onward. It didn't get better, and my skin progressively became more dull, more irritable (even my "safe" products began to irritate it), and more dehydrated. More pimples arrived. My pores continued to become clearer, and yet the rest of my skin suffered so much that I actually didn't look better, but worse.

I began to reduce how many times per week I did this (I was doing it nightly). Cutting down to 3 times a week helped, but didn't solve the problems completely. Finally, I went through a very rough week personally, and out of time constraints/stress, skipped the OCM for the entire week. My besieged skin looked better. I then decided to cut it cold turkey for another week, and it kept looking better.

It's now been 3 weeks since I stopped, and my skin looks much better, but is still not as calm or clear as it was before I started this. Sadly, yes, many of my clogged pores have returned. For some reason, even though every other aspect of my skin suffered on this long-term, it really did keep my pores clear. However, if I only looked worse overall, what is the point? I'd rather take a few clogged pores than constant redness, dehydration/flakey skin, and a dull, zitty complexion.

I have no idea why I had so much success at first and then such failure later. Usually, if a skin care product/method is not going to work for me, it's apparent from the very beginning. Regardless, I have given up on the oil cleansing method. I am sad to see my clogged pores returning, but as my skin is still on the mend from everything else, it's simply not worth it.

Proceed with caution. Patch-test first, and do so for a GOOD LONG TIME before doing this all over your face.

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rated 5 of 5 on 5/21/2014 6:43:00 PM More reviews by ziastarlight

Age: 19-24 Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Warm Hair: Brunette, Straight, Medium Eyes: Other

I started the OCM after reading the buzz about it--but I started it very cautiously after reading all the horror stories.
The Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) isn't for everyone, but with a lot of caution, can be an excellent facial/makeup removing procedure.

What I did:
1. No Castor Oil. Apparently this works fabulously for some people, but seriously, castor oil is so gooey and thick I honestly don't know if I could get it all off my face, especially if I was in a hurry. I tried Castor Oil once and my face broke whiteheads out in little patches of my skin.
2. Light Oils. Kind of the same thing as the preceding point, but I don't use olive oil, as it is heavy, or coconut. Some oils break out people more than others. Not sure, but EVOO seems to have a history of it. (Check out Crunchy Betty's blog post on the OCM) Personally I use Apricot or Peach Kernel oil, and it works just great.
3. Essential Oils: This seriously helps. I put maybe 3 drops of lavender and frankincense essential oil in my little bottle of oil and it just feels fabulous and my face is all glowy.
4. Not Too Often. At least, at first. Try it a couple times a week and carefully monitor your skin. Everyone reacts differently, make sure your skin is happy.

In conclusion, I love it. It hasn't cleared up all acne spontaneously (I find masks do that quicker), but it gives my skin a subtle, gorgeous glow. It's especially great for winter, when my skin is a bit parched. The best part is exfoliation, seriously, when I have all the oil on my face, and exfoliate, it doesn't irritate my skin at all. That had been a slight problem when I used one of those Clarisonicy brushes. I do the OCM in conjunction with turmeric and clay masks, and it really helps replenish my skin's natural oils.

Note: I didn't have any 'purging' or 'toxins pulled up on the surface of my skin' scenarios. I know that everyone's skin is different, but I am wary of 'purging' being positive, if purging is even what's going on. If you start breaking out, having weird bumps, etc., I *highly* advise to stop and make sure you aren't allergic to an oil or at least let your skin recoup. Be careful, listen to your body.

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rated 1 of 5 on 5/20/2014 7:06:00 PM More reviews by princessshar

Age: 25-29 Skin: Combination, Olive, Warm Hair: Brown, Wavy, Medium Eyes: Brown

My experience with OCM was horrible. I have combination skin, which was quite clear however i had these tiny bumps on my forehead, and I also wanted to go towards more natural skin care. So I tried it and after a month realized natural does equate to being good for your skin.

I do not recommend this at all if you have combo/oily skin because the oil dissolves oil rule is bogus. the oil dissolves the oil yes, but then it just remains in your pores, even if you use the warm washcloth to take it off. What a horrible idea. I used it in all of february daily, it is now end may and I am still recovering from my 1 month of OCM with Jojoba/Lavender oil. It clogged my pores on my whole face, and I am left with this really strange congestion on my skin. I have never had such deep clogged pores before, and like I mentioned - I used it for a month so the "purging" period was not the case (purging usually happens in the very inital phase). I am currently using epiduo (tactuo) and had a facial, and am being extremely gentle, and finally seeing some improvement.

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rated 5 of 5 on 5/14/2014 8:57:00 PM More reviews by starberr1e

Age: 30-35 Skin: Normal, Fair-Medium, Neutral Hair: Blond, Wavy, Medium Eyes: Blue

First, some facts about my skin: mostly dry, some propensity for blackheads around my nose, KP bumps on cheeks/jawline, fair complexion, easily sunburnt & super sensitive.

What works for me: 2 parts EVOO to 1 part castor oil, as a nighttime makeup remover. I apply it to a dry face, massage it in for ~1 minute, then steam with a hot wet washcloth 2x, until the washcloth gets cool. Then I use the same washcloth to scrub my nose and cheeks and wipe off excess oil. I don't think I need an additional lotion afterward, but I use a night cream anyway. In the morning, I just splash with water and I'm good to put my makeup on.

I've been doing this for over a year and my skin has never been softer or brighter (maybe as a child!!) I don't have pimples and my eyelashes are actually softer now too. I never had a "purging" period, and I can't claim this is a miracle or anything but my skin really has taken well to it. Plus it's so much cheaper than buying 5 different face cleansers/toners/moisturizers. If you have a similar skin type to mine, it might be worth a shot!

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rated 1 of 5 on 5/5/2014 7:41:00 PM More reviews by CKBoyt

Age: 19-24 Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Cool Hair: Brunette, Straight, Medium Eyes: Brown


I was at my wit's end trying to clear up my acne + flaky skin combo before I went off to college, and everyone was raving about this method, which is supposed to moisturize your skin AND clear out clogged pores... I mean, that just sounded totally ideal for me.

I tried it with several different types of oil in addition to the castor: EVOO, then coconut, and eventually grapeseed when the others seemed to have no effect. I tried the routine for a few weeks, and all it did was give me thick nodules under my skin, not quite zits but definitely more like cystic acne, particularly around my jawline where I'd never had an issue before. Even though I stopped soon after I realized it wasn't going to work, it took forever to get those lumps to go away, and I've had acne in that area (and worse acne overall) ever since.

I don't think my skin will ever be the same, and I wish I had never gone through such drastic measures trying to get of the relatively manageable acne I had before.

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rated 5 of 5 on 4/20/2014 9:08:00 PM More reviews by IndustryKoda

Age: 19-24 Skin: Combination, Fair, Neutral Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Other

OCM may not be the answer for everyone. Here are the basics:
1) Different types of oil and how they are extracted:
Jojoba, coconut, castor, sesame, advocado, walnut, sunflower, olive, ad add.
Organic, non organic, cold pressed, expeller pressed, chemical process, steam distillation etc.
2) Your skin type, including any allergies or sensitivities.
3) Desired usage:
Makeup removal vs treatment.
Personally, I cannot use liquid foaming cleansers or even "milk" cleansers. They break me out into cystic acne, blackheads, and whiteheads. Soaps typically go the same way. I mix organic coconut and jojoba oils and melt using the least amount of heat, stirring and swirling constantly. I splash warm water on my face to help open pores and warm the skin. I then pat the pil into the skin concentrating more to areas with waterproof cosmetics. I allow to remain on the skin for 5min or more then begin massaging it in. After that, more warm water to emulsify and finally, Shea Moisture black soap to remove all residue and makeup.
Final note: Cost and qaulity of the oil varies. it is worth it to buy organic and made without chemicals or heat.
Pre made oil cleansers (ranging from MAC to Garnier) are made with stabilizers, preservatives, etc. They are not the same thing as OCM and should not be treated as such. Read ingredients!

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rated 1 of 5 on 4/19/2014 10:37:00 PM More reviews by srbel

Age: 19-24 Skin: Other, Other, Not Sure Hair: Other, Other, Other Eyes: Other

I had to write this review I never write reviews but I just had to. I always had pimple free skin and never had any problems with acne of anything like fhat. Having a pimple was very rare. But then I started this awful oil cleansing method. The first 2-3 weeks everything was fine. But then one day I woke up looked in the mirror and had 4 big swollen pimples in the middle of my cheek. I thought it was just a bad reaction to food or something so I continued with the OCM. A view days later both my cheeks where coverd with realy big swollen painful acne pimples!!!! I directely stopped using it but thw pimples just kept on coming. I went to my docter and he said it was possible the oil clogged my pores causing an infection that resulted to acne. PLEASE DO NOT TRY IT IT JUST IS NOT WORTH IT I FEEL SO STUPID FOR TRYING IT. Now months later and with antibiotics my skin is starting to clear but I still have a way to go. It was a traumatic experience for me so I needed to warn people.

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rated 2 of 5 on 4/12/2014 2:41:00 PM More reviews by mtcowgirly

Age: 25-29 Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Warm Hair: Blond, Straight, Fine Eyes: Green

Bad for my skin. I did ocm for about two weeks. My skin is very oily all over, but dehydrated and flaky at the same time. Frustrating. Suffered from bad bad acne since I was 12, and I'm now 25. Some days I couldn't even go to school or work because it hurt so much. Usually break out worst around my chin and mouth and jaw.

Ok, so my skin was doing quite well, but I was breaking out in a rash every few weeks, which I believe is eczema. I tried the ocm with coconut and olive oils. Didn't know these are quite comedogenic. The first week it felt like a miracle. My skin was comfortable and calm and dewy. I would massage the oil onto slightly damp skin for about two minutes, then hold a hot wet microfiber cloth over my face until it cooled - repeated until most of the oil was gone, but still left my skin dewy. Then suddenly I broke out terribly all around my mouth and jaw. It was very physically and emotionally painful. Smiling hurt my face. The worst ever perhaps. I went a few more days then stopped and went back to my MK cleanser. It's been over two weeks since this happened. I think I was lucky and stopped soon enough. I am still recovering from a few lingering cysts and of course red post-acne spots. I have been using ACV toner (50/50 water and ACV) to help heal my skin too. It works really well.

I think there were a few reasons I had a bad reaction that could've been avoided:
1) my skin needs to be physically/chemicaly exfoliated and the ocm alone just clogged my pores so my skin couldn't breathe
2) olive and coconut oils can clog pores sometimes. Maybe not the best choice?
3) It might've worked if I did it less frequently or followed with a cleanser.

So, I truly hope this might help others. I think if you have skin like mine you should only do the ocm occassionally or followed with a cleanser. Research oils.

That said, I might try this again in the future as a pre-cleansing makeup remover occassionally...once my skin has healed a bit more. EV Coconut Oil (nutiva brand) works wonders on my body and eyes, so I might just use that without any other oil. Will update.

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rated 1 of 5 on 2/4/2014 5:45:00 PM More reviews by Arhtexas

Age: 25-29 Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Neutral Hair: Brunette, Curly, Medium Eyes: Green

HATED THIS!!!!!!! It was all fine and good...I was using the premium oils, had an appropriate mixture for my skin type, etc....when after 3 weeks, I got tiny flesh toned bumps (enclosed pimples) all over my forehead. I kept going for another week, giving grace to the "purging period" but when they only remained the same, I went back to chemical based (which I was trying to avoid) to get rid of them! 8 months later, I finally am back to normal and have gotten rid of most of the bumps. I now am washing my face with honey and goats milk which is also chemical free and is doing wonders for my skin- no breakouts, no need for lotion! I personally did not have a good experience with the OCM but am so glad so many others are enjoying it!

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 2/1/2014 6:44:00 PM More reviews by heather

Age: 44-55 Skin: Combination, Fair, Neutral Hair: Brunette, Straight, Medium Eyes: Hazel

I am loving this. Effective, non-irritating, and easy to rinse. My current recipe for 5 oz of cleansing oil is:
2 ounces castor oil
1 ounce rice bran oil
1/2 ounce grapeseed oil
1/2 ounce avocado oil
1/2 ounce apricot oil
1/4 ounce Cromollient SCE
1/4 ounce Polysorbate 80

This makes a golden-colored, clean-rinsing oil with no scent.

I can use this for a nice long facial massage, makeup removal, and all around cleanser. I rinse with a cool washcloth (my rosacea can't handle a hot washcloth or steaming session). I've toyed with more expensive oils but this is my favorite combination so far. I've not had a single problem. No purging, no dryness or oiliness. I get my emulsifiers from lotioncrafter and they are pretty economical since you use a small amount with each batch. Also posting this review in the OCM+Polysorbate topic.

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