Archive for February, 2011

Oil: The good and the beautiful

Some time ago, my hippie coworker Alanna and I were researching something known as “The Oil Cleansing Method.”

It sounds contradictory doesn’t it?  We all know that oil is that sheen on your face and the dullness in your hair and has something to do with your skin overproducing sebum (a word that has had us giggling since middle school).  Oiliness is bad, and we fight it down with the harshest cleansers we can get!  In fact, we’re not sure why BP didn’t just dump a ton of Noxema in the ocean after things went so terribly wrong down there.

But we’re getting smarter about skin too.  It’s starting to become common knowledge that over-cleansing your skin is just as bad as never washing it.  We know that stripping out those natural oils causes your skin to overcompensate, resulting in more oil than is needed.  And this gums up the works pretty well. As in so many things we’re learning that balance is the key, using gentle methods to assist the skin instead of carpet bombing it with harsh synthetics.

This is where the Oil Cleansing method can be exceptionally useful.  It uses natural plant oils to loosen dirt and dead skin cells and deliver a solid punch of health to your dermis.

The method is detailed fairly clearly here. And while I don’t recommend shaving your head, I think this ladies skin does look great.

...and pretty bottles make it work better.

Which oils you use will depend on what your skin is like.  Dry skinned folk will want a richer, heavier oil than those of us with skin that tends to “self-moisturize” already.  I will always recommend doing your own research, but personally, I have been using the following mixture with great success:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup hempseed oil

3-4 drops tea tree oil

Both olive and hempseed oils are rich in Vitamin E as well as those important fatty acids we keep hearing about. Olive oil is an old beauty secret, and there’s a lot of exciting research coming out about Hempseed oil: to start, it’s one of the only plant oils containing Vitamin D, as well as being a very complete source of Omega 3 and 6. Actually I could do a whole post on this stuff, but lets settle for saying it’s a great lightweight oil that has a pleasant nutty taste and smell as well as being bright green. It’s expensive though, so I cut it with olive oil, which I buy in large quantities for cooking.

Lately I try to do the full routine about twice a week and just rub a little into my face, legs and elbows after a shower.  I tend to follow with facial toner before I leave the house just to take care of any oil that hasn’t soaked in.  Honestly though, this has been super effective.  The worst of the eczema on my elbows is gone, and the patch on my leg has cleared considerably. The skin on my face is smoother and happier, feeling softer with less redness and fewer breakouts. I still use a mild soap to cleanse in the morning, but I will probably talk about soap on it’s own at some point.

I will warn you, switching to natural methods can take an adjustment period of a couple days to a week. How severe this is will depend on how many and how harsh of synthetics you’ve been using and probably on what your diet is like. This is your skin clearing out the crap and adjusting back to normal! It’s a good thing! Be patient, but maybe don’t start this right before your wedding. You may also want to ease into it, cutting back on your commercial products slowly. I started by cutting down my cleanser use to once a day instead of twice for a while before I switched to natural soap completely.

But seriously, if you’re skeptical just try rubbing a little olive oil into your newly shaven legs or dry elbows. You will be a believer in no time!

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