Saturday, January 9, 2010

a miracle face-washing epiphany

Hey ladies! This post is mostly for you. Most of us work hard to keep our faces clean, zit-free, and even-toned, right? Maybe glowing, at least in our dreams? :) Forget about budget-friendly or all-natural, and we're not even thinking about all those icky chemicals in commercial cleansers! I wanted to share something that I've been doing for several months now, and it might sound strange at first, but...

I've been washing my face with olive oil.

Yep, just the stuff from the grocery store. Extra-virgin olive oil has been used for centuries as a cleanser and moisturizer, and there's no lack of information on the internet about its amazing effectiveness. Mixed with a little castor oil to help cleanse, it neither leaves oil on my skin or makes me smell like salad.  It has worked better than any cleansing/moisturizing/toning method I've ever tried in my life. 

I haven't ever had horrible skin, but it's always been really frustrating.  Every month I'd get several zits, and my skin was always either really oily (in the summer) or flaky-dry (in the winter).  Sometimes I'd have dry patches and oily patches at the same time.  I tried pretty much everything available at normal stores, and even ProActiv at one point.  And Mary Kay stuff worked fine, but even with some discounts I got, the expense wasn't something my conscience could really justify. I wanted something that I could conscionably use without thinking about how my stupid soap could feed a kid in Africa for a month. Or dig a well to give a whole village clean get the idea.  Expensive products are something we don't need, and the money definitely could be better appropriated.

Plus, I've generally been looking for ways to simplify my routine and my needs. What I didn't want was some pricey, time-taking, messy procedure that I'd surely get sick of, and neglect. I am really trying to think about what I actually need, and what's just been marketed to my age segment, to get me to spend money on stuff. If I don't need to buy another product (for face washing or whatever else), I'm not going to do it.  This goes for household cleansers, paper towels, kitchen gadgets, shampoo, lotion, hand soap, conditioner, etc. 

So, with a little bit of a burden on my conscience and a general desire to make things simpler and defy expensive marketing campaigns (as long as I get to defy something, I'll do just about anything), I discovered this 'oil cleansing method' on the internet.  Once I started, I knew this one was a keeper. This website has a lot of info, and it's more detailed than mine, and there are plenty of other places to look if you're skeptical of my conclusions. :) 

There are a few things I learned when I was researching this:
  • Oil isn't the enemy. Your face creates oils, which your skin needs in order to be healthy. 
  • Commercial soaps remove this necessary oil, and so your skin produces even more oil to compensate.
  • Oil is the only thing that dissolves oil.
  • Olive oil is the closest thing to our own skin's formula.
So not only is this method inexpensive and easy, it's extremely good for your skin, unlike commercial soaps that dry out your face, and contain potentially harmful chemicals that are absorbed through your skin. Here's what I do...

Mix 1/4 castor oil with 3/4 olive oil.  
Basically, the castor oil deep-cleans, and the olive oil moisturizes. You can experiment with this ratio, but this is what's worked for me in this very dry winter.  When it's more humid outside (or if you have really oily skin), increase the amount of castor oil.  Conversely, if your skin is particularly dry, add more olive oil.  There's no particular rule, but the castor oil, while a very effective cleanser, can make your skin pretty dry if you use a lot of it. 
I found castor oil at Hy-Vee, really cheap, like $1.28 for a smallish bottle. I think it was sold as a laxative, but if you look at the ingredients of your commercial facial products, a lot of them contain castor oil.  So don't let a weird label throw you off. :) 

Again, make sure it's extra virgin olive oil, and nothing else! The stuff you may have in your kitchen is just fine.  This isn't about buying more stuff, it's about making the best use of what you have! Extra virgin olive oil is also super healthy, tasty, and widely useful, so if you don't have any in your kitchen, you should probably invest in some. :)

To keep it in, I reused a soap dispenser (the kind you're just supposed to throw away).  I washed out all the soap, peeled off the label and had a perfect dispenser, pump and everything.

Make it smell pretty (if you want).
This is totally optional, but you can put in a few drops of your favorite essential oil. If you don't care about this, don't worry about it.  I happen to love lavender and have added a few drops of lavender oil, which is not only a lovely perfume, but is also good for your skin.

Massage it into your face.
I use something like 3-4 pumps from my handy little bottle.  Rub it in for about a minute, and don't forget your eye area - this is an incredible makeup remover as well.

Steam it off with a washcloth soaked in very warm water.
After your nice massage, wet your washcloth with reeeally warm water...about as hot as you can stand it.  Wring it out and lay the cloth over your face, pressing it all over.  This steams the olive and castor oils out, along with any impurities, makeup, dirt, and bacteria in your pores. 

You probably don't need to do it more than once a day, in the evening.  Then, in the morning, all you might need is a little splash of water (I just take a quick pass with a damp washcloth over my eyes).  At any point, if you have dry spots of skin...if you washed it too heavily with the cloth, or it's really dry outside...just get a teensy drop on your finger and dab it on your face.

That's it!  I really would have no interest in sharing this with you unless I had seen some serious results on my own face. My skin is well moisturized all the time, I have had far fewer breakouts (and this month I had NONE!) and I've even started forgetting to wash my face...because it doesn't feel dry or greasy! My skin is SO soft, and I swear it even glows a little. :) 

I've really wanted to start using olive oil on my hands and other dry areas.  But I haven't really thought of a good way to do that. I have a few little spots of psoriasis that pop up in the winter, and I just started dabbing some olive oil on them, and it seems to be helping a lot, but I haven't done it long enough to report on the effectiveness there. 

In short, this is a very frugal, easy, natural, and effective way to clean your face, and not only that, but it might just leave your skin healthier than it was before. 

Definitely let me know if you try this!


  1. nikki, i love this. I sadly, never care for my skin as i should, but if i ever desire to get into this great habit i will try your technique. the only problem is that olive oil is really expensive here. i love you so much. thank you for your blog comments on my blog. I am inspired by your blog. thank you.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, friend! :) i love you! I probably can't send you olive oil, huh?

  3. Just bought myself some Castor Oil!!!!!

  4. hooray, sarah! :) did it say LAXATIVE in big letters? self-consciousness...

  5. hey girl! just found your blog and am anxious to try so many of your suggestions! i obviously disregarded the whole laxative part of your post, because it totally threw me off in the store! but it was cheap so i bought it anyway. glad to check this post for confirmation that i've bought the right stuff!!! thanks for the tips!

  6. CANNOT WAIT to try this - thanks so much for the info!

  7. Hi Nikki! I'm not sure how I found this blog, but I was searching for some DIY face wash ideas. I just tried this, and I do think it may work. Are you still using this face wash? How is it going for you?

  8. Also... to exoliate/moisturize your hands/feet/body - mix evoo with some sugar to make a paste and use it to scrub all over, then rinse with warm water and dry. Makes your hands/skin sooooo soft. You can add the essential oils to this as well. Just be careful if you do this in the shower as it will make the shower very slippery.

    And for the eczema - I had a decent size patch of it and tried everything... what finally worked for me was noxema (I suppose the castor oil/evoo combo would work too) followed by coconut oil. The coconut oil specifically seemed to help. Cleared it up within a couple of days.