What is OCM you ask? It is the Oil Cleansing Method. I have terrible skin on my face. If I could change any one thing about myself, it would be that. It has gotten worse as I have gotten older and I'm not entirely sure why other than hormones. I have tried every facial cleanser out there that promises to clear up acne such as Proactiv, Neutrogena, Biore, Duac (prescription only), and Clearasil. I have gone to a renowned dermatologist at Johns Hopkins and tried the harsh chemicals that he prescribed. I tried Retin-A and I tried to use CeraVe and Cetaphil. I have tried everything and yet my face still breaks out. The Retin-A would make my zits go away faster, but I still got them. It also made my face INCREDIBLY red and INCREDIBLY dry and flaky.
After many years I have finally found something that works for me, it is OCM. It didn't work at first because I was not doing it right with an oil that was too much for my skin; however, I have been playing with it for a little while now and tweaking the oils I'm using. It first started about 2 years ago with jojoba oil. I read on a site that jojoba oil was the cure-all oil for acne sufferers. So the science behind the idea is that oil breaks down oil and that certain oils can not be absorbed by the epidermis because of the chemical compound being too large to be absorbed. These are called carrier oils and their comedogenic ratings are all very different. Comedogenic means that it will clog your pores. For a list of some of the popular ones: click here. The non-comedogenic oils are: Hemp Seed oil, Mineral Oil, Sunflower oil, and Safflower oil.
I bought some jojoba oil and I used it religiously for a few weeks before I knew about comedogenic ratings. It cleared my skin up a little bit but then all of a sudden my face broke out like crazy. So I gave up on it after that because I had been told my entire life that oil breaks you out and makes things worse, but I figured I had to try it anyway. So the next two years I used Proactiv Extra Strength. Let me tell you, this is some serious shit! This is 10% benzoyl peroxide wash, 2% Salicylic Acid Toner, and 10% benzoyl peroxide lotion. It was so incredibly harsh on my skin that it started to fade my beloved freckles! My freckles were being bleached by this stuff and I was developing fine lines around my eyes that should not have been there because it was drying my skin out so badly. I love having freckles on my face, I can not be using crap that bleaches them and it didn't even clear my skin up. My breakouts were less, but they still occurred even though I was using these strong chemicals. So I gave up on it and switched to using Cetaphil cleanser twice a day and nothing else. Yeah, fuck that noise. My face broke out all along my jaw line and chin. You must be able to understand my frustration by now?!?! I am in my 30's, I should not be getting zits!
About 3.5 months ago I decided I would start taking hormonal birth control in an attempt to clear my face and because I was in a committed relationship that doesn't want kids... but mostly to clear my face up. I also started Retin-A about a month before that. My routine in the evening took about 15 minutes just to wash my face and I noticed in pictures from New Years Eve that my face was incredibly red compared to my neck and arms. I sunburned one day when I was out in the winter sun for 20 minutes, and that is when I decided I didn't want to be using these harsh chemicals on my face, that I needed to find alternatives. So I started searching... and searching... and searching.
One day on Reddit, I discovered a sub-reddit called SkinCareAddiction. I subscribed to it and started reading the FAQ's. It changed my life. They were recommending the oil cleansing method and there was a lot of information on it. Information by people who have done it and have nothing to gain by praising it or bashing it. It was the stories of hundreds of people who have had success and failure with it, stories of what oils worked for what skin types, and stories just like mine where nothing else worked. I spent some time reading before I decided to try it and they recommended starting with Mineral oil, which is just baby oil. Baby oil is mineral oil with fragrance. So I started with baby oil, then wiping it off with a baby wash cloth, and then washing with Cetaphil. It is called double cleansing. I noticed a difference in my skin's texture but it didn't clear me up, it just didn't break me out either. So I did this for a couple weeks but then noticed I was getting some zits along my jaw line again, which I attributed to something in the Cetaphil but I couldn't be sure. So I switched oils to Sunflower Oil which has a comedogenic rating of 0 just like mineral oil but does not have fragrance added to it, meaning it is non-comedogenic and it was good for acne and other skin conditions according to Garden of Wisdom. I have been using this for about two weeks. I noticed the texture of my skin changed considerably but I was still using CeraVe pm moisturizer and still had some zits. I made the decision earlier this week to give up moisturizer forever because there is something in it that breaks me out no matter how friendly it is supposed to be or how recommended by dermatologists. So I went on the hunt for a moisturizing lotion...
Last night I tried Hemp Seed Oil for the first time because it is supposed to be a good moisturizing oil, non-comedogenic, soothes skin, slows down the effects of aging, and helps with acne. I am in love. My face has already improved and I have only used it twice. I am also experimenting with Argan Oil right now mixed with Sunflower Oil as a wash and Hemp as a moisturizer.
The oil cleansing method is not for everyone and all oils are not created equally. Jojoba oil has a comedogenic rating of 2, which was too much for my skin. Some will break you out and some won't. All I know is that my life has been changed by using oil on my face as my cleanser. As a person who has suffered from skin problems since my teens, and has tried everything on the market, this is what works for me. My skin does not look oily, it is not greasy, and it is more radiant than it has been in years. I think the chemicals that were in all of these products were exacerbating the acne on my face.
My current routine:
Splash water on face
Small amount of oil in the palm of hand, massage on face for 2 minutes, wipe away with baby wash cloth (hemp seed at this time, but trying Sunflower mixed with Argan this week)
Use a couple drops of fresh oil to moisturize (hemp seed oil)
Paula's Choice Best Face Forward Tinted Sunblock
Splash water on face
Small amount of oil in the palm of hand, massage on face for 2 minutes,
wipe away with baby wash cloth (hemp seed oil)
Put fresh oil on after wiping away the dirty oil, splash with water, rub in for a minute. Blot with towel.
Pure Shea Butter after to lock in all the moisture while I sleep
If you are interested in OCM, I recommend a few sites for information about how to do it and the best oils for whatever condition you have going on. You can find most oils in the food section of a decent grocery store like Wegmans or Whole Foods. Garden of Wisdom also offers an oil sampler pack where you can pick 3 oils based on your skin type to try out to see what works for you and what doesn't, that way you are not committed to large bottles of oil that won't work... the upside is that you can cook with most of them if they don't work out for your face. :D
Garden of Wisdom