Oil Cleansing Method – OCM

The Oil Cleansing Method of facial wash, is a healthy and natural alternative to washing with soaps or facial cleansers.

There is already a lot of information out there on this method of washing your face, so maybe you’ve already read about and are just looking for more support.  I like to read several articles on something before I try it, because everyone has their own reasons, their own method and process.

This year, 2012, brings with it my 42nd birthday.  And while I hit my 40’s happy, I can say I’ve never been happy with my skin.  I’ve always battled breakout and redness.  I’m now noticing my skin is getting thin, and fine lines.  I’ve used my own handmade soap on my skin for years, but I think it’s time to change my routine for my face.  Here’s where OCM comes in to play.

This method calls for simple ingredients which you should be able to easily find at your grocery or drug store.

  • Olive Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Essential Oil

Olive Oil, it’s good for all skin types, but don’t feel limited to this one oil.  There are plenty of other oils that are easy to get, but will help target problems, like dry or oily skin.

Castor Oil – this helps clean and dissolve dirty oils on your skin – but can be drying so you’ll want to use more or less, depending on your skin type ( oily skin = use up to 30%, dry skin = use 10% or less).

Essential Oil – this isn’t necessary, but I had Lavender oil and Patchouli oil on hand, so I made two small bottles 1 of each eo.

Bottle it up: I had plastic bottles from my days of lotion making, but any jar or small container with a lid will work.

  • 3/4 Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Castor Oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon EO

How to Wash your face with Oils:  You need a nice washcloth and hot water (running, so it’s clean).  I wet my face out of habit, then pour the mixed oils in my palm to equal the size of a quarter or so (more or less, no big deal).  Rub the oils together between your hands to warm the oils, then rub on your face.

Pay attention to any problem areas, rubbing and rubbing.

Side note:  This is a great time to get in a pep talk to your body.  While I’ve always sort of done this, I had it put into words when my sister came home from France recently.  On her long trip on the plane, she did some knitting, but most inspirational to me is her writing in her journal – she wrote to her body, telling it she was sorry for all the things she done wrong, and what she plans to do better.  So, get in a chat with your face.. you’ve likely put some nasty stuff on your face over the years.

Once this is done, turn your hot water back on and get your cloth wet.  First thing I did was lay the cloth against my face and let the hot moisture open my pores.  Then I rinsed the cloth again and gently rubbed away the oils – and I visualized wiping away the dirty oils.

Rinse a few times with water as hot as you can stand it (this helps break up the dirties and wipe them away), until you feel you’ve gotten most of the oils off your skin.  Pat dry, gently.  You may or may not need extra moisturizer.  Today, I chose not to use any – I’m mostly curious how my skin will respond to the oils only.  It’s winter, as I write this, so my feelings on this may change depending on the weather.

One down side to this method is your skin might go into a panic the first few weeks, much like it does when you stop using store-bought shampoo.  It’s ok.  Give it a couple of weeks to get use to this new gentle method.. but in the meantime, you may be faced with more breakouts than usual – they should clear up after a few weeks.   No fun, I know, but all things good usually come with a little discomfort to start out.

How the Oil Cleansing Method works:  Well, others have explained it sooo well (Crunchy Betty and Simple Mom), that I don’t think I could do better, but essentially, Oils clean oils.. the Oils in this mixture, are warmed on your skin and cleanse away the dirty oils, leaving soft clean skin behind.   Simple Mom does a good job explaining the hows and whys it works, while Crunchy Betty gives a list of oils to use, ratios and some why’s as well.

The No ‘Poo (no shampoo) Decision and Recipes

A couple of years ago, I came across a couple of posts about the “no ‘poo” method of washing hair. It sounded like something I’d do, but at the time, life was really heavy on me… But just a few months ago, I came across those few posts again. I did a few more searches and made a mental note to pick up a couple of containers and my own jug of Apple Cider Vinegar the next time I went to the store.

Since you are here, reading, you’ve likely already decided you have some interest in this method, so I’m not going to go into all the gritty details of why this method is good, or better. We know we’re surrounded in life with chemicals, shampoo and conditioner are no different. Read on for the basics.

No ‘Poo is just a way of cleaning your hair without the harmful chemicals found in most shampoos and conditioners. It’s cheap.. er, frugal and easy, so set aside your bottles of shampoo and conditioner (really, you can always go back to it, should this no shampoo method not work for you – don’t sweat it and don’t pitch the bottles yet.) and gather up a few simple ingredients. Here are a few things you will want.

Ingredients for the No ‘Poo, no shampoo method of washing your hair:

One or Two containers that are easy to mix, easy to pour. You may dedicate a specific bottle (or two), or you might just want to use a large cup.

You’ll want a spoon or scoop of some sort – I just use an old spoon, like the small spoon that would come in silverware set. I think I’ll switch to a tea-spoon for the longer handle (but keeping the smaller scoop of the spoon).

A box of Baking Soda. You could put this in a pretty jar, or just leave it…. eh..

A jug of Apple Cider Vinegar (if you are collecting articles about this method, you’ll frequently seen this as ACV)

There’s your basics. Easy peas-y.

Long Hair
This is not a picture of the no 'poo method, just long hair.

I use two rubber maid bottles. I rinse them after each use, so my next shower, I can use either bottle for whichever step. Sometimes, I just use one bottle. It’s no big deal.

Before my shower, while the bathroom are water are heating up, I put about 2 rounded teaspoons (not an exact, just “about”) into one container. In the shower, I fill it with about 2 or 2 1/2 cups of water – give a shake.

I have found I prefer to put this solution on my head before I wet my hair. This way I get most on my roots, rather than on the hair length since it can be drying. Turning my head this way and that, I get it on all my scalp, rubbing it gently with my fingertips (not my nails). Rub gently, don’t scrub.

I leave this on while I rinse the bottle. I use about the same amount of ACV as I do Baking Soda, but I just “splash” it into the bottle or cup, then add about 2 or 2 1/2 cups of water. This, I pour over all my hair as it acts as a conditioner, but importantly, it balances the ph of your hair and scalp – so don’t skip this.

The Apple Cider Vinegar does have a light smell while your hair is still wet, but once dry, you don’t smell it. This is all well and good, but I do smell it if I get hot and sweaty… and I don’t like it. I love vinegar in salads and on sandwiches, it definitely has its place in household cleaning and laundry, but I swear, the only thing that comes to mind when I smell it, is coloring Easter eggs… and really, just gross. But, I found a way to combat this negative side effect…

Instead of using plain water to add to your vinegar rinse, I made a strong tea. My plan is to keep tea bags I’ve used for making pitcher of iced tea, and throw them in a gallon jug of water. Over time, they’ll steep. You could also do this with different herbs (lavender quickly comes to mind) and essential oils. One drawback to essentials oils, however, is they are an oil – they don’t mix with water – so you’ll need to make sure you shake your mixture well before using. Then use this water with your splash of ACV and you don’t smell the vinegar (little, if at all) even while it’s wet.

I’ve been using this method for a couple of months now and not only do I like how it makes my hair feel, I am enjoying it.

Just a few notes to add. If you have been reading articles, you’ll know you may have an adjustment period for your hair since it’s use to having to over-produce oils to help moisturize your hair (shampoos and conditioners (certain ones) strip your hair of its natural oils, while others coat it with a barrier that keeps it from getting moisturized naturally. You really don’t need to wash your hair every day, so gradually lengthen the time between washes. I typically wash my hair every five to six days, and it really is good up until that last day – when it feels dirty, but still doesn’t look it.

Where are you with this no ‘poo method? Have you just come across it, and are researching, or have you been doing it for awhile? I’d love to hear your experiences, and even additives to the recipe(s).

Nana’s Lavender Goatmilk Soap Recipe

This was one of my favorites, and one that always flew off my shelf – I just couldn’t keep it in stock!

This is a lovely, creamy soap that is gentle on all skin types – from baby skin to problem skin such as eczema and psoriasis. If you’d rather try a vegan recipe, try Nana’s Vegan Lavender Soap Recipe – it’s a perfect alternative, no less wonder and gentle.

Lavender essential oil has been known to be soothing to dry, itchy skin; calms the mind and eases stress. Lavender eo has been used to treat various skin disorders because of it’s antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, such as acne, wrinkles, and psoriasis. Adding lavender oil to chamomile helps eczema.

I used a few different base recipes, but my all-time favorite was a very simple one. Momma Muse has several lavender soap recipes – many are, or can be made, vegan friendly.

2 pounds

24 oz. Olive Oil (75)
8 oz. Palm Kernel Oil (25%)

4.38 oz. Lye (6% superfat)
8.8 oz. goat milk *

1.5 oz. lavender essential oil
2 TBSP lavender powder

* This is your lye amount x 2.

Freeze the goat milk in the container used for your lye mixture. Once frozen, very slowly add your lye. Stirring, and slowly adding – this helps prevent the milk from getting hot too fast. I also put my container in a bowl with ice to keep the goat milk and lye mixture as cool as possible.

Once mixed and set to cooling, put aside (in a safe place!).

Measure your Palm Kernel Oil (PKO) and melt (not hot, just melted) – I have used a microwave in the past to do this, just make sure your container is microwave safe. If you are able, a stove top works well.


While your PKO is melting, measure your lavender essential oil and lavender powder into separate containers (I always use glass for my essential and fragrance oils).

Have your mold clean, lined and at the ready.

When your PKO is melted, add the olive oil. Feeling the side of the pot, it should not be hot. A little warm is fine, but generally a the cooler the temperature the better when mixing a goat milk soap (actually, I prefer working with cool temps all the time – more time to mix).

Now, your lye mixture should be cooler to the touch and your oils cooler to the touch… think “luke-warm”.

Have your stick blender (immersion blender) at hand and ready. Slowly add your lye mixture to your oils (note: always add the lye TO the oil). Blending while you pour…

Bring your soap mixture to trace (trace is when your spoon or blender leaves a trail and takes a minute to disappear back into the mixture). Once trace has been reached, add your lavender powder, mixing, then your essential oil, mixing..

Everything should be mixed well, now pour into your mold. I do not insulate my soap, I put it on a shelf for about 24 hours before I unmold and cut. Once cut, I leave on a shelf for another 24 hours before I bevel edges.

Give it a couple weeks before using, though a good month would be best as the soap will harden up nicely over time.

Photo Credit: By kidclaude on flickr