I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently about the ill-effects of using harsh chemicals on your face, especially as you cross your mid to late twenties and the first signs of ageing begin to sneakily appear. Apart from your skin literally absorbing lots of chemicals over the span of your life, harsh face-washes and soaps over-dry your skin making it more susceptible to wrinkles, spots, fine lines, uneven skin texture, and yes- premature ageing (SCARY!!!). The oils your skin naturally produces are the best way to keep it supple and soft, but I understand you can’t be a total hippie and never wash your face- especially if you have oily or acne-prone skin or live in a polluted city where daily cleansing is a must. I find my face to be quite dry after washing despite using a good quality moisturiser when I’m done and it generally just looked duller than it used to be, so I’m about to begin an extended period of only using organic, natural substances on my face. Something my mom and grandmother would be super proud of (they’ve always maintained that they never used soap on their face almost their whole lives) since they both had/have gorgeous skin for their age. I always thought of this as an old wives tale, but the more I read, the more I really think theres a science to using the same stuff on your body as you put into your body. Basically I’m going to get in my kitchen and get messy so you don’t have to! Hence begins my quest- to regain the skin of my childhood (I know you think I’m looney, but stay with me) before I started killing it with every product known to man. Lets see if this stuff really works or they’re just some of grandma’s stories 😉
So the first natural skin care method I plan on exploring is oil cleansing, and this was a big first. Any sort of oil or oil-based product on my facial skin used to raise majorrr red flags in my mind since it seemed like all through my teen years and early twenties my only goal was to strip my skin of any oil it produced, and that was the only way of avoiding the dreaded acne breakouts. In retrospect I feel I definitely dried my skin out too much, and while I never really had serious acne issues growing up, I still got (get :/ )the occasional small zit. Apart from that, I found my skin type changed when I reached my mid twenties, it went from combination with my forehead, nose, around the nose, and chin being pretty oily and my cheeks being balanced, to now where its much drier. I have a slightly oily nose and forehead and pretty dry everywhere else on my face and neck.
Till now I’ve been using anti-acne face washes, usually the neem one from The Body Shop or various Neutrogena & Clinique products, but I found my skin to be quite tight/uncomfortable afterwards even though I moisturise (I always thought this meant that my skin is nice and clean, but no, it means you’re over drying the life out of it). Also for the past year or so I’ve been noticing tiny skin-coloured bumps on my face, so while my skin looks clear, the texture has gone down and is not lovely and fine anymore. I always thought it was allergies, since I have very sensitive, hive prone skin, but the more I read about using only natural products on your face, the more it seemed to make sense. First of all- our skin, being the largest organ in our body, absorbs crazy amounts of chemicals every year with everything we put on ourselves. From soaps and body washes, to scrubs, lotions, bleach, tanning products, makeup and haircare, theres something to be said about only using things on your body that you would put into your body. I know its not always possible to eliminate everything out of your lives (I love my make-up and hair products just as much as the next girl), but eliminating even a few things can not only cause improvements in your physical appearance, but your overall health (less chemicals in your body, yay!).
I do have to mention that just because certain foods have vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are beneficial for skin and health does not necessarily mean that they absorb the same way topically on your skin as they would when you consume them, so definitely continue eating lots of fresh food and drink water like its your job (at least 8 medium sized glasses for me, plus 2 coconut waters daily for the last couple of years). There are still an infinite amount of benefits still to be reaped from natural skin care methods, and if you speak to your grandma, or older relatives, they will give you treasure troves of knowledge on all sorts of things from the kitchen that they used in the bathroom. My grandma had lovely skin, it became looser with age but had barely any fine lines, and it always glowed and was super soft (one of my favorite childhood memories was touching her soft skin as she told me stories), and she swore she never used soap on her face. Her and my mum would take me into the kitchen when I was young and mix all sorts of lovely things together for my baths- lemons from her garden with local honey, chickpea flour with yoghurt & turmeric, sugar crystals & pure, solid coconut oil that would melt as soon as you rubbed your palms together, raw milk & saffron. I guess my fascination for natural beauty was just inherent.
The oil on our faces, and bodies, is essential to health of the skin. It protects, nourishes, and prevents premature ageing, apart from keeping your skin clear, glowing and beautiful. The trouble is that mainstream skincare regimes have always lead us to believe we need to rid our skin of this oil as soon as it’s produced, and hence we dab, wipe, wash, scrub, peel, and use all sorts of harsh chemicals on our face which seriously throw natural the balance off. If you strip your skin of its natural oils, its automatically going to produce more of it to keep itself nourished, leading to acne & breakouts, leading you to wash and dry it out again- a vicious cycle. And while cleansing is still super important- how you do it is key.
The science behind oil-cleansing is basically just that oils can break down the other pollutants, make-up, dry skin cells, and impurities that have hardened with your skins oils and gotten stuck in your pores, while still keeping your skin moisturised. Sort of like you need turpentine to get oil paints off your hands, the same way the skin needs an oil based substance to break down our natural oils that have gotten jammed in our pores along with makeup and dirt. I’m sure every woman has experienced the miraculous effect baby oil has on stubborn waterproof mascara, it melts off immediately unlike if you simply washed your face with a face wash. Oils have the same effect on pretty much anything else applied to the skin. Simple right?
The method is even simpler- I take a little bit of Forest Essentials virgin cold pressed coconut oil in my palms and gently start applying to to my face and neck. What oil you use is definitely important, I usually go with coconut oil because its antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti fungal, so I find it really cleans my skin well. You can even use castor, almond, or olive oil or make a blend of your favourite oils and keep it in a waterproof bottle in your bathroom. If you’re using an oil blend remember to shake the bottle before use as they will all settle according to weight. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to your blend, such as tea tree, neem, grapeseed, and jojoba oil which are all fantastic for skin & hair. Jojoba oil is most similar to sebum, or the oil our skin naturally produces. Always make sure you use high quality, cold-pressed oils as they have the most nutrition for your skin. The massaging process is important as the heat created will open up your pores allowing the oil to get in and dissolve the impurities, so use your fingertips and palms to gently massage your face and neck in circular, upward motions. Leave it on for 10 minutes, then take a super-soft washcloth and dip it in hot water. Rub the washcloth on your face in gentle upward motions, while continuously making it warm again by dipping it in water, and make sure to cover all the areas properly, including your neck. The steam from the hot water will open up your pores allowing the washcloth to remove the makeup, excess oil and impurities from your face. And thats basically it! Repeat the warm washcloth 3-4 times only as beyond that you will again dry your skin. If you’re getting in the shower then the method is even simpler- apply the oil to your face, body, and neck, massage for 10 minutes and get in a warm shower, making sure you do everything else first such as shampoo etc and then wipe your skin with the washcloth last, allowing the steam and hot water on your skin to really open your pores up. Use soap lightly only on necessary areas of your body, but not on your face and neck. Your skin shouldn’t feel dry afterwards, but if it does a tiny drop of the same oil smoothed on to damp skin will do the trick. Do this twice a day and avoid any other soaps for a while.
I’ve done about 3 months of this method and I have to say that my skin hasn’t been this soft and smooth in years, also it feels super clean and tingly when I’m done and theres no residual oil on my face, contrary to what I thought. The fine bumps have improved slightly, and this makes me think that the maybe dryness was causing them. I haven’t had to use any moisturiser, and I’ve even been using less make-up on my face because my skin looks much nicer than before! Some of that elusive glow has returned, plus I havent had to exfoliate too much because the warm washcloth does the trick. And for those of you wondering, not even a single breakout since I started and absolutely zero makeup left on my face and eyes when I’m done. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
So my verdict on this method is massively positive- I’d definitely recommend it to everyone I know, including men. I’ve read about miracle stories online of women who have completely cleared up their broken out skin with this technique, but even if you dont achieve such drastic results I can definitely say your skin will be softer, more evenly textured, and much cleaner than it would be with any good face wash. I find my makeup comes completely off, even better than with face wash. No racoon eyes or residual eye/lip makeup left when I’m done. If you try/have tried this method, I’d love to hear about your experience. Write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Oil Cleansing”.
Till then I’ve got more fashion, travel & beauty coming your way! Happy reading, lovelies 🙂
*DISCLAIMER- I’m not a dermatologist or skin specialist in any way, these are just my experiences with various products and techniques for skin care as I have super sensitive skin and most cleansing products don’t suit me. Please do a patch test before using anything new on your skin to make sure it doesn’t react, and consult your doctor before trying this if you have any serious skin related issues.
Jasleen Gill is a fashion & celebrity stylist, model, and blogger currently residing in Mumbai, India.READ MORE