Washing with Oil
If you’d told me a few years ago that I’d be washing my face with oil, I would've said pfft! With patchy, acne-prone, blackheady skin that was oily yet somehow also dull, I was always told that soap based cleansers were best. I grew accustomed to that tight, stripped feeling after washing. Thankfully the universe intervened and I’m a person who likes to try new things!
Oil cleansing had its challenges at first. In those first couple of weeks, I did break out more and the blackheads got bigger, blacker. BUT my skin also looked so alive for the first time in my adult life! There was color! A real (brace yourself) GLOW!
And after those initial weeks, my skin began to clear. Not just the acne and blackheads, but the red patchy spots too.
How can this be explained? And how did I get through the rough transitional period?
The Science Behind Oil Cleansing
Soap is a 19th century invention. In fact, soap in its basic form is just lye added to oils. Before soap entered the scene, people cleaned themselves with oil. We have evidence that Cleopatra, as well as the Romans, washed regularly with oil.
Yet when I was a young adult, oil was talked about like an evil thing that needed to be purged from my skin at all costs and all times of the day. My 1990's skincare routine included harsh soaps, alcohol-based sprays and an array of medical creams. I shudder now. Of course these products did nothing for my skin except dry it out excessively, dismantle the protective acid layer, etc. leading to patchy, flaky yet shiny skin.
What I've learned since:
• When we strip our skin of its natural oils and acids, it must quickly repair itself by reproducing more oil. This leaves us in a vicious cycle from tight and dry to greasy and irritated. Not to mention that most soap products these days, even organic ones, contain things like surfactants or fragrances that further irritate skin by trapping debris and consistently disrupting our natural oil production cycles. They also cause dry skin that flakes off, further clogging pores.
• Washing with the right blend of high-quality oils, however, is gentle and can actually feed your skin nutrients rather than stripping it. Oils do not disrupt the natural acid mantle or drastically shift the pH. They do not attempt to fight and control, but rather support your skin's natural processes, helping it find a peaceful rhythm and balance.
• Ultimately, it is a combination of oil and water can keep skin looking soft, supple and healthy.
• High-quality oils are filled with an array of anti-viral, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. They are highly anti-inflammatory plus high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. We use only low-PUFA oils, which contain lots of good saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids that come with their own healing benefits. Learn more about each oil in Our Ingredients.
• Oil dissolves oil. Which means that high-quality oils can effectively remove excess sebum in pores, as well as dirt, make-up and other debris from skin without harming your skin's natural barriers. It will leave you feeling softer and brighter, but not greasy.
Again, there may be an adjustment period if you're coming from years of soap-based cleansers. The oil cleanser may begin to unclog your pores, and the oil barrier on your skin may need some time to reset itself and relax its overproduction of oils.
Oil cleansing is so natural for me now, so easy and quick and effective. It’s simplified my skincare ritual significantly too! Since I’m letting my skin behave as it knows best, there’s no need for a bunch of other products to “fix” it.
Admittedly, it also fits snuggly into my quest for a simpler, more natural lifestyle. You can't get much simpler or more natural than good oil and clean water!
But truthfully, oil cleansing works for me. Last year, my family was in the U.S. for 3 weeks, and I forgot to pack my Wyld face oil cleanser. My skin was a disaster within days. I even tried another oil cleanser but the high-PUFA oils like almond and sunflower didn’t work for me at all, not even in the short-term — and I really can’t recommend them for the long-term.
Read more about why we avoid oils high in polyunsaturated fats and instead focus on oils like jojoba, macadamia, tamanu, babassu and olive.
If you're transitioning from a soap-based to an oil-based cleanser, here are some tips that worked well for me:
1 – In those first few weeks, I used a soft washcloth to help gently remove the oil after washing with my hands. Now please don't scrub your skin or pull it down with the cloth. Just gently wipe areas that are giving you trouble. For me, this was my nose and cheek area.
2 – I continued to wash with soap about once per week - that lasted about a month or two, and then I let go of the soap completely. By then the acne, blackheads and patchiness were disappearing. I believe the oil was pulling everything out of my skin at first, hence the transition. The oily/dry cycles stopped too as my skin found a balance. I believe the soap cleansers were stripping my natural oils, causing erratic oil production cycles and dull-looking skin.
3 – Always follow up with a toner, which can help dissolve any excess oil sitting on the surface of your skin. NO super drying, pH disrupting alcohol based toner please! Instead go for a pure steam-distilled hydrosol water. Not only do hydrosol waters have a skin-loving pH, but they contain medicinal plant compounds to further support and possibly treat skin health.