Thursday, 25 April 2013

WASH YOUR BLOODY FACE - a crash course in the Oil Cleansing Method

Right, you 'orrible lot, you're all getting spotty and trying to hide it with badly applied foundation and it's NOT WORKING!

Yes, spotty skin is a big bugbear of the goth community, particularly among those who like dramatic makeup but are stalled in their aspirations of Amaranth-like flawlessness by blocked pores and oddly lumpy chins.  Now, if you're a teenager or, like me, possessed of rather oily skin with enlarged pores as you enter your twenties, thirties and beyond, spots and dots are par for the course - you can do your best to minimise them but you have to accept that the occasional blemish will arise, and you deal with it.  If you want that pimple to remain occasional, though, you need to know how to keep your skin clean - and with waterproof eyeliner and heavy foundation, that's a bit more of a challenge than those cheery young beauties splashing their faces with water in all the adverts make out.  Wet wipes will not do - you need to remove everything properly and thoroughly.  And I'm about to recommend something that seems really counter-intuitive - wash your face with oil.

Yes, oil.

See all those cleansers that boast of being oil-free?  Stuff 'em.  They're great for daily cleansing and getting a bit of food off your face after a long, messy session at the buffet, but nothing removes stubborn waterproof-based formulations and sebum-based plugs from your pores better than oil.  This is because, as all good Chemists know, 'like dissolves like' - water-based and 'hydrophillic' things dissolve in water, whilst fats, oils and other 'hydrophobic' things float on the surface of H2O and repel it whilst dissolving far better in other oily substances.  Whilst water is repelled by your hard-wearing makeup, a lot of it will come right off with a creamy or oily cleanser.

Now, I'm not saying you get a greasy chips wrapper and rub it on your mug.  When I say 'oil'  I'm talking something like olive oil, jojoba oil, castor oil etc.  You *can* use baby oil but, being derived from petrochemicals, mineral oils aren't the best thing for your skin or the planet.  You can apply those oils to a bit of cotton wool and wipe off your makeup before washing your face as usual or you can follow a more thorough routine called the Oil Cleansing Method.  This has done miracles for me, your results may vary.  For this, you need:

  • A CLEAN facecloth
  • An oil blend of your choice - I HIGHLY recommend jojoba oil due to its non-clogging properties, you can blend it with a little castor oil to thicken it up and help draw more gunk out your pores or use as-is.  Extra-Virgin Olive Oil is also a popular choice, particularly for those with dry skin, and has the bonus of being widely available.
  • Plenty of hot water.
To start, take a bit of oil in the palm of your (clean) hand - about the size of a two-pence piece - and massage it over your DRY face. Be thorough - get into all the nooks and crannies around your nose, on your chin etc.  Do this until your face is saturated and your makeup dissolved, then take your flannel, soak it in hot water and hold it over your face until it cools.  This'll steam your pores and help loosen anything stuck in them. Massage the oil on your face again before wetting your flannel with hot water again and gently wiping it off.  Use a clean part of the flannel for each wipe.  Rinse the cloth off when necessary and keep it nice and hot.  Continue wiping until your have removed all the oil, splash your face with cold water.  Done.

Now, that was a very brief crash course in the OCM, I recommend looking it up for more info - here's a more detailed page from  As I mentioned I have exceptionally oily skin and at one point followed this routine once or twice a day, every day, for a month - at the end my skin looked amazing, it was not oilier and I certainly hadn't developed lots of blockages.  Some people do this once or twice a week as a deep-cleansing treatment.  Finally, if you have a skin condition like eczema or cystic acne, this might not be for you, so check with your dermatologist if you have one or perform a skin-test first.

The above is a bit of a faff, of course, and there are more convenient (and costly) options.  You can buy special cleansing oils that emulsify in water allowing you to just rinse them off.  DHC has an AMAZING one with a tiny ingredient list, but at £20 for a large bottle I don't recommend it for regular use if you're on a budget - if you do wish to try this I recommend signing up for DHC's free mail-outs, they always include samples from their range and you'll eventually get some of this magic stuff in a little sachet.  (I have one of the smaller bottles for travelling, mighty convenient if you don't wish to lug a makeup remover and cleanser around with you.)  L'Oreal have just released a much cheaper option (on offer in Superdrug now) and my first impression is that it definitely does the job - but, alas, it's probably not for those with sensitive skin, containing both mineral oil and fragrance (whyyyyy?).  Both of these rinse off beautifully, though, which can't be said for some other oils - I recall a Smashbox version that didn't dissolve makeup properly left a residue no matter how much your rinsed, nasty stuff.

For those who want to stick to more common methods, here's what you should be doing every time:

1) Remove makeup with a specialised remover prior to washing your face.
2) If you use a cleanser rather than a facewash, cleanse TWICE if you were wearing makeup.  A good deal is still left after the first pass, so clean again.
3) Always moisturise.  Even if you have oily skin.  If you dry out your skin, it'll get irritated, produce more oil and generally look a lot more annoyed.
4) Exfoliate once or twice a week.

There you go.  Two very general methods that have both served me well.  Get scrubbing.


  1. ok, you make me want to try it this way. atm i use lush coalface twice a day and use enzymion cream afterwards which made my skin look the best it ever did. but you can always improve i guess? :-O (thats from 'a stick of butter in the sun')

    1. If you're a Lush fan, Ultrabland might work for you. Cold creams like that are essentially based on the oil cleansing method, just apply to your face (steaming first optional), massage thoroughly and remove with a clean cloth and hot water.