Note: My expertise is in nutrition, not skin care. This is simply about my own experiences.
Let's talk acne. I've struggled with it since I was about 13. I'm now 27 so that's a pretty long time. I don't think I'm overly vain, but any acne sufferer will know how much acne can affect a person's confidence. Me and my skin have had our better and worse periods, but it's never been great or even good. And I've tried it all. From the super drying alcohol-based toners of my teenage years (yuck!) and expensive oil-free acne gels to prescription creams from dermatologists. Some of them helped for a while, but never with lasting results. Some of the products made me look like a burn victim so much that people would come up to me and ask if I was alright. And some made my face hurt and sting so much that I couldn't sleep at night. And it all cost a lot.
A few years ago I discovered the oil cleansing method, or OCM. Google it, there's a lot of great info out there. The basic idea is to wash your face with oils. Sounds crazy, right? Especially as any acne sufferer has probably been told millions of times to avoid oils at all costs and only use anything "oil-free". Well... maybe not. The idea here is that "like treats like", e.g. oil treats oil. This means that oils can in fact be great for oily skin or skin with lots of oil and dirt trapped in the pores. Also, all those drying face washes, toners and oil-free gels and lotions can make an oily skin even oilier as the more you dry out the skin, the more oil it will produce. And the more oil it produces the more oil can clog the pores and contribute to acne. So the OCM is great for deep cleaning the pores but also to balance the skin back to normal.
When I started the OCM my skin actually got worse at first. This is apparently quite common as you dig up lots of old trapped dirt and oils. My skin got a bit better and I continued for a couple of years but then for some reason I quit and started to use more "regular" products. Then over the next couple of years my skin slowly got worse again (even when I used super clean organic products). A few months ago I was so sick and tired of my pimples and decided to give the OCM another go. And I'm so happy I did! Now I use another combination of oils than the first years which seem to suit me much better.
Now I'm definitely don't say that OCM is a miracle which will make your skin perfect in a week. My skin still isn't great BUT it's so so much better, and it's slowly getter even better every week. What a relief!
My skin care routine now
In the evening I cleanse my skin using the OCM (instructions below). My current cleansing oil is a homemade mixture of castor oil, hemp seed oil, black cumin seed oil (Nigella Sativa) and a few drops of essential oils. The essential oils I use are tea tree, lavender and juniper berry, which are all said to be able to calm and heal acne inflammation. Afterwards I apply rose water or orange blossom water. And that's it! Maybe one night per week I massage in some oil afterwards, but usually I just let my skin breathe. This sounds crazy for someone used to using serums and creams at night, but after a few weeks without them my skin was balanced enough to not feel dry.
My morning routine is super simple. I simply splash my face with some warm and then cold water. Then I apply my toner (rose water or orange blossom water in a spray bottle) and either an eye cream or a little oil around the eyes. Some days that's it! Some days I massage my face with a small amount of black cumin seed oil or my favourite face oil and let that sink in for a few minutes before applying my make-up.
About once a week I exfoliate my skin either with baking soda or a store-bought exfoliator and apply a mud mask.
So simple! And I used to be someone who used a load of different products every morning and night. But I really enjoy my simplified routine now.
Which oils to use
You'll need at least two oils, one base oil and one deep cleansing oil.
Which oils to choose depends on your skin-type. If you have acne-prone skin you should look for oils which are non-comedogenic (meaning that they won't clog pores). I love hemp oil and black cumin seed oil for my base oil and castor oil for my deep cleansing oil. Other base oils commonly used are sunflower seed oil, olive oil or jojoba oil. Some people use coconut oil but that doesn't work for me (it clogs my pores). I use about 1/3 castor oil and 2/3 hemp oil (or hemp oil + black cumin seed oil). If this ratio makes you dry you'll need to use less castor oil and more base oil. For "normal" skin a ratio of 1:4 or 1:5 might work better, and even less castor oil for dry skin. Read more about the oils and ratios here.
1. Wash your hands. Apply about a teaspoon of your oil blend to your dry face. Massage your face with the oil for a few minutes (it works on eye makeup too). It's important that you take some time to really massage it in.
2. Soak a washcloth in hot water and hold it over your face until it cools down. This will open your pores so that they can be deeply cleansed. Then wipe your face with the cloth. Soak it in hot water again and repeat two or three times. Done!
3. Apply some face oil if your skin feels dry afterwards.
I hope this will help you as much as it has helped me ♥.