Cleansing is the most important step in a skincare regimen. Well cleansed skin helps prevent premature aging because it allows skin to receive the benefit of products and greater oxygen flow. But what about oil cleansing or precleansing with an oil? At least twice within the space of a week's skincare routine, I find an oil precleanse to be a helpful and relaxing step in self care. I am not a fan of a stand alone oil cleanse, but a precleanse can boost the power of your regular cleanser and offer a welcome massage.
When: I choose at least two days in the week when I have worn makeup or sunscreen, which can be heavy on the skin, or have been in a particularly dirty or dusty environment. Perfect days for an oil cleanse are: when I don't manage to outrun the NYC street cleaning vans or a gust of wind blows up gritty debris from the sidewalk into my face and hair, and teeth, or I'm mulching and sweating in the garden.
With what: I use a single-ingredient, non-comedogenic oil that is preferably wildcrafted, cultivated without chemicals, or organic, I prefer single ingredient oils over formulated or blended oil cleansers because 1) I like to be very liberal with the oil when I precleanse, so I don't want this to become unnecessarily expensive, and 2) since this is a pre-cleanse step that is designed to remove surface dirt, grime, sweat, and makeup, and not a full cleanse in itself I think a single oil does the job nicely. So to answer another question I am sometimes asked—will I formulate a cleansing oil? Highly unlikely; on this I am a minimalist.
My favorite oils for this are: grapeseed or jojoba, or camellia seed oil, and I like to alternate. Some like coconut oil, but with my acne-prone skin, I cannot risk it. While I love it for hair and body; for my face it is a quick path to an unpleasant result.
How: I pour some oil into the well of my palm and begin massaging my face with my fingertips in small outward circles using light pressure. I do this for at least 20 seconds, and then, using my palms as suction cups, I pull away from the skin a few times to lift away dirt. I follow with a thorough warm water rinse and remove the rest of the oil with a cotton ball. Then I pour some more oil into my palm and do it all over again. The second time my skin becomes warmer and I can feel bits of dried sebum-- what feels like tiny bits of sand dislodging. Again I use my palms as suction cups, followed by a good rinse with warm water and a cotton ball to remove the excess oil. Now my skin is warmed up and I follow with one of our daily clay and yogurt cleansers to come away with an especially deep and nourishing cleanse. Here I've chosen our Bentonite Clay & Yogurt Cleanser with Coriander, Frankincense, and Palmarosa. The clay detoxifies, raw honey cleanses, grapeseed oil helps remove dirt, lactic acid gently exfoliates, and the aromatherapeutics bring my stress level down. I leave the cleanser on like a mask, and then I rinse well, follow with hydrosol, and finish with a moisturizing oil...everything from the tone and glow of my skin and mood improves. When I have extra time, (ideally once a week) I enjoy a facial steam between the precleanse and the clay and yogurt cleanser. I add a couple of drops of antibacterial turmeric essential oil and a couple drops of balancing geranium essential oil to two liters of fresh, steaming water. Using a lightweight peshtemal or Turkish towel, I cover my head and steam my face for about 5-7 minutes. I make sure to inhale the vapors to make the most of the oils as this blend doubles as a preventative measure against colds.
What I love about this routine: Above all, the feeling. During the day I diligently avoid touching my face, so when I get the chance to massage it, I revel in the comfort of holding my face, and I can feel tension release in my jaws and around my eyes. Facial massage improves circulation, which brings greater blood flow and glow to the face. When my face is warmed and pre cleansed, it can more readily receive and benefit from the a deep cleanse from my cleanser. The coolness of the clay and yogurt cleanser feels even more refreshing. The results: cleaner skin means a clearer, more comfortable complexion and more resilient skin. To make the experience even better, skip the whisky and pair your routine with a relaxing cup of adaptogenic ashwagandha tea or steaming lavender tisane. What about you? Do you precleanse with oil? What is your experience?