We often hear that cleansing is the key to healthy skin. The daily accumulation of ‘dirt’ on our skin in the form of makeup, pollutants, dust, our own sebum and dead skin cells can result in dull, lifeless skin and sometimes blocked pores that can cause acne. The important question is how can we cleanse our skin in a way that doesn’t interfere with its function, that will also help it become healthy and resilient? We believe we have the perfect answer, and that you will soon be saying goodbye to those foaming, liquid cleansers you always thought you needed.
The problem with detergent cleansers
Many of us grew up with the idea that the antidote to dirt and oil on our skin is good old-fashioned soap, or at least a liquid detergent cleanser that leaves our skin feeling squeaky clean. It makes sense. Soaps and detergents destroy bacteria, dissolve oil and wash away dirt. They do that very well. The only problem is that they don’t stop with the excess oil and dirt, they can also attack the oils and proteins on our living skin. These specialised oils and proteins make up our skin's all-important barrier that keeps water in our body, and bacteria and irritants out. Overuse of detergents can also disturb our skin’s microbiome, increasing the risk of skin problems.
Of course, not all liquid cleansers contain detergents as harsh as SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate). Modern technology has led to the development of liquid cleansers that use very mild detergents, that are well tolerated by many. But everyone’s skin is different, and our skin changes as time passes. The truth is that any detergent has the potential to harm the relatively sensitive skin on our face. The result of damaging our skin’s barrier can vary from the development of dry, flakey skin, to the onset of red, inflamed and itchy skin that we know as eczema.
Our skin cleans itself
Our skin continually renews itself. Cells, proteins and lipids of the epidermis that make up our skin barrier are being constantly manufactured, and as cells mature they move outwards until they are eventually shed, or exfoliate, from our skin. In addition, our sebaceous glands secrete sebum into hair follicles, that we see as pores. The sebum then covers our skin and hair, continually forming and renewing our own natural moisturiser. It helps keep our skin water-proof and also has some anti-bacterial function. Because our sebum and skin are being constantly renewed, it does, in a fashion, clean itself. Detergent cleansers can remove too much sebum, and can also destroy the lipids and proteins that keep our skin intact.
Our approach to skin cleansing is to work with our skin’s natural processes. Our Makeup Remover & Cleansing Oil dissolves the dirt on our skin that can block pores, allowing the free flow of sebum and removing excess sebum build-up. It does not strip the skin of sebum indiscriminately like a detergent does.
How does oil cleansing work?
The idea behind oil cleansing is that oil dissolves dirt and oil, and the excess is removed with water, warmth and a soft cloth. It’s that simple - no detergent, no antibacterials, just simple pure plant oils and your skin is left clean and refreshed, rather than dehydrated and itchy.
Here is how you do it:
gently massage the cleansing oil onto your skin for 3-5 minutes.
during the massage, the oil will combine with excess sebum, dirt, and other impurities.
rinse a soft cloth in warm water. Some recommend using steaming hot water, but because excessively hot water can damage your skin, we recommend keeping it at body temperature. Press the warm cloth onto your skin for a few seconds to warm and absorb the oil, then rinse the cloth in warm water and repeat 2 or 3 times until your skin no longer feels oily.
Can I perform oil cleansing if I have oily skin?
While oil cleansing will benefit all skin types, if you have oily skin, we have some very good news! Oil cleansing will benefit oily skin because (i) it helps to keep your pores clear, and pore blockage is one of the main causes of acne (read more here) , (ii) it helps remove excess sebum without damaging your skin’s barrier. We talk about how a damaged skin barrier can also contribute to the development of acne here. (iii) if you oil cleanse with the right oils, you can actually help reduce the amount of sebum produced by oily skin. Oils abundant in linoleic acid not only help restore the skin’s barrier, they can also regulate the amount of sebum your skin produces, and have also been shown to reduce the size of microcomedones, or blackheads. We discuss this in our acne blog here.
What makes our Makeup Remover & Cleansing Oil ideal for oil cleansing?
Not all oils are suitable for skin cleansing. The more saturated oils, like coconut oil, can clog the pores, while oils high in monounsaturated fatty acids, like olive oil, may not bind well with sebum or penetrate the skin’s pores, and in oily skins will contribute to the fatty acid imbalance that can lead to increased sebum production. Neither of these oils would be suitable for oily or combination skin.
The ideal cleansing oil is rich in the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid and other oils that have the ability to penetrate the pores and blend with sebum. An additional benefit of linoleic acid-rich oils is their skin barrier-building properties, which are important for all skin types (read about the role of essential fatty acids and the skin barrier here) and their ability to normalise sebum production in oily skin. Secondly, we consider that performing oil cleansing is a great opportunity to feed your skin, so we chose the most nourishing combination of oils we could find to help nourish your skin while you oil cleanse.
We chose pumpkin seed oil as the major ingredient for our cleansing oil. It is a dark, richly coloured oil because of its very high content of b-carotene, or pro-vitamin A. It is also rich in vitamin E, making it extremely rich in antioxidants, and contains abundant anti-inflammatory phytosterols and high levels of the all-important linoleic acid. Next, we added jojoba oil, which is unlike most botanical oils in structure, being more like a liquid wax than a triglyceride. Its unusual chemical structure allows it to blend easily with sebum and penetrate the pores without clogging. This allows our cleansing oil to reduce sebum build-up both on the skin surface and in the pores, which is particularly beneficial for oily skin. Jojoba oil also contains vitamin E and other antioxidants. The third component is baobab seed oil, which is also rich in linoleic acid, b-carotene, vitamin E and phytosterols. Finally, sesame oil has high levels of linoleic acid, and has both antioxidant and antibacterial properties. In Ayurveda, sesame oil also considered one of the most beneficial oils for performing self-massage or abhyanga. These four oils work synergistically to deeply cleanse your skin in the most gentle and effective way, leaving it fresh and clean, and beautifully nourished.
We formulated this product to be multi-purpose. Not everyone wants to oil cleanse, but because of its gentle, yet extremely effective cleansing action, it makes a beautiful Makeup Remover. Just remember that when you use this product to remove your makeup at the end of the day, you are also performing a gentle cleanse, helping protect your skin’s barrier and microbiome, and feeding it potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytosterols. Now you can really sleep easily.