Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sound Off! Why On Earth Would I Put Oil On My Oily Skin?

Love this pic! [source]

As I mentioned in my post Tue, some people may cringe at the thought of adding oil to a face that is already prone to acne. This is a logical and justifiable concern! Yesterday, I received a few questions in the comment section of my skincare post; and I thought it would be better served if I answered them in the form of a blog post for others that may have some of the same concerns.

In addition, if you have any questions/concerns on this post, or the oil cleansing method in general; please feel free to leave them in the comment section so that we can create somewhat of a resource for others who are looking for answers as well!

Your Questions:
"Is there even any conclusive, empirical, scientific, quantifiable, peer-reviewed EVIDENCE of the effectiveness of this so called method?"

"Furthermore what are the mechanisms that render it effective? HOW DOES WASHING ONE'S ALREADY SEBUM FILLED FACE WITH OIL IMPROVE ONE'S FACIAL CONDITION!?"

"I understand the spirit with which Chidi asked the question. So, MTM: Is there evidence, other than anecdotal, regarding the effectiveness of oils to cleanse skin, esp. those of us with problem skin?"
My Response:

Oil will not exasperate your issues with acne if you are breakout prone. Sebum is a non-polar molecule which means it is unable to dissolve in polar molecules like water. This is why most facial cleansers, laundry detergent, soaps, and shampoo's are formulated with harsh surfactants like Sodium Laureth Sulfate. This is a cheap, synthetic, man-made ingredient used to remove excess oils, dirt and sebum.

When you clean your face with products that contain harsh surfactants, it strips your skin leaving it dry. As a result, your glands go into overproduction mode to make up for the lack of moisture. What you are left with is an endless cycle of dryness coupled with an overproduction of sebum.

The general rule of thumb in chemistry is that "like dissolves like". Non-polar molecules are able to dissolve in non-polar solvents. Relating this to skincare, the oil in your cleansing mixture is able to dissolve excess oil and fatty deposits that are present in the pores and hair follicles of your skin. Scientifically this is possible because sebum [in this case the solute] and the oils mentioned in the post [we'll call these the solvents] are structurally compatible.

Excess sebum is due in part to the lack of Linoleic Acid present in the hair follicles, as Linoleic Acid reduces the output of sebum. Studies show that Linoleic Acid [a fatty acid found in many of the vegetable oils referenced in the post] reduces clogged pores [microcomodones] significantly when used topically [on the skin].

I don't want to veer off into the structure of oils, so I will keep it brief and note a few key pieces of information that may be of use; Jojoba, Hazelnut, Grapeseed, Evening Primrose, Avocado, Kukui and Borage Oil [all the oils mentioned in Tuesday's post] are high in Linoleic Acid. This means that these oils are effective in regulating excess sebum, and preventing clogged pores. These oils are all high in anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties which lends to their ability to deliver enzymes that dissolves the blockage in your pores.

There are many well known, high-end brands out there that consciously formulate products with the health of your skin in mind [albeit they are very expensive]. Take Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil which is formulated with Jojoba & Avocado Oil, or DHC Cleansing Oil formulated with Olive Oil. If you would like to see peer-reviewed evidence of the benefits of cleansing with oil. Check out the reviews on both products [Shu Uemura Review + DHC Cleansing Oil Review]. You can even do a search on the right-hand section of the blog to gain real-time insight [via on-going comments] from MTM readers who started the OCM method, or Acne.Org which has a plethora of reviews on the Oil Cleansing Method.

* Let me point out that the only difference between commercial based cleansing oils and oils that you can formulate in your kitchen, is that commercial based cleansing oils are formulated with emulsifiers that bind water and oil together. This means that when water is introduced to your mixture [lets say as you are washing the product off] a stable emulsion occurs. The emulsifying ingredient does not lend any therapeutic properties to the skin, or prevent skin inflammation. In the case of cleansing oils, it eases the wash-off process. - You can spend an upwards of $25 [8oz] for a product like this, or you can make it yourself for less than a fraction of the cost with the same ingredients [minus the emulsifier].

Over the past 15 years I have collected many commercial books and reports on formulating personal care products [lame I know], and attended courses on the structure of the compounds used to create them. Over the next few months, I will try to get permission from various authors to scan and reproduce these articles on the site in hopes that it arms you with clear cut information about what's in your skincare products and how it benefits [or harms] your skin. Whether you decide to oil cleanse or cleanse using traditional methods like soap and water, we should all know how our products work for us and if there is a natural alternative to what is being offered commercially.

Comments Cited:

Chidi: "I must be bloody ignorant, but how does" [Weblog comment.] 9/30/2010. Clear + Hydrated Skin The Natural Way - Natural Oils Your Skin Will Thank You For. Nikole Crowe. --. 09/29/2010. (

Teachermrw: "Is there even any conclusive, empirical, scientific, quantifiable, peer-reviewed EVIDENCE" [Weblog comment.] 9/30/2010. Clear + Hydrated Skin The Natural Way - Natural Oils Your Skin Will Thank You For. Nikole Crowe. --. 09/29/2010. (

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