It's been a little over a week since I last washed my face—at least in a conventional way. No, my face is not dirty. The skin is clean, smooth, and in better shape than it's been in a long time. And my two cleansers, toner, and night cream sit untouched, while my day cream has gone down very little. What's the answer to this riddle?

I didn't used to have sensitive skin, but things can change as we get older, and they certainly did for me. I've had slight problems from a mild case of psoriasis for much of my life, but that was usually on my arms. I used to be able to get away with all kinds of abuse for my facial skin.

The first time I really knew my skin had changed was last spring when Sweetie and I were indulging ourselves at a spa in Tofino. The esthetician asked if my skin was sensitive, and I said no. This was not my first facial. So she proceeded with a pretty standard treatment. It was part way through the treatment that she realized that I was having some reaction to what she was using—not terrible, but not the most desirable. When we were done, she recommended some hideously expensive stuff from Comfort Zone. I have actually adopted one product, Skin Resonance Peeling, which is a very mild peel I use about once a week.

Still, no matter what I did, I had problems. I mostly used products from B. Kamins, a company based in Montreal. It's really nice stuff that I was introduced to several years ago. Their day cream is light. Their night cream is a little richer but not too heavy. When I switched from drugstore night cream to B. Kamins, that flaking on the left side of my nose, the result of cream build-up, went away. I was also using B. Kamins toner. And in an attempt to figure out what was going to be better for my skin, I would switch between B. Kamins vegetable cleanser and a cleanser from Neutrogena. All of that seemed OK and as mild as I could find, but I would still have small red spots on my forehead and a dry, red patch between my nose and left cheek that would not go away.

I read a feminist blog called Feministe. Every Sunday, they put up a "Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday" post. Anyone can post links to something they've written, usually but not always something with a feminist slant. A couple weeks ago, I followed a link to a blog post about using olive oil to cleanse the face from a blog called The Feminist Mystique. I thought it sounded a bit crazy, but I read through the post, and I understood what the writer was saying. And I thought, what do I have to lose? It can't hurt to try.

So I put aside both cleansers, the toner, and both moisturizers, as well as the eye makeup remover and makeup remover pads. I began the olive oil regimen. In the evening, I tie back my hair. I pour a small amount of extra virgin olive oil into my hand. I rub it over my face and massage it in. It's a sensual process, and I take my time. I make sure that any eye makeup (mostly waterproof mascara) gets dissolved. Once the oil is worked in, I wet a washcloth with very hot water, wring it out, and hold it against my face for 10 to 15 seconds. It's similar to what happens during a facial. I do that three times, once for the upper part of my face, once for the lower part of my face, and once for my neck. Then I rinse the cloth, gently wipe away any remaining oil from the surface, and pat my face dry. In the morning, I gently wipe my face with cool water.

I'm not going to say this regimen is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm not going to say that everyone should do this. But I will say that I no longer have red spots. The dry red patch is mostly gone. My skin is soft and smooth. It's not oily. I swear that even the sun damage shows less (although I'm not sure that is really possible).

I have to be careful about build-up in those troublesome areas on either side of my nose. I still occasionally use moisturizer before I put on makeup. Now that I know this works for me, I should find some castor oil to add a small amount to the olive oil (my aging skin is dry). I also need to use sunscreen, so sometimes I will do another cool water wipe later in the day.

I have not gone "poo-free." As long as my hair is colour-treated, which might be for a good long time, I will probably continue to use conventional shampoo and conditioner for colour-treated hair. I'm pretty sure washing with baking soda and water and especially conditioning with vinegar would not be kind to my semi-permanent red. But I will certainly continue using oil to clean my face. The results speak for themselves!


MFA Mama said...

FWIW I recently went "poo-free" (and blogged about it), and am very happy with the result, and my hair is color-treated :)

Coline said...

Was that virgin olive oil?

Véronique said...

@MFA Mama

Maybe I'll get brave!


EVOO. See above.

Shannon said...

I'm so happy you tried this. And that it worked for you!

Also, thanks for the shout out on Feministe.

Aerin Caley said...

That's funny - when my skin went nuts last year, I started doing oil cleansing as well. I use a mix of grapeseed and castor oil. I even got the consort doing it and it's cleaned up his acne quite nicely. It's not a "miracle" but it works at least as well as any commercial product and without causing me discomfort.