An Introduction to OCM

This post is about my experience trying OCM for 5 days, and what worked, and didn’t work for me.

As many of the posts detailing what the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) is state, this whole idea is based on the basic chemistry concept that like dissolves like, and that soap and water is not enough to clean out your pores that may be plugged with hardened bits of oil, because water alone cannot wash away oil. Some websites also go onto talk about how many over the counter acne treatment methods are so bad for your skin and blah blah blah. I don’t really care about tearing down the other methods, if they work for you, great. If not, then it might be worth giving OCM a try.

So why did I want to try OCM? I wanted to try it because I’ve read about how it improves the appearance and condition of one’s skin. My pores are pretty clogged, and they’re definitely visible, especially on the apples of my cheeks, so I was hoping that by unclogging them, I might also be able to lessen their visibility.

I’m not going to go into details about how to do this, as there are so many other great posts detailing the how-to, and anything I say would just be some copy pasta of what they say. I’m going to focus on my reactions, and what I liked and didn’t like about the process.

So then we come to this idea that you rub oil into your face. For this, you need two kinds of oil: Castor oil, and a carrier oil. Some of the potential carrier oils can be found in the above links, so if this post interests you, feel free to peruse them to get the details. I originally wanted to buy jojoba oil, but when I saw the price at Whole Foods (the cheapest bottle was over $12, for a very tiny amount), I decided that grapeseed oil was a better option for a trial run. Cost: $5.99 for 8oz of castor oil, and $4.59 for 4oz of grapeseed oil. I’ll probably be getting my grapeseed oil from a regular grocery store form now on, as I’m certain it will be less expensive that way.

Let’s start with the less than awesome things about OCM. One of the annoying parts of this experiment in OCM was figuring out how much oil to mix for a one-time use. One of the blogs recommended mixing up a total of 3 tsp of oil, and I immediately knew that would be far too much for a single use. I started with 1 ½ tsp, but even that was too much, as the oil mixture ended up running down my arms, which was both annoying, and it meant that a bit got on my clothing (I’ll note here that if you decide to try this, make sure you wear clothing you won’t mind getting oil on for the first few times, until you get the hang of it). I found that if mixing for a single use, the perfect amount for me is ¼ tsp castor oil to ½ tsp grapeseed oil, for a total amount of ¾ tsp of oil. This was perfect for my face, but may not be perfect for yours, so you might want to try out different amounts, and see what works for you.

It’s kind of a pain in the ass, rubbing oil into your face for two minutes straight. It may not seem like some great amount of time, but just wait until you’re standing in a bathroom, thinking about how long it is until you can stop rubbing. Also, most websites recommended wiping the oil off gently with your washcloth. I am not a fan of gently, so I ended up wiping firmly (but still not scrubbing) to remove the oil, and liked that a lot more.

You will not see results immediately, though do you ever? Some people reported breaking out right after starting OCM, but that was not my personal experience. It did take until about day three that I started seeing results, and the first few days I was getting some really annoying peeling skin around my nose area. That eventually went away, but in the interest of full disclosure of how the process worked for me, I thought I’d share.

Oil is kind of a PITA to get off your hands. Before steaming my face, I always like to get all the oil off my hands. Since soap and water don’t quite do the trick, this means grabbing a towel (I use a used one, that I may have used after my shower the night before), and rub my hands pretty vigorously between every finger to get it all off. This is mostly because I really hate feeling the residue of anything on my skin, but YMMV.

Now, I know I started with the nit-picky parts of what I didn’t like about OCM, but that was mostly because I wanted to make sure you know what you’re going into beforehand It’s not necessarily difficult, but it can be a PITA. However, OCM worked for me like nothing else ever has, and to me, that overshadows every one of the PITA pieces of it. Part of the satisfaction I derived from it was seeing the “plugs” of hardened oil come off on the washcloth, even on my first night of using OCM, though I will admit I’m a bit strange in that I looked for them. I liked the very visual aspect of being able to see the gunk that had come out my pores, and knowing that it was finally out.

Those huge pores I talked about in the beginning of the post? They’re nearly invisible now (the downside of this is that the acne scars from my youth are now more noticeable now that they’re not surrounded by huge pores, but it’s a trade-off). When I touch the skin on my face, it actually feels great, and super smooth. Most OCM advocates talk about how “dewy” one’s skin looks after this process, but that’s not something I’ve noticed. Possibly because I’m too busy marveling at the fact that I can no longer see every pore on my face, but whatevs.

Should you try OCM? I don’t know; you’d have to decide that for yourself. I’ve detailed the part that I don’t like about it (which is basically the whole process, if I’m being honest with y’all), and what I do like about it, which boils down to the results I’ve achieved from it. I’d resigned myself to just having large clogged pores, and now that I don’t, I must say that I’m pretty damn pleased.

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Thank you, Integgy, for the guest post!  If anyone has any questions, I’m sure she’d be willing to answer them so don’t be afraid to ask!

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38 Responses to “An Introduction to OCM”

  1. Serendipitous timing! I just began OCM four days ago. I have EXTREMELY oily skin – I wash and moisturize, use a mattifying powder, and my skin looks *wet* with oil less than four hours later – so I’m ready to latch onto anything that might help balance it out a bit.

    Currently I’m using 2:1:1, castor:grapeseed:jojoba oil – where are you buying jojoba, btw, that it’s so expensive? Trader Joe’s had a decent-sized bottle for like $6 – with a couple drops of lavender essential oil and a drop of tea tree oil. I was just doing it at night, then doing a honey wash in the morning, but my skin was actually oilier than before, so I’m trying OCM morning and night now. We’ll see how it goes! Today was the first time trying it in the morning, and while my skin is shiny, it’s taken longer to get there and is slightly less worse. I’m trying to be patient and see how it goes, but it’s so hard to wait!

    I hear you on the mess and wanting it off your hands. I wash my hands between the massage and steaming steps, cause I just can’t stand the feel of all that oil sitting on my hands, UGH. >.<

    • You know, I didn’t even think to check Trader Joe’s (which is silly of me, since I shop there more than Whole Foods, which is where the jojoba was so expensive). My skin isn’t as oily as yours, and I have noticed that my skin is a bit oilier than previously, but from the reviews I’ve read, that goes away in a few days. Of course, since your skin was already super oily, and is now being even more oily, I can see why that’s annoying.

      • TJ’s is where I got the jojoba and the grapeseed oils, but they actually didn’t have castor oil. I ended up with just the cheap stuff sold as a laxative at the regular grocery store, it was the only place I could find it, lol.

        So maybe the extra oiliness is just an adjustment phase. I’ll tough it out for another week and then adjust if it’s not going away after that. Thanks for the advice!

        • I WISH I could get cheap castor at the grocery store. All the local groceries and drug stores have stopped carrying it, in favor of this stuff called mineral oil. Hence why I trekked over to Whole Foods. I’ll keep an eye out next time I’m at TJ’s. The closest one to me mostly carries food, since it’s a smaller one, but since I live in So Cal, where the company started, there are three more within a 15 minutes drive that I can check.

          From what I’ve read, the extra oiliness comes from unblocking pores that were previously blocked, therefore releasing a “flow” of oil, but it’s supposed to even out in a few days. You could also try upping the ratio of castor oil, since apparently more castor oil is helpful for oily skin.

  2. Mentally noting this for future use, when the weather turns cold and dry.

    Thank you for this one!

    So, after doing the cleansing, you just wipe the oil off?
    Hm, that might be a prob, since my hair is cut so that it touches my face and I wouldn’t want it in oil, yet I wonder if rinsing off the oil wouldn’t lead to any results.

    • Ah, the steam thingie, I see it now.

      • Well you do the steaming thing, but wipe the oil off after that. I’ve found it takes several passes over each area for me to be satisfied that I’ve gotten enough oil off my face. As for hair, if you don’t want to get it on your hair, I’d recommend wearing a headband. It may not look attractive, but it’s a good way to keep your hair out of the way.

  3. I must say that I had used OCM for a bit before, but stopped. It seemed to me like it took a whole lot of my time in the mornings (then again, even waking up to me seems to take forever).

    However, I’ve been meaning to start again since my skin is much more a PITA than the whole OCM hassle. The last dermatologist I had seen told me straight out, that I had a rather annoying skin type: thick sebum and dry/sensitive skin. Which pretty much equates to both having acne and also having to deal with flaky itchy dry skin at the same time. It’s a hard time to find ANY products that would prevent acne and also moisturize skin.

    OCM does sound like the best method for such skin, since it should both clear out the pores and help my sebum thin out a bit and also bring some moisture to my skin.

    My only questions would be: if I were to make a bit more of the oil mixture for future uses, for how long would it last before going bad? And also, is it harder to put on make up after cleansing with oil?

    • I have not made up a large batch, but a lot of the people who blogged about OCM said that they made up larger batches ahead of time, and did not mention anything about them going bad. Castor oil is used as a preservative in some lip products, so I’m pretty sure your mixture will have a pretty long shelf life.

      Re: the makeup part, I have no idea. I haven’t been wearing makeup in the 5 days I’ve been doing it (purely coincidental, I’ve just not had anywhere to go), but since I’ve read elsewhere that some people use OCM in order to remove their makeup, people are wearing makeup and using OCM.

    • Jojoba oil and grapeseed oil with essential oils (like lavender, tea tree, clove, peppermint, rosemary) is great for moisturizing skin and fighting acne.
      Also it’s better to only wash your face once a day, twice is be too harsh for alot of people. Just use water in the mornings.

  4. I use olive oil to remove my makeup, but never did the full OCM. I’ll have to give it a try!

  5. I’ve never made my own oil cleanser, but I have bought one from DHC that I use every night before bed and I really love it. It get’s all of my makeup off my face at once. I’ll make a stop at Trader Joe’s for castor oil and just give it a shot, since your result of smaller pores is something I really want. However, I have oily, break-out prone skin so I’m really hesitant to use something that doesn’t rinse of completely.

    I’ll be sure to read the links for more info. Thanks!

  6. Very interesting! I may have to try this sometime! Thanks for all the information!

  7. I use plain old olive oil off and on. Sometimes I use is as a cleanser, mostly it makes for a pretty good makeup remover.

  8. My skin is sensitive and dry. Is OCM recommended for skin like mine?

    • From what I’ve gathered, its acceptable for all skin types. If you go read those sites I’ve linked to in the body of the post, they detail how to mix the oil for different skin types. 🙂

    • My skin is sensitive and dry, and using straight olive oil has worked best for me so far.

  9. Oils have alot of stigma, at some people companies decided that “hey we can say no oils in our products so it won’t make your skin oily!”
    But most oils are actually really good for your skin. I think people who have problems with oily skin over cleanse or use too many harsh products on their face, so their skin over produces sebum. Using oils like jojoba, grapeseed, argan etc helps balance oil production.
    Anyway, I haven’t heard of this method before but I am definitely going to try it. I love oils and essential oils for moisturizing. ;p

  10. I Looooove OCM. I use 1/3 castor oil to 2/3 coconut oil. My skin has never looked better. I even started using it on my arms after a shower and my keratosis pilaris has disappeared!

  11. Wow!! You know what? At this point I am willing to try anything. I need clean pores!!

  12. Thanks for the post Integgy. I’d never heard of OCM, but I think I’m going to have to try it, because my pores are ridiculous.

  13. I use extra virgin olive oil only because it’s cheap and simple, and have happily been doing so for the last five years! I’m not sure what I like best about the OCM – that it works, that it’s cheap, or that it takes my make-up off completely super fast.

    I don’t do it twice a day though. Only at night to take off my make-up, I just use water and a flannel in the morning plus Lush’s Love Lettuce mask if I’m having a shower.

  14. I feel that I should clarify that I only do OCM once per day, since it seems like a few people seem to be mentioning twice per day. I could possibly see the benefits of doing it twice per day if you believe that your skin condition is serious enough that your pores clog up completely over the day, but I’ve only been doing it at night, before I shower. Most places would recommend that you start off doing it every other night to see how your skin reacts, and then doing it more frequently if you like it. I jumped right into doing it every night because I wanted to see how effective it could actually be.

    Some people say that doing it every night is too harsh on their skin, and leads to drying, hence the every other night. When it comes down to it, you need to decide what is right for you.

  15. I’ve used the OCM fpr maybe two months last year and sadly it didn’t do anything for me other than give me at least one fresh pimple per day. It also dried out my skin, but then again my skin is being a bitch no matter what.
    However, the method I used was different from the one you linked so maybe that would do the trick. I’m actually thinking about trying it again… We’ll see 🙂

  16. I think some peoples’ reactions to the OCM can also depend on their skin type and the types of oils they use. I’ve been using the OCM for over a year now and I like to switch up with different oils every so often. Currently I’m using a mixture of rice bran oil and almond oil. I also find it much, much easier to mix up your oil mixture and put it in a clean bottle with a pump. Depending on the size of your face you honestly don’t need very much oil, as you mentioned, and one little travel-sized pump bottle of oil has lasted me the whole summer.

    After wiping the oil off with a hot damp cloth my makeup applies just fine. I don’t have any flaky dry skin like I used to before OCM so it actually goes on better!

  17. I’ve done this with straight olive oil for a while. I found it’s one of the very few things that takes off my dry flaky skin without irritating it. I tried mixing in some castor oil for a while, but the results I’ve gotten are better with olive alone.

  18. A few years back I used OCM regularly for a few weeks, using jojoba oil with a small part of castor oil. I always massaged and steamed very thoroughly, and at first the results were amazing. Theeen.. after two weeks or so, I started getting tiny tiny bumps all over my face. I supposed this was a sort of “purging”, kept using OCM and figured it would pass. It did not. Three weeks into it all, my face looked… horrifying. If I ran my hand over my skin there was hardly any smooth texture left. It was red, irritated, and broken out wasn’t even the half of it.
    OCM didn’t fix it, and even after I stopped using it, it didn’t pass for months. Now, it could be the jojoba as I’ve heard that can do weird things to your skin if you have little infections (spots), and my skin is pretty sensitive (more so after this whole incident), but I think one should be careful with this method. Just from personal experience, ha. xD

  19. I wonder if you can use the clarisonic with that.
    Part of me worries that if I like this, I would no longer have use for my clarisonic…

    • I actually thought the same thing.

    • If you try it for awhile and like it, maybe you could try it with the Clarisonic and see if you get the same results. The only thing I’d say is if you do try oil with your Clarisonic, make sure to wash it off really thoroughly afterwards, so none of the oil remains.

      However, even if you do like OCM the traditional, is doesn’t mean you have to give up your Clarisonic. I’ve started alternating between OCM and washing my face with OHWTO’s Black Magic soap every other day, and I’m really liking the results.

  20. I started using OCM about 7 years ago, and ended up switching to Asian cleansing oils. They give the same results, but they rinse off cleanly when water is applied. My current favorite is Kose Softymo Deep Cleansing Oil, but I’ve also used and loved DHC Deep Cleansing Oil and several of the Shu Uemura oils.

  21. I’m another olive oil only person; I love it! It really solved my acne problems. Until I started doing this and using indie makeup, I’d never really gotten over that teenage full face spots stage.

  22. Black Rose Minerals August 28, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    I used to use olive oil and just wipe with a washcloth. Currently I am using Softymo deep cleansing oil that I get off eBay. It’s easier since when you add water it turns white and comes off easily. Only downside is ghat I have no idea what is in it.

  23. I am loving the OCM, but I use a rinse-off oil instead of the steaming. Am curious to try steaming – if only for a week to see if i could get unclogged like you . Then, switch back to the rinse-off (which has a much smaller PITA factor).

  24. I have been trying out OCM for a little over a month now, I had oily skin before I started and about three days in I had REALLY oily skin for a bit, but it’s totally worth it. Cleaned out and cleared up my pores and my skin is actually nice and soft all the time.

    I use about 50/50 castor oil and grapeseed oil because despite having oily skin, too much castor oil dries it out. I do it mostly every night to remove makeup, but if I’ve been at home all day and make up free I’ll skip a night. I really enjoy the steaming, I usually do it 2 or three times, deep breaths and counting down from 30 slowly. Yes it takes a bit longer but I was tired of trying to exfoliate my clogged pores away and having no results and irritated skin so I think it’s worth it. And it’s become such a part of my nightly routine that it now puts me in sleep mode so it’s kind of my wind down time. I usually rinse my face with water in the morning, just to matte my face, but no moisturizer, I don’t even need my face primer anymore, and I only have to conceal my undereyes now. Crossing my fingers that I’ve found something that will continue to work for me!

  25. I started this last week and I absolutely love it and wish I had known about it years earlier! I have noticed smaller pores, unclogged pores, which means losing those “blackheads” YUCK. My skin is super smooth, even in tone and softer than ever! This has to be good for wrinkle prevention! Also I use my facial brush (electric) to apply, and I just sit down and watch telly until time to wipe off!