Friday, November 18, 2011

counterintuitive cleansing

I have been making a concerted effort of late to rid our home environment and diet of things that aren't natural and wholesome.  I've done the easy stuff for a long time:  cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, drinking filtered water, eating as many whole and unprocessed foods as I can.  It was time to step up my game.

Toiletries and self-care products contain a litany of strange unpronounceable chemicals, and they are subject to even less regulation than edibles!  For example, I recently read a whole article about how Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo contains known carcinogens.  Ugh.  I'm not naive enough to think that I can prevent myself or my family ever getting sick or eventually dying (won't we all?).  But I do want to make the quality of life we enjoy between now and then as high as possible.

I have often wondered about how people in ancient times or even pioneer days cared for their bodies.  In my Latin classes, I learned all about the baths and how olive oil was used to clean the skin.  I never really stopped to think it through too much.  But olive oil?  Cleaning?  How?  My only experience with it had been to grease up pans for cooking.

On a couple of different blogs, I found out about the "oil-cleanse method."  Apparently the idea is that oil attracts excess oil to itself.  Also, many of us were brainwashed by Noxzema commercials when we were teenagers to think that the cure for breakouts is to remove all traces of oil from your skin.  But your skin needs oil!  Sometimes skin becomes more oily as an overcompensation for having all the moisture stripped from it by harsh cleansers. 

So I decided to give it a try . . . and it's been amazing!  It's cheap, natural, and does an awesome job of cleaning my skin while still leaving the proper amount of moisture.  I've been toying with the proportions a little, because my skin tends to be on the dry side (especially as we go into the dry-heat-conditioned rooms of winter).  But start with a one-to-one ratio, and see what happens!

Start with olive oil (cold-pressed is good) and castor oil (I found this at Walgreen's in the "digestive health" section.)  Make a sample batch to see how it works for you:  I just put 1 T of each into a spare little plastic travel bottle and mixed it together.  On the proportions:  the olive oil is the moisturizing element and the castor oil is the purifying one.  So if you tend to be more on the oily side, try 2 T castor oil to 1 T olive oil.  Likewise, if you're dry like me, try 2:1 olive oil to castor oil.  It may take a little trial and error to find your perfect formula.

Massage a quarter-sized amount into your dry face.  Take a washcloth and run it under very hot water.  Drape the hot washcloth over your face and slowly count to ten.  Rinse the washcloth and run it back over your face to remove any excess oil.

You may or may not still need a little face lotion after this.  I actually haven't needed any at all, and I've been doing this every morning for the last two weeks or so. 

This success gave me the courage to think about trying to make more of our own natural toiletries and cleaning supplies.  Next up . . . homemade laundry detergent!


Aimee said...

Thanks for posting this, I'll have to try it! Being super pale and freckly, my skin is easily irritated by pretty much everything. I totally do the vinegar and baking soda for cleaning, too. Vinegar is so cheap and a natural disinfectant, and the smell reminds me of my great-grandma's kitchen : )

Emily said...

Sure thing! Additionally, thanks to my new regimen, I haven't been having my usual change-of-the-season skin freakout this fall. And I, too, love the vinegar smell . . .

Jessica Smith said...

I've been meaning to try this for a long time! I started using an apple cider vinegar rinse in my hair instead of conditioner and love it. Haven't done baking soda instead of shampoo yet though. Also, we love Castile soap for the husband uses it to wash his hair too!

Jen said...

Your blog is the best. I am definitely going to try this!

Emily said...

Jessica - I've been wanting to try to ACV rinse! I'll have to give it a go. Castile soap is amazing, too. I remember reading a "seventeen" article ages ago that was like "while you're conditioning your hair, leave the conditioner on long enough that you can read the ingredient list on the bottle." Why, at that time, did it not alarm that my conditioner bottle had enough ingredients to take me five minutes to read them all!?

Emily said...

And Jen . . . no, you're the best.