If I could find the time, I’d take a long hot bath every night before bed. While I can keep dreaming that my life will slow down enough to do so, I’ve found a method for cleansing my face in the evening that helps me feel nearly as grounded and calm. If that sounds like a lot to attribute to such a simple task, I dare you to try this for yourself.

The method I’m about to describe is not some unheard of cure-all. It’s simply a ritual I’ve come to adore for its ability to kick my relaxation mode into high gear before bed. Plus, when I cleanse my face in this manner, my skin looks and feels more hydrated and radiant. During the hottest part of the summer I stopped doing it for a few weeks and could tell a dramatic difference in my skin tone and texture. That was enough to know I’ll never stray from this routine again.

What am I talking about? The oil cleansing method. Like I said, not new or revolutionary to many of you. Heck, some of you may have tried oil cleansing DIY style and hated it. My own attempt at DIY oil cleansing was less than satisfactory, but then I ran into a couple of oil cleansing products that were formulated by experts in natural skincare. That changed everything for me.

Meet the products…

Kari Gran Cleansing Oil. Have you ever stared at a Jackson Pollock or a Cy Twombly painting and thought to yourself, “I could do that.”? Well you can’t. When examining the ingredients in the Kari Gran Cleansing Oil, you might be tempted to say the same thing, but I promise you that DIYing this cleansing oil does not yield the same results. The ratio of oils is perfectly balanced, and it’s infused with a high grade lavender oil that makes the cleansing experience sublime. It wipes off effortlessly, taking makeup residue and other impurities with it. My face is left baby soft and glowing. I could even skip a moisturizer (I use facial oils), but why would I want to do that?

Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil and Makeup Remover: This is the most unique cleanser I’ve ever tried. It’s a “next level” oil cleanser in that it’s formulated to be used in either the traditional manner (see below) or it can be effortlessly rinsed off with water only. When water hits this cleansing oil, it turns into a creamy, milky cleanser. Rinsing with water alone is fine, but if you’re using it to remove makeup, I do recommend you follow the traditional cleansing method and use a cloth to help remove residue. The ED4OLO Cleansing Oil smells incredible and fruity, like fresh pineapple. The formula features papain, a fruit enzyme that helps to exfoliate and soften skin, and a natural vitamin b complex to help detoxify and tone. I love the versatility of this cleanser. If I’m in a hurry, I can massage it in, rinse, and go. My skin is noticeably even-toned and happy. I never experience tightness or dryness, but because this cleanser can be rinsed off entirely with water, I do need to follow with a facial oil.

I’ve been eager to share these two winning oil cleansers with you, but what I love the most is the oil cleansing process. After all, I did promise you that it’s the next best thing to a long hot bath. So here’s how it works. I run warm water and dampen my lashes if I’m wearing mascara. As I mentioned in my Makeup Monday post, I’m currently cheating with a tubing mascara, which slides right off—no mess or smudging—with a little warm water. I pat my eyes dry and then pump either the Kari Gran Cleansing Oil or the ED4OLO Cleansing Oil into my hand. I gently massage the oil onto my face, using upward strokes. Be sure to inhale deeply—the scent is a big part of the experience.

After a minute or two of this, it’s time to steam. This step is everything. I wet a washcloth with hot (not scalding) water, wring it out, and press it over my face until the cloth cools off. Take your time and inhale deeply, because the scent of lavender or pineapple is going to enhance your ability to relax. When the cloth cools, I repeat this process twice more, letting the day melt away. Sounds goofy, but it really works. Finally it’s time to wipe away the cleansing oil with the damp cloth. Voilá. I don’t even need to rinse afterward. The sensory experience of pressing a steaming cloth against your face, especially when a therapeutic scent is involved, is transformative. It’s the little things, right?

Anyone else love a good steam? Do you follow a similar method for cleansing your face?

This winter has had some bitter cold days, even in my beloved and typically mild Bay Area.  Sitting next to my portable heater while working/blogging on my laptop was really doing a number on my skin.  I started to incorporate some oils that are heavier than my usual argan, but still it wasn’t quite enough, even with plenty of hydrating on the inside.  Although I had previously rejected the oil cleansing method as not the right thing for me, I thought maybe it was time for a seasonal change in my regimen.  I took a short trip to the ultra-dry Lake Tahoe for my son’s hockey tournament, and between the outdoors and the cold/dry rink, the life was getting sucked right out of my face.  But I was prepared, and came home looking better than when I left.

So what’s making the difference?  Three things: coconut oil, a new balm, and a cream I’d forgotten about.

There’s been plenty of mention of the oil cleansing method (OCM) on this blog – where instead of using a regular cleanser, you rub in an oil and wipe it off using a warm washcloth*.  I started by trying coconut oil, and had some success.  It feels wonderfully soothing on my skin, and easily takes off the mineral makeup I wear on a typical day. But I still needed something more…

100% Pure Brightening Night Balm to the rescue.  It has some of the same brightening ingredients I use in my DIY (bearberry, licorice) plus kojic acid and vitamin C in a base of avocado and shea butters.  I use it as a cleansing balm (works great!) and also put on a little extra after cleansing.  Some days I put on a bit in the morning too, after a honey cleanse.  I’ve been able to skip my DIY brightener when I’m using it, with no noticeable return of my sun damaged brown patches.  It might even be making improvements – it’s hard to tell, I may need a few more weeks of use to know for sure.  It’s very thick as the balm designation suggests, and the scent is a light citrus, which is pleasant but does not stick around.

Zoe Organics Extreme Cream goes on over the balm when the weather is severely dry.  I’ve been able to ease up on this the past few days of warmer weather, but it makes a perfect extra layer of soothing protection for super dry times.  I tried it a while back, but kind of forgot about it with all my body butter experiments.  I remembered it recently when a reader was looking for an eczema solution – this is considered by some to be a skin miracle for the super dry and sensitive set.  It’s another shea-based product with jojoba, rosehip, and coconut oils, plus soothing calendula and marshmallow.  It has a light marshmallowy smell and a frosting consistency.

I know I’ll back off from these somewhat as the weather warms up, but they’ll still have their uses, and I’m ready for all the winters to come.  I highly recommend these products for hands too.  In spite of my devotion to hand care, my hands were like sandpaper as soon as I got to Tahoe.  Just one day of layering the products, plus wearing light wool liner gloves, got me back to smooth.  I haven’t had any pore clogging problems.  My standard monthly hormonal breakouts happen and heal, maybe a little faster than usual with the soothing ingredients.

Have you tried these products?  Are you an oil cleanser? What’s giving life back to your winter skin?

*I’ve actually been using mostly paper towels made from 100% recycled materials.  A washcloth is usually a little too rough on my sensitive skin, plus I’m using fewer laundry-related resources so I feel like it evens out.


Beautiful image via the University of Washington Library

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How to Clean Your Face Without Washing It

Since the big reveals a few weeks ago—when Siobhan and I told you our play-by-play morning routines—some of you have asked me to describe how it is that I go about cleaning my face without water.

Much like not washing my hair, not washing my face is just where things kind of went for me on this path. I’m not particularly evangelical about it, cause, well, it’s not for everyone. People wash their faces for all kinds of reasons; it can be refreshing, change a mood, get the city grime off…

But for me, between the clean makeup I wear, the dry climate I live in, the untrustworthy water in my tap, the onset of my thirties—and because I’m admittedly lazy before bed but toothbrushing is non-negotiable—face washing just began to fall by the wayside most evenings.

I’ve tried a lot of things I like, though: washing with raw honey (lovely), gentle creamy cleansers, oils and warm washcloths. Sometimes I go back to these methods, all of which are pretty great, and none of which are overly drying.

But most days I’ve simplified even further: I use these Organic Cotton Face Rounds by Better For Grownups, which is part of this Better for Babies brand. Someone sent us a box of these rounds to try out, and they have changed my life.

To clean my face, I take one of these pads (from the standup reusable container that lives on my sink) and put a little oil on there—basically whatever’s around, be it argan, coconut, the neroli I’ve been using lately—and then I wipe my face down with it. If I feel like I didn’t get everything off, I repeat with the other side.

Now, sometimes the buck stops there, since this routine leaves me both cleansed and oiled up for bed (I only do this before bed). Other times I’ll go the extra mile and spray with one of my lovely toning mists, maybe add a tad more oil or a favorite moisturizer. I then rinse the pad with some soap and water and put it in the little laundry bag that came with the rounds, and which hangs from my bathroom window hook. I love the laundry bag! Once that fills up, you throw the bag in the washer and dryer and then refill the stand. I haven’t gotten there yet, but I can’t wait.

So that’s the whole shebang! I definitely feel like I get off any makeup and grime, while keeping that whole top layer of skin happy and hydrated. I don’t breakout or get greasy from this process, if anything it seems to help balance my skin. I obviously wet my face when I shower and sometimes give it a splash for fun, but most days just don’t involve a whole lot of washing for this gal.

How do you clean your face?

Image via