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1000 Words About My Face

Back when I posted about my Amish Beard, more than a few people caught the whole "I think I've finally got my acne under control" thing. They asked for details and an explanation and HOOOOW?, but I was all "Man, that makes for some boring blogging." I emailed a few people and talked to a few on twitter about how I finally got things under control and was going to leave it at that.

But then I remembered that I've never really cared if it's boring up in here. Ahoy! Bring on the boring post about controlling acne! (Feel free to skip this if it isn't your thing. I promise I won't be offended. Much.)

So. Thing the first is that I strongly believe that what works for one person doesn't work for another. I have friends who can wash their faces with the crappiest soap on earth and have absolutely glowing complexions. Meanwhile, I can go through an elaborate production with over-priced products and still end up with -meh-. It seems that -meh- is actually as good as it's going to get for me (I've even tried going dairy-free and gluten-free to see if food allergies were part of the problem, which was a pretty radical experiment for someone who thinks pizza is a food group). I'm embracing -meh- because -meh- is a heck of a lot better than what I had even just a year ago.

Anyway, now that we have that "sorry if this doesn't work for you" disclaimer out there, I'll say that salicylic acid is the devil as far as I'm concerned. If my face so much as enters a room where it is, MAJOR breakout. It's because of that fact that I made a discovery that has probably been the main reason things are much better lately. I was standing in the face junk aisle at Target trying to figure out which toner I wanted to buy. Olay Oil Minimizing Toner has been my favorite for a while now because it seems to find dirt that other products don't. As I perused its ingredients and compared to other products to make sure no salicylic acid was trying to sneak into my life if I tried something new, I noticed a little something that made me stop and think.

Hydrogenized castor oil.

There's castor oil in Olay Oil Minimizing Toner. I thought it seemed weird that there would be oil in a product that is supposed to get rid of oil, so I took to Google to try to find an explanation. After all, it seemed like that product actually did find dirt on my face when I had already washed it with a zillion other things.

That Google search led to a reminder of middle school chemistry. Water repels oil. Oil attracts oil. Remember that? With that reminder in my head, it suddenly didn't make sense to wash my face with water. It's just pushing the gunk INTO my pores, right?

A little bit more Googling happened and I eventually discovered the Oil Cleansing Method. Basically, you mix castor oil with some other oils and you wash your face with them. AND IT WORKS. For real. I've been doing it for over a year and while it hasn't completely cured my adult acne, it definitely is better. DEFINITELY. If you want to hear me wax poetically about how much it has improved the blackhead and oversized pore situation, ask me. I'll happily sing a song, do a dance, and tell you all about it. For hours.

The tricky part of the Oil Cleansing Method is that you have to experiment and experiment and experiment until you find the right oils and quantities for you. I'm currently at 50% castor oil, 25% grapeseed oil, 20% jojoba, and 5% tea tree oil. That blend seems to be working for me. Other blends caused cystic acne (Fun! NOT.) or dried my face out too much, but a little more trial and error led me down the path of improvement.

There is a ton of information online about OCM, so I'll just say check here and here and here for posts from other people who have had great success with it. I'm over a year into being dedicated to it and some of those people have been doing it even longer, so it's really not a fad.

I do the OCM thing four nights per week right now. I use the Olay Oil Minimizing Toner along with Olay Regenerist Detoxifying Facial Scrub on my off days. That's mostly a lazy thing. OCM takes a few minutes and sometimes I just want to go to bed, so I cheat. I also use benzoyl peroxide on the rare occasions that I end up with a breakout. The last factor is that I use Retin-A every night, but that prescription actually came about because it is supposed to help clear up the old acne scars. I'm not sure if it really makes a difference with the acne or not since the recent two months I wasn't using it were so stress-filled that I couldn't tell you if it was helping or hurting or what.

Long of the short, the Oil Cleansing Method is the main factor that seems to have fixed things. It took a while to figure out how to make it work for me, but it was totally worth the effort.

That concludes the longest, most boring post I've ever written. Don't you dare disagree with that because I'd rather not read through my archives and discover just how many boring posts I have. (HINT: All of them.)

Wait! Here's a random photo that has nothing to do with anything. It just seems appropriate to make this post even longer than it already was.

WAIT! One more thing. I only needed a couple more words to go over 1000 words in this post, so here they are. Do I get a cookie?

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Reader Comments (13)

Hey! This may actually be helpful. The Howler has her father's complexion...and that means the pimples have started at 9-almost-10. Ugh. We've already begun trying to find something that will at least help (short of the doc's already) and this may help! Thanks! She has pretty skin, and I'd like to save it if we can!

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermumple

I am definitely intrigued. I have very sensitive, dry, acne-prone skin. And I get painful cystic acne along my jaw on occasion. I've been using betadine for a while now with some success but this oil cleansing method seems like something that might help as well. Out of curiosity, which oils made you more cystic prone? I know it's different for everyone but I don't want to trigger one of those outbreaks for sure.

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternicole

I don't have too much trouble with acne but Son since hitting puberty has. And his father has the scars from his acne troubles. I will do some research and see if this will help Son.

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmyLK

i like that you write about any and everything here. and i like that you are able to talk about stuff that lots of people won't admit to. plus, i learned something. so yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay for this post!

also, alexis can rock a hat. so cute.

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

hahaha Well woth the read to get to the adorable picture at the end and the funny. The rest of the post was great information. Not boaring in the least. :-) Yes you definately deserve a cookie! Or at the very least the CCC dough dip. ;-)


February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJackie

not boring to me . . . 2 years ago I developed adult acne - so aggravating! I've been seeing a derm for just as long. All kinds of creams, ointments, medicine and anti inflammatory crap - nothing works! I went on steroids over the holidays to help - which it did, but as soon as those were done. Acne back in full force. I am intrigued by this OCM, but so scared to get MORE cystic acne than I already have!! I also use the Retin-A but it just dries my face out like a snake peeling his skin. The next path is Accutane, which I'm not too keen on b/c there is so much red-tape to just get the prescription! Glad you found something that is working for you!

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiaras & Tantrums

I used Retin-A for my acne as an twenty-something. My skin is somewhat better, but I will sometimes get an over-the-counter retinol cream (same stuff, just not as strong) to use.
Tip - usually sold as "anti-wrinkle"

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkyfirewife

Interesting. I do use a salicylic acid based acne wash but when that stops working I am so on to the OCM!

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Between chatting with you and Amy about this, I'm going to give it a shot. I was thinking of trying coconut oil for starters. So, we'll see :)

You do look great. It's a little push for me to try it!

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

I took your advice and was actually using the same oils as you in different ratios, and it just wasn't working. :( It made me less oily (which was awesome), but I'm breaking out like all kinds of crazy. I'm trying something else for awhile to see how it works and maybe I'll try the oil again when I have more patience. The stuff I'm using now has no salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in it, so we'll see.

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaci

I took your advice and was actually using the same oils as you in different ratios, and it just wasn't working. :( It made me less oily (which was awesome), but I'm breaking out like all kinds of crazy. I'm trying something else for awhile to see how it works and maybe I'll try the oil again when I have more patience. The stuff I'm using now has no salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in it, so we'll see.

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaci

I have been doing some research about the OCM and I am just so scared of it!! Seriously. I am 32 and have had acne since I was 13, 14 or 15. I have literally tried everything and nothing has worked. NO-THING. My skin is just so awful. My pores are huge, even when I use a pore minimizing something. I feel like I can't go a day without washing my face, so I wash it in the morning and before I even walk out the door; my nose, forehead and chin are grease pits. But, my cheeks and jawline are so dry and flaky. I just can't make my skin happy!! Just today, I broke out like crazy. I can't take it and I want a skin transplant!!!!!! maybe I should take a week off work and try the OCM. that way at least if it makes things worse I won't have to go out in public!!

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Oil on oil, really? Wow, I'm kinda surprised to hear that. But hey, if it works, I'm all for it! I need to find something for my own "meh".

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElaine
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