How Do Fancy Cleansing Oils Compare To The DIY Oil Cleansing Method?

Save money with a customized oil blend, or save time with a mass-produced product? Let's weigh the pros and cons.
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Publish date:
May 12, 2014
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Shiseido, Shu Uemura, '90s, cleansing oils, oil-cleansing method

I am rather aware that face oils are having a MOMENT, seeing them in their medicinal-looking bottles with glass dropper
attached, colorfully populating every Sephora aisle and taking all your money. I
love nothing more than having my skincare served up in glass bottles with
droppers. It feels so science--or rather, it feels so Death Becomes Her REDUX.

I, however, have not landed a rich husband
(yet) who can finance my “maintenance” for the years to come. Currently, my
trophy-wife aspirations are a slim second to my financial priorities.

Speaking of which, rewind to last August when I was peddling my wares at a trade
show at the Javitz Center (big convention space in Manhattan). One of the
designers in the booth next to me was way into Ayurveda and explained to me the Oil Cleansing
Method, which has apparently been a thing for, like, centuries. So if it was potentially good enough for broads like
Cleopatra, I can do!

Looking it up further, I learned that I could basically
customize the oils I use according to my skin’s needs. Neato! Having decided on
a cocktail of argan oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil and castor oil, the OCM
was a vast improvement for my frequently dry yet seasonally breakout-prone
skin. After about a month of doing it, once my skin normalized from the shock
of NO SOAP ALL OIL ALL THE TIME, everything was evened out, generally smooth
and even brighter. ANCIENT MIRACLE INDEED. No more hemming and hawing in the pharmacy
aisles over which cleanser would do all the things I need it to.

The concept
behind OCM seemed pretty legit to me: oil dissolves oil; the reason your skin
breaks out is because it’s overproducing oil to make up for the oil that most
face cleansers deplete. So why not just give it what it wants? It worked for
me, but I get that it’s not for everyone.

So yeah, the OCM has been working for me since that fateful discovery, up until about two or three months ago. Dry patches, general
dullness, and my chin/mouth-zone breakouts returned. DAMNIT. I thought I had
you sorted, face!

Not wanting to go back to regular soap cleansers, I thought
that perhaps my skin was just tired of my hippy DIY oil concoction. The
benefits had plateaued. Perhaps I needed something a bit more
sophisticated?

Knowing that oils are making a She’s All That-like comeback, I knew that I could easily find some good oils
specifically made for facial cleansing. I went to two of the most obvious (in
my mind) sources for innovative skincare based on some kind of regional
tradition.

First, I tried out Shiseido Ultimate Cleansing Oil. It’s designed to thoroughly remove makeup and long-wearing foundation and sunscreen.

The texture of it is very watery and you apply it with dry hands on dry face,
rubbing it in and making sure you get all your makeups thoroughly loosened,
then rinse with water. It does stick around a bit on your face when you dry
off, but it feels silky--not sticky. The smell is faintly “fresh laundry” scented.

I did this for about two weeks, only nighttime. In the AM, I would either just
rinse with lukewarm water or every two or three days use a honey and sugar
exfoliator I made (it’s just raw/organic honey, plus brown sugar). For $25 a bottle, it’s not even
necessarily a splurge, considering you only use it at night.

My skin evened out
texture-wise, though the tone remained less than cherubic. Baby steps, baby
steps…

I was excited to try Shu Uemura’s cleansing oils, mostly
because Shu Uemura is KNOWN for their cleansing oils. I wanted to try the Ultim8
Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil
because out of all of their options (there’s like
six of them, not including their “limited edition” collaborations, which might
just be that someone arty redesigned the packaging); it seemed to cover the most
bases and it has the best reviews.

A 15 -ounce bottle is $90.
Pretty steep; however this is like a Cosco-sized bottle and you get three times as much as the small bottle. You will seriously use
it for, like, a year. If you like something and it works for you,
it’s worth it to splurge a bit—especially if it will last a long-ass time.
That’s just my opinion anyway.

ANYWAY. The Ultim8 refers to the eight “exquisite” oils
blended into this cleanser (jojoba, olive, shea butter, ginger root, soy bean, safflower, camellia, and corn). Camellia oil is
one of my favorites for skin and hair, and I already know that my skin likes
jojoba. The ginger root oil is a great anti-inflammatory and oxidation
preventer, plus brightener. Soy bean oil improves blood circulation and helps
heal sun damage. Shea’s got your omega fatty acids, and safflower
oil helps reduce redness and eczema. Honestly, the corn oil threw me, mostly
because I immediately think of high fructose corn syrup (weird, right?), but
apparently corn oil has lots of fatty acids which act as emollients to protect
skin from dryness.

After massaging this ULTIM8 combination on my skin nightly
for two weeks, my skin definitely felt softer and smoother overall. The
cleanser works a bit differently in that, you start dry, rubbing on your dry
face with dry hands (again, get all your makeup loosened), but then you add a
tiny splash of warm water and the oil “emulsifies” to a milky liquid.

Rinse
that off and BAM--that’s some 90-dollar skin you got on that face.

Added bonus: it smells heavenly. It smells like fancy lady perfume that has elegantly faded throughout the day.

I can’t say much about the breakouts because who can tame
the hormonal wave that crests each moon cycle? I did not break out more than
usual, but facial oils aren’t really there to treat zits necessarily, so that’s a whole
different struggle. However, I did appreciate the texture improvements and ease
of using these.

With the OCM, the ritual took, like, 10 whole
minutes (hard to commit to when you’re reallllly sleepy) to do the wash cloth
in the hot water, wring out the hot water, put the wash cloth on the face,
press it on the face, let cool, repeat until the oil is removed to a non-slimy
amount. It feels nice and spa-like, but after a while, it gets a bit tedious. Apparently
my skin thought so, too.

Using higher-end facial cleansing oils allowed me the same
benefits of the OCM but with express checkout. Plus, I don’t have to do laundry as often when I run out of washcloths!