NATURAL LIVING: My OCM (Oil Cleansing Method) Experience / Review


It was early 2014 when I first heard of the Oil Cleansing Method.  The women in my family had been going through a natural living transition so had all been researching and trying new and healthier alternatives.  My cousin Anita had come across OCM, tried it, and had great results, so after a little hesitation, I decided to give it ago.  I mean what’s the worst that could happen, right?  Ummmm………A LOT!!!!

For those of you unfamiliar with OCM, it is – as its name suggests- a method of cleansing ones face with oils.  Yup, you read that right.  It asks for you to put aside your soaps and facial cleansers and use nothing but OILS.  The claim is that massaging oils into your face (coconut, castor and olive oil seem to be the most popular) will not only remove dirt, makeup and other impurities, but will also go deep into your pores and remove all blackheads and impurities found within.  Once you have massaged the oil into the skin for a few minutes, you are asked to place a washcloth in steaming hot water and cover your face with it until it cools.  This gives your pores an opportunity to further soften and release the oils containing all the dirt and impurities.  What you SHOULD be left with is a clean, hydrated and moisturized face.  Sounds great right?

So about two weeks after I was told about this miracle all-natural face cleansing method, I made my way to my nearest Nakumatt, purchased a luxurious looking olive oil (picture below) and began my oil-cleansing journey that night.  After my first attempt, I have to say I was impressed.  My face felt very moisturized and supple and all my makeup had indeed being removed.  I had high hopes.  My hopes began to fade however, about 3 days later when I started noticing some pimples forming on my cheeks.  I contemplated stopping OCM right there and then but I remembered reading that breakouts can occur at the beginning of the OCM experience as you face is purging all the impurities that had built up in your skin.  So against my better judgment and against the advice of my mother(why do we never learn that mama really does know best?), I kept going.  And with every passing day, my breakouts got worse and worse and worse.  Almost 2 weeks in and I had a huge breakout of painful cystic acne (I’d never had cystic acne before) on both my cheeks. 

 The Olive Oil I used.
I stopped oil cleansing at about the 2-week mark when I realized that my breakouts were NOT my body purging anything and immediately went back to my normal Clinique cleansing products.  Much to my dismay however, the breakout just KEPT GETTING WORSE.  I tried so many different things.  Using oatmeal on top of my Clinique routine, drinking loads of water, keeping my face makeup free as much as I could (which was hard considering I’m an actress).  NOTHING helped. OCM had ruined my skin and seemingly made it resistant to anything that could help it. 

For about 4 months I languished with the worst skin I had ever had, and worse yet I felt I was out of options.  The breakout stopped getting worse but refused to get any better.  Thankfully, salvation was to come at the most unexpected places: a bridal store.  My older sister was on the search for a wedding dress and so we found ourselves in one of the more well-known bridal stores in Nairobi.  As my sister was trying on a dress, the very chatty storeowner took one look at my face, and declared that she knew EXACTLY what would help me out.  It was a facemask, only 3 ingredients, all natural, and guaranteed to work.  I was desperate so I tried it ASAP.  You can read about it here.  Guys, I kid you not when I say, my acne was pretty much all gone in 3 weeks.  3 WEEKS!!!!!!!! 

Needless to say, that was definitely the end of any kind of oil cleansing anything.  But before I completely condemn OCM completely, there are a few things that I think could have been responsible for my bad experience that you might be able to learn from if you are intent on trying it.

1.    Fake EVOO – In my quest for answers after my breakouts began, I noticed that quite a significant number of people who had had bad OCM experiences had used Olive Oil as their oil of choice.  Upon further research, I discovered that our markets are flooded every year by FAKE Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Some studies claim that up to 70% of EVOOs in the market are not so extra virgin after all.  I bought a Olive Oil I wasn’t familiar with that had just been introduced here in Kenya.  I have a feeling, it is part of that 70%. 
Moral of the story: Use tried and tested oils of good quality.

2.    My Skin HATES Olive Oil – This is something I came to realize later on.  Everyone’s skin is different, so something that could work wonders on your face could cause havoc on mine.  This is exactly what happened to me.  Olive Oil worked great for my cousin and even my aunt, but definitely not for me.  Any doubt I had about Olive Oil being a problem was recently erased when I tried a natural soap bar on my face and immediately began breaking out, only to discover one of its ingredients is Olive Oil.
Moral of the story:  Discover what oils and products work on your skin and which ones do not.  And do NOT base your oil decisions on what worked for someone else.

3.    Patience is NOT one of my virtues – Another thing I discovered in my research is that it is really important to get as much oil out of your pores as you can after massaging it in to face to prevent it from clogging your pores and causing breakouts.  Though I feel I tried to do that part correctly, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes I rushed through it or didn’t wait to get the water steaming hot.  There is a very real possibility that that contributed to my breakout as well
Moral of the story:  Do every step properly or don’t do it at all and safe yourself the hassle. 

If you have tried the OCM method, let me know what your experience has been and if it worked for you, give the rest of us your tips and tricks.  To those who haven’t tried it but want to, all I’ll say is GOOD LUCK.

Until Next Time,
The Natural Experimenter. 

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  1. Hello! this was VERY interesting! I had heard some years ago that oils were the way to go for your face cleansing/health. I was skeptical since my skin was oily. The only oil that I have used on my face is coconut oil and it seems to be fine..I use it for moisturizing....I can try cleansing now to see how it goes. My experience with oil is a strange one. I cannot use any products with oil in soaps and such...on my body seems to be fine. The most challenging oil for me is argan oil...its therapeutic properties are touted all over the place yet I have used it on elbows and knees to seems that I no sooner put it on that I get an overall feeling of discomfort/nausea. The feeling is hard to describe yet the reaction is consistent.....back to the drawing board.....

    1. I TOTALLY get you. Its really weird how some things work for some people and COMPLETELY dont for others. in my family, we all have completely different combinations of products and ingredients. My aunt for example uses olive oil on her face and her skin is impeccable. It really is just a trial and error situation.

  2. It's interesting you mentioned about fake olive oil; apparently it's a very lucrative business and I have read that even the olive oil making countries like Spain and Italy have churned out fake olive oil too. It's sad. But yes, I use oils to moisturize my face and it feels much better than using the chemical gunk!

    1. Right?! I think its sooo sad and unfortunate that these companies can soo easily do that. All the more reason to invest and support local brands who you can monitor more closely.

  3. Yeah - I would never put olive oil on my face. Same goes for coconut oil. That stuff makes me break out by just looking at it. Sorry you had this experience.