DIY Spa Facial in 6 Simple Steps: Step 1, Cleanse

A spa facial is such a luxurious treat – and depending on where you live and what type of facial you choose, the price range can be anywhere from about $60 to $200.  For most of us, this isn’t something that would happen once a week or maybe even once a month.  For some, this just isn’t in the budget at all.  But if you have about 45 minutes to an hour, you have enough time to give yourself a spa quality facial.  You just might like it so much you’ll want to schedule it on a regular basis, or invite a few girlfriends over for a Facial Night.

The first step is to cleanse your face.  You can use whatever product and method you normally would use, or you can try the Oil Cleansing Method.  This method has been around for a few years, and before the widespread availability of soap, was the only method of cleansing the body in ancient times.  The basic premise of the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) is that oil is highly effective in dissolving oil, dirt, and grime.  After the oil has done its job to cleanse away the grime, it’s steamed and wiped away, leaving the skin clean, soft, and hydrated.

A single oil can be used, such as olive, coconut, or jojoba, but some prefer a combination of oils.  Here’s a rule of thumb for different skin types:

  • Oily Skin – blend 30% castor oil with 70% olive or sunflower oil;

  • Normal or Balanced Skin – blend 20% castor oil with 80% olive or sunflower oil;

  • Dry Skin – blend 10% castor oil with 90% olive or sunflower oil.

As you can see, a greater amount of castor oil is used for oily skin and less for dry skin.  You can customize your own blend to adjust up or down, depending on what works best for you.  You can also substitute other oils for any of the oils, but try to keep at least part of the blend as castor oil.  Other oils that might work better for you are sweet almond oil, rice bran oil, apricot seed oil, or grapeseed oil.  (Grapeseed oil is very light and also has astringent or drying qualities, which might be good for a person with very oily skin.)

To cleanse your face with oil, begin by pouring about ½ to 1 teaspoon of oil into one hand.  With your fingers, spread the oil over your face and massage with light, circular motions.  Leave it on for 5-10 minutes, then take a facecloth and soak it with hot water; wring it out and while it’s still hot, place it over your face and keep it there for about one minute.  Remove the facecloth and use it to gently wipe away the remaining oil.  Your face will feel clean, soft, supple, and refreshed.  If it feels a little dry, take a drop or two of the oil mixture and massage it on your face, concentrating on any dry spots, and leave it on.  If your face still feels dry, decrease the amount of castor oil the next time you cleanse your face.

An easy way of mixing your oils can be done by converting the percentages into grams.  A kitchen scale that measures in grams can be used to weigh the oils in the correct percentages.  Example: I want to use 20% castor oil and 80% sunflower oil.  So:

          (20%) 20 grams castor oil

          (80%) 80 grams sunflower oil

The next day, I want to decrease the castor oil so I can add 5 to 10 grams of sunflower oil (1 teaspoon = 5 grams) to my oil blend.

And if I want to enjoy some nice lavender essential oil in my blend, I’ll use a 1% dilution since this is going to be used on my face.  (Facial tissue is more sensitive than other parts of the body.) So I take the total weight of oils, 100 grams, and divide by 100, which gives me 1 gram.  A gram is roughly equivalent (pretty close) to one milliliter, or just under ¼ teaspoon.  It’s also about 20 drops if you are using a medicine dropper.  Now I’m no math genius, but that was some super easy math, wasn’t it?

Be sure to have a clean glass bottle with a tight fitting lid to store your cleansing oil.  100 grams is a little over 3.5 ounces, so a 4 ounce bottle is big enough to hold that much.  Also make sure that you never get any water inside the oil bottle, because bacteria can grow with the addition of water.  When your bottle is empty, wash it thoroughly with lots of soapy hot water and allow it to dry completely before mixing up another batch of cleansing oil – even a very tiny amount of water can launch bacterial growth.

This is the first step of a facial, but it’s also a way to cleanse your face that may work much better than using soap or liquid cleansers.  Tomorrow, I’m writing about Step 2: How to Exfoliate.  (Hint: you want to be careful with that delicate facial tissue, so no harsh exfoliates on the face, OK?)

Natural Skincare Wonder #6: Castor Oil

For those of you who are old enough to remember being given castor oil as a “spring tonic” or to relieve constipation, I’ll spare you the horrors: this is a practice that has been pretty much abandoned these days.  Not only was the taste of castor oil pretty horrid, but attempts to cover it up were unsuccessful, and the severe stomach cramps were enough to make most people want to run and hide when the bottle of castor oil came out of the medicine cabinet.

Castor oil used to be promoted as a way to start labor when pregnant women were past their due dates, or even when they just wanted to induce labor.  Thankfully, that practice has also been discredited as unsafe, because castor oil not only stimulates uterine contractions but also stimulates the bowels, which can lead to severe cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration – not exactly what a woman in labor needs to complicate matters.

So even though castor oil has had a bad reputation for internal use, it can do amazing things for the skin and hair when used externally.  Castor oil comes from the castor bean, which is pressed to extract the oil.  Cold pressed castor oil is preferred to oil which was processed with chemical solvents, usually hexane.  Castor plants are native to India and Africa, where castor oil is used in many ways, as the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties are well known.  Castor oil is a viscous, thick oil that can be combined with other oils that are thinner (such as jojoba or olive oil) and will help to allow the oils to spread more easily. 

These are a few of the wonderful things that castor oil can do for you:

  • Softens and Conditions the Skin – due to its highly concentrated fatty acids, castor oil deeply penetrates the skin and helps prevent moisture loss; its anti-inflammatory properties help soothe inflamed skin from sunburn and other irritations.

  • Fades Scars, Uneven Skin Tone, and Slows Aging – over time, castor oil will reduce hyperpigmentation or dark spots/age spots by stimulating the production of collagen and elastin, which helps keep skin smooth, plump, and elastic.

  • Massage Oil – castor oil’s anti-inflammatory properties help to relieve muscle pain and soreness, which makes a massage even more effective.

  • Hair Regrowth Treatment – castor oil is an effective treatment for hair loss and also promotes faster hair growth; ricinoleic acid, found only in castor oil, helps to balance the pH of the scalp and increases circulation; it also supports keratin in the hair to make it stronger, smoother, and less frizzy.  When hair is damp, use a dropper to apply small amounts of castor oil to the scalp and massage it in; cover with a towel or shower cap and leave in for several hours, or overnight.  Most, if not all, of the oil will absorb, especially if left overnight.  Wash as usual.

  • Grow Thicker, Longer Eyelashes – apply a tiny drop of castor oil to each eyelid before bed to condition and promote eyelash growth.

Castor oil is yet another truly amazing natural beauty aid – tomorrow’s blog post will be the last in this series for the week, and I’m going to tell you about what a wonder jojoba is.  (Did you know that jojoba isn’t an oil at all? Even though it acts more like an oil, jojoba is really a wax.)