Friday, December 12, 2014

Jen's Crunchy Life Experiment: Homemade Face Wash

The very first stop on this all-natural, handcrafted journey is Facetown, pop. a million bumps of terrible.

I've always struggled with my skin. Take a group of uncontrolled hormones and mix them with a gang of pretty mean genes and you've got Jen, the Queen of Breakouts. I've tried everything from antibiotics to birth control to four courses of Accutane (scary, I know) to retinols to peroxides. Nothing, and I mean nothing, ever helped.

In fact, the only thing that ever truly makes a difference with my skin is my green smoothie obesession. I still drink those suckers and lemmie tell ya, they will blast hormonal acne right outta town if you drink them regularly.

But I still need to wash my face, right? Smoothies take care of the inside, but what about the outside? My normal cleansers were leaving me with combo skin - dry around the eyes, hairline, and cheekbones, but oily everywhere else. Like a shiny, flaky little mask of irritation. So naturally (see what I did there??), I decided to start my crunchy life experiment with a homemade face wash. 

I found about ninety-thousand different methods and settled on the oil cleansing method, swiped right from the Wellness Mama. I was intrigued by the science here....oil dissolves oil, yes? Absolutely, totally, 100%, yes. Best part? When you wash with oil you give yourself like a 5 second spa session. Check it out.

The Procedure
Step 1: Figure out what oil combination you want to use. 

I use castor oil and olive oil in a 1:3 ratio, and drop in a little bit of tea tree oil. Olive oil is cool because I can buy it from the same store I buy my groceries. Easy. I use this castor oil from Amazon. 

Castor oil can be drying so you gotta watch your face and adjust fire as necessary. I normally use a 1:3 ratio with castor and olive oil, but decrease the castor a tad when my skin is feeling tight. Different skin types need different oil ratios. Wellness Mama breaks down various oil combinations in this link

*Side Note: I researched olive oil ahead of time because a ton of the popular brands out there are not, in fact, olive oil at all. They're like some vegetable/canola/watered down blend of oil or something. Really disappointing, but hey...this is America's food system here, am I really that surprised? Happy to share that after all my research, I found California Olive Ranch, sold in Jewels, WalMarts, and Targets, is truly, really 100% olive oil. Hurrah!

Step 2: Put your oils in a container. 

I use an old glass honey container with a lid. Mason jars work, too. Use something you can close and pour into the palm of your hand easily. 

To avoid needing any instructions whatsoever, I keep my oil ratio super simple....I stick with tablespoons. So I pour 1 tablespoon of castor oil and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the jar, and then I put some drops of tea tree in there, and whammo. Those four-ish tablespoons of oil literally last me over two weeks, with washing 1-2 times a you'll see in the next step, you don't need much to get the job done!

Step 3: Using only a quarter-sized amount, gently rub the oil onto your face. 

This is phase one of the spa treatment. Rub in circles, gently, getting all the way to the hairline. Ooooo-saaaaah. Also remember to only use a quarter-sized amount, an element of this method that rocks my socks off. The oil lasts such a long time because I don't need a ton of it to cover my face. 

Step 4: Give your face a mini-steam treatment.

Take a washcloth and stick it under hot water - as hot as you can tolerate with bare hands. Then squeeze out the water, and as fast you can without hurting yourself, tip your head back a little, and put that washcloth right over your face. 

This is, perhaps, the best, most self-indulgent part of my day.

I sit there under that washcloth until my breathing makes the cloth cool down, then I stick it back under the hot water, wring it out, and flip the opposite side over my face. It takes maybe 2 minutes, but it is so, so nice. The tea tree oil smells awesome.

Step 5: Gently wipe off excess oil.

Using the corners of the cloth, gently wipe off excess oil. Be gentle and love on your skin a little. 

My face feels awesome after I wash it. It feels good, clean, happy. Want proof? Well, as scary as this is, here are some lil' pictures of me from this morning, immediately after washing my face. No makeup, no filters, just happy face Jen, acne scars and all. 

The Cost
One of the things I promised to deliver during this experiment was the price of the homemade version versus the store bought version. Not all homemade products are cheaper, as you will find out in the next few weeks. Of course, your cost savings will depend on what products you used/will use, but in my case, homemade face wash a landslide. Let's break it down.

My store-bought skincare routine consisted of these products (and please don't cringe at the eye cream...I got it for free one time and then got hooked.....flaws, forgiven, people, flaws, forgiven):

 Facewash: $5.59

Moisturizer: $8.79

Eye Cream: $40.00

Now if we break that down per ounce of product, we get these numbers:
Face wash: $0.76 per ounce
Moisturizer: $3.52 per ounce
Eye Cream: $80 per ounce (INsane, I know....I know....)

Homemade face wash initial cost:
$12.39 for 16oz of castor oil
$10.99 for 25oz of olive oil
$9.99 for 1oz tea tree oil

So just divide to see how much I paid per ounce...
$0.77 per ounce for castor
$0.44 per ounce for olive
$9.99 per ounce for tea tree

And then factor in the recipe - we're making 4 tablespoons, or 2 ounces, of product here. So using the 1:3 ratio in tablespoons, and with only a few drops of tea tree in a bottle holding 600 drops, the per ounce price is:

$0.59 per ounce

($0.39 for castor, $0.66 for oil, and $0.12 for tea tree, divided by 2)

And the best part? I don't need the eye cream and moisturizer anymore. The areas around my eyes aren't dry, my skin isn't flaky, and contrary to what I expected, I am not breaking out like a madwoman. So really, I am saving $0.17 per ounce on the face wash, but also $3.52 per ounce on moisturizer and $80 an ounce on eye cream. That's a slew of nonexistent ounces right there.

Health Factors
Let's talk toxicity. One of the most attractive elements of homemade beauty products is the safety of the ingredients. My old products didn't do so hot on the Environmental Working Group toxicity scale. Here are some of the most surprising hazards I read about:

Face wash:
  • Fragrance: Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Miscellaneous, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
  • Salicylic acid: Enhanced skin absorption, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Use restrictions
  • Propylparaben: Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous, Use restrictions
  • Diazolidinyl Urea (Formaldehyde releaser): Cancer, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Contamination concerns (FORMALDEHYDE), Use restrictions
  • Methylparaben: Biochemical or cellular level changes, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Use restrictions
Eye Cream:
  • Mary Kay won't publish ingredients to their buyers and as such, a lot of "underground" work has been done to figure out what these lotions and potions actually contain. I read a number of interesting things about Mary Kay products, including their heavy use of parabens (check out those parabens listed under my old moisturizer -  they sound fun!). I'm gonna go ahead and conclude Mary Kay is pretty damn awful, despite the pink cars. 
Alternatively, our homemade face wash has some pretty awesome ingredients with some pretty awesome benefits.

Castor oil:
  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial
  • Supplies fatty acids for cell membrane repair and health
  • Full of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals
Olive oil:
  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antibacterial
  • Full of antioxidants 
  • Natural exfoliant when mixed with sugar or salt
Tea Tree Oil:
  • Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal
  • Pain reliever
  • Soothing scent that makes you feel like you're in a spa even though you're in your bathroom holding the door closed with your foot because a small person is inevitably banging down to door and telling you about her poop
Success! This homemade face wash routine absolutely works for me. I love it, love it, love it, and highly suggest it to my fellow SkinSux club members. Maybe after some consistent oil washing, we can change the name of our club to SkinRules? Eh? EHHHH?

Stay tuned - the experiment continues next week with homemade shampoo! And as always, thank you for reading :)


  1. The benefits do sound pretty great! These days I try to just do as little with my face as I can--I wore makeup pretty often until I started beauty school, funnily enough, and ever since then, it's a rare, rare occasion that I put on I tend to consider my face automatically washed in the shower. I have been a fan of the yes to carrots moisturizer/facial sunscreen for the past couple of years. I'm sure it's not as good as homemade but they do avoid some of that nice mineral oil and paraben stuff. :)

    1. Yes!!! The YES to (enter veggie/fruit here) stuff is way better than the crap i was using! And I'm the same way with makeup - when I worked in the corporate office I wore it every day and now, well....let's just say now I wear it like once every other week. It's glorious! My face can finally breathe! Thanks for reading Rach :)

  2. I can totally get on board with this...I am terrible about cleaning my face, mostly because I don't want to spend the money on have definitely inspired me here! :)-Ashley

    1. YAYAYA! It's so easy! And cheaper!! :) :) :) I hope you get the chance to try it out. Let us know how it goes!

  3. I always hear about castor oil - Hmm does it really clean though? does this work for oily skin? That's my skin type and I use Clinique and I love them but I'm always open to trying new things. :) Looks easy enough! Haha you look so cheery and happy in the photos, love it! Have a great one Jennifer -Iva

    1. I have both oily and dry - it's the worst of both worlds - and this WORKS. Oil dissolves oil, so I actually found my greasy areas to be a bit too dry at first. I had to decrease the castor oil - it is POWERFUL! The stuff can dissolve just about anything on your face and will leave you with super smooth skin - just be sure to mix up your ratio a little if you get too dry! Trust me, I didnt think it was possible for me to have "too dry" skin but it happened!

  4. What about taking makeup off?

    1. It absolutely removes your makeup! It's great for eye makeup, specifically. I use it to get rid of those annoying black marks left from mascara. Just be careful when you use it around your eyes! Like with regular face washes, you don't want to get it all up in your eyeballs! ;)

      I rarely wear foundation, but when I do, I use this afterwards to remove the concealer, foundation, and powder. It leaves your skin squeaky-clean.