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Ok, I’m just going to say it: makeup does not cause acne. However, using bacteria-filled sponges or brushes to apply makeup, or its improper removal from the skin, can lead to clogged pores and blemishes. This is particularly true if you have oily and/or acne prone skin. I am going to focus on a gentle way to remove makeup, dead skin cells and bacteria from your face.

I have battled with acne on my sensitive, oily skin for most of my life. I wear makeup most days, so I have had to find a way to adequately remove it, without treating my skin too harshly. Using a sudsy surfactant-filled cleanser will effectively remove oil and dirt (just like a shampoo will), but they will also strip your skin of its natural moisture barrier. This is because surfactants are essentially detergents (found in most soaps and cleansers). The oil glands then go into overdrive to produce more oil to overcompensate for this lack of moisture, thereby creating more problems. On the other hand, gentle, soap-free cleansers aren’t always enough to remove makeup , let alone oil and other debris. Two weeks ago I wondered what it would be like to use MAC’s Studio Sculpt Concealer (rich, ultra-creamy) all over my face in place of foundation.

It looked flawless; the challenge came in removing it. I used Cetaphil’s facial cleanser, which says it can be used to gently remove makeup. Cetaphi is a fragrance-free, non-comedogenic (non-acne causing), soap-free (slight lie, sulphates are in the ingredients!) cleanser. If you’ve never used it, it has a gel-like consistency that looks like milky water. I cleansed my face twice with the product, but I still felt slick and a bit greasy.

I was curious to see if there was still product left on my face so I used my fingernail to gently scrape down my cheek. Voila! Here’s what I dislodged from underneath my nail.

Gross, right? That’s the kind of thing that could lead you to believe makeup breaks you out. In fact, the ultra-rich concealer was just not properly removed.  I then went back to my tried and true oil cleanse method.

Oily girls, don’t be afraid to use oil on your face. I promise it makes sense! You should know by now that water does not dissolve oil. But did you know that oil does? Oil is attracted to oil and it’s use on oily skin (when the right kinds are used) is an excellent way to dislodge oil, debris and any makeup that may be clogging up the pores. I applied enough of my oil mix to cover my face then massaged the oil into my skin. I then wet a wash cloth with warm water, wringing it out before resting in on top of my face. The warmth encourages the pores to open up just before you use the cloth to thoroughly wipe the mixture off your face. The bonus is that using a wash cloth gently exfoliates your skin as well, eliminating the need to use extra scrubs. Here’s all the dirt that the oil removed AFTER two attempts with the Cetaphil cleanser:

Once the dirt is removed by the oil, my face does not feel tight, nor does it feel greasy. This is because the pH level of my skin was disturbed very little. (my kinky, coily girls should know all about the pH! The same principle applies to the skin). I then use an aloe vera-based toner followed by my topical medication and a tiny bit of coconut oil for light moisture.

I am not prescribing an exact recipe for cleansing your skin, as everyone’s skin is different. I have tried many different ways of cleansing my skin over the last 15 years. Using an oil mixture appropriate for my skin-type is the best method I have found so far. As an experiment, I deliberately strayed from it for two months to disastrous effects*. Having come back to using this cleansing method, I see the difference in my skin.

If you use the oil cleansing method, hate it or have questions, leave them in the comments section :).

*Disastrous routine: Nightly facial steaming for 4-6 minutes; Aveda cleanser with jojoba beads (plus I added finely ground coffee);  steam again for 2 minutes; toner; topical medication; moisturizer