Beauty Bullshit: Oil Cleansing Cures Acne

Sorry Oil Cleansing. We're calling Bullshit

Oil cleansing has been given the reputation as being a natural cleansing method for clear, glowing skin.  Cosmetic companies are jumping on the bandwagon and raking in the dough selling face cleansing oils that retail up to $100! 

To be fair, I understand why natural cleansing methods have become popular because acne sucks.  By the time I was 16, I was finishing up my second failed attempt at Accutane and I would’ve stuck my finger in an electric socket if you would’ve told me that would make the pimples go away.  Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for acne and this rule applies just as much to natural remedies as it does to harsh prescription treatments. 

The theory behind oil cleansing is that massaging oil onto your face dissolves oil in the pores. In the world of acne treatments where harsh, prescription medicines and harmful side effects are the norm, the oil cleansing method attempts to cure acne by providing a natural, organic solution for fighting the disease. 

Just because harsh prescriptions don't fix acne does not mean an all-natural method will.  Dr. James E. Fulton says in his book Acne RX, “...if the complex oils in sebum create such havoc in acne-prone skin, then rubbing more oils into the skin is the worse possible thing an acne sufferer can do…”.  

Acne is a multifactorial disease in which genetics, lifestyle, environment, and diet all collide to create a perfect storm.  Even if oil cleansing did work, it would only be addressing a single piece of a puzzle that has many other pieces to it including inflammation, the overproduction of skin cells, and bacteria.  To have long-term success in managing acne, all of these factors must be addressed.  

Beauty Bullshit: Oil Cleansing Cures Acne | AES Blog

So, next time you someone recommends cleansing oil for zits, call Bullshit!

6 Natural Ingredients That Actually Make Acne Worse

6 Natural Ingredients That Actually Make Acne Worse

As a holistic skin coach, I know better than anyone else that treating acne requires an integrative approach.  However, one of the most widespread misconceptions about skincare products is that if an ingredient is natural, it must be good for acne. And why wouldn't someone believe this? Natural ingredients contain a myriad of benefits for the body and mind, why wouldn't they benefit acne too? 

Unfortunately, the follicles of acne sufferers are genetically prone to retain dead skin cells, comedogenic ingredients, and oils whether they are natural or not and the organic properties of an ingredient have nothing to do with it's tendency to clog pores. We recently wrote a blog about coconut oil as a pore-clogging ingredient but here are additional natural ingredients taken from our list of comedogenic ingredients that you want to look out for in your skincare products if you suffer from retention hyperkeratosis, commonly known as acne:

Photo Courtesy of Cottonseed Oil

Photo Courtesy of Cottonseed Oil

1. Coconut Oil

2. Algae

3. Sunflower Oil

4. Carrageenan

5. Argan Oil

6. Safflower Oil

Pore-Clogging Ingredients List

Is your toothpaste, lip balm, shampoo, hair gel, shaving cream, or makeup acne friendly? If you struggle with breakouts and you don't know the answer to this, you should. Actually, you should even know whether or not your partner's products are acne-friendly if you are prone to breakouts.  Comedogenicity refers to the tendency of an ingredient to clog pores and every product you use that is applied directly to your face or just close to your face can spread and cause breakouts. Forehead breakouts? Check your hair products. Chin and mouth breakouts? Check you and your partner's toothpaste and lip products.  I often tell my clients that learning to determine whether a product is acne friendly or not is one of the most important ways to manage their acne long term. Unfortunately, regulations on cosmetic labeling are relatively loose and companies can label their products "non-comedogenic" whether it is true or not.  Acne sufferers in particular tend to get caught up in marketing traps by purchasing products with meaningless labels like "oil-free" and "deep pore cleansing" that end up making their condition worse.  Just like choosing food at the grocery store, the only way to really know what a product is about is by being your own detective.  Take a screenshot of this list so next time you go to buy a product that touches your face or a body part connected to your face (skincare products, shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, makeup, lip products, shaving cream, blush, bronzer, eyebrow pencil, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc), you can check it against the ingredient list. CosDNA and SkinCarisma both have ingredient checking tools that can be helpful. However, the ingredients that online tools check for do not match our list exactly so we recommend using those to help you do an initial scan and still checking whatever ingredients they flag against our list.

Here are a few additional things to keep in mind when checking products:

  • If a product contains the world oil in it's name or if an oil is listed in the top 3 ingredients, avoid it. Fragrance and essential oils are generally okay in minimal amounts so if they are listed towards the end of the ingredient list, they should be okay. That being said, if the product is something that will have contact with your face for long periods of time (like detergent on pillowcases), we recommend avoiding any fragrance at all.

  • Always check the ingredients on the actual product you purchase. It doesn't matter if you checked the ingredients online or if you have been purchasing a product for 5 years. Products get reformulated all of the time and nobody sends out a memo to let us know. It is also common for companies to reformulate a product without updating the ingredient list on their website. So get in the habit of always checking the ingredient list on the physical package of every product you buy.

  • The frequency and duration that you have a product on or near your face is irrelevant. If a product contains a pore-clogging ingredient and you are triggered by comedogenic ingredients then it only takes one ingredient in one product to touch your face one time for one second to trigger a breakout.