Friday, January 18, 2013

OCM with Emulsifiers?

Previously, I talked about an alternative OCM (oil cleansing method) technique for sensitive skin, which is by replacing the towel steaming & wiping step with natural soap wash.

I've always wondered why the original OCM didn't work for me, while the japanese Kose cleansing oil  worked so well. Although I totally left out the steaming & wiping while using the Kose cleansing oil, I didn't break out at all. But when I tried OCM with only rice bran oil (the Kose cleansing oil main ingredient), I broke out horribly.

How come? How could the cleansing oil get washed off easily by just rinsing with water?

The answer is: emulsifier.

Recently, I stumbled upon this OCM review. The reviewer hags101 (oh dear, what a name) warned that we shouldn't attempt on OCM without adding emulsifier. She had almost the same experience as I, but in her case the OCM worked for a few weeks before going downhill. Her skin was still bad for another 5 months after stopping the OCM. It made me cringe reading her vivid descriptions on how bad it was.

She wrote
You see, oil does remove oils from your skin (idea behind OCM)... but how do you remove the oils that you place on your skin if water does not dissolve oil?
That makes so much sense. Take a look at the Kose cleansing oil ingredients:
rice bran oil, mineral oil, sorbeth-30 tetraoleate, triethylhexanoine, cyclomethicone, orange oil, tocopherol, jojoba seed oil, glycerin, polyglyceryl-2 diisostearate, trilaureth-4 phosphate, water, phenoxyethanol
It contains 3 kinds of emulsifiers (the ones in bold). Don't worry, this post won't become like chemistry textbooks.

So what is an emulsifier? 
 The left tube is an emulsion ©EFEMA

What does it do? In short words, emulsifier is a substance that makes oil and water mix together. That mixture is called an emulsion. Without it, both of them will stay separate (check out the photo, see the tube on the right?)

That is what makes typical commercial cleansing oils so easy to wash off. That is why the japanese cleansing oil works for me, while it didn't when I tried rice bran oil alone.

The lady uses two kinds of emulsifier:
  1. Peg-7 Olivate, which is an ester derived from olive oil, and
  2. Polysorbate 80, which is derived from oleic acid.

However, there are concerns about the health risks of Polysorbate 80, which includes but not limited to infertility in women. 

How much emulsifier?

She uses emulsifier-oil ratio of 1:3. This means she filled 1/4 of the bottle with emulsifier and the rest with oil. I gather that is pretty much the ratio used by women making their own cleansing oil with emulsifier.

The bottle should be shaken before each use to disperse the oil with the emulsifier. With emulsifier, you can just wash the oil off with warm water, without having to towel steam.

Worth trying?

So, will I try making cleansing oil with emulsifier? No. Why?

  • I'm already happy with my OCM technique and the way my skin is improving currently. I don't think I want to take the chance and end up ruining my face again (like from allergic reaction),
  • It will be a hassle to find emulsifiers (let alone the safe ones) in where I live.

But if you're interested in trying it, go ahead! But please make sure you do your homework in finding a safe emulsifier to use, and that you are not allergic to it.

Please note that I don't bash the original OCM effectiveness. It's just that sometimes for people with extremely sensitive skin like me, the original OCM is just too much for our skin to handle. If the regular OCM works for you, then lucky you. Keep doing it :).
[...] everyone's skin reacts differently to OCM. Some can’t use heat with OCM so they just massage and wipe off without steaming. Other people’s skin cannot handle being massaged for a lengthy amount of time (because they are severely acnegenic) so they only massage 2-5 minutes max. Others do not even massage. Make sure that if you do use the steaming method that you frequently change the washrag during the rinsing/steaming cycle and to use fresh water each time. A hand drying bathroom towel is the perfect size for these cycles. 
(also quoted from hags101)  
Would you try making your own cleansing oil with emulsifiers? What are your thoughts on it?

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  1. Thanks for your blog post - I ordered some PEG-7 and have been using it - fun to rinse the oil off. However after doing further research I found that in general it is recommended to use PEG-7 in a ratio of 1-10% of the whole recipe rather that 25%. I tried it originally based on your recommendation of the 25% emulsifier to oil and found that it was waaaaay too drying. Going to have to adjust my recipe! :)

  2. polysorbate 8o poses no harm unless you drink A LOT of it or if you IV a lot of it...