It’s no secret that I have a problem thyroid, but I do have problem skin. It flares up randomly, with spots, clogged pores and blackheads and is a mix of dry and oily in places. However, I’ve found a new cleansing routine that is helping.
I started getting pimples at eleven years old. As well as one of the first girls to develop a ‘womanly’ figure, I was one of the first to get the teen, spot-prone skin. It seemed I developed quicker than the other girls in my year; I was the oldest in the year, being a September baby, so I guess it’s probably down to that.
But as I went through my teens, it didn’t get any better. I tried various lotions and potions, exfoliators, moisturisers, toners, spot creams.. I tried different skin cleansing routines, from the famous ‘cleanse, tone, moisturise’, to just cleansing, to just washing with water, to trying soap (big no-no!), to doing my cleansing routine, whatever it was, once a day or twice a day. I tried everything in the shops, all the routines magazines and beauty websites suggested, and it never got any better. I avoided using make up to cover my embarrassing skin, as I thought it’d make it worse and I didn’t want to be one of ‘those’ girls who relied on make up for confidence.
However, I got to twenty, and I was SO fed up. I could no longer say it was down to being a spotty teenager, or hormones (or so I thought). It was pretty bad all the time and it made me feel gross and self-conscious. So, I eventually decided to invest in foundation. I eagerly got home and tried it on, and was amazed. It concealed my blemishes, and as time went on, it didn’t make my skin any worse. So it was a win-win for a while. But I wasn’t getting to the cause for my problem skin. I was just masking it with more chemicals.
At twenty, it was evident that I had thyroid problems, although no one realised at the time. If you’ve read my thyroid story, then you’ll know that I showed signs of thyroid problems as young as sixteen, but I believe my really heavy and unpredictable periods from thirteen years old were also influenced by thyroid problems looming. This could well tie in with my problem skin. It’s worth noting that my periods are now regular and no longer painful or heavy, since being on NDT.
I wasn’t diagnosed as hypothyroid until I was twenty-one. At this point, my skin actually got better. The worse I felt physically, the more my spots cleared up. My skin looked uneven in tone, was dry and I had huge purple bags around my eyes, but the spots cleared up. I believe the sebum production, produced naturally by the sebaceous glands, which can cause clogged pores and spots if too much is produced, was shut down, just like many other processes of my body when hypothyroid. Before being hypothyroid, these seem to have been in overdrive, and, not realising, all the over-cleansing and harsh products I was using to try and fix it, were making it worse. They strip the skin of the oils, which we actually need, drying the skin out and encouraging poor skin and break outs. Since getting my thyroid levels back to a good place and feeling better, my sebum (natural skin oil) production seems to have ramped up again, causing poor skin and break outs again!
As Isabella Wentz, Thyroid Pharmacist, says: While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons as to why seven women develop Hashimoto’s for every one man with the condition, perhaps the use of endocrine disrupting chemicals may play a role.
So, after trawling the internet for natural ways to clear the skin, chemical free and using household products, I found something called The Oil Cleansing Method. It didn’t sound appealing at first, slapping oil around my face, but I grew to like the idea. It started to sound a bit luxurious (yes, preparing my face for deep frying), so I decided to order some Castor Oil and give it a go. What did I have to lose?
This is the one I ordered, which is hands-down the most popular brand – Pukka Organic Castor Oil 250ml
So, I have used Castor Oil, for only a few pounds off of Amazon, and regular sunflower oil from our very own kitchen (my other half wondered what the fudge I was doing). I mixed three tablespoons of castor oil and seven tablespoons of sunflower oil, so a 30%-70% ratio.
The Oil Cleansing Method site says:
- Oily skin: Try a blend of 30% castor oil to 70% sunflower oil.
- Balanced Skin: Try a blend of 20% castor oil to 80% sunflower oil.
- Dry Skin: Try a blend of 10% castor oil to 90% sunflower oil.
If your skin feels too dry, you’ll need to use less castor oil and replace it with more sunflower oil. Castor oil is the drawing, cleansing, and purging oil for your pores. The sunflower oil is to dilute the castor oil in thickness and additionally provide moisture.
I mixed my 30%-70% mixture in a little pot, using a spoon, then placed one tablespoon of the mixture in to the palm of my hand. I placed my other hand over it, cupping the oil until it became body temperature (you want to warm the oil up), then began to smear it all over my face. I concentrated more on my problem areas, where I get the most breakouts, and have blackheads and blocked, bumpy pores.
I massaged it in for five to ten minutes, working the oil in to my pores, and then when I felt my face was well-saturated, I placed my face over a large bowl full of boiled, steamy water, and hung a towel over my head. This steams it out.
Holding my head there for a minute, I felt my pores opening, releasing what was in them. I moved my head away after a minute and wiped the oil and moisture off my face. Then I repeated it another two times, until my face felt free of all oil and impurities.
That was it! My skin felt soft, supple, looked clearer and I didn’t need to wash or moisturise afterwards. I was amazed!
I did it on Tuesday and did it again last night, Thursday. I’m going to carry on doing it 2-3 times a week. Basically, I’m going to see how I go and if my skin is getting dry or irritated, then I’ll do it less often. I’m ditching my chemical-filled face washes and toners, and on days when I don’t oil-cleanse, I’m just using water. I keep my oil blend in a little bottle, pictured above.
I’m going to try doing it once or twice a week on my chest and back too, which also suffer from breakouts.
I’ve also started using it as a moisturiser when needed, so when my face feels a litle dry, I put a drop of the mixture on my finger and rub it in too my face. It feels moisturised but not greasy. I’ve also been using straight castor oil on my blemishes and it’s making them less red. Other people claim it helps hair growth, so you can rub it in to the scalp and eyebrows too.
So, how does it work?
The objective of using this cleansing method is to deep clean while balancing our skins oil production at the same time.
The reasons we have so much trouble with mainstream skin care products are numerous, but two reasons, in particular, lead the pack. These products strip the oil out of our skin, leaving our largest organ trying to repair itself by replacing the oil stripped away. This leaves us in a cycle of being tight and dry followed by the inevitable oil slick. Each time we strip the oil away, our skin over-compensates for the lack of moisture by creating more oil. On top of the drying effects, these products are highly-scented. Fragrance is one of the top skin irritants and strangely enough, even the so-called “unscented” products usually contain fragrance.
Getting right down to basics, when cleansing and moisturizing your skin, it is imperative that you keep in mind that oil dissolves oil. Your skin naturally lubricates itself with oil, and as we are creatures of adaptation, one can believe that if this weren’t the appropriate built-in care for ourselves, our bodies would have adapted to suit the need.
Do not be afraid of applying oil to your face. Oil, alone, will not bring you blemishes. Pimples, cysts, zits, blackheads, whiteheads…these are a result of several different factors including hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells and the buildup of these factors. Your skin naturally produces oil because it needs it. It is not a malicious force to be reckoned with; it is there for the benefit of your skin, allowing your largest organ to function properly. It is naturally occurring. Not only does your natural oil help lubricate, it also heals, protects, and moisturizes your skin so that it may function properly. Properly functioning skin is beautiful, clear, and glowing. Learning to work with your skin, not against it, will save you tremendously.
The basic concept of this skin care and cleansing method is that the oil used to massage your skin will dissolve the oil that has hardened with impurities and found itself stuck in your pores. The steam will open your pores, allowing the oil to be easily removed. Should you need it, the smallest drop of the same oil formula patted over damp skin will provide the necessary lubrication to keep your skin from over-compensating in oil production.
We will need two oils. The first, and most importantly, is castor oil. Castor oil has potent anti-inflammatory properties, but is also healing and cleansing, which is why we’re focusing on this oil as our primary oil. Castor oil has been the focus of many books and medical discussion because of its seemingly “magical” healing properties. A little bit of castor oil goes a long way and too much will leave you, surprisingly, with dry skin.
Since castor oil is so thick and its cleansing properties so strong, we need to dilute it with another oil, thinner in consistency, but no less nurturing to the skin. Sunflower oil has become my personal favorite, though in the past, I’ve suggested extra virgin olive oil. Both are wonderfully caring oils for skin application, but I’ve found that sunflower oil has a more luxurious feel for massage. It sinks into the skin better, aiding the castor oil in transportation deep into the pores and allowing it to draw the dirt and grime to the surface of your skin where it can be wiped away.
Once you remove the old plugs from your pores, they will begin functioning properly again.
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given, but more reading and references can also be found at:
Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018. Currently studying for relevant qualifications and certificates in Life Coaching, Diet and Nutrition, Reflexology and more, she has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community.