Two weekends ago, I moved house. In the process of flinging my entire life into twenty cardboard boxes, I uncovered several boxes of old photos I’d dragged across the ocean at some point. Baby pictures, holiday snaps, even old pictures of my grandparents looking impossibly glamorous in the 50’s. I have carried these with me since the day fourteen years ago that I left my hometown with a one-way ticket to London and two bursting suitcases. The Delta check-in agent sweetly looked the other way when I heaved them onto the baggage scales.
I am eighteen in the picture above and I am terrified of fat: both of eating it and of putting it on my face. These are the days of fat-free Snackwell cookies and Molly McButter, a vile yellow dust that promises to taste as delicious as butter, but really just looks like an over-excited daisy got frisky with your jacket potato when you weren’t looking, leaving nothing behind but a sad smear of pollen. I load my plate with plain steamed vegetables and lather my face with a Neutrogena gel that makes my skin feel as though it’s shrunk in the dryer. It makes sense to me at the time. How can you fight oil with more oil?
Thankfully, times have changed. I figured out five years ago that plant oil on my face (and in my mouth, for that matter) is nothing to fear. In 2009, picked up a copy of India Knight’s The Thrift Book and caught wind of DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. Since then, I have been devoted to the oil cleansing method in general and DHC in particular. When I first began using it, it was only available through the DHC website, which made it a difficult sell to anyone without £20 to punt on a facial cleanser that resembled a salad dressing. Happily since then, it’s now more widely available, but I do appreciate that it is still not easily found outside of major metropolitan areas.
The Body Shop, on the other hand, is everywhere. When I was eighteen and snacking on iceberg lettuce leaves during English class, the Body Shop held an exotic appeal, largely because we didn’t have one in Mobile. Since moving to London though, I mostly associate them with fruit-scented lotions for adolescents and Christmas gift sets that inevitably end up gathering dust in a cupboard. My loss, really, for they actually have some excellent products.
The Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil is one of them. I pinched a bottle from Lippie Mansions a few months back and I’ve been using it as my morning cleanser ever since. For £10, it’s seriously good stuff. It’s a paler yellow and slightly runnier than my beloved DHC, but no less effective at removing make-up and leaving your face feeling clean and super-soft. If I’m using it at night, I massage a single pump into my face with my fingers for about thirty seconds, then use cotton wool to remove my eye make-up. I then remove the rest of the oil with a hot flannel. If I remember, I use the Body Shop Facial Roller after removing my eye make-up, but before the hot flannel.
The complaints I’ve heard from those who don’t get on with oil cleansing fall largely into two camps: first, that the oil always runs through their fingers and onto their clothes or down the drain, and second, that it ends up in their eyes and gives them blurry vision. All I can say is that the former has never been a problem for me (perhaps I have exceptionally well-arranged fingers), and the latter stopped happening after a few uses.
Will the Body Shop oil be a permanent replacement for the DHC on my bathroom shelf? Honestly, no. But my preference is largely aesthetic, not based on effectiveness. I like the dark, greeny-gold colour of the DHC, and I like the fact that it smells faintly of olive oil, allowing me to pretend I’m a Greek goddess, rubbing my alabaster skin with precious ointments. But I’d happily buy it if it was the week before payday and I’d run out of DHC. And I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone who wanted to try oil cleansing without splashing the cash for the DHC. It’s a tenner. Take the punt.
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