Coming clean

I have a nasty feeling I may have wasted a bit of money. No, actually, a lot of money. I’ve spent my life – well, since my teens anyway – looking for the perfect skin routine. From the Nivea cleansing milk which I accidentally tipped down the sink, having spent every penny of my pocket money on it – I didn’t know that it really was like a milk and would come out so fast – to various high-end, anti-ageing potions which I’ve invested in at an age when I should know a lot better, perfect skin has always been something of a Holy Grail. It’s a bit silly, really, as my skin is actually reasonably serviceable left to its own devices and doesn’t need fortunes lavished on it. But now, at last and at this grand old age, I’ve finally discovered the best cleanser I’ve ever come across. And it costs about £2 for several years’ supply.

It’s castor oil, mixed with sunflower oil if you like, or extra virgin olive oil or even almond oil. The castor oil is the key, though. Now I last saw castor oil over thirty years ago, when my grandmother was trying to force me to eat great black greasy spoonfuls of it. It tasted horrid, and all her promises that it would give me eternal health seemed empty against the sheer loathsomeness of the stuff. It didn’t occur to either of us to smear it on our faces. But apparently it’s brilliant at dragging out the impurities from the skin. Well, not apparently – it definitely is brilliant, as I’ve now used it several times.

There are loads of guides to the oil cleansing method (or OCM) out there on the internet, but basically what you do for an ageing skin like mine, prone to the occasional mysterious red patch or – gasp – pimple, is mix up your oils, with a ratio of about one capful of castor to four or five of the other oils, then smother it on your face and massage in while thinking peaceful thoughts (this bit is optional but the experience is very enjoyable and may bring on peaceful thoughts whether you like it or not). Then take a muslin cloth (one of those used for babies) or a humble flannel, wring it out in hot water, and put it over your face until it’s cooled, then wipe off the oil with a downward motion. Repeat four or five times. If your face feels dry, dab on a little of the oil mixture. And voila, you will have softer, more beautifully cleansed skin than you’ve ever known before. Even after the poshest of spa days. And, best of all, you can actually eat your cleanser if you feel like it. Though I wouldn’t recommend the castor oil.

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