I said "Oil be bahck" with an Oils post, and here it is. Today is all about facial oils. I tend to use these oils as a last step to seal moisture into my skin at night.
As facial oils are a hot button topic that draws a lot of debate (check the comments) and DRAAAMAAA on the web, I'll be talking more about my experiences with these oils rather than going too in-depth about the science behind them... I won't even touch upon the merits or drawbacks of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat content, lest my blog be outed to the Food Babes of the world. If you're interested in that topic, you can head on over to the Beauty Brains for the down-low.
But First, What are Facial Oils...
They're liquids derived from plants, animals, and even petroleum that are hydrophobic (hate water) and lipophilic (love fat). Organic oils are the ones derived from plants and animals and mineral oils are the ones derived from petroleum. Cosmetically, people use both kinds of oils.
The facial oils I'll present today are all non-fragrant, plant-derived oils that are safe to use undiluted, meaning at concentrations of 100%. Why? Because these types of oils are the ones that tend to have the most antioxidants. Antioxidants means anti-aging.
Benefits of Oils
I mentioned that oils are lipophilic or fat-loving. This means that they actually like our skin and can penetrate our skin's natural fatty acid / lipid layer.
Ok so what? Well once the oils penetrate the skin, they can deliver antioxidants more effectively into the skin.
Oils can be a dry / dehydrated skinned girl's best friend as oils seal moisture into the skin. As I mentioned in my introductory post to Korean-style skincare routines here, oils can be used at the end of one's nighttime routine to lock-in all of the hydrating layers of skincare products into the skin.
I have oily skin. Can I still use facial oils? Absolutely, there are some oils that perform an astringent function, which can help dry out the oils on your skin. A good example of this type of oil is grapeseed oil. These are ideal for people who have normal-oily skin. Before putting these oils into your shopping cart, check that you do not have oily-dehydrated skin. The best description of this skin type I've come across so far is at Snow White and the Asian Pear's blog in this post. If you fall into this oily-dehydrated camp, oils can still be your friend, but you're probably not going to want to use these astringent-type oils.
When it comes to oils, PRICE and QUALITY seem to be decoupled. Meaning, you do not have to buy expensive oils. An oil is an oil is an oil by any other name (maybe I should expect angry letters from Tarte now). You can find 100% pure, versions of expensive Sephora brand oils at the grocery, health food store, or online retailers like Garden of Wisdom (referral), which is where I buy my facial oils. I'm sorry Josie Maran, but your 100% argan oil at $48 is the same as Garden of Wisdom's at $9.65. What you're selling is pure snake oil, and that hasn't been tested topically in a peer-reviewed scientific journal yet (ha I checked). *Oils are definitely a product you can afford to skimp on, I'm working on a future post on where to splurge, and where to skimp in one's skincare routine. Look out for that one!
If you're looking for quality, look for organic, unrefined, expeller- or cold-pressed oils. Organic generally indicates that no pesticides were used in the growing of the plant. Unrefined means that no chemical bleaching processes ensued after the oil extraction. Expeller- and cold-pressed means that the oil was extracted by crushing the seed or plant parts in a heat-controlled environment without any additional chemical processes, which keeps the oils nutrient-rich.
If you have dry, unreactive (not acne-prone, not easily irritated) skin like mine, you can use most oils, even the richer and heavier oils that are high in oleic acids like olive oil, and coconut oil. If your skin is more sensitive or prone to acne, opt for lighter and drier oils that are high in linoleic acid like rosehip and marula oils.
Avoid essential / fragrant oils, which are best used as fragrances. These types of oils need to be diluted for safe use on the skin. Not to scaremonger, but undiluted, some of these types of oils can cause chemical burns and blistering on the skin over time. Some examples of these types of oils are tea tree, lavender, rosemary, citrus, cinnamon, rose petal, among others.
How to Use Oils
Like I mentioned earlier, oils do not moisturize, oils seal. They can't lock in moisture that is not present already in the skin. As such, it's best to use them at night at the end of a skincare routine, after having applied moisturizers high in humectants and emollients, which add water back into your skin.
Refrain from using oils during the day, especially when using a sunscreen with chemical UV filters (like avobenzone, oxybenzone, etc.) as these types of sunscreens need to be absorbed directly into the skin to work.
Okay onto the fun part.
Oils in My Current Rotation
|In clockwise order of thickness from the top: rosehip, sesame, marula, camellia, vitamin e, coconut not pictured: olive. Lately it's been SESAME' O CLOCK.|
Rosehip oil is one of the best anti-aging oils as it contains linoleic acid and lower concentrations of other antioxidants. There's even a little vitamin C in there. It's runny and thin, and perfect for summer as it is just the teensiest bit astringent. And in case you are wondering since it is orange, no, it doesn't stain your skin.. you won't look like an oompa-loompa. The only drawbacks I can think of with this oil is that the scent is strong, though if you think you would like a rosy nutty scent, you may not mind. Also, this type of oil needs to be used within 6 months, or it will go bad.
One thing to note is that rosehip oil is different from rose petal or rose flower oil. Rose petal/flower oils do not have the same benefits for the skin as rosehip oil, and can be slightly irritating. You can identify these by looking for rose damascena, rose flower, etc.
Sesame oil is also high in antioxidants, including polyphenols like sesamol, and lecithin. It's cheap and it's good. This is actually my favorite oil as my skin always looks amazingly bright the next day. I have no idea why I get the best results with sesame oil, as it's not really that hyped compared to its contemporaries like the rosehip. It just really agrees with my skin. It's a drier, thinner oil just like the rosehip above. It's also really, really pungent. If you like how sesame oil smells, I highly recommend you check it out. It's got a longer shelf life of about a year. *Please check if you are allergic before trying, sesame allergies can be as serious as peanut or shellfish allergies.*
This is a rockstar when it comes to its antioxidant content. It's got vitamin C and E. This oil is odorless and on the lighter side, though it is noticeably thicker than both the rosehip and sesame. I use this oil when my skin is on the drier side. I tend to slather it on thick in the fall and winter. I get great results with marula oil as well, though sometimes when I wake up in the morning, it hasn't fully absorbed. Nothing a quick washup won't fix. This one will last 2 years before it turns.
CAMELLIA OIL (CAMELLIA JAPONICA)
There are many types of camellia oil- camellia oleifera, camellia sinensis, camellia sasanqua, and camellia japonica. They are all rich in antioxidants, however, the camellia japonica seems to be the "official oil of the Japanese geisha". I'm just kidding of course, but it was prominently featured in the Tatcha and Chidoriya range of oils so I thought I would try it. Camellia Japonica (aka Tsubaki) is a medium-weight oil, similar in texture to the marula, if slightly more emollient. The smell is very faintly floral, but almost odorless. This is another great one for Fall/Winter. Shelf life = 2 years.
This next section is the proceed with caution section... My skin is highly unreactive, the noble gas of skins if you will... so I can use these oils, but if you are prone to acne, I highly suggest avoiding these, or patch-testing them if you do decide to try them out.
Read why I won't be using kitchen oils as makeup remover any longer here.
|On the left, freshly applied oils. On the right, 2 minutes later.|
Oils need to be used up fairly quickly. A general rule of thumb is the thinner and drier the oil, the more likely it is to go rancid quicker. If an oil does go bad or oxidizes, the good-for-you ingredients become less potent, and can even be counterproductive to use. Thin oils go bad after around 6 months, and thicker oils are stable for around 2 years.
Oils need to be stored in a cool, dark place. I have seen mixed reports of whether it is beneficial to stash them in the fridge. I tend to keep mine out of the fridge.
You can identify when an oil has gone bad by its smell. It will smell rank and a little sour. Another good thing to watch out for are any color changes. For example, rosehip oil starts out orange, but will get lighter in color as it ages.
Shop the Post (referral/affiliate links)
Garden of Wisdom *ships internationally for all oils...
New customers get 15% off $25+ orders.
...Except Camellia Japonica which is available here
Further Recommended Reading
Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health and Safety, by the cosmetic chemists behind the Beauty Brains
Is Rosehip Oil good for anti-aging, by the Beauty Brains
Is Sesame Oil good for anti-aging, by the Beauty Brains... I'm a fan, can't you tell?
Camellia oil breakdown, via wawaza
The Other Kind of Oil - Essential/Fragrant Oils and Safety Issues, r/diybeauty
Thanks for reading! What are your favorite oils? Or what other oils are you curious about? I'm curious about seabuckthorn, argan, maracuja (passionfruit), neem, jojoba, and evening primrose oils. Whoa that's a bunch. That might be cause for an Oils Part 2 post. Let me know if you'd be interested in that! Oil be back again then. Hasta la vista, bae-bees.
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