Oil You Need To Know About Oil

By Katie Found - onyamagazine.com

For many of us, achieving a matte T-zone is number one on our beauty wish list. Unlike sprouting wings and flying over our very own money tree, this wish can be achieved…with the right know-how and products. Simply removing the natural oil (sebum) from our skin’s surface with paint stripper-esque products is not the way to go about it, though. We have to remember that oil production was in no way a design fault – quite the contrary. It is there to protect, nourish and hydrate our skin. Madeline Calfas R.N. – Director of The Wellness Group – says that our goal should be to regulate oil production, rather than to shut down production altogether.

Many skincare and makeup brands promote their products by stamping ‘Oil Free’ in bold on their packaging. This is misleading, as it clumps the ‘good’ oils and the ‘bad’ oils in one stigma-ridden, avoid-at-all-costs category. What these brands are trying to say is that their products are free from nasty mineral oils, and are not packed full of synthetic chemicals and alcohol. These ‘bad’ oils clog pores with toxins, and strip away the natural sebum sheath, which leaves our skin vulnerable to bacteria and mould buildup. But I guess that isn’t as snappy as ‘Oil Free’, right?

It is little wonder why people, especially those with oily skin, are facial-oil-phobic. I mean, why would someone with an oily complexion opt for an oil-based skincare regime? Well, think back to Year Nine science class. Water and oil don’t mix, so using water-based skincare is just silly, right? Oil, on the other hand, attracts oil. Therefore, by using facial oil we will draw out excess oil build up whilst washing our faces, leaving our skin squeaky clean.

Our skin is more clued-up than we may think. As soon as it senses that there isn’t enough oil on its surface (i.e. when little miss naughty uses sebum-stripping skincare products), its reaction is to kick sebum production into overdrive.

Our trusted friends, the ‘good’ oils (plant based) will make it their sole purpose to keep sebum production in check. Unlike the ‘bad’ oils, they will penetrate – and therefore hydrate – deeper layers of the skin. Take this for an example: you keep getting bad headaches (oily skin), so you pop a painkiller each time it happens (use ‘bad’ oils) as it hides the symptoms for a short time (makes the skin feel dry and ‘oil free’). Wouldn’t it be smarter to get to the crux of the problem? Well, ‘good’ oils will do just that. They balance out the natural PH levels of your skin, so that sebum production isn’t running in overdrive or underdrive, but producing the exact amount that will protect your skin without making your forehead reflective.

The reason why ‘good’ oils penetrate the skin better than ‘bad’ oils, and why they’re able to balance the PH levels of your skin, is because they have a similar composition to sebum. Fiona Tuck, Managing Director of Skinstitut, explains that having a similar composition means that they are compatible with the lipids in the skin, and can therefore work with the skin, rather than imposing upon it.

Tip for anti aging: premature wrinkles are a result of lack of hydration. So, seeing as how ‘good’ oils are able to penetrate and hydrate deeper than the stock-standard cleansers and moisturisers on the market, they are great to prevent/reduce this problem. Nighttime application on affected areas (especially around our eyes) should be introduced into our daily skincare regime.

Start Your ‘Good’ Oil Collection

Emma Hobson, Education Manager for The International Dermal Institute Dermalogica, stresses that each type of oil has a different benefit for our skin (you can see her detailed list of oils and their individual benefits at the bottom of this article). Onya suggests starting your collection with these oil-faithfuls:

• OP Therapy Facial Oil
• [A’Kin] Rosehip Oil
• Jojoba Company Cleansing Oil
• Wonder Oil

Oil in Oil…(my last oil pun, I promise!)

As Calfas says, “People should not be afraid to use facial oils”. The ‘good’ oils are not comedogenic, which means that they will not cause congestion that leads to breakouts, and will not make your T-zone appear oiler. Tuck advices that we use facial oil in very small amounts. She says that, ‘If you apply enough to look like a greasy chip, then you have applied too much!’ So, clear out some room in your vanity unit, because once you try these oils, you’re going to want to meet the entire family.

Emma Hobson’s Guide to Oils:

Rosehip Oil:
Rosehips have been used for centuries as a medicinal herbal remedy in teas, syrups and tinctures. Rose Hip Oil helps to regenerate damaged skin tissues, due to its content of Trans-Retinoic Acids. Rosehip is a great skin hydrator especially in winter and scientific evidence has demonstrated the properties of Rose Hip Oil in reducing surgical and accidental dermal scars, the elimination of certain hyper pigmented spots and the lessening of wrinkles. Rosehip oil contains anti-oxidants, essential fatty acids and vitamins including Vitamin A and C, Linoleic acid, Oleic acid, Linoleic acid Beta Carotene and Lycopene.

Jojoba Oil:
This dark-yellow coloured oil makes a good carrier oil because of its high penetrating abilities. The Jojoba plant produces a bean pod and it was discovered that heating the beans caused an oil to be secreted. The desert peoples of Southern California and Mexico had long been using this oil to treat skin conditions and cuts. It contains myristic acid which has anti-inflammatory actions. Since it is similar in composition to the skin’s own oils, it is quickly absorbed and is excellent for dry and mature skins, as well as inflamed conditions. It’s also an eye makeup remover. Soak a cotton pad or ball, and swipe over your eye shadow, liner, and mascara. Not only will your eye makeup be gently and completely removed, you’ll find your lashes lush and conditioned, too.

Sweet Almond Oil:
This is one of the most commonly used oils. It is a light oil that contains vitamins and minerals, proteins, and glucisodes. Good for most skin types, and is especially useful for dry and itchy skin. It has the added benefit of being anti-inflammatory.

Apricot Kernel Oil:
The apricot, known formally as Prunus armeniaca, is a small yellow to orange soft fruit with a single pit inside. At the core of the pit is the kernel, which can be pressed to yield apricot kernel oil. Prevents evaporation of water from the skin, contains high Vitamin E content and helps skin retain elasticity, clarity, and suppleness. Rich in essential fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acid, apricot kernel oil is high in vitamin A. Since it easily penetrates the skin, it is good oil for prematurely aged, dry or irritated skin. The excellent softening and moisturising properties is great for face, hands and hair. Vitamins A and C are good for mature dry or sensitive skin. The apricot kernel oil helps skin retain elasticity, clarity, and suppleness.

Avocado Oil:
This oil has a heavy green colour as it still contains chlorophyll. Although classed as a vegetable oil, the avocado is really a fruit since it has a stone. It yields a staggering 35% oil and is a great medium to use when performing massage. It is a rich oil that is deeply penetrating and rich in vitamins A and D, lecithin, potassium as well as vitamin E. It is often used for people with dry or mature skins, or those suffering from eczema or psoriasis, and is very useful when treating sun or climate damaged skin that is dehydrated and undernourished. It is also claimed to help with regenerating the skin and softening the tissue. Ideal as a massage oil for all parts of the body, or an intensive overnight rehydrating face mask, or add a few drops to your bath for an all over moisturising treat.

Borage Oil:
This oil has regenerative effects, and contains vitamins, minerals, and gamma linolenic acid. Being a light pale colour, it is good for eczema and psoriasis.

Castor Oil:
Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor bean. A very thick oil, yet it will help to cleanse the lymphatic system, helps to break up scar tissue, and draw out toxins. It is known to have anti-inflammatory effects and is also known to have antiviral and anti-bacterial properties.

Coconut Oil:
A light yellow colour, this thicker oil is solid at room temperature. So it needs to be warmed before it can be used, and is good for all skin types. If you are known to suffer from dry skin on the body, massage coconut oil into your skin before getting into a bath. This technique is better known as ‘Abhyanga Snana’ in Ayurvedic terminology and keeps the skin soft, young and supple. After bath, just pat yourself dry; do not rub your skin vigorously with the towel so that your skin retains a bit of oiliness. And if you do not have the time to indulge in an oil-massage everyday do remember to add a few drops of coconut oil to your bath water.

Safflower Oil:
Shares many similarities with the naturally occurring lipid components of the human skin. And, unlike other oils, it doesn’t clog the pores or irritate follicles and hence is suitable even for acne prone skin. Just spreading a thin layer of this oil on your skin can help with dryness, especially during winter.

Cleansing Oils:
A fantastic new type of product that you ideally use for your first cleanse – they deliver a level of cleansing traditionally experienced in the professional treatment room. They work on the principle that like attracts like. The oil in the product attracts the oil as well as the dirt, make-up and debris on the skin surface. They help liquefy sebum without stripping the skin or compromising the barrier function. Therefore, when you wash off the cleansing oil you will thoroughly wash away all the dirt, surface oil and debris. This ensures your second cleanse with your normal cleanser really cleans the skin so it is squeaky clean.

The great thing about this type of product is that they are excellent at removing sunscreen off the skin surface. A sunscreen can often sit on the skin and result in skin congestion or sensitivity. They are also fantastic at removing waterproof mascara and long-wearing lipstick.