How Face Oils Work & Why You Need One
Oils have had a bit of a bad rap in the past but no more.
Though admittedly, use the wrong oil on your face and it probably won't end happily.
If you'd heard that using an oil gives rise to problem skin; spots, break outs, black heads, you're not alone - but in fact nothing could be further from the truth.
Get it right and you can transform your skin using a face oil. And I'm not exaggerating. Really transform.
Oils are a great source of antioxidants to nurture and protect the skin, plus they lock in hydration to the skin layers.
Not to mention the physical act of massaging oil into your skin boosts circulation and leaves you with plumper looking, glowing skin.
To understand how they work and can make a positive difference on your skin there are 2 things you need to understand:
What an oil actually is and how your skin works.
Your Amazing Skin
Your skin is made up of 3 key layers.
Layer 1 is the epidermis or strata corneum, the outer layer, the bit we recognise as skin. Layer 2 is the dermis, made from elastin, collagen and fibrillin to give it its strength and elasticity. Layer 3, the hypodermis is made of fat and connective tissue and provides cushioning and warmth.
The epidermis or strata corneum, was once thought of as inert, but It is alive and has a couple of key functions.
Firstly it acts as a barrier; it protects against environmental factors, weather pollution, UV rays and bacteria.
It also allows a 2 way passage in and out of your body. It removes waste, toxins, perspiration, and from the outside in, absorbs moisture, oxygen, light and nutrients including fatty acids. Plus it converts sunlight into vitamin D.
All most of us see is that it’s too bumpy, has a spot or is too uneven. Or perhaps too many lines.
Your skin is a work horse, working day and night without ever taking a holiday. It's the last to get food and water, playing second fiddle to your main organs, and then to add insult to injury it often gets slathered in cheap petrochemical filled product with a few artificial colours and fragrances thrown in for good measure.
No wonder it sometimes rebels.
What is an Oil?
Oils are lipids, which comes from the Greek lipos for fat which in turn are made up of fatty acids and triglycerides. All plant oils are slightly different, almond oil is made up of characteristics specific to almonds. No surprises there.
What is amazing is the sheer variety of nature's plant oils and their unique health giving properties.
They can be solid or liquid and can be oily or fatty - which is why some oils feel 'dry' on the skin and some feel rich and buttery, and why depending on your skin type means some oils will suit and others will not.
More importantly fats and oils make up living organisations; our cells our partly fat and our brain is 60% fat. (No fat free diet here!)
Because of this, oils have an affinity with our skin. Fatty acids are critical in maintaining moisture in cell membranes. They maintain that supple feeling by preventing water from escaping and protect skin cells from environmental stresses.
Our own skin is even clever enough to produce it's own fatty acid called sebum which is a key part in keeping your skin soft and pliable. Sebaceous glands attached to hair follicles produce these fatty acids.
So Why Use A Face Oil?
As we get older, we are hit with a raft of symptoms we'd rather be without. Damage caused by free radicals, thinner skin, more dry, rough skin and more fragile skin.
A good face oil can help improve your skin in a number of key ways.
Strengthen The Skin's Barrier Function
It can strengthen the skin's barrier function by feeding the epidermis with moisturisers. A reduced barrier function means skin that is more likely to allow penetration of irritants and in turn show signs of inflammation.
Our outer layer of skin is lipophilic or oil loving - which is why using the right face oil can make your skin look and feel amazing when applied topically.
Soft, Smoother Skin
The right oil for you can act as an emollient to soften and smooth skin. It can also act as an occlusive layer preventing transdermal water loss and thereby helping your skin feel healthy and hydrated.
Similarly the right plant oils act as humectants which bind and hold water to the skin.
Protects from Inflammation
Finally plant oils can be antioxidant rich which protects the dermis from inflammation and can counteract the negative effects of UV radiation.
There's a lot to love here.
A Lack of Oil
Healthy skin relies on the right balance of fatty acids and lipids, and when out of balance this can manifest itself in a number of ways.
It is thought that acne is a result of a lack of linoleic acid and too much palmitoleic acid.
Dry, rough and scaly skin is often caused by a lack of linoleic acid and excessive oleic acid.
For those of us with oily skin, avoiding oils seems the obvious course of action to dry the skin out, but it is by treating the skin with oils that can help reduce and control oiliness.
The Best Face Oils for Oily, Combination Skin
I select the best oils for my face oils, a carefully blended mix of antioxidant packed plant oils to deal with your skin type.
For Combination, Sensitive skin, or tricky skin that breaks out, try my award winning Radiance Facial Essence with Rose & Marula.
Specifically designed for oily or combination skin types, it hydrates without causing breakouts and naturally supports skin prone to acne, and rosacea.
It's packed with ingredients specifically designed to support sensitive, combination type skins, including rose, marula, hazelnut and raspberry seed.
The Best Face Oils for Dry, Mature Skin
For dry, mature skin, sensitive skin types, try my Deep Nourish Facial Essence with Rose & Blackcurrant. This all natural, potent facial oil gently nourishes, helps reduce dullness and gives skin a beautiful glow. It's made with the most potent plant oils including blackcurrant, cranberry, pomegranate baobab and argan oils.
Don't let an urban myth scare you away from oil, oil is our friend, especially as our skin ages!