Botanical oils provide us with a luxurious solution for cleansing, moisturising, nourishing and protecting our skin.
Oil has a wide range of uses when it comes to topical skin support, so let's explore this versatility.
There are so many wonderful plant oils out there, each with unique properties and benefits.
So before you start experimenting, find out which oils will best suit your skin.
To narrow things down, you can start with the comedogenic rating (a range between 0- won't clog the pores to 5- very likely to clog the pores) and composition of carrier oils If you have oily/acne prone skin, it is generally recommended to use oils that have a low comedogenic rating of 0-2 and a high linoleic acid content, such as but not limited to... Hemp seed oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil and rosehip seed oil If you have dry skin that can get itchy and irritated you may want to try an oil that is higher in oleic acid, such as... Apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil and hazelnut oil What about sensitive skin types? If you are sensitive and a bit dry...Sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, hemp seed oil, macadamia oil and apricot kernel oil If you are sensitive and prone to breakouts...Hemp seed oil, prickly pear seed oil, macadamia oil, jojoba oil and sunflower seed oil Mature skin types and those with sun damage will benefit from oils that are higher in oleic acid and rich in antioxidants... Rosehip oil, avocado oil, camellia oil, apricot kernel oil, argan oil, marula oil and olive oil
Confused and overwhelmed!?
My personal and professional experience has taught me that the best results come from combining a range of nut and seed oils with different properties, absorption rates and comedogenic ratings.
This creates a blend that is diverse.
The ecosystems within the skin, within the body and around us in the environment, all thrive in diversity.
Eating foods and applying skincare products that have a wide range of nutrients is a great way to support a vital environment. For example, the face oil I use daily and in my facial treatments is a blend of macadamia oil, sunflower seed oil, olive fruit oil and hemp seed oil, infused with powerful dried herbs.
This is my signature blend and is currently being enjoyed daily by people of all ages, with varying skin conditions. If you'd like to make your own blends, you will always experience the best results with high quality, cold-pressed, organic and unrefined oils. The skin is complex, and how it reacts with certain oils is difficult to predict, so trust your intuition and/or invest in personalised guidance if you are unsure.
Oil uses and versatility
[ CLEANSE ]
Cleansing the face with pure and organic oils suited to your current skin condition, is a great way to introduce oil into your skincare routine.
It is especially beneficial for those who are still skeptical about face oils, as it is only applied briefly before being removed.
All skin conditions, including oily or acne-prone, can benefit from this method because it breaks the cycle of barrier disruption caused by many cream/foam/gel cleansers.
These harsh products eat away at the skins protective barrier, while oil helps to repair damage and restore strength.
When the skin is too dry and lacking in good bacteria, it will over-compensate in one way or another (e.g. producing too much or not enough oil) in an attempt to restore balance.
At this point, the skin is in a state of stress, continuously attempting to repair the damage caused by the very products we apply on a daily basis.
Eventually, this results in various states of imbalance; inflammation, pimples, excess oiliness, dehydration...and the vicious cycle continues.
Whereas massaging oil into the skin as a cleanser melts away the built up gunk , without disrupting the skins intelligent microbiome (and instead supporting it), which is vital for our health and harmony.
As you are probably aware, acne comes in many forms and healing this condition can be a lot more complex than changing your skincare products.
However, it is a good place to start- especially if you're combining this with holistic, internal support such as Facial Reflexology.
How to cleanse with oil 1. Start by soaking a gentle face cloth (hemp/bamboo/cotton) in hot water, or lukewarm water for dry, dehydrated and/or sensitive skin 2. Take a generous amount of oil and massage it all over the face and neck for a minute or so 3. Wring out the cloth, wait until it isn't too hot and press it against the face for a slight steaming effect- the heat helps the oil work its dissolving magic 4. I like to repeat step 3 a few times as it feels really nice 5. Gently wipe away the oil You can repeat the process if necessary e.g. removing heavy makeup 6. Apply your finishing products (hydrosol and face oil/moisturiser)
[ MOISTURISE ] Oil does not hydrate the skin, because it is an anhydrous (containing no water) liquid.
Hydration is all about water, so an anhydrous ingredient (e.g. oil) is not able to hydrate the skin on it's own (unless the skin is already sufficiently hydrated beneath the surface, in which case oil can help to lock in the moisture).
So if you are replacing a moisturiser with oil, you may need to mix it with an aqueous (watery) substance. Oil is readily absorbed into the skin, while water is not.
By combining the two, both are absorbed. This is why Aloe or Aqua are usually the first ingredients listed on the back of your moisturiser...the thing with moisturisers is, to make that lovely textured cream you also need emulsifying and preserving ingredients because without them, oil and water cannot stay mixed and the product will go rancid.
Unfortunately, many people are allergic or sensitive to these ingredients.
However, there is a simple technique that can be used to avoid these potentially aggravating ingredients and still provide the skin with hydration.
How to moisturise with oil 1. After cleansing, leave the skin damp or mist with water or hydrosol 2. Place a few drops of oil and a few drops of water/hydrosol in the palm of your hand 3. Using your finger, stir the two together until the texture changes slightly
4. Massage all over the face and neck just like a moisturiser By mixing oil and a watery substance, the hydrating aspect of the mixture is able sink into the deeper layers of the skin. If you have dry/dehydrated skin, you can press another layer of oil onto the surface of the skin for extra protection throughout the day.
[ PROTECT ]
Massage helps plant oils sink deeper into the skin, but applied differently, oils can serve a more protective function on the surface.
Some oils are better at this than others, depending on their unique absorption rate.
Those who experience more dry and sensitive skin conditions, for example, would benefit from applying oil in a protective way when needed.
For example, most people love hot showers.
Unfortunately, hot showers are not so good for the skin (and especially the face).
Many of us have experienced that tight, stinging feeling after a shower- which is usually the result of harsh water quality and heat.
Pressing (not rubbing or massaging) oil onto the surface of the face and other sensitive areas of the body can drastically improve the way your skin feels after a hot shower.
The oil acts as a temporary protective film between your skin and the external stressors.
I will use the same method if I know I'm going to be exposed to a harsh environment, such as rooms with air-conditioning, heating and so on.
It's a temporary solution as the oil will be absorbed eventually; the next best thing is applying a balm, which I will elaborate on in another post.
[ MASSAGE ]
Touch therapy, whether it is applied as massage or reflexology, has so much potential in the realms skincare and beauty.
Intentional massage stimulates the flow of fluid and energy; revitalising, cleansing and lifting our tissues.
Practiced with care and presence, it is also deeply calming for the nervous system.
As you have probably experienced already, there is no better medium for massage than oil.
The physical act of touch encourages the nutrient-rich liquid to absorb even deeper into the the skin where it can work it's magic.
Oils are a gift.
Learn about the different ways they can be applied and you'll soon see that you really don't need much else!
If you would like to know more, please let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading, I hope this helps!