Oils have been extracted from plants, seeds, and leaves for thousands of years. Plant oils have been used as food, in traditional forms of medicine like herbalism and of course in skin care too. Most natural skin care products harness the benefits of the huge array of plant oils available to keep skin healthy and looking good. I am often asked which plant oils I would recommend for skin care so here is a shortlist of some my favourite oils.
A light easily absorbed oil that contains trans-retinoic acid and vitamin C. Rosehip seed oil is very effective at promoting skin cell regeneration, and as a result is helpful for mature skin and in the healing of scars.
A lovely odourless golden coloured oil with the silkiest of textures. Jojoba oil has the ability to permeate the skin and to pool at the base of hair follicles. If the skins own oil is gathering here and blocking the pore Jojoba oil is able to help dissolve this build-up and as a result may help prevent spots. This makes Jojoba oil ideal for oily or combination skin, helping to keep it hydrated without making it greasy. Hazelnut oil is also a good alternative.
Evening Primrose and Borage
Both of these very light easily absorbed oils are rich in Gamma-linolenic-acid, a type of essential fatty acid needed for maintaining cell structure and function. If used in skin care they are anti-inflammatory and help establish and maintain normal skin function. This makes them ideal for sensitive or dry, scaly skin, and eczema, where the skin is not broken.
A beautiful copper coloured oil with a velvety texture and a nutty aroma, Argan oil contains vitamin E and is a powerful antioxidant that quenches free radicals. Ideal for dry, lacklustre skin and skin affected negatively by stress.
Avocado oil is thick and green and unless it is deodorised has a distinctive smell. This is one oil that will still retain its benefits if refined and does not need to be kept too cool as it will start to solidify. A very effective moisturiser, it contains vitamin E and A and is excellent for very dry skin.
Shea butter is actually a fat and not an oil but is well worth including in this list. Extracted from the Karite nut, Shea butter has anti-inflammatory properties, encourages cell regeneration and healing, which makes it ideal for dry chapped skin. It is a little heavy for the face but is very nourishing used as a hand or foot cream or body lotion.
Good quality oils can be costly so you might consider sharing some with a friend or you could try less expensive oils such as Apricot Kernel – great for sensitive skin or Sunflower seed a heavier oil which is good for use on the body.
All of these oils can be used on their own, but you might like to experiment by combining oils. A good combination for dry or mature skin would be to blend an active but readily absorbed oil like Rosehip with a heavier more emollient oil like Argan. This will provide the skin with regenerating nutrients whilst moisturising and nourishing. Apply by massaging into the skin after cleansing at night.
Some things to look out for when purchasing oils: