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We’ve talked about the difference between dry and dehydrated skin here, and now we’re rolling the conversation along to how applying oils to skin, even oily skin types, improves elasticity, plumpness and radiance by acting as a barrier to lock in moisture.
Unlike moisturisers that contain key ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin that hydrate skin, an oil won’t hydrate skin. Because it can’t! Hyaluronic acid and glycerin, known as humectants, work by attracting water directly from humidity in the air. Oils are not humectants so they can’t bring water to the skin. They are also anhydrous so don’t contain water, which means by themselves they can’t hydrate skin.
Instead, oils protect the skin by forming a lipid barrier which prevents your precious moisture from escaping. They are effectively a sealant so that any moisturisers - or humectants - you apply to the skin can really get to work to hydrate skin when oil is applied on top.
Oils are loaded with varying degrees (some very high) of vitamins E, C, A, B complex, and D, antioxidants to fight free radicals known to cause premature ageing, polyphenols, the plant compounds known to help fight inflammation and disease, beta carotene, selenium, copper, zinc, and fatty acids including linoleic and oleic, which act together to lubricate and nourish skin. This is not the same as hydrating the skin, however.
Unlike water-containing moisturisers, oils have the ability to penetrate the lipid matrix through into the deeper, dermal layers of the skin into the extremely strong network of cells (as strong as steel!) called fibroblasts formed by collagen. This is where skin regenerates and restores lustre and plumpness, something that declines with age, particularly after menopause.
Cleansing with oils is a skincare practice as old as time with Cleopatra herself famously removing her kohl eye makeup with coconut oil. Today coconut oil remains a popular choice for removing makeup, although some skincare experts attribute coconut oil to clogging pores, so always test it on your skin first!
Oil as a cleanser is shown to be effective because it doesn’t dissolve the acid mantle formed by the skin’s natural oils and sweat working, which work in combination to protect the skin from losing water moisture (and therefore keeping it naturally hydrated). Non-oil cleansers that are less gentle on the skin, can strip the acid mantle with skin reacting by over-producing oil and exacerbating any skin issues, such as pimples and acne.
Some key oils to look for in cleansing are sunflower seed oil, hazelnut oil and coconut oil. Try our cold-pressed, antioxidant-rich Tailor Oil Cleanse to remove makeup while maintaining your skin’s natural protective barrier. If a first-time user of oil-based cleansers, you may experience a purge reaction (lasting from two days to two weeks depending on your skin’s current congestion levels) as your body restores balance and your skin’s natural luminosity.
Many oils, such as coconut oil, and essential oils have antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties. This means when they are applied topically to pimples and blackheads they can reduce sebum production and reduce the spread of bacterial infection across your skin’s surface. Other oils, like argan oil, are effective in treating the skin conditions eczema and rosacea.
Healing oils to seek out are kanuka essential oil, Moroccan argan oil, chia seed oil, rosehip seed oil, sea buckthorn oil, marula oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed, apricot kernel, lavender oil (mixed with a base oil such as sweet almond oil), eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil.
Some skin may go through a “healing crisis” when they purge toxins from the skin, so if your skin reacts, watch it closely to see if it’s a purge reaction or simply that the oil doesn’t agree with you.
Dab a very small amount of a product like Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil on pimples, or add a few drops into a facial oil, like the Sukin Rose Hip Oil if full coverage is needed before you go to bed so your skin can do its magical restorative, rejuvenating healing while you sleep.
Always avoid mineral oils that contain petroleum derivatives because they are harmful to your skin, your health and wellbeing, and the planet.