The allure of oil... NATURE’S OWN LOTION
You might have a bottle of beauty oil lingering on the bathroom shelf, its purchase date now long forgotten — and also its benefits. Or you could be the type that balks at the thought of using oil, imagining spots and shine as the only possible outcome.
But here’s the thing. The oils we would have known from our childhood were different products altogether. Years ago, the most common oils for cosmetic purposes were little more than fragranced mineral oil — a cheap manufactured oil that did little for the skin other than prevent moisture loss, and not in the way that we would now treat skin suffering from dehydration.
Those outmoded products have blighted how we think about oils, but natural oils offer many skin benefits and can be used in a variety of ways on the face, hair and body.
To understand what a face oil is, picture a triangle, the bottom half being the largest part of the oil. This is the base section. Here you will find lightweight, non- comedogenic (non-pore-blocking) oil, or oils that have the same molecular weight as the skin’s own natural oils, meaning that they can be absorbed rapidly to moisturise, soothe and regenerate with essential fatty acids and vitamins. Common base oils include jojoba, sunflower, argan and rosehip.
The top half of our triangle is made up of specifically chosen oils to solve various skin issues. They can do many things. For oily skin you might find lavender, rosemary or tea tree. To treat red reactive skin, chamomile, rose and rosehip are popular choices, while evening primrose oil, frankincense and camellia may be used to slow visible signs of ageing. A blend will have a carefully selected list of oils, all included to deal with a particular skin condition. You only ever need a drop or two for the face and neck but when buying look for details on the condition it aims to help; trying to decipher the ingredients is tough.
Of course, there are single oils available, too. Some are excellent for the hair and body in place of regular cosmetic products. Argan oil, when it’s high quality, is a great alternative to serum: simply smooth a few drops through towel-dried hair to calm frizz. Coconut oil is a wonderful body oil; it absorbs rapidly and leaves the skin with a light shine, not an oil slick! Buy as pure an oil as you can afford (you’ll be surprised how little, if any, scent there is: that familiar coconut aroma is usually added to synthetic products.
So, when do you use an oil? On body and hair, straight after bathing. For face, it’s best applied at night after cleansing, before night cream. Finally, a shopping tip: some of the best natural oils are available in health stores. Most organic and natural brands will have oils in their ranges, but be sure to do your research and buy wisely!