The al­lure of oil... NA­TURE’S OWN LO­TION

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - BODY & SOUL -

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!

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