Natural facial oils are popping up on beauty counters across the globe, promising younger-looking, healthy, radiant skin. We take a look at how facial oils can give you beautiful skin. 

Most of the new facial oils that have hit the market in the last few years contain essential oils. Some products contain only one kind of essential oil, whiles others contain up to eight different ones.

Many of the oils extracted from herbs, fruit and vegetables are light, have a low viscosity (in other words, they’re easy to spread across the skin) and are easily absorbed by the skin.

They’re used for their strong antioxidant properties (these oils are naturally high in tocopherols, carotenoids and essential fatty acids) and are also added to products because of their core ingredients’ natural healing and nourishing qualities. Essential oils are also “carrier” oils that help to enhance the penetration of other active ingredients.

Interestingly, research shows that some essential oils may be good substitutes for harmful chemicals in skin products. One study showed, for example, that cinnamon oil could successfully replace the preservative methylparaben in cosmetics as it helps to keep the growth of bacteria in check, making products last longer.

What, exactly, are essential oils?
Essential oils are aromatic, volatile liquids extracted from plant material such as flowers, roots, bark, leaves, seeds, peel, fruits and wood.

According to an article published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology (August 2004), essential oils have been used for centuries in medicine, perfumes and cosmetics. Their initial application was in medicine, but in the 19th century their use as aroma and flavour ingredients increased.

The essential oils found in facial oils
Almost 3,000 different essential oils are currently known, and 300 are used commercially in the flavour, fragrances and cosmetics market. We list a few of the popular ones, and why they’re added:

    • Lavender for antioxidant protection

    • Marjoram and rosemary for anti-bacterial properties

    • Geranium to help soothe the skin

    • Argan to nourish the skin

    • Roman chamomile to soothe and calm the skin

    • Rose to improve skin tone

    • Grapeseed to tighten and tone the skin

    • Orange peel for collagen protection

    • Lavandin to help promote collagen and elastin

    • Lemon to clear up acne and restore balance

    • Eucalyptus to dislodge blackheads

    • Clary sage to promote hormonal balance

How they help the skin
Essential oils have three distinct modes of action:

    1. Physiological, e.g. they have anti-inflammatory effects in the skin.

    1. Psychological, e.g. their aroma may have a calming or energising effect.

    1. Cosmetic, e.g. they act as a preservative because of their antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

Importantly, essential oils create a barrier between the skin and the harsh environment. According to the International Dermal Institute barrier function is the most important aspect of healthy skin. A lack thereof can lead to all kinds of problems, including breakouts, dehydration and pigmentation.

Products with essential oils help restore this, but instead of simply creating a physical barrier, they help heal the skin by nourishing it, replacing depleted fats and oils, and decreasing inflammation.

Used regularly, well-formulated facial oils may help increase the skin’s elasticity, accelerate cell turnover, calm inflammation and combat dryness. Good products will also nourish the skin and protect it against extreme temperatures, dry climates, and over-cleansing.

Used under foundation, facial oils also make foundation easier to apply, and help mask signs of ageing.

Contrary to popular belief, using an essential oil on an already oily skin won't make matters worse. If you have an oily skin and you continuously strip the natural oils in your skin through cleansing, your sebaceous glands will only produce more oil. By using oil on your skin, you replace missing fatty acids. Over time, a balance in oil production is reached and the glands stop over-producing oil.

If you’re looking for products that aren't so harsh on your skin, or better for the environment, it’s well worth experimenting with natural facial oils. Here’s to radiant skin!


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