Natural oils—also called botanical oils (to distinguish them from essential oils)—are garnering plenty of attention in the beauty industry these days. With natural oils generally inexpensive and often easy to find in the supermarket, the beauty industry is looking for ways to incorporate them into their product lines. The problem with these beauty products, however, is that they will also contain a host of other ingredients. The end result? The benefits of the natural oil are diluted. The best way to benefit from these natural oils is to use them in their purest form. And, using them only requires a trip to your local supermarket or health food store. No need to visit a drug or department store.
Why use natural oils when there are so many great skincare products?
The skincare products at drug and department stores may smell and feel wonderful but, at the end of the day, science is science. At present, there is no product with molecules so small that these particles can penetrate through the skin’s layers after application and alter it at the cellular level.
That’s not to say that there is nothing you can do to help combat the effects of aging. You can avoid sun exposure. You can use retinol to chemically exfoliate your skin to slough off dead skin cells and reveal fresh skin. And you can keep your skin barrier moist to prevent water from escaping from your skin. One of the ways to ensure that the substances you use to keep your skin barrier moist, and as pure and chemical free as possible, is to use natural oils.
There is a reason that now—in 2022—natural oils are being talked about as skin care. Perhaps it’s the influence of the pandemic, with more women spending more time at home and simplifying their skincare and make-up routines. Or, greater awareness of environmental issues have prompted us to be more responsible. Whatever the reason, botanical oils are having more than a moment. Botanical oils are:
- typically comprised of one ingredient (unless components like Vitamin E are added)
- easy to find
- cruelty free
- rich in vitamins and minerals that are absorbed by the skin.
Don’t confuse botanical oils with essential oils
There is a reason why essential oils are better off in your home diffuser than on your skin. Essential oils are typically distilled by water or steam from the roots, bark, flowers, stems and leaves of plants. As a result, their scent is more concentrated. While botanical oils are also from plants, unlike essential oils, they are cold pressed or extracted by heat. Botanical oils are created from the fatty parts of plants including vegetables, nuts, and seeds. This is what makes botanical oils a good source of vitamins, fatty acids and minerals. Botanical oils have more gentle scents, often described as earthy, nutty or fruity. Essential oils are highly concentrated oils, making their fragrances so potent. In contrast, botanical oils are less concentrated largely due to the fatty ingredients extracted from plants.
Which botanical oil is best for me?
We have compiled this at-a-glance chart to help you find which oil is best for your skin, on both your face and body. (Comedogenic means that the oil causes breakouts, in other words, clogs pores. Comedogenic oils are not recommended for the face).
|Olive||Rich in vitamins A, D, E and K; good for maintaining skin barrier||Yes; olive oil is heavy so it is best used on the body rather than the face||Cost depends on purity (many less costly olive oils are refined and blended) and source country; widely available||Use pure, unrefined virgin olive oil. Use sparingly as it has a relatively high viscosity|
|Coconut||Solid at room temperature which makes it convenient for skin care; hydrates; reduces itching; alleviates dryness; soothes rashes, including eczema; reduces germs that live on the skin.||Yes; best not used on the face||Cost depends on purity; widely available||Coconut oil is an excellent eye makeup remover and after shower body lotion.|
|Grapeseed||Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties; improves the elasticity and softness of the skin. It even helps to reduce the appearance of pigmentation.||No. This is an ideal oil to use on the face.||Inexpensive and widely available||Choose a grapeseed oil that is expeller-pressed and free of chemicals|
|Almond||Rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Copper, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids. Treats eczema, psoriasis and acne, improves complexion and tone, balances moisture absorption, prevents fungal growth or infections, heals sun damage and reduces scars.||No. Ideal for facial use because it is far less greasy than other oils||Not as common as some of the other oils but available in health food stores. More expensive than other oils but far less expensive than commercial skin care products.||This is a nut oil, so those with allergies should avoid using almond oil in their skin care routine|
|Avocado||Contains anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants; Soothes itchy skin, replenishes dry skin, relieves itching and heals chapped skin.||Yes, but not as comedogenic as some of the others. Do a test spot on your face to see if it breaks you out.||Widely available. More expensive than other oils but far less expensive than commercial skin care products.||Do a test spot on your face to see if it breaks you out.|
|Rosehip||Extracted from the seeds of wild rose bushes, rosehips are the most potent source of Vitamin C there is. In addition, chock-full of potent antioxidants like E, along with wrinkle-fighting vitamin A.||No. Can be used as a nighttime serum.||Available mostly in health food stores and on Amazon.com. More expensive than other oils but far less expensive than skin care products when the per unit price is compared.||This is one of the best anti-aging oils there is because it is so potent.|
|Sunflower||Contains oleic acid, vitamin E, sesame oil, and linoleic acid. Soothes skin, strengthens the skin barrier, hydrates||No. Ideal for facial use||Inexpensive and widely available|
|Sesame||Contains fatty acids such as oleic, palmitic, stearic and linoleic acid, all of which keep skin supple and soft.||No. This is a light oil that makes a good facial oil.||Available at most supermarkets. More expensive than other oils but far less expensive than skin care products when the per unit price is compared|
For a sense of how easy these oils can be on your beauty budget, let’s take the example of sunflower oil. One ounce of La Mer, The Renewal Oil (one of the main ingredients is sunflower oil) retails for $260 at sephora.com. One gallon of sunflower oil, naturally expeller pressed, non-GMO certified, sunflower oil from amazon.com is $30.
The elephant in the room—what about the grease factor?
No one likes to feel greasy. Grease stains bed linens, clothing, and gets all over your reading materials and electronic devices. A few of the oils mentioned above, like almond oil, sesame and sunflower oil, are light oils so they will be no greasier than a heavy barrier cream you use at night for dry skin. Oils like olive and coconut are very greasy. To use these on your body, use a very small amount in your hands to start–not a big enthusiastic splash. Cover as much skin as you can with the small amount, rubbing in well. If you still feel greasy, gently buff your skin with an old towel that you keep just for this purpose. You won’t mind this extra step when you begin to experience all the benefits of natural oils. We promise.
* * *
- Can women over 60 wear red lipstick? Yes, and we show you how
- Women over 60 swear by these two body products for smooth, soft skin
- Three easy ways to make your skin look younger
Go to the Blue Hare homepage for more articles for fabulous women