You’ve probably seen a flood of facial and body oils from drugstore and department store brands alike. The dirty little secret is that you’re overpaying for all of them. And, you’re often getting preservatives and other unwelcome ingredients to boot.
You can actually buy pure oils that provide the same benefits at a much lower cost. There are just a few things you need to know.
Types of Oils
Oils are either fragrant (often called “essential” oils) or non-fragrant (carrier or base oils). Essential oils are typically made from flowers and base oils from seeds and nuts. Right off the bat, if you’re sensitive to fragrances, essential oils are not for you. Luckily, most base oils by themselves are loaded with beneficial skin properties.
But even base oils can have a light fragrance reminiscent of the plants from which they’re derived. For those who absolutely want oils without a fragrance, buying an oil is your only option. Because to remove odors from skin products, you need some serious chemistry skills!
Choosing an Oil
- Choose oil based on your concerns (oily or acne prone, anti-aging, soothing, moisturizing, etc…)
- Buy pure oils, though if you find a blend (oils only in the ingredient list!) that contain the oils you’re interested in, that could be a very good buy
- Avoid refined oils as the refining process can remove the oil’s beneficial properties
- You can mix these oils together for added benefits or to “thin” out a heavier oil
- Most oils have a shelf life of a year. Buy small and keep excess in the refrigerator to prolong life.
How to Use
You only need a few drops to get the benefits. If using on your body, you can be a little more generous! Add them to your regular moisturizer or sunscreen or apply directly to your face by rubbing the drops in your hand. Gently press onto your face or skin or massaging into your hair or scalp.
Putting oils on before serums, moisturizer or sunscreen will help them absorb better especially if they contain retinol/Vitamin A, Vitamin C or glycolic acids. Smoothing a few drops of oil on after other creams or serums locks in moisture – good for cold days or at night.
Here’s our list of the most common and generally non-irritating base oils used in skin care. You can find these online at sites like amazon.com or stores specializing in skin care oils or at many local health/vitamin stores. One brand I like is Now Foods Oils. It’s available in many places, most of the oils are pure and come in smaller sizes. Plus, they’re very well priced.
We’ve also included some good resources* if you want to find out more or look up other oils, including fragrant essential oils.
Almond – soothes sensitive skin, good for eczema
Aloe Vera – soothing, moisturizing, good for sensitive skin
Apricot Kernel – skin smoothing, anti-oxidant, anti-aging, easily absorbed
Argan – beneficial fatty acids, anti-oxidants and vitamin E, good for all skin types (note that this may have a fragrance depending on time nuts are harvested)
Avocado – healing, antibiotic, anti-wrinkling
Black Raspberry Seed – ultra rich in anti-oxidants, fatty acids, vitamin E
Coconut – heavy, moisturizing, good for massage
Grapeseed – easily absorbed, light moisturizing, good for oily skin
Jojoba – dissolves fats/sebum so good for those with oily skin, anti-oxidant, contains ingredients that mimic collagen
Marula – rich yet quickly absorbed, heals and soothes
Olive – conditions, cleanses, easily absorbed, anti-oxidant
Passion Fruit/Maracuja – antibacterial, soothing and relieves itchiness
Pomegranate Seed – antibacterial, restores pH balance, anti-aging, smooths fine lines