Updated: Apr 13, 2021
Facial oils are powerful moisturisers.
Facial oils are usually from plant oils, they lock in moisture, preventing water loss from the skin. Our skin produces its own oil called sebum and this works to keep the skin moist and supple.
Many plant-derived oils contain lots of anti-ageing compounds like flavenoids, which offer our skin antioxidant protection & protect from UV radiation, and vitamin E, which can greatly benefit the skin. They are similar in make-up to the natural oils produced by the skin. They give the skin a softer, smoother feel and penetrate only the outermost 2-3 layers of the skin.
One of the most important things to understand about facial oils is that they are not all the same. Oils penetrate the skin at different rates. If an oil is more saturated, it will penetrate the skin more slowly. Coconut oil is a heavier oil and penetrates the skin more slowly. Castor oil is quite ‘occlusive’ and is suited to act as a cleanser as the dirt/makeup will be attracted to it and make it easier to remove. Jojoba oil is the oil most like the natural sebum that is produced by our skin. Some oils are super high in vitamin E (prickly pear seed oil) and therefore great for maturing skin. Some are packed with anti-oxidants and some have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits (tamanu oil).
There are many misconceptions about using facial oils. Some think that because they have oily skin or acne, that they shouldn’t use a facial oil. This is where choosing the right oil for your skin type comes in.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs)
What are they? EFAs are the main component of the cell membranes in our body. The body cannot produce them so we have to take them in our diet. When your body is deficient in EFAs your skin may become dry. Skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema benefit from applying plant oils rich in EFAs as well ageing skin. The two main EFAs are Linolenic Acid and Alpha-linolenic Acid. Using an oil with a high level of linoleic acid can enhance the overall function of oily, acne-prone and more mature skin, helping maintain the elasticity of the skin.
Indoor heating alternated with plummeting temperatures and high winds can suck the moisture out of our skin. Skin can also be stripped from its natural oils by over use of strong toners.
When is it best to use a facial oil?
When using a facial oil it is best to apply it at the end of your skincare routine. It will seal in the moisture and add extra nourishment to your skin. It will also act as a barrier, protecting the skin from environmental pollutants.
Do I need more facial oil as I age?
Our skin produces less natural oils as we age and our skin dries out more easily. Facial oils are lipophilic so they can pass through the top skin layer to replenish our lipid layer, conditioning the skin from within and preventing further water loss. Maturing skin needs oil all year around, even in summer to help replenish and feed the skin.
So now you have your deluxe facial oil. How do you apply it?
It is tempting to apply just a few drops to your cleansed face and pat it in, gently. It’s expensive, so you want to use it sparingly, right? No. Massage, massage, massage!
Massage increases blood flow, bringing nutrients and oxygen to the skin and also increases lymphatic flow, removing impurities and excess fluid from the skin. The end result is brighter, lighter skin and a glowing face. So you are feeding your skin with nutritious oils and giving your face a workout at the same time. Inhaling the aroma of your oil will have a positive effect on your mindset too.
Apply the oil onto damp skin, this helps the oil to absorb into the outer layers of the skin (the stratum corneum).
The results are brighter, plumped, hydrated, less puffy, glowing skin!
So, to sum up, using a facial oil can:
lock in moisture
provide a protective barrier
replenish vitamin E
replace lost essential fatty acids
help repair damaged skin
maintain skin elasticity
have an anti-inflammatory effect
help rejuvenate skin.