To oil or not to oil

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Ladies and gents yes, we are chiming in on the debate! To continue on our plant vibe, we wanted to explore a little more about plant oils, and try to find out if they are a friend or foe when it comes to the skin’s needs.  Through speaking to our clients, we discovered that oils in general, have a very comedogenic reputation. In fact, many of us are afraid that oils might suffocate the skin and cause breakouts.  This is why many brands today are playing with he label  “oil-free” to attract worried consumers, by reassuring them with products that won’t clog the pores.  

Mineral Oil

The type of oil that you absolutely want to avoid in your skincare regime are mineral oils. They are made of petroleum (used to produce gasoline) and are believed to reduce water loss from the skin. The reality is that they don’t give to skin anything beneficial. Mineral oils are not only contaminated by toxins, but they also clog the pores . They remain on top of the surface of the skin, making the skin shiny and reflective, which can enhance sun damage and discolouration (crazy right?). While you might think that most products do not contain a gasoline-type ingredient, you’ll be surprised how many brands affordable and high-end are still using this ingredient.

Plant oils on the other hand, are the ones you want to apply on your skin. On the contrary of what you might believe, they are not limited to their hydrating and nourishing properties, but can actually regulate and balance the skin. Just like plants they are part of a big family. Each one will have different properties that can address and respond to specific skin needs. In reality, they can be classified in two different families; the oleic acid & linoleic acid.  

Oleic Acid 

Oleic acid (C18:1) is the most common mono-saturated omega 9 fatty acid . Not only present in plant oils, it is the most common fatty acid found in human cells. It is considered to be a major energy source for cells and is very important for proper membrane fluidity. Plants oils containing oleic acid are dry skin’s best friend; their texture feels more rich and velvety on the surface of the skin. 

Linoleic Acid

Linoleic Acid (C18:2) is an unsaturated omega 6 fatty acid, that we can’t produce but rather can acquire through diet & topical products. They are essential for the skin’s building blocks, ceramides, one of skin’s main moisturising elements.  When skin doesn’t get the right amount of linoleic acid, it uses oleic acid to produce sebum, which is thicker and therefore can clog the pores more readily. Meaning that cutting essential fatty acids from your diet, can actually making your skin more oily and clog pores! In general, congestion-prone and oily skin will generally have lower levels of linoleic acid. Having them in your skincare routine can help to thin out the sebum and therefore make sure that the skin is well balanced. However, it is better to avoid them for chronic acne as they may encourage congestion. 

Ok great info, but what oil should you be using for your skin mood? Well as usual, it really depends on each skin’s individual needs. To help you out in this quest we tried to classify those plants oils in different diagrams! Please note; it is best to find products with oils that have been formulated specifically for the skin.  In cases like coconut oil, you do not want to be putting pure coconut oil directly on your skin, as it can cause a waxy layer on the skin and potentially lead to breakouts.  However, finding products that have the oils as primary ingredients can be beneficial!

Please note; it is best to find products with oils that have been formulated specifically for the skin.  In cases like coconut oil, you do not want to be putting pure coconut oil directly on your skin, as it can cause a waxy layer on the skin and potentially lead to breakouts.  However, finding products that have the oils as primary ingredients can be beneficial!

Plant Oils Spectrum

*Please not that there isn’t a real classification of oils, and that the table below was designed in function of linoleic acid and oleic acid properties. Bare in mind that what works for someones might doesn’t work on you

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The effects of topically applied plant oil on skin pathology

*Source:” Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils” a study conducted  by Tzu-Kai Lin, Lily Zhong  and Juan Luis Santiago.

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