It began in Thailand, during my favourite yearly island getaway. It was hot, humid, and everything and everyone was drawn to the beach and surrounding turquoise waters.
On my afternoon jaunt one day I had purchased some of the locally produced coconut oil. I had recently run out of my usual body oil and I had happened across a small shop offering a quite elaborate array of good quality herbs, superfoods, detox kits and other essentials. The oil I purchased was not the usual stuff: organic, enzyme extracted and the result of an 8 hour fermentation process. In other words, this oil was good stuff. At that time I had been for years in the habit of using oil as a body moisturizer, and I wouldn’t really use anything else. It effectively seemed to do what a moisturizer should after a hot shower- lock in moisture. But I had never used any form of oil on my face. Never.
It was at this time, on the island, after a session in a herbal steam room that there was suddenly a shift, a new way of thinking. As I was slathering the coconut oil on my body post steam, still dewy with moisture, I looked in the mirror and thought…. why not use this on my face? The oil was of such high quality and smelled so coconut-y that you just wanted to eat it. So I looked right. Then left. Then I proceeded to take a modest amount of the oil and apply it to my face. I was immediately impressed. My skin was instantly hydrated, moisturized, and glow-y.
I thought to myself: Does anyone else know about this?
Yes, indeed. My mother had been her whole life using simple olive oil on her face and to this day uses nothing else. She has a small bottle in her bedroom by her bed and even one in the car. Growing up I thought this to be a very natural approach but a bit primitive and not one that I really wanted to pursue. The prevailing notion at the time was that putting oil on your face would most likely result in an oily face and that would surely lead to blemishes and other problems. Am I right?
Wrong. One look at my mother’s skin today and it is crystal clear that her use of facial oil has served her well. Very well; she is often accused of being 10 or 20 years younger than she really is. Incidentally, she also doesn’t use soap on her face (see our post on soap). I have also never seen her with a blemish. After some careful deliberation it now seems clear to me now that the use of a good facial oil is a not only good thing, it’s a great thing. Stupendous. Life changing. A good facial oil will give your skin what it desperately needs without any of the waxes or fillers or nonsense that are in most conventional facial creams. And the results are lasting- the skin seems to stay more moisturized and looks better under makeup. For those of us unfortunates living in the northern hemisphere where it is cold and dry in the winter I really don’t believe that we can entertain using anything BUT a good facial oil to stave off dry skin, premature aging, wrinkles, and other skin conditions.
Here now are the reasons to embrace facial oil and not look back.
Restore your barrier
It is important to understand that we humans are not capable of producing the essential fatty acids needed for the skin to protect itself. The delicate outer layer of our skin called the “acid mantle” is a very thin protective layer made up of sebum (the skins natural oils), amino acids, fatty acids (mostly omega 6), lactic acid, perspiration and the skins own natural moisture. This thin layer or envelope acts as the only protection between your skin and the elements- pollution, over-cleansing, sickness, travel, low humidity, and extreme temperatures.
When we are young, we are glowing and this is primarily due to skin cells that are held together by an abundance of oils. So we just naturally look great (if, of course, other lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, stress, are kept in check). But as we age, we produce less of these oils. So it is therefore our obligation, our duty even, to put them back. When you use oil on your skin you can think of it like this: you are giving your skin the essential support that it needs to rebuild and regenerate, without any unnecessary fillers. While creams are not entirely out of fashion and there are indeed many good ones on the market these days, for skin replenishment, repair, and general maintenance they really do not compare. Many creams contain water and waxes with some oil thrown in for good measure. These waxes help to hold moisture in the short term but in the long run these waxes may eventually build up to form an unwanted barrier that actually prevents moisture and nutrients from penetrating the skin. Not good.
With a good facial oil no matter what your skin type or issues, you will see instant results. Contrary to popular opinion and the prevailing paradigm for the past 15 years, oil does absorb very quickly into the skin. Go ahead. Try it. Put some coconut oil on the top of your hand. Give it 10 minutes or less and it is more or less absorbed. If you are living in a dry climate or are in the midst of the winter onslaught, it will absorb even faster. The trick for faster absorption and a bigger payoff is to apply oils when the skin is still damp.
So the time to apply is just out of the shower or after you have splashed water on your skin. That way the oil will hold on to the water and as your pores are open, absorption will be enhanced. So slap it on and stand back admiring the natural glow that comes with a replenished and restored lipid barrier. Sit back and wait for the complements to roll in.
Moisture for the masses
You may still now, in 2016 and with a few decades of preconceptions about face oil in your head, remain a skeptic. You may also be thinking: my skin is already quite oily. Why would I want more oil?
If you are one of the fortunate ones whose skin produces an ample amount of natural oils, then rejoice. You skin is naturally well protected. The problem is that many people with oily skin do not think it a blessing, but a curse and the cause of all their skin problems. So they scrub and wash and clean until they think they have stripped away all the offending lipids. The skin’s response? Produce more oil. The more you try to eliminate the sebum on the skin the more your skin produces to compensate. So the vicious circle begins.
The solution: wash less with harsh soaps and encourage your skin to produce less of the oils you are trying to control. Better yet, wash your face with an oil cleanser. Like dissolves like, lipids dissolve lipids, are effective and do not leave your skin with that cringe inducing dryness that leads you to over moisturize anyway. The truth is all skin types can benefit from facial oils- dry, oily, combination, mature.
The internal aspect
Sitting at a café in front of my computer, I am suddenly aware that my hands are seriously in need of hand cream. The woman sitting next to me witnesses me giving my hands a good dose of cream and suddenly turns to me and asks “…does that work”? Not knowing exactly what to say, I decide to tell her the truth: “Not really”. Not wanting to get into a prolonged conversation about good moisturizers and their effectiveness, I go on to say simply that the health of your skin depends on what you are consuming or the internal aspect as much as the external. She nods in agreement. I am, it turns out, very convincing.
The truth of the matter is that in the end, your skin will reflect the health of your body: your organs, the quality of your blood and the amount of micronutrients at your disposal. In other words, the whole picture. It also turns out that fats are a huge part of this picture of overall health. If you are ‘dry’ on the inside, this dry condition will be reflected in your skin. So not enough water or healthy fats and our skin will suffer as will many other biological processes (see our post on the healthy skin commandments) no matter what you put on your skin. So get your healthy saturated fats, clean water, micronutrients and minerals and be consistent.
Stay oily my friends.
Facial oils we love…
Whether it be Phoenix, Orchid, or Lapis, whether orange, citrine, or blue, the facial oils on offer from cult brand Herbivore Botanicals are divine. Don’t be fooled by the gorgeous minimalist packaging- these are seriously effective, botanically active facial oils. Phoenix includes goodies like seabuckthorn, rosehip, and COQ10 oils to a jojoba base. Amazing. Orchid is a bit lighter than Phoenix and thus I would recommend it for daytime use. The main carrier oil is coconut to which orchid, camellia, and squalene oils are added for extra nutrition and a gorgeous scent. Lapis is my personal favourite. I’m not sure if this is due to it’s deep blue colour (which in itself seems psychologically healing) or because of it’s serious botanical profile (squalene, coconut, and jojoba base with blue tansy and a rose/jasmine scent). These oils are so pure you could eat them. They absorb beautifully and are all fantastic under makeup. Herbivore Facial oils, $64-$88. Handcrafted in Seattle. www.herbivorebotanicals.com
Khus+Khus takes facial oils and serums very seriously. Expertly researched and handcrafted, Khus + Khus blend both Western and Ayurvedic paradigms to produce skincare that is both highly refined and very effective. While you cannot go wrong with any formulation from this line, the Sen serum is a true botanical powerhouse. Exquisitely potent ingredients such as black currant seed oil, Somalian frankencense CO2 and rhododendron would alone be enough to make this a super-serum. But with the addition of CBD oil (cannabanoids) this formula becomes something all together miraculous. Using CBD topically assists in maintaining the endocannabanoid component of the skin which is involved in cell turnover. And as most of us know, efficient cell turnover (shedding old cells and making new ones) is the foundation for beautiful, healthy, young looking skin. The active components of CBD oil are instrumental in this turnover process and its benefits cannot be underestimated. Highly potent, seriously anti-oxidant and with very progressive botanical profiles, the facial oil serums from Khus+Khus are highly recommended. Handcrafted and made fresh in Colorado. Sen face serum, $78. www.khus-khus.com
RMS is founded by Rose Marie Swift, makeup artist to many Hollywood A-listers. Her line is all natural, botanically based and ultra pure. In other words, it’s the real thing. This facial elixir is comprised of a multitude of nourishing seed oils that serve to keep the consistency light, but effective. Jojoba and rosehip seed oils form the base to which whilehorsetail, turmeric, ashwagandha, olive leaf, buriti oil, and tamanu seed oil are added for extra nutritional heft. If her methods and products didn’t work, the Victoria’s secret girl gang wouldn’t come calling. Excellent, all-natural and organic. RMS beauty oil $78. www.rmsbeauty.com