Facial Oils in Skincare

I am a firm believer in the ability of facial oil to change the skin. Facial oils can provide nourishment to the skin in a way that may be missing from moisturizers. Try to think of the skin as a person with the basic needs of food, water, and shelter. To me, facial oils are food for the skin. (Serums being the water and moisturizer and SPF being the shelter).

Facial oils are usually derived from seeds or nuts of different plants. The seed of a plant is essentially the embryo of that plant, and we can take advantage of these beneficial ingredients when we apply them to the skin. In every seed, there are nutrients used to nurture the seed while it grows into a plant. 

Every plant has a different combination of nutrients for that specific plant, which is why it is important to know the properties of the more common facial oils. I have created a cheat sheet with some facts about popular facial oils and which skin types would benefit from them.

A quick word about oleic acid and linoleic acid before we get started.

Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acid, which means it is necessary for humans and animals to have, but we cannot synthesize it on our own (we must ingest it). Linoleic acid is found in many plant oils in different amounts. 

The amazing thing about linoleic acid is that it has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit melanin production when applied to the skin by reducing tyrosinase activity.

On the other hand, oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 non-essential fatty acid, meaning it occurs organically in the fats of animals or vegetable oils. Oleic acid is most often associated with olive oil. 

You can feel when the oil is high in oleic acid as it is not quick to absorb into the skin, with a heavy occlusive consistency. Oleic acid can disrupt the skin’s barrier or be irritating to the skin. However, due to its skin barrier disrupting properties, oleic acid can assist in product penetration.

Facial Oil Cheat Sheet

1. Jojoba Oil 

  • Suitable for All Skin Types
  • From the seed of the jojoba plant, Simmondsia chinensis
  • Helps regulate sebum production
  • Deeply moisturizing
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • 5% Linoleic acid and 5-15% Oleic acid

2. Rosehip Oil

  • Suitable for Oily/Mature Skin
  • From the seeds of the wild rose bush, Rosa moschata or Rosa rubiginosa
  • Regulates sebum production in the skin
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • 44% Linoleic acid and 13.9% Oleic acid

3. Squalane Oil

  • Suitable for All Skin Types
  • Formally extracted from sharks, but is now manufactured from sugar cane
  • A non-greasy, richer emollient version of our skin’s own natural oil (sebum is made up partly of squalane)
  • Replenishes and restores our lipid barrier
  • Squalene is the oxidized version of squalane, which can trigger acne.

4. Grape Seed Oil 

  • Suitable for Oily/Acneic Skin
  • An oil from the seeds of grapes
  • Regulates sebum production
  • Rich antioxidants
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Inhibits melanin formation
  • 70% Linoleic acid and 16% Oleic acid

5. Sea Buckthorn Oil 

  • Suitable for Mature/ Dry Skin
  • From the Sea buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides, it can be extracted from either the pulp of the berries or the seeds
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • 6% Linoleic acid and 28% Oleic acid (Note, this oil has a different % of Linoleic and Oleic acid depending on if the oil is from the fruit or the seeds, or a combination of the two)

6. Marula Oil

  • Suitable for Mature/Dry Skin
  • Comes from the nuts of the Marula tree
  • Used as a moisturizing agent in Africa for years
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • 7% Linoleic acid and 78% Oleic acid

7. Sunflower Seed Oil / Sunflower Oil

  • Suitable for Dry Skin
  • From sunflower seeds
  • Usually a carrier oil for other ingredients
  • 14-40% Linoleic acid and 48-74%Oleic acid

8. Safflower Seed Oil

  • Suitable for Mature/ Dry/ Sensitive Skin
  • Extracted from the seeds of a flowering plant, Carthamus tinctorius
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Melanin inhibiting
  • 68-83% Linoleic Acid and 8-21% Oleic acid

9. Argan Oil

  • Suitable for Dehydrated/Dry Skin
  • From the kernels of the argan tree, sometimes referred to as Moroccan oil as it is unique to Morocco
  • Improves skin elasticity, hydration, and barrier function
  • Can be used to prevent ingrown hairs
  • 29-36% Linoleic acid and 43-49% Oleic acid

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