Time was when I would pierce a vitamin E capsule, squeeze out the oil and apply to my face. Trying the catch the oozing oil resulted in a sticky, oily mess but it was all in the name of skincare. Not surprisingly I gave up after some tries and never went down that path again. Luckily now, there is an array of fantastic oils, already squeezed from the plant, nut or seed, blended harmoniously and bottled.
With names like Rose Gold and Therapist’s Secret, you might think that face oils are something to be stored and cherished in your cabinet, brought out for the occasional pampering treat. Not so. These can be incorporated into your normal skincare routine, usually for night-time, sometimes for day as well, even used under your moisturizer. When buying face oils, don’t be put off by cost per 10ml, 100ml, etc. The truth is you will pay more per 10ml for a face oil than for any other oil. The fact is, whether you see it as luxury or well-deserved necessity, you don’t use much. A little goes a long way. Think “you’re worth it!”
The main staple of any skincare oil face or body is the base oil or vegetable oil. Also called fixed oil because they are stable, not volatile like essential oils; called carrier because they ‘carry’ the essential oils blended in them into the skin. Most carrier oils themselves do not pass through the outer layers of the skin as their molecules are too large so they sit on top. They lubricate and are hugely beneficial to the skin and, used in massage they are indispensable! Most oils are cold pressed, so the oils are squeezed out of the plant using low heat to aid extraction so the beneficial properties of the oil are kept intact. There is a further refining process which involves high heat and for some oils this can be effective in removing harmful constituents that you wouldn’t want on your skin. There is another type of carrier oil which is extracted by maceration. The plant is chopped up and put in vegetable oil for several days before being filtered. This method is useful for plants like calendula or carrot.
Carrier oils contain essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and some possess fantastic healing properties. Jojoba helps to dissolve sebum so is good for oily skins, hazelnut is effective on acne because of its astringent properties. Calendula is anti-inflammatory and soothes cracked skin so is good for dry eczema. Some carrier oils are thick and not clear. Avocado oil, for example, often goes cloudy and in a cold climate can have a sludge at the bottom. Take this as a good sign, rather like the thick cloud at the bottom of your extra-virgin olive oil. Some oils are extremely beneficial just on their own. Examples are rosehip, argan and sweet almond. Others such as jojoba, hazelnut and avocado need to be diluted.
Some people feel oil-phobic, i.e. they don’t like the feel of oil on their skin, especially if they already have excess oil. But if you choose the right oil for your skin concern, it will work wonderfully with your skin, heal, restore and improve it. To get the lowdown on carrier oils, Shirley Price has a chapter on the subject in her very-easy-to-read book “Aromatherapy Workbook”. Lastly, the trick is to not use too much, otherwise you will end up looking like you’ve dipped your face in the chip pan.
Barefoot SOS do an infusion of rosa mosqueta, evening primrose and argan oil scented with frankincense and sandalwood. The Repair + Renew Intensive Treatment Oil is ideal for environmentally damaged, dry or mature skins.
Neals Yard Remedies who celebrate over 30 years in the organic business, have a set of facial oils including the Orange Flower Facial Oil. In a 30ml dropper bottle, it includes evening primrose oil, jojoba and hemp seed and essential oil of neroli.
The Sanctuary Spa sells what used to be available only in their spa. Loved by celebrities, the Therapist’s Secret Facial Oil is a youth boosting treatment made up of jojoba, rosehip, sunflower and wheatgerm with added essential oils of frankincense and rose.
From Spiezia Organics (www.spieziaorganics.com) comes the Organic Rose and Vanilla Face Oil. Using vanilla pods and rose oil this delicately scented oil can be used on its own as a moisturizer or as a base under make-up. Spiezia Organics are a small team based in Cornwall where all the products are made. They have strict ethical policies and were the first company in the UK to be fully accredited with Soil Association across their entire skincare range. Spiezia has become synonymous with luxury and forward thinking in the world of organic skincare. (See also Inlight.com.)
Jane Scrivner, she of the detox books has a range of organic skincare products. The Pure Rose Gold Skin Attar is a blend of Bulgarian rose otto oil and jojoba oil. Especially good for dry, sensitive and ageing skins, Jane says for any oil still left on your fingers, wipe on yourself, it’s too good to wipe on a towel! (www.janescrivner.com)
It’s not often that you see a skincare oil that is nourishing to the face as well as the body and, as this is so versatile, I had to slot it in. The Ultimate Beauty Skin Repair Oil from Viridian helps to heal most skin conditions including rosacea, eczema, dry skin and scars. In a larger size than most oils (100ml) it can be used during pregnancy and lactation. Containing rosehip, sunflower, borage, wheatgerm, jojoba and calendula and delicately scented with lavender essential oil it is easily absorbed. Viridian are a small UK vitamin company with green and worldly ethics. Every year at least 50% of their profits go to children and environmental charities.
A range that goes one step further is from Dr Alkaitis whose mantra “if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin” governs all his products. This is raw health food for the skin and everything is freshly made by Dr Alkaitis. His Organic Nourishing Treatment Oil is viewed by experts as nature’s ‘miracle in a bottle’ and with ingredients including jojoba, St John’s Wort, Andean Mountain rose hip, turmeric, Indian ginger and white sandalwood, this is your ultimate nourishing boost for face, body, scalp and hair. Sample and full sizes www.alkaitis.com.
Finally, a word on a lesser known carrier oil, camellia oil. I like to recommend this to pregnant women because, used on the face or body. it lubricates and heals skin but leaves no oily residue so it can re-applied as often as required.
In an aromatherapy blend suitable for your skin type, a facial oil is very therapeutic and healing. Most will be made up almost entirely of carrier oil with a smidgen of essential oil (for extra benefits plus smell) while others will contain a bouquet of scents blended in with the base oils. Whatever you choose, use it and enjoy it!