Questions about facial oils? Here are some answers

Facial oils are on my mind, for a few reasons. The weather is turning colder and dryer, which has me turn to my favorite oils (if you want to know which ones I love, keep reading). Estee Lauder Companies recently acquired Rodin Olio Lusso, a niche brand founded by stylist Linda Rodin in 2007 and known for its flagship oil. And I saw my friend Michael Scholes of The Laboratory of Flowers earlier this week, a Virginia-based company specializing in making beautiful aromatherapy oils.

I also realized that while most of my skin care routine is Alchimie Forever exclusive,  the one area where I stray away from home is indeed oils. Maybe I should remember this next time I delve into our product development pipeline…

With that in mind, at the very least I decided I should educate myself about oils and their benefits for the skin. As usual, I turned to my dad, Dr. Luigi L. Polla, for some wisdom.

What is a facial oil?

Typically, the first ingredient (the base) of a moisturizer or cream is water. Oils differ in that there is no water in the formulation. Rather, the product is oil-based. Facial oils will typically be formulated with either a single oil (think for example of Josie Maran 100% pure argan oil), or a combination of various oils (for example, Rodin’s Olio Lusso mentioned above).

Why are the benefits of this type of product?

The first benefit of any oil is to nourish the skin, replenishing lipids and moisture. However, facial oils will have a number of additional benefits depending on the type of oil used, ranging from antioxidant to anti-inflammatory to sebum regulating. Here are some of the most commonly used oils and their specific benefits:

–       Jojoba oil: Jojoba oil is the go-to oil for oilier skin types. It will nourish the skin but will also help to regulate sebum. Jojoba oil also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which will help to alleviate breakouts.

–       Rose oil: This oil is another oil to consider for combination or acne-prone skin types. Indeed, it is known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory benefits, and has astringent properties.

–       Argan oil: Pressed from the nut of the Argan tree, which only grows in Morocco, this oil is packed with vitamin E and fatty acids that give it healing, conditioning and repairing properties.

–       Sweet almond oil: This oil is rich in vitamins A, B, and E, and known for its calming properties. Look for this ingredient to help soothe skin irritation and inflammation and.

–       Grapeseed oil: Grapeseeds are packed with antioxidants including resveratrol, making this oil an anti-aging powerhouse.

–       Rosehip seed oil: This oil (rose canina) is derived from the small fruits that sit behind the rose flower, and contains high levels of vitamins C and A, two ingredients known to help fight and minimize fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.

–       Avocado oil: Avocado oil is high in sterolin, an extract that has been shown to facilitate the reduction in the appearance of age spots.

–       Coconut oil: This is one of the most hydrating oils, making it particularly suited to dry skin. Rich in fatty acids, this oil will make dull skin glow.

Will facial oils cause breakouts or pimples?

Lipids dissolve lipids. This means, perhaps counter-intuitively, that oils are actually able to help regulate sebum production, thus mattifying oilier skin types. Well-formulated facial oils will not clog pores, cause whiteheads or blackheads. On the contrary, the oil will bind to excess sebum in the skin and help draw it out.

What about combination and oily skin types?

Not all facial oils are created equal. Indeed, some are lighter (even promoting themselves as “shine-free”) while some will be thicker and heavier. For a younger or  oilier skin type, these lighter versions will be best. My father does suggest avoiding recommending a facial oil to anyone suffering from severe or cystic acne, including adult acne.

And what of cleansing oils?

For someone who is not yet ready to jump on the facial oil bandwagon, a cleansing oil is the prefect way to start. Oils (lipids) break up and dissolve makeup and dirt very efficiently, and as you use them with water, are less likely to leave the skin feeling shiny or oily.

Here are some of my favorite oils.

–       Shu Uemura’s cleansing oil was my first introduction to facial oils. Introduced on the market in 1967, this product made history and continues to be a cult favorite. Packed with jojoba and avocado oil, this cleanser will dissolve makeup and impurities and leave the skin protected and hydrated.

–       Not a facial oil per se (you can use it on face, body, and hair), Nuxe’s Huile Prodigieuse is another favorite. One is sold every 6 seconds, and there is a reason for that. This oil hydrates and creates a silky dewiness to face, hair, and body, all with an intoxicating fragrance. Recommend the Or (gold) version for a little more sparkle. Thick and rich, this product is a blend of soybean, olive, and safflower oils. It is perfect used as a cleanser, and underneath your moisturizer for additional conditioning and moisture.

–       Beautifying Composition by Aveda is another one of these multi-use oils.

–       Josie Maran 100% pure argan oil, in its original and light versions. The light version has a semi-matte finish that will be particularly suited to combination and oily skin types, and that I personally love during the warmer months.

–       Any facial oil by Darphin. First found in the best French spas, then on the shelves of Parisian pharmacies, Darphin could be credited with inventing the facial oil category. The 8 Flower Nectar is my personal favorite, but any oil from their Aromatic Care collection is beautiful and therapeutic.

–       Clarins Santal Face Treatment Oil for dryer, more sensitive skin types; this is like a shield that protects my skin from the wind and cold, I love it during skiing.

–       Aromatherapy Associates Revive Evening Bath and Shower Oil. This is my go-to for a nourishing, relaxing, calming bath. It leaves my mind soothed and my skin soft.

Finally, a few last tips on beauty oils to share with your customers (adapted from Sephora’s Dare to Oil guide on beauty oils):

  1. Facial oils are best applied with a pressing motion rather than a rubbing motion (like a serum).
  2. Always apply products from thin to thick – meaning start with your serum, move on to your oil, then your moisturizer, and finish with your sunblock.
  3. Mix a drop of oil with your moisturizer or foundation for extra hydration.
  4. Use oil on dry nail polish for extra shine; use oil daily on cuticles for a polished, natural nail look.
  5. Use oil on dry hair to tame flyaways.
  6. Use oils morning and evening.
  7. Throughout the summer, use oils on your body to protect your skin from the drying effects of chlorine, salt, and wind (always with a sunscreen of course!).

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