Especially in my early 20’s, I used to love buying the ‘fun’ makeup and facial care products, the ones that had beautiful packaging, smelled nice, and had photos of ‘natural’ beauties to add more allure to the cover. After studying natural skin care and anti-aging, however, and becoming more aware of the less than pleasant ingredients commonly used in those trendy products, I have a newfound appreciation of simple, timeless oils that help to cleanse and detoxify our skin, lather it in protective antioxidants, and contribute to radiant, youthful skin.
Learning about the ancient origins and uses of these beautiful, natural oils and discovering them in their little bottles at my local health food store makes me feel as I’m bringing home a precious little luxury, even if it only costs $6 or $8. On my bath counter are bottles of velvety-dry, orange-hued rosehip oil, mentioned in hieroglyphics by the Ancient Egyptians and used for its healing properties by the Mayans; silky and sumptuous Jojoba oil, used by the Native Americans for its healing properties and sought after by 18th century Jesuit missionaries for their skin & hair; the luxurious, golden argon oil that the indigenous Moroccan women, renowned for their beauty, have used on their bodies and hair for centuries; and bold, fragrant coffee oil, meticulously expelled from the coffee beans that sent traders in the Medieval Ages scrambling from all over the world to deliver it to everyone from monks and royalty to physicians and warriors.
Having skin that errs on the oily side, I was terrified of applying anything oily to my face for many years, instead opting for salicylic acid-containing formulas and anything promising to be designed for oily skin. Instead of stripping your skin of oils and sometimes further exacerbating the issue (which happened to me), the following oils have nurturing qualities for cleansing and moisturizing the skin, and helping your skin restore its natural balance. They have all proven fantastically harmonious with my skin, and actually prevent my face from becoming too oily. They also make wonderful, non-toxic bases for applying underneath your makeup.
Here are my 5 favorite natural oils for the face and body, their specific benefits, and what to look for when shopping for them.
About: Rosehip oil was prized by the Egyptians and is reportedly used by Miranda Kerr and Victoria Beckham as part of their skin care regimen. It contains high amounts of vitamins A, C, D, E, B- Carotene, and antioxidant flavonoids, and rich in essential fatty acids like oleic, palmitic, linoleic, and GLA, which are common elements in expensive skin creams. These essential fatty acids are converted to prostaglandins, physiologically active lipids that help tissues and cells to regenerate, making rosehip oil a leading ingredient in anti-aging formulas.
Best For: A somewhat dry-textured oil, rosehip oil is great for applying underneath makeup or as a day or night moisturizer. Just a few drops rubbed between your palms and applied to the face, neck, and décolleté goes a long way.
What to Look For: I recommend looking for an organic, cold-pressed rosehip oil for optimal results. Keep it in a cool area away from direct sunlight to help prevent it from going rancid.
About: I adore Jojoba oil for its wonderfully clarifying effects on my skin. Silky and light, a few drops used morning and night seems to brighten my skin, clear pimples, and bring out a natural rosiness in my cheeks. It’s non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores, and very closely resembles our skin’s natural sebum. This creates a harmonious balance that’s known for balancing the amount of oil your face produces. Along with its natural antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, this makes it a great choice for skin prone to acne breakouts or other skin conditions, potentially healing your problematic skin at the source.
Best For: Wonderful for acne-prone skin, it’s also an effective makeup remover, day moisturizer, and as a hair treatment. If using underneath your makeup, apply just a couple drops and evenly apply to your face, then wait a few minutes for it to dry before applying makeup. You may see an initial increase in acne as jojoba oil can be detoxifying: although some experience an overnight clarifying effect, I’d recommend giving it a couple weeks to see it work its magic and purify your skin on a deeper level. For a little extra acne-fighting power, add a couple drops of tea tree oil to a couple drops of jojoba oil, blend between your palms, and massage into your face and jawline.
What to Look For: Choose a cold-pressed jojoba oil that is either pure or mixed with other pure, beneficial oils like Rosehip, Argon, or Green Coffee Bean.
About: Another pore-happy oil, grapeseed oil is also non-comedogenic and a good choice for acne-prone skin, dry skin, and people with extremely sensitive or allergy-prone skin. Dr. Al Sears, one of the nation’s leading anti-aging doctors shares that not only is it rich in antioxidants, but that it contains a specific and very special type of antioxidant known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins, or OPC’s. They’re approximately 50 times more powerful an antioxidant than Vitamin C, and according to Dr. Sears, OPC’s inhibit DNA mutations that can lead to skin damage and aging, and also inhibit the effects of enzymes that break down your skin’s elastin and collagen.
Best For: Acne-prone, oily, dry, or sensitive skin. Apply a couple drops to your face and apply a little extra to any scars, lines, wrinkles, or under-eye discoloration.
What to Look For: Broken record aside, opt for cold-pressed, a good guideline for all your facial oils. Dr. Sears says, “To cut costs, most producers use chemical solvents like hexane to draw the oils out. Look for organic, cold-pressed grapeseed oil. Cold-pressing uses no heat or chemical treatment and retains more health benefits. You might pay a bit more, but it’s worth it.”
About: Packed with a multitude of antioxidants that protect your skin’s natural elasticity, omega-6 fatty acids, and vitamins A & E, argan oil not only protects against aging free radicals, but it also contains high amounts of linoleic acid, which can help reduce inflammation and encourage healing and regeneration. Also proven to naturally reduce excess amounts of sebum, or oil on the face, argan oil is a great choice for those with acne or acne scars. Argan oil also supports the skin in staying hydrated, a requirement for maintaining youthful skin.
Best For: Stretch marks, acne, acne scars, fine lines & wrinkles, sensitive skin, razor bumps, dry skin, oily skin, and a great hair, lip, & nail moisturizer. Rub a drop or two between your palms and gently apply to your face and any areas of your body that need extra healing attention.
What to Look For: 100% pure, cold-pressed argan oil.
About: Often dubbed “like a cup of coffee for your skin”, oil extracted from green coffee beans has been shown to double collagen production, improve elasticity, boost blood circulation, and decrease wrinkles and age spots. Dr. Sears recommends it as a remedy for common under-eye problems: “Skin studies show caffeine improves drainage to reduce bags and puffiness.” Studies also tell us that the natural caffeine found in the oil can reduce fine lines and crow’s feet, and protect against sun damage.
Best For: A night serum or under-eye moisturizer. Apply a drop or two between your fingers to gently work into your under-eye area or wherever your skin needs a firming lift.
What to Look For: A high quality coffee oil for your skin will be made from cold-pressed, green, unroasted coffea Arabica beans.
Which oil did you experiment with? What are your results? I’d love to hear your experience with using natural oils in the comments below!
Certified Health Coach
Co-Founder | Pastiche Wellness Solutions