Packed with essential nutrients, antioxidants and fatty acids, natural oils are some of the most efficient ingredients in skincare. From moisturizing and nourishing the skin to treating acne, irritation or fine lines, there is an oil for almost any skin concern. If you’re considering this natural approach to a more beautiful you, here are the basic facts you need to know.
Essential versus carrier oils
There are two basic types of natural oils used for cosmetic purposes: essential oils and carrier oils.
The most popular essential oils & their characteristics
They are called “essential” because they contain the essence of that plant’s fragrance. They are also “volatile”, in the sense that they tend to evaporate quickly. Typically extracted by distillation, they have a long history of being used in cosmetics and perfumes, but also in aromatherapy and alternative medicine.
Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)Soothing and restoring, works for all skin types
Sandalwood (Santalum Album)moisturizing and calming, suitable for all skin types
Lemon (Citrus Medica Limonum Peel)brightening and invigorating, works for most skin types
Tea tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf)antimicrobial and anti-fungal, best for acne-prone skin
Bergamot (Citrus Aurantium Bergamia Fruit)balancing and tonic, excellent for oily skin
Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita Flower)calming and anti-inflammatory, best for sensitive skin
Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)stimulating and antiseptic, a good choice for oily skin
Geranium (Rose Geranium)tonic and slightly astringent, suitable for all skin types
Carrot seed (Daucus Carota Sativa Seed)anti-aging and brightening, perfect for mature skin
The most popular carrier oils & their characteristics
Because they are so concentrated, essential oils generally need to be diluted for safe use in skin care. For that, you need a carrier oil: a “true” oil, extracted from the fatty portion of a plant: the seeds, the kernels or the nuts. They are used to preserve the qualities of the essential oils and “carry” them to the skin. Their best method of extraction is cold pressing, because it retains most of their qualities.
Jojoba oil (Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil)best for oily skin
This oil is the most similar to the sebum that’s naturally produced by the skin. It’s lightweight, easily absorbed and has healing and moisturizing benefits. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and won’t leave the skin feeling greasy, which makes it a popular choice for oily skin.
Grape seed oil (Vitis Vinifera Seed Oil)best for acne-prone skin
The oil extracted from grape seeds contains lots of antioxidants, minerals, linoleic acid and vitamin E. It has a mild astringent quality and antiseptic properties, which makes it suitable for oily and acne prone skin. Its lightweight, moisturizing and treating qualities are the reason it is very frequently used in skincare products.
Argan oil (Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil)best for mature skin
Extracted from the nuts of the Argan tree found in Morocco, this is one of the most frequently used carrier oils, due to its high content of vitamin E, which moisturizes and softens the skin. It also has great firming and anti-aging qualities. It is best suited for dry, normal and mature skin.
Avocado oil (Persea Gratissima Oil)best for dry skin
Loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E, this oil makes a rich moisturizer, perfect for dry and aging skin. It also has soothing, anti-inflammatory properties which make it useful for treating sun damage and eczema.
Rosehip oil (Rosa Canina Fruit Oil)best for aging skin
A real anti-aging star, rosehip oil contains high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E and linoleic acids. It is traditionally used to treat wrinkles and age spots. It has an anti-inflammatory action that is useful against dermatitis and psoriasis. Its regenerating qualities also make it an efficient ingredient in body products for stretch marks.
Sweet almond oil (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil)good for all skins
Non greasy and hypo-allergenic, sweet almond oil has high concentrations of oleic and linoleic acids, which help treat inflammation and nourish the skin. It also contains vitamin E, a natural booster of skin collagen. It is equally appreciated in skincare and body products.