Fighting oil with oil is said to be the secret to the dewy, youthful skin that we all desire. But, are facial oils just another fad, or do they add sustenance to our skincare routine? MOJEH investigates.
Having spent the first part of the millennium with an oil-free mantra, we welcomed the rise of facial oils with an admitted measure of caution. Secretions have widely been named our skin’s nemesis in recent years, with blotting paper and mattifying powders making up our makeup staples, and stringent formulations underpinning our skincare routines. Frankly, the thought of using oil to combat oil seemed foreign, begging the question: Will facial oils make our skin break out or do they work miracles? First of all, finding the right oil for your face is key. Coconut or almond are right for you if you struggle with dehydrated, flaky skin (that could be related to climate change), while lighter jojoba and apricot can address oily, problematic skin that needs some balance. And, surprisingly, they have been a fundamental part of our bathing rituals for millennia.
In Australia, emu oil has been used to moisturise the skin of aboriginals for the last 40,000 years, while Cleopatra was known to envelop her skin in an arsenal of plant-based produce, including castor, olive and sesame. Mineral and synthetic oils had their moment towards the end of the 19th Century, with the innovation of petroleum-based products like Vaseline and baby oil; but, they were soon sidelined, with research concluding that they were comedomic, resulting in congested skin. More recently, celebrities and beauty mavens alike have spoken out about their penchant for plant-based produce, with Sophia Loren crediting her incredible skin (aged 80) to regular olive oil baths.
So, what is the secret behind their staying power? “Facial oils can be quite beneficial to our skin,” says Dr Jeanette Graf, a high-profile New York-based dermatologist. “Oily skin, in particular, can benefit from a variety of different oils, including tea tree, eucalyptus, geranium, patchouli and lavender.” As Graf suggests, natural oils are just the type of at-home beauty remedy that has recently found favour, part of our wider movement towards a more holistic and plant-based lifestyle. Argan is probably the most notable of the lot, having first risen to beauty fame in 2007, when model Josie Maran launched her argan-based line, crediting the oil made from kernels of the argan tree as her beauty secret. Much loved by those in the beauty spotlight, from Nicole Richie to Gisele Bündchen, today argan oil can be found in everything from lipstick to shampoo, highlighting the benefits of putting oil on skin and hair for women on a global scale. And, when it comes to pioneering the movement into the mass market, the likes of Shu Uemura’s coveted cleansing oil made its mark in Japan during the Sixties, while Linda Rodin’s iconic Olio Lusso has become a cult classic over the last decade.
Today’s versions are different from the congesting mineral oils that came and went, but how should they be used? “Coconut oil from a jar does not work on every skin type,” warns Rebecca Treston, aesthetician and laser specialist at Euromed Clinic. “You need to make sure that you use an oil that will offer benefits for your skin type.” In general, options with a higher saturated fat content, like coconut oil, will feel heavier, while those that have been refined are more easily absorbed, thanks to their smaller molecules. “You can have aromatherapy oils that can balance the skin and oils and offer antibacterial qualities,” Treston suggests. Dr Graf recommends applying pure oils as the last step in a night-time skincare routine, in order to seal in hydrating ingredients. Applying at night decreases the chance of bacteria landing on the skin and facilitates absorption while the skin rests. “If one wishes to use a hydrating oil in the morning, I would suggest using it under sunscreen to make sure the skin is well protected,” Graf adds.
From all-natural seasonal blends to formulations featuring rare ingredients and the latest scientific innovations click into the gallery above to discover our edit of oils suitable for any occasion and skin type.