Skin Care Oils


     So far I have been oil cleansing on and off for about 2 years now. I have tried other methods in between but nothing seems to work as well for me long term. Sometimes I still mix it up by skipping it a couple days and a scrub, or mask instead. The most important part of oil cleansing is probably choosing the right oil for you. I already did a post about the benefits of oil cleansing but this post should help you to choose an oil should you decide to join the pack.

     The first step is to consider your skin type. If you are acneic like I am, you will want to choose one that is non-comedogenic. People do this by looking up oils with a low comedogenic rating.  I however have found that some of these assigned ratings are just not accurate.  Instead, becoming a  little  bio-chemically savvy is probably your best way to go.  Yes it takes a little effort, but in the end you will have more knowledge to make better decisions for your skincare needs.  Please refer to my post on fatty acids if you need a bit of a bio-chem refresher.  By looking at the breakdown of different oils, you will be able to take many different factors, and find an oil that meets all of your requirements.

     For example, if you look up the fatty acid profile of a specific oil, you can see what fatty acids and their percentages make up the oil. You will want to look for ones that have shorter chains, and unsaturated fats.  The longer chain oils can get stuck in the pores, and the saturated varieties are rigid and can also get stuck. Coconut oil is made up of primarily these types of fatty acids in the form of Palmitic and Stearic Acids.  That is why I would never recommend coconut oil to someone with acne problems.  Regardless, I wouldn’t recommend anyone without acne problems to even chance it with oils high in these acids.

     Another way to look at it even further is to look at the balance between Oleic and Linoleic fatty acids. If you have acneic skin, it tends to be lacking in Linoleic acids and excessive in Oleic acids. You can help balance this out by choosing oils that have higher levels of Linoleic than Oleic fatty acids. If you do not have acne problems, you can use a balanced oil, meaning the ratio of oleic to linoleic is relatively equal.

     Another factor to consider is the pH of the oil. Choosing an oil with a pH that is relatively close to what is ideal for your skin will help to not disturb the acid mantle balance.  Most people know that the ideal for skin is a pH of 5.5.  However, research has demonstrated that its natural state is actually below 5, around 4.7 to be exact.  Researchers have found that this is actually a healthier level for the skin, and it helps to preserve beneficial bacteria on the skin. Choosing an oil with a pH near to 4.7 will be another way to narrow down your oil options.

     Another way to investigate an oil is to look at it’s phytochemical properties.  Does it have exceptionally high levels of Vitamin E or A?  These components can be pore clogging and irritating to those with sensitive or acneic skin. Is your skin neither of those too and is instead aging? Perhaps an oil high in these components would be a good option for your to nourish your skin and promote rapid cell turnover.

     There are a few other factors that can go into choosing your oil. First, you want it to be preferably organic, cold-pressed, non-deodorized, and packaged in a glass amber bottle to preserve the integrity of the oil. An oil that meets these requirements will not have to have preservatives added to it, unless it is a delicate oil and has a short shelf life naturally.  Choosing an oil with a longer shelf life is preferable as then it will need a preservative and should be kept in the refrigerator.

     So what is the holy grail of skincare oils?   For me it is Kukui Nut Oil. I have tried it from both Beauty Oils and Russel Organics. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a few things to get an oil you really want. For example, Beauty Oils has cold-pressed, 100% pure Kukui Nut oil, non-deodorized, but it is not organic and is in a plastic amber bottle. Russel Organics sells what is presumably organic pure 100% pure Kukui Nut oil in a glass amber bottle for 2x’s the price.

     So, let me know what skincare oils work for you. One that I have wanted to try for a body oil is Jojoba. Supposedly it’s unique fatty acids mimic sebum and are easily absorbed and non-pore clogging. Perhaps as I try new oils, I will write another post reviewing different oils. Until then, please let me know about what oils you use, or are interested in.  A great resource to use when researching oils is Mountain Rose Herbs, as they provide the pH, and fatty acid profiles for many oils.


Oil Cleansing

 oil cleansing

     I first heard about the Oil Cleansing Method in the past year.  My first reaction was a rather perplexed expression. Why would anyone slather their face in oil?  Maybe it was good for someone with aging, dry skin but certainly not someone with oil and acne problems to begin with.  I couldn’t believe that it was a thing so I started researching it to find out if there was any logic behind it.  Then I started seeing all of the mixed reviews, some people have excellent experiences with it and others have had horrible experiences.

     I found that the results seem to depend on many different factors including type of oil.  Many found that many of the people with the bad experiences mixed oils or relied on oil cleansing alone to clean their face.  I decided to go a different route in my personal experiment.  I picked an oil that has a very low comodegenic oil.  I chose Argan oil which has a 0-1 comodegenic rating which means it is very unlikely to clog pores.  It also has many antibacterial and healing properties which make it ideal especially for people with acneic or skin with residual scarring.  I have also personally found that it is excellent for removing eye makeup and moisturizing the delicate eye skin.

     Since starting this regimen I have had some pleasantly surprising results.  Before oil cleansing what was happening was I had many many clogged pores.  I was not allowing my skins acid mantle enough time to rebuild in between cleanings and for its pH to re-balance (skin pH should be around 5.5).  I also was stripping away all of its natural oils that are meant to moisturize the skin and prevent bacterial infections.   Since switching my skin is significantly less oily and I have noticeable less clogged pores.

     My routine consists of as follows: At night I gently steam my face and then apply the Argan Oil and massage it in for a few minutes.  I then remove the oil with a hot washcloth and pat dry, and then moisturize with a little bit of Argan Oil.  In the morning I shower so I don’t steam again and in the shower I massage in the Argan Oil and use a washcloth to remove.  I then pat dry with a towel and reapply a little Argan oil for moisturizer.  It surprisingly dries matte, and leaves my skin soft and smooth, the perfect canvas for my mineral foundation.

     The Argan oil I use is from a trusted brand called Aura Cacia  and I ordered it for $8 on Vitacost.  When looking for a brand of Argan oil to use, look for one in a dark glass bottle.  This keeps it fresh and from being oxidized by light.  Look for one that is NOT deodorized, these have less efficacy.  Naturally they should have  a slightly sweet nutty flavor.  It should also feel smooth and silky and be 100% pure with not fillers.  Have any of you tried Oil Cleansing or discovered any other uses for Argan oil?


  healthy fat coconut oil

     There are many different ways that people view fats.  The majority of people I have encountered think that fat makes them fat and are on a low fat diet.  Other people restrict certain kinds of fat.  I am writing this to tell you about how good fat can be for you.  As a matter of fact most of you do not get enough healthy fat. Healthy fat that is!  Western diet does not recommend enough of it.  I try and consume fat along the levels of a Mediterranean diet and recommend that 25-35% of your total calorie intakes be directly from fat.  Fat has a lot more calories than carbs and protein so you actually will have smaller portions of food if you use fat properly in your diet so there is no need to worry about gaining weight.  In fact you will probably have more energy and feel more satiated.

     There are different kinds of fats and some are good and some are bad.  However it is not so easy as to just rule different groups of fats as evil and other ones as healthy.  No, there are many rules and exceptions all built upon biochemistry.  There are two kinds of fats: Saturated and Unsaturated.  The term Saturated come from the fact that there are no double carbon bonds in the molecule, instead the carbon atoms are “saturated” with hydrogen bonds.  Saturated fat has gotten a bad rap.  Yes, you guessed it I am about to tell you to eat it!  Many other biochemical factors go into determining if a fat is healthy or not.  One would be length of the molecule and the type of fatty acids.  A good hint that something is a  saturated fat is that it is solid at room temperature and liquefies when it is heated.  Thy are derived from plants, land animal meat and products.

     I do not eat land animal meat or products, I will talk about that at a later time, however as far as fats go for someone who does eat meat I do not see them as being a source of healthy fats.  The only saturated fat that I not only recommend but encourage use of is Coconut Oil.  Of all the types of acids in Saturated Fat, Coconut Oil has the highest content of Lauric Acid which is anti-inflammatory, viral, bacterial and fungal.  Because it is a Saturated Fat it remains stable at very high heating temperatures and makes it one of the only oils safe to cook with at high temperatures.  Olive oil is great chilled on a salad or in a hummus or tahini sauce but when it is heated it can oxidize very quickly.   Coconut Oil resists oxidation and has a very long shelf life.

     As for Unsaturated Fats, first of all it has one of two configurations (geometric structures).  The first one is called “cis” and occurs naturally, the second is called “trans” and occurs through processing and chemical reactions.  The latter is also known as Hydrogenated Fats.  This is very bad for you and this is the only fat with a hard and fast rule that you should never break. Do not eat them ever!  There are two types of Unsaturated Fats: “mono” and “poly”.  Monounsaturated fats can be very good for you, supporting your cardiovascular system and lowering bad cholesterol.  Olive oil or avocado on a salad are wonderful sources.

     Next is Polyunsaturated Fat which is best known as Omega-3 (N-3) and Omega-6 (N-6) Essential Fatty Acids.  Omega-3 can be found in seafood (wild) and plants.  Most people are actually lacking in it.  They are essential to health and perform a variety of functions involving: lowering blood pressure, cardiovascular health, fighting depression and boosting brain function.  Good plant sources include flax and chia seeds.  Omega-6 on the other hand is more readily consumed in America and an imbalance of N-3:N-6 can cause inflammation.  A good ration to follow is a 2:1 many people have a ratio closer to 1:16.   There are however some N-6 that actually inhibit versus promote inflammation.  These include sources such as Evening Primrose Oil, and Borage Seed oil to name a few which contain the anti-inflammatory factor: Gamma Linolenic Acid.  This balance helps to support hormone production and metabolism, reproductive health, skin, hair and nails.

     I hope that this has helped to explain the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats.  It can be a lot to take in and I did not even go into much detail!  As you can see, there are more good than bad fats and most people are not eating enough fat or too much of the wrong kind.  So go out, enjoy some avocado and olive oil over a salad for lunch, some tahini for a snack and at dinner relish a delicious  piece of wild caught salmon sauteed in coconut oil.  You will be doing yourself a favor.