It occurred to me recently that for someone with oily tendencies, complexion-wise, I seem to use a lot of oil-based beauty products (see image below – current oil products on the go in my bathroom). This got me thinking about oils in relation to skincare and beauty… why do we use them and what can they do for us?
Part of me loves the paradox that applying oil can be good for oily skin (see Deep Cleansing Oil by DHC (£18.50)). Yes, oils are fantastic cleansers for all skin types.
Skin Therapist Louise Thomas-Minns (www.uandyourskin.co.uk) suggests that they are easy to incorporate into your regular skin care routine: “Like attracts like and this is true when it comes to cleansing stubborn make up or dirt from the skin. You could massage a good quality oil, such as almond or apricot kernal, directly onto your made-up face to dissolve and lift off the day. Remove with a clean wash cloth and then follow with your regular cleanser”.
I also love the feel of a good quality oil. Throughout my recent pregnancy I applied Japanese Camellia Oil Blend by Elemis (£27.60) every day to ward off stretchmarks. It didn’t entirely work, but I didn’t suffer too terribly either. That aside, this oil felt high quality – quick to absorb and not at all greasy. The ritual of rubbing it in every day was a real pleasure.
Applied after showering or bathing, a high quality body oil can smooth and soften the skin and make scars and stretch marks less visible over time. If you shave your legs, it is especially important to rehydrate afterwards and an oil that won’t irritate or sting will make your pins silky smooth beyond all belief.
The act of rubbing the oil in can boosts circulation and improve cellulite etc. Think giving yourself a mini-massage. Great for the mind, body and soul. Brilliant if you’ve been exercising. Try Clarins Contour Body Treatment Oil (£37) for a real treat.
Not just for face and body, oil is great on your hair. Treatment can be as basic as the application of Olive Oil to relieve stressed, weak hair; Just massage in to damp hair, working through to the ends, leave for 15-20 minutes, rinse and shampoo as usual. Or apply a couple of drops of baby oil to wet hair once or twice a month to lock in moisture and keep it shiny – cheaper than a serum product.
Every so often I apply Enrich Hair Oil by Aromatherapy Associates (£25.50). Like an oily mask for your hair, it is great for adding gloss and improving the condition of seriously dehydrated hair.
Speaking of Aromatherapy Associates leads me nicely on to Essential Oils, amazing natural extracts that can have the most profound effect on your mood and wellbeing.
“Essential oils have been used for centuries for their benefits to the physical, emotional and spiritual well being. Whether you apply them directly to the skin or use them for inhalation they play a big role in stimulating the Olfactory system which responds by getting the body ready for the absorption of the chosen oil into the blood stream”, says Louise.
If you’re not sure about using essential oils and want to start introducing them into your beauty routine, you won’t go far wrong with any of the utterly fabulous Aromatherapy Associates products, which all incorporate high quality, natural oils. Ideal for beginners are the travel sets such as the Miniature Bath & Shower Oil Collection (£30), which contains a miniature size of all 9 of the divine (award winning) Aromatherapy Associates bath and shower oils, or the Skincare Introductory Sets (£31.50, in two varieties – Essential Skincare and Anti-Age). These fab sets in a smart silver make-up bag contain travel sizes of the full skincare collection. Perfect for trying. I absolutely adore Aromatherapy Associates products, and have many in use at any one time.
As well as using oils externally and through aromatherapy, they play a vital role in beauty through our diet. Rather than banning all oils and fats from our diet, an appropriate quantity of the right sorts of oil can actually make you look better, improving skin condition and even boosting your mood.
Louise Thomas-Minns says: “I am always advising my clients to eat more Omega-3 rich foods to boost their skin health. We all consume too many Omega-6 rich foods. Essential fatty acids are vital for maintaining the delicate lipid barrier of the skin which has a role to play in protection, hydration and limiting sensitivity. Reach for flaxseeds, walnuts and oily fish to get your fill. Its also helpful for all inflammatory skin issues such as Psoriasis and Eczema”.
Powerful things, Omega-3s can also prevent hair loss and balance the skin’s natural oiliness. Great.
I have been taking high strength Omega-3 supplements since reading (The Gentle First Year – Dr Gowri Motha) that it can be extremely useful post-birth, even so much as having anti-depressant effects. I take MorDHA daily, and can honestly say I have felt better since taking it (though this could be due to numerous factors, obviously).
Clarins have just launched new HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase (£40), which is rich in Omega-3 and Inca Peanut Oil. Wonderful at enhancing the skin’s natural moisturistion process, this serum can help banish dehydration lines (and most fine lines are just that – due to our skin being parched).
So there you go. Oils, as Essential Fatty Acids, play a huge part in good skin health. They help maintain the integrity of our cell walls, and allow passage of water and waste products in and out. They also improve skin suppleness, great for reducing cellulite on the body and giving the appearance of youthful ‘plumpness’ on the face.
They can smell great as Essential Oils, while at the same time having a positive effect our brain (the basis of Aromatherapy), and they feel amazing to apply externally.
When it comes to beautiful faces, bodies and minds, oils could just be one of the most important products you could use. No wonder I’m such a (good) fat-fan.