No matter how parched, dull, fatigued or blemished your skin may be, there is an oil that can possibly be the salve your skin needs. The unprecedented infiltration of oils into the cosmetics market has produced a slew of options at all price points. From expert blends to others that are a mashup of cheaper filler oils, the spectrum is quite vast.
Firstly, the vast majority of oils used in cosmetics are plant derived. Early historical evidence has been found in cave markings depicting medicinal plants for healing. Evidence of plants used for medicinal, cosmetic, spiritual and war purposes have also been found in China, Egypt, India, Greece, Persia, Rome and France, which is a fraction of source countries. One of the things we’re not often told by marketing teams are the categories that various oils fall into. Among the most popular oils being used in cosmetics and in personal self care at the moment are coconut oil, argan oil, moroccan oil, olive oil, castor oil and grape seed oil. In addition there are rising stars on the horizon such as moringa, baobab and marula oils.
Plant oils may be extracted from various points on the plant such as leaves, roots, flowers and stems although in most instances, seeds feature prominently. There are two categories for these oils, fixed oils (higher lipid or fatty content) and essential oils which are more volatile.
In my personal use I turn to coconut oil, olive oil, grape seed oil and castor oil the most. I’ve also used camellia oil, a staple in the Asian cosmetics market that dates back centuries for its uses. I appreciate it tremendously for its ability to hydrate, plump and iron out my skin and also in hydrating my dry hair and scalp.
- For DIY makeup removal I combine equal parts olive oil and castor oil, apply to my face and then remove with a warm cloth. I keep this blend in a glass bottle.
- For at home hair masks I warm a blend of coconut and olive oil and apply to my scalp using a wide hair dye applicator brush. Section the hair for targeted application.
- For strengthening my eyebrows and eye lashes, I apply castor oil with a cotton bud before bed. Admittedly, tiny bits of castor oil migrate into my eyes, but it’s a minor thing when one contemplates the cost of eye lash and eye brow conditioners.
Oils are also appearing in formulations for foundations, serums, cleansing, and moisturisers, while in Korean Beauty I’ve encountered an oil seal finisher, meant to be applied after foundation.
Aritaum Oil Serum Makeup Finisher is meant to be used after applying your foundation. Pat it onto your orbital bone, the tops of the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose or even under the brow bone, it is meant to reduce moisture loss and give more illumination to the face. I tend to use this during the colder months and I focus the product on the outer part of my temples and sometimes I put the tiniest dot on the mid-point of my cheeks. Dry down is very quick, it leaves the subtlest shine and despite its name, it is not oily at all. This is a more cost effective option for illumination that works a treat.
MyChelle Advanced Argan Oil and Monu Firming Fiji Treatment Oil have been in my cabinet for a while now. While both hydrating, I feel that the Monu struggles to absorb as efficiently as I would like. Formulated with apricot seed, hazel seed and rosewood oils, I’ve resorted to using it on my legs and hands instead. On the other hand the MyChelle Advanced Argan Oil absorbs into the skin with greater ease. This can also be used in the hair and added to other creams to enhance performance. Consisting of a blend of argan and baobab oil, I’ve also resorted to using this on my limbs and once in a while I add a few drops to my hair and it smoothes it beautifully.
Without question, oil usage for cosmetic purposes has sailed over any initial bumps it may have encountered at the advent of its proliferation in the Western market, especially in North America. There appears to be an absence of a price ceiling for many facial and cleansing oils. On the other hand there is another school of thought that advocates for whipping together blends using contents sourced from your pantry or health food stores. I straddle both worlds, falling prey to the gleaming new oils that boast purity and sustainability, while also cocktailing oils in my laboratory/bathroom. It’s fun, but I think the market is past due for some ‘self examination’. After all, the knowledge and use of oils are eons old, but some of the marketing claims coming from this category of cosmetics teeter on the brink of becoming regarded as, gasp, snake oil. That, we do not want.