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Ingredient Insider: Facial Oils

One of the primary function of the skin as an organ is protection. Healthy skin is a protective barrier against outside elements (UV and free radicals) and microorganisms. Sebum (oil) secreted by our pores, lipids (protective oils between epidermal cells), sweat and water together form the acid mantle that effectively protects the skin from water-loss and external factors: it is essential to keep this natural barrier function intact.

How does a compromised skin barrier look and feel? Dry, itchy, irritated, sensitive... To keep your skin radiant, plump and healthy, minimize sun exposure (wear sunscreen and protective gear), avoid overzealous exfoliation and harsh products and chemicals on the skin, keep your skin well hydrated (hello Hyaluronic Acid) and support the skin barrier with nourishing oils and antioxidant rich ingredients.

Oils are a wonderful way to lubricate and moisturize the skin. In skincare there are innumerous oils used - each varying in density, fat content and composition. Different oils are appropriate for different skin types and skin concerns.

Fatty Acids

Fatty acids are key components of plant (or animal) derived fats. You might know their benefits and challenges from an interest in nutrition. Topical application of fatty acids is beneficial to skin health. While there are many, two fatty acids stand out: Linoleic Acid is a fatty acid with anti-aging, soothing, and balancing properties. People prone to acne have shown to have lower levels of linoleic acids in their lipids. Oleic Acid is a very hydrating fatty acid and ideal for drier skin. Oils higher in oleic acid can help with dry and sensitive skin, reducing skin sensitivity.

Pore Clogging Propensity

Depending on their composition, oils also have different propensities to clog skin pores. So while your friend might swear on that coconut oil she uses, that might not work for your skin if you are prone to breakouts. The comedogenic scale can help navigate which oils are best suitable for your skin type.

Oil on the lower end of the comedogenic scale (0-2) have low propensity of clogging pores. Oils on the high end of the comedogenic scale (4-5) have a high likelihood of clogging pores. Keep in mind that everyone’s skin is different and reacts differently, and you need to choose the right oil for your skin and skincare goals.

Different Oils For Different Skin

For example, an oily, acne prone skin should be hydrated with a facial oil with a low comedogenic index and high in linoleic acids, such as grapeseed oil. If you have dry skin, most likely you don’t have an issue with clogged pores, and an avocado oil, high in oleic acid will be a good choice. For normal skin, lightweight hydration with balanced fatty acids is ideal and can for example be found in hemp seed, seabuckthorn or jojoba oils.

The Bottom Line

Facial oils are an effective way to protect and nourish your skin. Far from greasy, a face oil leaves your skin dewy, radiant looking and protects it from the challenges your skin faces. As always, know your skin, identify your skin goals, and then choose the right ingredients. Your esthetician is here to help.

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