11 Oils for Beautiful Skin and Hair (Part 1 of 2)
Do your current skin and hair care products contain one or more of these oils? For the last few weeks, I’ve written about what not to use and what to look for on your product labels. Today, I want to share what you do want and why in your products, starting with nourishing oils.
There are more natural skin care products available now than ever, and their long list of benefits beyond great looking skin might come as a surprise to you. The right natural oils can keep your skin moisturized, smooth, and glowing. Who doesn’t want that?
The use of natural oils for skin and hair care has been around for years: An article published in May 2013 in the Journal of Experimental Botany suggests civilizations in ancient Egypt, for example, dabbled in their use, while other research suggests ancient Greeks used olive oil in particular to make athletes’ skin appear more luminous during competitions.
One of the reasons that natural oils have really come back into prominence is because there has been a search for moisturizers that don't cause allergic reactions, and don't have as many of the chemicals that trigger allergic reactions.
Jojoba oil is unique in that, unlike most other vegetable oils, it closely resembles sebum, a waxy substance produced by our skin glands, so it can act as a natural skin conditioner.
Soaps and most other skin cleaning agents strip the skin of the sebum that skin glands produce to lubricate the skin and protect it from drying out. Every time we wash our face and hands, even with plain water, we’re removing a protective layer of sebum along with dust and grime. The cold and dry air in winter, and air-conditioned interiors dry out our skin at a faster rate than our skin glands can replenish the oil supply.
Jojoba oil can seal in the moisture and create an effective barrier to external elements. It is so structurally close to the secretion of the sebaceous glands in the skin that it is readily accepted and tolerated.
To Control Oily Skin
Oily skin is the result of overactive sebaceous glands in the skin, found more often on the face and the scalp. Oily skin can quickly gather dust from the environment and make frequent washing necessary. Not only does it look unsightly and make you feel uncomfortable, it can be the starting point of many skin problems such as seborrheic dermatitis, acne, and dandruff.
When the skin remains well hydrated by the protective layer of the jojoba oil, the sebaceous glands respond to it by down regulating sebum production. Jojoba oil has an anti-inflammatory effect that can counter seborrheic dermatitis too.
For eczema and psoriasis
Eczema is an allergic reaction of the skin to various irritants, including commonly used dyes and the chemicals contained in soaps. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes buildups of dead cells on the skin, causing scaling and inflammation. Both conditions are characterized by dry, itchy patches that are prone to secondary bacterial and fungal infections. Jojoba oil has been found to be effective in giving considerable relief to people with these conditions.
Jojoba oil acts as moisturizer, relieving itching and dryness. It also forms a protective layer over the skin, forming a barrier to external irritants. This can be an advantage in the case of eczema as skin inflammation is reduced by the anti-inflammatory property of the oil.
It can also reduce the risk of secondary infections by preventing the entry of germs through the inflamed and cracked skin, besides offering extra protection with its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Rosehip Seed Oil
For facial skin care, rosehip oil offers several benefits when applied externally. It protects the skin and increases cell turnover because it contains vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin D and B-carotene, and a form of vitamin A, which are all antioxidants that help fight free radicals.
Rosehip oil’s healing properties are due to its chemical structure. As I noted, it’s rich in essential fatty acids, but more specifically oleic, palmitic, linoleic and gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Rosehip oil contains polyunsaturated fatty acids (vitamin F), also known as an essential fatty acid (EFA), and when absorbed through the skin, these fatty acids convert to prostaglandins (PGE), which are involved in cellular membrane and tissue regeneration.
Specifically, it is that regeneration that can provide anti-aging benefits. It is particularly high in vitamin C, making it one of the richest plant sources for the skin.
Rosehip oil has significant anti-aging benefits for your face. Super light and non-greasy, the anti-aging benefit comes from its high antioxidants and the oil’s ability to penetrate deeper layers of the skin. The vitamin C and vitamin A stimulate collagen production. Because vitamin A has small molecules, it allows deeper penetration into the skin and improves the skin’s moisture levels — thus reducing wrinkles and fine lines.
Protection from Age Spots
The UV rays of the sun can damage the skin, resulting in age spots and discoloration on the face. The antioxidants found in rosehip oil combat free radicals that cause sun damage. The vitamin A, combined with the oil’s essential fatty acids, can help improve skin tone, texture and pigmentation.
While too much sun exposure can decrease collagen, vitamin C can help counteract this damage. The oil is deeply moisturizing and aids in removing redness and irritation. These properties also make rosehip oil a possible treatment for rosacea.
Coconut oil is high in fats called medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently than most other fats. These special fats are responsible for a lot of the health benefits of coconut oil.
The fatty acids found in coconut oil include:
Lauric acid: 49%
Myristic acid: 18%
Caprylic acid: 8%
Palmitic acid: 8%
Capric acid: 7%
Oleic acid: 6%
Linoleic acid: 2%
Stearic acid: 2%
It Can Kill Harmful Microorganisms
The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties that can help protect against harmful microorganisms.
This is especially important for skin health, as many types of skin infections, including acne, cellulitis, folliculitis and athlete's foot, are caused by bacteria or fungi (1).
Applying coconut oil directly to the skin may prevent the growth of these microorganisms.
This is due to its lauric acid content, which makes up nearly 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil and can fight harmful microorganisms.
One study tested the antibacterial properties of 30 types of fatty acids against 20 different strains of bacteria. Lauric acid was found to be the most effective at blocking the growth of bacteria (2).
Another test-tube study showed that lauric acid can kill off Propionibacterium acnes, a type of bacteria that leads to the development of inflammatory acne (3).
Furthermore, capric acid is another medium-chain fatty acid found in coconut oil, although to a lesser extent. Like lauric acid, capric acid has been shown to have potent antimicrobial properties.
A test-tube study showed that both lauric and capric acid effectively killed off strains of bacteria (4). Another test-tube study demonstrated the anti-fungal effects of capric acid, showing that it was able to inhibit the growth of certain types of fungi (5).
Coconut Oil Could Reduce Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is a major component of many different types of skin disorders, including psoriasis, contact dermatitis and eczema (6).
Interestingly, coconut oil has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
In one study, researchers applied virgin coconut oil to the inflamed ears of rats. Not only was coconut oil found to have an anti-inflammatory effect, but it relieved pain as well (7).
What's more, coconut oil may ease inflammation by improving antioxidant status.
Antioxidants work by stabilizing free radicals in the body, neutralizing the reactive atoms that can contribute to inflammation (8).
Coconut oil can be an effective moisturizer and aid in the treatment of dry skin and eczema. Animal studies have shown that coconut oil may help accelerate wound healing.
Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil is the essential oil of sweet almonds that is extracted through an oil distillation process, but it can also be extracted with an almond kernel press. This concentrated oil is packed with saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats, the latter two in notably higher levels than the former.
This oil is particularly high  in vitamin E, supplying over 200% of your daily requirement in 100 grams. Sweet almond oil is also rich in vitamin K and essential  B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and folate. It has high levels of omega-6 fatty acids which is excellent for strengthening hair from the roots and for supple skin.
Sweet almond oil is a rich source of minerals like calcium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Almonds contain L-carnitine and phenylalanine, the chemicals that improve cognitive function and enhance mood. The phenylalanine in this quick-absorbing oil is carried through the skin to support the secretion of mood-boosting hormones, including dopamine and adrenaline.
Health Benefits of Sweet Almond Oil
The most important health benefits of sweet almond oil include protecting the skin from damage, moisturizing the face, lightening the skin, reducing inflammation, preventing premature aging, boosting hair health, and strengthening the nails, among others.
Sweet almond oil can work as an excellent skin lightener and treat bad sunburns, skin coloration disorders, under-eye circles, scars or other blemishes that you want to eliminate.
The oil can strengthen your hair and reduce  hair loss. The rejuvenating quality of vitamin E can help boost the health of your hair follicles and increase the luster and volume of your hair.
Prevents Premature Aging
The regular use of this essential oil can help you look your youthful best. The antioxidant potential of vitamin E, certain fatty acids, and other active ingredients in almond oil neutralizes free radicals before they can cause issues like skin elasticity, wrinkles, and age spots.
Sweet almond oil cures dandruff by deeply moisturizing and removing dead skin cells on the scalp.
Relieves Inflammatory Conditions
If you suffer from inflammatory conditions of any kind – either internally or on the skin – sweet almond oil can be a fast and effective remedy. If you apply almond oil to patches of  eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, among other inflammatory conditions, it can quickly stimulate the healing process and mitigate the allergic response in that part of the skin.
Throughout history, castor oil’s most popular use has been for treating skin infections, lowering constipation and boosting the appearance of hair health, but research has shown that castor oil has even more important applications for supporting the immune system.
What is castor oil exactly? Castor oil is a nonvolatile fatty oil that comes from the seeds of the castor bean (Ricinus communis) plant which belongs to the flowering spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). Castor oil, also called Ricinus oil, is very thick with a color that ranges from clear to amber or somewhat green. It has a mild scent and taste.
Castor is said to be one of the oldest cultivated crops. Many of castor oil’s benefits come down to its chemical composition. It’s classified as a type of triglyceride fatty acid, and almost 90 percent of its fatty acid content is a specific and rare compound called ricin oleic acid. (1) Castor oil is considered to be pretty unique because ricin oleic acid is not found in many other substances, and it’s such a dense, concentrated source. It is produced by cold-pressing the castor been seeds to extract their natural oil content.
According to a report published in the International Journal of Toxicology, castor oil is known to be used in over 700 cosmetic products. Aside from its primary constituent, ricin oleic acid, castor oil also contains certain beneficial salts and esters that mainly act as skin-conditioning agents. At the same time, they help stabilize the texture and consistency of products, which is why castor oil is used in so many cosmetics, hair and skincare treatments.
Castor oil contains many beneficial components including fatty acids, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, amino acids, terpenoids, and phytosterols. These various compounds give castor oil the following properties and potential health benefits: (2)
Hepatoprotective (ability to prevent damage to the liver)
Free radical scavenging
Castor oil can also help with wound healing thanks to its moisturizing as well as antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. In vitro research has shown that castor oil is effective against many types of bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. (3) Out of all the staphylococcal bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus is considered the most dangerous and can cause mild to serious skin infections and other concerning staph infection symptoms. (4)
As a natural antibacterial agent, castor oil works similarly to coconut oil for boosting skin health. It also makes a great general skin moisturizer and anti-inflammatory blemish treatment.
Stay tuned for the continuation of this article next week (Part 2). If you have any questions or comment, please leave them below. Until then, remember, “Your Skin Deserves Love Too!”