The use of raw oil in lieu of modern creams/lotions is becoming more popular and seeing as I am a big advocate for their use, a blog post on the subject seems fitting.
Raw oil for the skin is not a modern concept by any means. We humans were using a variety of oils and fats on our skin and hair long before the advent of modern cosmetic making. Furthermore, now that the dangers associated with modern cosmetics are more widely understood and accepted, it’s no wonder people are getting back to basics with their skin care.
We often hear the phrase “we are mostly water”, but ever wonder what makes up the rest? It’s fat! Fat not only composes our cells, and brain tissue, it makes up a large portion of the skin, aka epidermis. Moreover, research has already substantiated the need for essential fats internally to maintain overall skin health, elasticity, etc., so it would only make sense that a nutrient rich oil externally would be helpful from the outside in.
How to Choose the Right Oil, for the Right Body Part
For those who frequent the blogosphere, you may have come across a fairly long list of oils that are suggested for external use; the most frequently mentioned being coconut oil. Other common oils recommended for skin are: olive, sesame, almond, black current seed, jojoba, grapeseed, apricot seed, avocado, rice bran, hemp seed and pumpkin seed oil. There are also “higher end” oils that I like to recommend specifically for the face. These include rose hip seed, tamanu, argan, red raspberry seed, marula, and carrot seed oil. These oils tend to be quite expensive and often found in small quantities; thus, much harder to use over the entire body.
Each of the oils mentioned above have a specific weight, scent, colour, etc., but all have a variety of properties due to their specific content of vitamins, essential fats, and anti-oxidants present. Seeing each one of us is completely unique (advances in genetics is confirming this daily), it’s recommended that research is done on oils that interest you. From there, you can then narrow down your list by how you think you might respond based on skin type, etc. For example, if you want to be thrifty, dietary oils such as coconut, olive, sesame, hemp, and pumpkin seed may be a good starting point. Seeing we all react differently, it’s encouraged that a patch test is done on a less visible part of the body to gauge whether or not a chosen oil is suitable for you. I would suggest three to five days to allow for the skin to react, etc. The reason this is suggested is that some oils are stated to aggravate conditions like acne, but in some cases make them better. Therefore, it’s crucial you accurately test to ensure you are choosing the right oil for you. Of course, if there is an allergy to any oil, please avoid it.
With respect to recommended face oils, it’s suggested that same approach be taken as above (research and patch test). Using the base of the neck or close to the jaw line might better for a patch test, rather than a cheek.
“Butter” is Better!
Some people don’t even bother with oils, and exclusively use plant butters, aka waxes such as shea, coco, and mango. Now although these butters are incredible for the skin, they’re much heavier and take a longer time to absorb; thus, this is where personal preference comes into play. I am in love with butters—mango butter is my favorite, but find them too heavy for the humid climate I live in. However, when I lived in an arid climate, my body was so “thirsty” for moisture, butters were used from the neck down. That said, I usually suggest these for hands, feet and lips, seeing they tend to get beating on a daily basis. Again, this is only my personal preference, so give a chosen butter a whirl and see how you fare. There are some that use butters as their face and neck night cream and swear it is what has kept them from wrinkling! A patch test is also recommended.
Slide and Glide
Because oils/waxes tend to be heavier and thicker, it’s always suggested that they be applied to moist skin. This will prevent what is known as “drag” (supposedly a big cause of wrinkling), will also ensure you only use what is needed, and that your chosen oil/wax absorbs in a reasonable amount of time. Application to the face and neck is very simple, seeing a spritz of toner (which hazel is my favorite) or water is needed right before application. Start with a dime size amount and then increase slowly if needed. Application to the body on the other hand requires a bit more work. This method of application is best done right after your daily shower, but the key is not to be too wet or dry; you need to find your sweet spot. I usually shake off right after the shower, lightly pat dry and apply my oil as fast as possible. It’s also best to avoid clothing for 5-10 minutes to ensure the oil is absorbed. Otherwise, they may stain. If you don’t have the time or luxury, you could use a paper towel to pat off any excess oil. I use the unbleached variety and reuse one a few times and then compost it. Of course, if you have a washing machine, you could use a face cloth as well.
Tips for Success
Although using raw oil/waxes requires a bit of work, it’s definitely worth it in the end. Again, a bit of trial and error is involved, but once you “crack the code” you will see and feel the difference. With the exception of coconut oil, store any excess oil in the fridge to ensure it doesn’t oxidize and keep only a small supply in your bathroom. You may want to use older pillow cases in the event staining happens while you’re sleeping as well. Lastly, run your hands under really warm or hot water for at least 30 seconds after application and then wash with a good soap. This will help to ensure any excess residue is removed.