How to choose oils to add to moisturizer
Like I mentioned before, winter is coming, which means oils are going to be our skin BFF. We'll be mixing them into our serums, creams, lotions and foundations for softer, smoother skin.
It’s no secret that I love plant oils. Growing up in Mombasa with dry, eczema prone skin, coconut oil has been my jam for years. I’ve been adding oils to lotions and creams for added moisturization even before I knew it was a thing. You probably have been too.
The main types of oils in skin care are plant oils, mineral oils and essential oils.
All plants contain fats and oils mainly in their seeds. Plant oils are rich in antioxidants that heal and nourish the skin by maintaining its lipid barrier. The lipid barrier is the outermost layer of the skin which minimizes water loss.
Mineral oils prevent water loss by forming a film on the skin’s surface, keeping water in the skin. They are commonly used in formulations because they rarely irritate the skin, effectively increase hydration and are cheap. Although very effective in sealing the skin’s surface, they have a greasy feel e.g. petrolatum, mineral oil
These are fragrant oils from parts of plants like the bark, leaves and seeds. A lot of natural skin care products have essential oils but it's not advised to use them on skin. Essential oils are highly volatile and can irritate, sensitize and damage the skin.
Whether you have oily or dry skin, a plant oil is a great addition to your winter skin care closet. You just have to choose the right oils for your skin type. The wrong oil can lead to breakouts.The composition of oils will play a major factor in which ones you can add to moisturizer.
The composition of oils
Oils are made up of several components, Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) being some of them.
Oleic acid, Omega -9 is a monounsaturated fatty acid
Linoleic acid, Omega – 6 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid
These EFAs will determine which oils would work for your skin.
Dry skin benefits the most from oleic rich oils which really moisturize it.
Oily skin benefits the most from linoleic rich oils. These oils have a thinner consistency and absorb quickly. Oily skin has high levels of oleic acid and low levels of linoleic acid. This deficiency in linoleic acid causes the skin’s oil (sebum) to thicken, clogging pores and contributing to acne.
To create a balance in the skin which results in less breakouts, use skin care with oils high in linoleic acid.
Oils to add to moisturizer when you have dry skin
When you have dry skin, you need oils higher in oleic acid. In the list below, the name of the oil will be followed by the range of oleic and linoleic acid it contains.
Avocado Oil, Oleic acid 55-75%, Linoleic acid 9-17%
Marula Oil, Oleic acid 60-70%, Linoleic acid 20-30%
Cocoa Butter, Oleic acid 23%, Linoleic acid 5%
Apricot Kernel Oil, Oleic acid 55-70%, Linoleic acid 20-35%
Sea Buckthorn Oil, Oleic acid 28%, Linoleic acid 6%
Camellia Oil, Oleic acid 80%, Linoleic acid 10%
Hazelnut Oil, Oleic acid 68-85 %, Linoleic acid 7-15%
Shea Butter, Oleic acid 40-60%, Linoleic acid 3-11%
Macadamia Oil, Oleic acid 50-60%, Linoleic acid 1-3%
Olive Oil, Oleic acid 65-80%, Linoleic acid 6-25%
Sweet Almond Oil, Oleic acid 60-75%, Linoleic acid 20-30%
Palm Fruit Oil, Oleic acid 40%, Linoleic acid 10%
Jojoba Oil, Oleic acid 5-15%, Linoleic acid 5%
Flaxseed Oil, Oleic acid 21%, Linoleic acid 16%
Tamanu Oil, Oleic acid 40%, Linoleic acid 30%
Argan Oil, Oleic acid 42-48%, Linoleic acid 30-38%
Coconut Oil, Oleic acid 5-10%, Linoleic acid 1-2.5%
Safflower Oil, Oleic acid 72-80%, Linoleic acid 12-16%
Oils to add to moisturizer when you have oily skin
When you have oily skin, you need linoleic rich oils. In the list below, the name of the oil will be followed by the range of oleic and linoleic acid it contains.
Black Cumin Seed Oil, Oleic acid 22%, Linoleic acid 55%
Maracuja/Passion fruit Oil, Oleic acid 10%, Linoleic acid, 70%
Hemp Seed Oil, Oleic acid 10%, Linoleic acid 56%
Evening Primrose Oil, Oleic acid 5-11%, Linoleic acid 70-77%
Pumpkin Seed Oil, Oleic acid 24-41%, Linoleic acid 42-60%
Chia Seed Oil, Oleic acid 6%, Linoleic acid 17%
Rosehip Oil, Oleic acid 14-16%, Linoleic acid 43-46%
Grapeseed Oil, Oleic acid 12-25%, Linoleic acid 60-75%
Soybean Oil, Oleic acid 22.72%, Linoleic acid 52.97%
Wheatgerm Oil, Oleic acid 12-39, Linoleic acid 30-57%
Castor Oil, Oleic acid 2-6%, Linoleic acid 1-5%
Kukui Nut Oil, Oleic acid 25.4%, Linoleic acid –39.8%
Pomegranate Oil Oleic acid 6%, Linoleic acid 7%
Sesame Oil, Oleic acid 35-50%, Linoleic acid 35-50%
Sunflower Oil, Oleic acid 15-30%, Linoleic acid 50-70%
Walnut Oil, Oleic acid 25-35%, Linoleic acid 45-60%
If you have dry skin, use oleic rich oils and if you have oily skin, linoleic. Obviously, skin care is very personal and some linoleic rich oils could work for dry skin. The same applies to oily skin and oleic rich oils. This is simply a guide to help test out what works for you.
When I purchase a luxury moisturizer, I want to make sure it's full of natural, cold-pressed plant oils, not mineral oils. This way, I'm getting my money's worth. Mineral oils are cheap and widely available. If I need mineral oil, I look no further than Vaseline petroleum jelly.
Which oils do you add to moisturizer? Let us know in the comments!
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