Moisturising, for me, is THE most important step in facial skincare. This is what keeps your face, soft, smooth and moisturised all day. It is the last step in the routine so it is important that we get it right. Even if you have a good cleanser and toner, if your moisturiser is no good than your overall results wont be good. Because my toner recipe is very moisturising with the water-soluble olive oil and lovely film formers such as Aloe Vera Juice, Hydrolysed Wheat Protein and Panthenol i found that i didn’t need a moisturiser. So i didn’t use one and just maintained my skin with cleansing and toning. My skin was very happy. But… I wanted to try a moisturiser so i did some research on what ingredients i could use to make up a good, light, non-greasy moisturiser that softened and smoothed my skin whilst being mild and non-irritating.
The facial skin is the most sensitive of all and great care must be taken when choosing oils to suit your skin type. I have very sensitive yet oily skin and so it’s rather difficult for me to find an oil that won’t be too heavy and that won’t irritate my skin. Here is a list of oils that are low on the comedogenic scale and so are very suitable as facial moisturisers. There are just so many but i’ve listed only a few. Be sure to choose good quality, cold-pressed and unrefined where possible to ensure you are getting all the good stuff to make your skin happy!
For all skin types
Jojoba – light to medium weight – Resembles the skin’s sebum, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial. Contains good levels of palmitic acid and forms a non-occlusive layer on our skin. Contains polyphenols and phytosterols which can help reduce inflammation and itching as well as offering good moisturising.
Olive – heavy – Acts as a humectant, attracting water from the atmosphere to keep skin hydrated. High in Oleic acid and has good amounts of Linoleic, palmitic, palmitoleic, and stearic acids, offering moisturising, regenerating, softening and anti-inflammatory and healing properties. High in phytosterols and polyphenols offering anti-inflammatory, anti-itching and anti-oxidising properties.
Hempseed Oil – light to medium weight – Contains ceremides, which protect the skin, and resembles the skin’s sebum. Considered a dry feeling oil like camellia or hazelnut oil. Contains a good amount of both linoleic and linolenic acid so helps restore barrier protection, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and moisture retainer. Also contains Gamma Linolenic Acid (see Borage Oil below) although a lot less than Borage or Evening Primrose Oil.
For oily or acne prone skin types
Hazelnut – Light. Astringent, high in fatty acids especially oleic. Contains squalene, polyphenols and phytosterols. Great skin softening and moisturising.
Macadamia Nut – Light. Resembles the skin’s sebum. High in palmitoleic acid which helps prevent skin damage and Oleic acid good for moisturising, softening and cell regeneration. Anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and helps to reduce itchiness, redness, and irritated skin.
Grapeseed – Light. Astringent and “hypoallergenic”. High in linoleic acid which helps restore skin’s barrier function and reduces transepidermal water loss. anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory.
For dry or ageing skin types
Safflower Oil – Light. High in linoleic acid. Very emollient, skin penetrating, cell regenerating properties, and filled with good vitamins. Softening and smoothing oil.
Rice Bran Oil – Medium. Very emollient, filled with vitamins, highest amount of Vitamin E, great softening and moisturising properties. Contains a great balance of essential fatty acids which makes it a great all-purpose oil. A great anti-oxidant. Helps prevent skin aging and age spots.
Sesame oil – Light to medium. Restructures and moisturises skin, filled with various vitamins and minerals. Contains a great balance of linoleic and oleic acids. Incredibly high in phytosterols making it great for combatting weather damaged skin, reducing inflammation, and softening skin. Contains lignan, which is the structural backbone for most anti-oxidants. These show anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects.
Peach Kernel Oil – Light. Easily absorbable, fine textured, golden oil with a delicate, sweet aroma. Contains minerals and vitamins, especially Vitamin E. High in oleic acid and contains good amounts of linoleic acid making this a very emollient and moisturising oil with skin barrier protection properties. Especially recommended for dry, aging skin.
Exotic and other oils
Borage Oil – Good for dry skin and winter facial care. Highest plant source of GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid) and contains a great balance of essential fatty acids including 11% stearic acid. Stearic acid can help with moisture retention, flexibility of the skin, and skin repair. Effective in reversing epidermal hyperproliferation (when our skin cells generate too quickly) and increasing ceramide synthesis. Also contains gadoleic acid, erucic acid and nervonic acid including ferulic acid which is a very effective anti-oxidant, more powerful than Vitamin E, that can prevent skin aging, reducing age spots, and helps repair light and radiation induced damage. It penetrates the skin to soften and moisturise, soothes wind chapped and sun burned skin, and reduces itching and inflammation.
Evening Primrose – High in Linoleic acid which helps restore skin’s barrier functions, acts as an anti-inflammatory, reduces scaling, and soothes dry skin and itchiness. Contains a good amount GLA which will help restore the skin’s barrier functions quicker than linoleic acid containing oils, reduce Transepidermal water loss, increase skin’s hydration, and offer increased skin flexibility as it is absorbed quickly.
Rosehip Oil – Light, dry and non-greasy. Contains trans-retinoic acid or tretinoin, a form of Vitamin A. Helps to reduce scarring and reduce hyper pigmentation. Used as a cell regenerating, wound healing, and scar lessening ingredient. Studies on photo-aging and scar repair show rosehip oil – used at as little as 6% of a formula – can reduce fine wrinkles causes by UV damage and reduce hyperpigmentation of scars. Contains Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene both of which are anti-oxidants or free radical scavengers. Can offer some reduction of fine lines and signs of photo-aging. Can be irritating to sensitive skin and may cause breakouts in acne prone skin.
Sea Buckthorn – Very high in palmitic acid (35.5%) And palmitoleic acid (36.3%) that is a building block to prevent burns, wounds, and skin scratches as well as the most active anti-microbial in our sebum. It can be used on our skin to treat damaged skin and annoyed mucous membranes. Very high in Vitamin E, and phytosterols good for reducing redness and inflammation and soothing itchy skin. Also high in carotenoids. Studies are showing sea buckthorn seed and pulp oils hold great promise for treated burned, scalded, and radioactively damaged skin, with good healing and anti-inflammatory effects. It can reduce tissue inflammation and accelerate tissue regeneration for first, second, and third degree burns. A study confirmed its use as a treatment for inflammatory atopic dermatitis. A fantastic oil but very expensive oil!
Squalane – Light. Makes up around 12% of our skin’s sebum, so is highly absorbable as our skin recognises it as it’s own. Squalene is a vital part of cholesterol, steroid, and Vitamin D synthesis in our bodies. It penetrates the skin quickly offering softening and moisturising to even really chapped or cracked skin. Helps prevent UV damage to skin, offers cell regenerating properties, and can be anti-bacterial. Makes a great base for facial serums.
Fractionated Coconut – Very light. Also known as caprylic/capric triglyceride. Is highly saturated, so it has a great life span of at least 2 years! Highly absorbable and offers deep moisturisation. A great base for facial oils and serums but can be comedogenic to some skin types (as high as 2 on a scale of 1 to 4).
Avocado – Medium. High in Oleic Acid and tocopherols (Vitamin E). Is easily absorbed by the skin and hair and is great for sunburned, wind chapped or reddened skin, like the other high oleic acid oils. May offer some light sunscreen properties. Contains Vitamins A and D, and phytosterols that will help with itchy and inflamed skin.
Camellia Oil – Light, non-greasy. Similar in viscosity to jojoba. High in essential fatty acids, especially oleic. Is well absorbed by the skin, offering softening, moisturising, and regenerating properties, and offers anti-inflammatory benefits. Contains a lot of polyphenols which offer antibiotic properties. Is easily absorbed and rich in Vitamin A to naturally regenerate the skin. Has excellent skin conditioning properties and presents skin restructuring and moisturising virtues. An excellent choice as a facial oil for dry, damaged skin.
Vitamin E – Pure undiluted. A fat-soluble vitamin which exists in 8 isomers – 4 Tocopherols and 4 Tocotrienols. d-Alpha Tocopherol possesses the highest biological activity of all 8 forms. A powerful anti-oxidant, protecting the skin from harmful free radicals. Also penetrates deep into the cells, helps activate cell proliferation, helps promote wound healing and may reduce UV-induced damage. It is also a powerful moisturiser.
This list is by no means exhaustive but is a great start to making up your own facial oil moisturisers. You can use just one or a blend of oils.
Even if you have oily skin like me, you can enjoy the benefits of some of the heavier oils by adding them in at 2-5% in your light oil blends such hazelnut and camellia to reduce their heaviness and still have great absorbability.
A possible light facial oil recipe for oily skin may look something like this
Hazelnut and Macadamia Facial Oil – For Oily skin
Hazelnut oil – 55%
Macadamia Nut Oil – 35%
Hempseed Oil – 5%
Avocado Oil – 4%
Vitamin E – 1%
And one for dry skin
Peach Kernel and Safflower Facial Oil – For Dry Skin
Peach Kernel Oil – 50%
Safflower Oil – 39%
Jojoba Oil – 5%
Avocado Oil – 5%
Vitamin E – 1%
And a facial serum for overnight treatment might be formulated like this
Smoothing Facial Serum – With Sea Buckthorn, Rosehip and Borage Oils
Squalane – 30%
Hazelnut Oil – 30%
Camellia Oil – 10%
Borage Oil – 10%
Rosehip Seed Oil – 10%
Sea Buckthorn Oil – 8%
Vitamin E – 1%
You can also include essential oils in your blends such as Chamomile, Lavender, Patchouli, Rosemary and Geranium which are all good for the skin. Include them at 0.5 – 1% although I’d suggest 0.5% maximum as you don’t want it too strong for your delicate facial skin. I also recommend making up small bottles of say 50ml to 100ml as you only need a few drops at a time.
Join me next time for part 2 of this post where i’ll be talking about emulsified (oil & water) moisturising creams.