In my recent post on Body Oils, I wrote about various body oils I own with a very high level view of their key ingredients.
As you all know, the companies charge a certain price based on its branding, packaging, research and development costs, and most importantly on its ingredients. Some ingredients are a lot cheaper to source and include in any given formulation. As an example: much debated and controversial Mineral Oil, it’s a very cheap (in terms of $) ingredient to include (even the cosmeceutical grade) however some companies charge an exorbitant amount for the product.
What can you expect from this series on Decoding Oil?
Learning more about the types and categories of oils (difference between Carrier and Essential Oils), extraction processes and its impact on the overall quality and integrity of oil properties. In the process, you’d understand why I prefer oils over moisturizers. Having said that, in some instances some moisturizers are betters than face oils. This may be a controversial series for some die hard green beauty addicts, but I request do your research and keep an open mind. Nothing is ever conclusive or gospel and we are all in the learning curve together.
If you’ve read French Beauty Solution by Mathilde Thomas (founder of Caudalie) you would have touched on the topic of Oils in one section. It’s important to understand this basic foundation of categories of oils. This will also help you break down the ingredient listing next time you see a product and truly understand what are you paying the big bucks for? Are you getting value for money?!
Oils can be separated in two basic categories, namely Essential Oils and Carrier (Plant) Oils.
Essential Oils: these are extracted from seeds, roots, plants, herbs and flowers. A potent form of oil (only need drop or two) and extremely volatile in nature. Depending on how these oils are extracted, their stability and potency is determined. Applying essential oils directly to the skin can be harmful to the skin causing skin irritation and sensitivities (remember natural is not always good!). On the bright side, they possess a smaller molecular structure, which makes penetrability easier in the skin.
Generally, essential oils appear at the back of the ingredient listing. First 2-3 oils on the ingredient listing are carrier oils. Some inci lists refer to some ingredients as xxx extract, well these ‘extracts’ possess different properties to essentials oils and cannot be used interchangeably.
Essential Oils carry distinct characteristics, properties and aroma of the plant, flower or root. I will break down examples of Essential Oils based on their family of origin:
Flowers & Leaves: Rose, Lavender, Rosemary, Parsley, Tea Tree, Neroli, Palmarosa, Petitgrain, Bergamot, Marshmallow, Mandarin, Rosemary, Acacia flower, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Evening Primrose, Blue Tansy, Saffron, Peppermint or Mint, Marigold, Chamomile, Vetiver, Moringa, etc.
Roots: Turmeric, Lotus root, Ginger, Angelica,Sandalwood (not technically a root) etc.
Spices: Black Cumin, Cinnamon, Clove, Licorice, Cardamom, Fenugreek, etc.
Benefits (scent, therapeutic and aromatherapy benefits) are many, depending on each class of oil and its individual properties. In addition, essentials oils are also used for aromatherapy. Inhaling a deep breath of essentials oils triggers and invigorates senses in your mind and body. I’ve always enjoyed burning essential oils in my oil burner. Obviously, very versatile in nature they can be used for myriad purposes.
These oils are sold in glass bottles, due to the concentrated strength plastic bottles are not the best option. Also, generally sold in smaller quantities such as 10ml – 20ml. They don’t go rancid but over a period of time they can loose its peculiar properties.
Carrier Oils or Base Oils or: Just as the name suggests, they’re “carriers” for essential oils. With a larger molecular structure they don’t penetrate as deep but nourish the upper layers of skin. They’re generally from fatty portion of seeds, plants, and nuts. Unlike essential oils they are not potent or concentrated and can be used in larger (generous) quantities. These oils do tend to go rancid over a period of time.
Examples include: Apricot, Jojoba, Coconut, Castor, Avocado, Almond, Macadamia, Chia Seed, Kukui, Tamanu, Argan, Borage, Sea Buckthorn, Camellia, Hibiscus, Rosehip, Sweet Almond, Prickly Pear, Avocado, Olive, Grapeseed, Sacha Inchi (Peruvian peanut), Meadowfoam (high in omegas), Walnut, St. John’s Wort, Wheatgerm oil (highest form in vitamin e), Sesame, etc.
Carrier oils are packaged in plastic or glass bottles and sold in larger quantities too.
To further your understanding of facial oils or body oils or facial cleansing oil or balm you’re currently using, I’d recommend, going through the ingredient listing so you can practice identifying carrier and essential oils (no I’m not giving you homework).
Many oils break down their ingredient listing based on how they were sourced. Some of the sourcing methods and nature of ingredients you may notice are Organic, Natural, Fair Trade, Wild Harvested, Natural, GMO free, USDA certified, from FDA approved facility.
Let me know in comments below how you’re going with decoding oils in your current stash?