There are thousands of oils to choose from when creating cleansing blends. The ones I describe here are some of my favorites. But I am barely scratching the surface.
Oils best suited for cleansing are astringent in nature. Astringent oils are rich in the essential Omega 6 fatty acid (EFA) called Alpha-Linoleic acid. Oils rich in these EFAs are both deeply cleansing as well as deeply nourishing - Linoleic fatty acids play a crucial role in the maintenance of healthy skin tissue and resiliency. Helping mitigate environment stress and the effects of aging on skin structure.
If you are struggling with acne or other irritable skin condition, please remember that oils can aggravate already inflamed skin and to proceed with caution. Start with ONE oil. If your skin reacts negatively stop use and try a different oil. Negative reactions such as an increase in irritation, itch, or more bumps and/or outbreaks.
There is no such thing as a “purge” period, often described on the internet as a period during which outbreaks and acne erupt. The idea behind this is flawed. If you skin is inflamed, congested or breakout, this is probably not the best time to try oil cleansing. I suggest that you wait until your skin calms down to try oil cleansing.
If you are one of the lucky ones with happy skin then you have a lot to more oils to choose from then those include don this like. I will be updating this soon with more descriptions of oils for you to try.
REMEMBER: always purchase small quantities of oils and keep them in a cool dark location with the lid on tight. DO NOT purchase oils used for cooking - these are all modified or refined in such as was as to be inappropriate for skin care.
Properties of oils used for cleansing … a little more info
The fatty acid composition is the primary deciding factor when choosing oils for cleansing, as well as the comedogenic rating. Depending on your climate and skin type. The time of year can also be a deciding factor - unless you live in a really dry climate, your skin usually produces more oils when its warmer and less when cold and/or dry.
Oils high in unsaturated fatty acids (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils) are better able to penetrate into the skin tissue, hair follicles and pores.
Oils high in monounsaturated fatty acids are a little heavier and penetrate a bit more slowly - they are a good choice for removing heavy applications of makeup and sunscreen. They lubricate and soften sebum. In the winter when skin might become acutely dry. Olive oil, sweet almond oil and avocado oil are examples.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me!
GRAPE SEED OIL
Comedogenic Rating 1-2. Grapeseed Oil is a lovely light, quickly absorbed, slightly astringent oil, which is also considered a nourishing, penetrating oil. It is not known to clog pores. It is high in Vitamin D, C, E and beta carotene, and antioxidants which can help minimize signs of aging, reduce the appearance of fine lines, maintain collagen and elastin in skin, and may help reduce under-eye circles. High levels of antioxidants can help prevent clogged pores and reduce acne by regulating skin oil production. It has also been shown to stimulate skin tissue regeneration and improve wound healing. Grape seed oil is useful for skin toning and tightening and has been shown to minimize the prominence and size of scars, improve damaged or aging skin, and improve skin elasticity. It is a good choice for sensitive skin and is known not to cause allergic reactions. It has anti inflammatory properties, helping prevent itchy breakouts.
HEMP SEED OIL
Comedogenic Rating 0: Hemp Seed Oil (non-psychoactive) is one of my personal favorites. It has a luxurious feel, sinks into the skin albe to quickly penetrate deep into pores, allowing it to draw the dirt and grime to the surface of your skin where it can be wiped and rinsed away. Hemp Seed oil is exceptionally high in Linoleic Acid. Great for oily skin, and mature/damaged skin due to it is high in Vitamins A, D & E, lecithin, and omega 9.
SAFFLOWER & APRICOT KERNEL SEED
Comedogenic Rating Safflower 0 - Apricot 2. Both oils are rich in linoleic acid, offering softening, regenerating, and moisturizing properties, as well as some anti-inflammatory properties and skin barrier support which can help with dry, itchy skin.
SUNFLOWER SEED OIL
Comedogenic Rating 0: Unrefined organic cold pressed Sunflower seed oil is hard to find but is a lovely oil rich in Oleic acids to the skin’s the fatty acid balance, This oil was prized by early native Americans for addressing numerous skin disorders. DO NOT confuse this with High Oleic Sunflower seed oil used for cooking.
Comedogenic Rating 1-2: Jojoba is not actually and oil, it is a wax. It has a very interesting fatty acid profile making it very unique, it is rich in Eicosenoic FA. The molecular structure of jojoba is quite small, which accounts for many it’s characteristics; It sinks into skin quickly and is able to penetrate deep into hair follicles where dirt and debris get trapped and is quickly rinsed away with warm water. It’s not very occlusive so it doesn’t sit on the skin like thicker oils, yet it provides deep nourishment, helping skin retain suppleness and hold in moisture.If allowed to soak into the skin as a leave on oil, jojoba mixes with sebum, creating a thin breathable, silky layer of light oil and sebum.
Jojoba is held high regard as a cleansing “oil. In addition to the properties listed above, it contains naturally high levels of tannins, astringent compounds with anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial propertis. Jojoba has ample antioxidants & tocopherols, targeting free radicals and ROS (reactive oxygen species).
Oily, combination and even sensitive skin types all benefit from jojoba. Jojoba is one of most favorite “oils” for cleansing in large part because it is very unlikely to cause irritation or make it worse - so those acne should put jojoba on the top of your “try this” list.
SWEET ALMOND OIL
Comedogenic Rating 2: This lovely oil is rich in BOTH Oleic and Linoleic acid so it is considered a "balancing oil". It has a light texture and can easily penetrate deep into the skin, softening and dislodging the dirt and debris accumulated in the skin pores helping prevents blackheads and acne and is said to help reduce acne flare-ups due to naturally occurring high Vitamin A content. It is known to be very gentle and not to aggravate problem skin or allergies and to balance skin oil production. It benefits all skin types and has been used for thousands of years for its proven ability to beautify and condition skin. It is also my recommendation for a nourishing treatment oil for those looking for an after shower moisturizing oil. It has a neutral scent and is quick to absorb. It is especially lovely for mature and dry skin types, and also those with combination and/or sensitive skin with occasional outbreaks.
Comedogenic Rating 0: This interesting oil is a penetrating, astringent oil known to relieve redness and itching and to help lighten scars and hyperpigmentation. It soothes and moisturizes dry, cracked skin. Skin problems due to infection, fungus or parasite benefit from Neem. Neem is often used in spot treatment of acne as it is highly antibacterial. It is preferred to tea tree oil because it is less irritating and known to be cooling, soothing and to not cause dry skin. It has s strong natural odor that many find unappealing. Including a few drops in a blend in small amounts it brings deeply healing properties to the skin and will not overwhelm you with the intense aroma. I wouldn’t recommend using it alone.
Comedogenic Rating 1: Many promoting oil cleansing often encourage the use of Castor Oil, either in a blend or alone. However, if your skin is highly acneic, sensitive or inflamed, cracked and flaking, or you are experiencing active pimples and breakouts – oil cleansing with just castor oil is not recommended. It is thick and sticky, making it difficult to massage in and remove with irritation - it will pull at your already inflamed sensitive skin and will likely cause more sensitivities. If you have happy resilient skin which is oily and you live in a humid climate it can have great benefits by helping dry the skin of excess oils. Castor oil is considered non-comedogenic. It has been shown to improve blood circulation to the skin, improve texture, suppleness, and help skin retain moisture. It soothes and lubricates, and can be used to reduce scarring of healing wounds. 90% of the fatty acid in Castor is Ricinoleic - an omega 9 monounsaturated fatty acid. This uncommon fatty acid penetrates well, providing pain relieving, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has humectant properties as well, helping drawn moisture to the top layers of the skin. For those with mature skin it helps maintain the integrity of the lipid bilayers, increase skin thickness and repair damaged and increase the thickness of the skin. As we age our skin becomes thinner, making it less able to retain moisture - Castor oil can help increase skin thickness and repair damaged tissues. Castor oil has been used for thousands of years in traditional healing protocols for various purposes. It is absorbed through the skin, it is taken up by the lymphatic system where it stimulates the immune system.
This list is hardly comprehensive! There are quite a few oils that really should be on this list! Stay tuned for more posts detailing additional oils you might want to try.
Power of the Seed: Your Guide to Oils for Health & Beauty. Susan Parker 2015.