Since ancient times, people have used oils to condition, heal and treat skin disorders.
Skin of all ages craves plant oils. They contain nutrients which are readily absorb and incorporated into it's cell structure. All skin types at any age benefit from conditioning with facial treatment oils. Even those with oily skin and those prone to clogged pores and outbreaks can benefit from the right facial oils. Regular use of facials oils is also an important component of the Oil Cleansing Method.
Many of the conventional, and "natural" products we use to cleanse and condition our skin can cause our skin to be in a constant state of "dis-ease". This "dis-eased" state leads a whole host of potential problems and makes it increasingly vulnerable to sun damage, pollution, actuely dry skin, premature signs of aging, etc. With the regular use of the Oil Cleansing Method, minimizing or eliminating the use of foaming cleansers, soap, the overuse of topical applications (acne treatments, chemical peels) over exfoliating, we can help our skin return to a natural state.
INSIDE OR OUT - HOW DOES SKIN BECOME DEHYDRATED?
Skin dehydration is very rarely from not drinking enough water. In most cases if your skin is dehydrated due to lack of water consumption you would be experiencing systemic symptoms beyond the scope of this discussion. That said, skin become dehydrated at the surface.
The primary function of our skin is that of a biological barrier or "tight junction". A "tight junction" keeps infections and bacteria out, and moisture in. Skin becomes dehydrated at the surface due to the evaporation of fluids. This often leads to irritation and dry skin. If skin becomes dry and irritated, this barrier becomes compromised. The more fluids we lose to evaporation the more potential damage is being done, leading to further irritation and even more fluid loss.
This cycle leads us to rely more and more on moisturizers and lotions, which can further exacerbate the situation, leading to more problems such as outbreaks as bacteria can more easily penetrate the "tight junction". These problems can further reduced the ability of our skin to retain its' structure, making it more vulnerable to damaging external factors.
These things occur more often in a harsh, dry climates than in humid ones but it also happens as we age due to a progressive reduction in skin barrier functions; over time your skin gets thinner, produces less skin oils, and is less capable of retaining moisture. Woman experience this more than men, as men have more skin oils and thicker skin to begin so they can get away with minimal skin care. Dry skin and wrinkles don't catch up with the guys until much later in life. Woman suffer more with dry skin and adult acne, leading to the overuse of potentially damaging products, making the skin thinner and weaker as time goes on.
Thankfully, It is possible to actually help maintain, heal and restore healthy skin by applying nutrient dense plant oils with the right properties, in the RIGHT WAY!!
PROPERTIES OF PLANT OILS
The properties we are evaluating here are "occlusive", "emollient" and "humectant". The role of fatty acids will be discussed in a future post.
"Emollient" oils lubricate the skin and fill in the gaps between skin cells making it feel smoother. Emolliency reduces evaporation and helps keep skin soft and pliable. All fruit, nut and seed oils have both emollient + occlusive properties. But some are considered to have more emollient properties than others.
If you apply oils to dry skin without getting the water part right, then trapping zero moisture under the skin leaves you with, well, with zero moisture and still dehydrated skin with an oil layer on top of it.
This is where the humectant part comes in, the vital water part that often gets overlooked when applying facial oils.
Water itself is NOT considered an humectant but it does function as one when using facial oils correctly ....
"Occlusive" oils form a protective barrier on your skin helping to maintain the primary "tight junction" function mentioned above. Occlusive rich oils are very nourishing to our skin and work by trapping existing moisture in, not by adding it as noted above, that is the job of the humectant. Occlusive oils work well for those with normal to dry skin by helping retain moisture already present but can cause problems for those with very dry or dehydrated skin. It is important to note that if your skin is dehydrated applying an occlusive oil is not actually adding moisture back into your skin.
"Humectants" work by PULLING water (moisture) TO the surface of the skin FROM somewhere, either the humidity in the air or from the cells underlying the epidermis. Neither water or oils are not humectants. Powerful natural humectants include glycerin, seaweed, aloe vera gel, hyaluronic acid, and honey.
THE ROLE OF H20: DEWY SOFT OR GREASY? IT'S ALL ABOUT THIS ONE VITAL STEP!
Many people find, myself included, that applying oils to dry skin does not help us because the oils for tend to sit there on the surface a long time before soaking in. More mature skin has a much harder time absorbing oils then those with younger skin.
Applying oils correctly is vital to helping our skin cope with environmental stressors. In fact proper application of your facial oils might be the most important step!
Always apply FACIAL treatment oils to warm damp or wet skin and let it air dry.
"The skin: an indispensable barrier". Proksch E, Brandner JM, Jensen JM (2008).
The Ageing Skin – Structure. Structural Changes Associated with Aging Skin. Dr. Diana Howard
Surface Structure and Properties of Plant Seed Oil Bodies Jason T. C. Tzen, Anthony H. C. Huang Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California.