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Facial oils bad for skin?!
Facial oils are a trending skin care product at the moment, loved and recommended by many "beauty guru's" and skin care experts. This is why I found it very interesting to read a comment written by a well respected dermatologist claiming that face oils would stifle skin renewal and exfoliation and would make skin dull over time. She must have a reason why she is saying this, and that's why I looked into this a little bit deeper.
To start with, I've done own research (not just me) with a facial oil, included many testers and found many benefits and no draw backs during the duration of the study. Moreover, I jumped out of my chair (literally) when I saw the visible results from the clinical photography, no joke! We've found that the oil (a combination of Argan oil and Lady's Thistle oil) improves moisture, elasticity and firmness, supports skin resilience, making the skin feel smooth and look more radiant. There was even a reduction of comedones detected. The results were published in a poster, accepted by the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology in 2016.
If you are an impatient person, and demand a fast answer, I can spill the tea right now: I've found no data to support that facial oils would stifle skin renewal and exfoliation, but the opposite.
Moisturisers absolutely influence the skin barrier function and TEWL (transepidermal water loss - which is used to measure the skin barrier function). A good barrier function (confirmed by low TEWL), positively contributes to the skin cell renewal process, which includes skin exfoliation process. Very dry skin has an increased TEWL, and so does very well hydrated skin. There is simply more water on the skin surface to evaporate. A high TEWL with very well hydrated skin can therefore give the impression of an impaired barrier function and thus give a "false positive". This phenomenon is nicely explained in a publication by Marie Loden "Effect of moisturizers on epidermal barrier function".
Looking at non fragrance plant oils also called fixed oils, there are many and they are all different, so it's impossible to generalise. Many plant oils, like almond, jojoba, soybean and avocado oils mostly remain on the skin surface. Even without penetrating deeper into the outer layer of the skin (called epidermis), the occlusive effect of plant oils will reduce water evaporation from the skin and help the growth of the cells of the top layer called keratinocytes. They actually support the skin barrier and therewith skin cell renewal. Part of the skin cell renewal is a process called desquamation, which is skin's natural exfoliation of dead skin cells. Helping this process will make skin appear more radiant and smooth, not duller.
The benefits of plant oils are supported in many publications, one of which is found in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences anti inflammatory skin barrier repair effects by Tzu-Kai Lin 2017.
One of the most popular and well researched fixed oils is organ oil. It contains oleic and linoleic fatty acids. Both are part of our skin's natural intercellular lipid-enriched matrix or skin barrier. Linoleic acid (an omega 6 fatty acid) is in fact the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid. Our skin barrier is protecting our skin from water loss and penetration of external agressors. Thus the skin barrier keeps the good stuff in and bad stuff out.
Linoleic acid plays a direct role in maintaining the integrity of this skin barrier. Some research shows that oleic acid may indeed disrupt the skin barrier and act as an permeability enhancer, helping other ingredients to penetrate deeper. When oleic acid is continuously applied, it could lead to barrier problems. Another ingredient in argan oil is tocopherol or vitamin E. Tocopherol is well known for it's antioxidative effect (neutralising damaging free radicals from pollution or sun which cause premature ageing) and lesser known for supporting the skin barrier. Daily topical application of argan oil (the finished product which contains multiple ingredients) has shown to improve skin elasticity (firmness), improve the skin hydration by restoring the barrier function and maintaining water-holding capacity. Furthermore it has a softening and relaxing effect on skin.
Lady's Thistle oil
The oil of the Milk Thistle plant (also known as Silybum Marianium) is a common ingredient in anti-aging skincare. It contains skin barrier supporting Linoleic acid and is known to nourish skin and improve radiance.
Facial oils are certainly not for everybody, but in general skin will benefit from a cold pressed fixed plant oil or a mixture. Don't smother skin with oils, just apply a few drops by itself on the skin prior or after your moisturiser, or mix a few drops with your moisturiser of foundation.
Hope you enjoy radiant skin & take care.
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