Oils v Creams
When reaching for a moisturiser most of us turn towards a cream. However face oils are becoming increasingly popular and for good reason. Just like our bodies, our skin also requires essential fatty acids for optimum health.
Skin cells are held together by natural oils (lipids/essential fatty acids), which create a lipid barrier, locking moisture in and keeping elements out. As we age, we produce less oils and the lipid barrier is less able to fight oxidative damage. When this damage occurs, gaps appear in the lipid matrix causing loss of skin tone and wrinkles.
Facial oils (naturally rich with vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids) are absorbed directly into the top layers of the epidermis, where they improve the lipid barrier function and replenish the oils lost due to aging thereby toning and enhancing the skin’s texture. The smaller lipid particles in oil penetrate the epidermal barrier to deliver nutrients to deeper layers of skin, allowing a very high concentrate of therapeutic ingredients to reach the dermal layer where the skin renewal takes place. To top it all, if chosen wisely, oils are only made up of therapeutic ingredients, making it much easier to avoid all of those nasty chemicals and preservatives.
The view that face oils exacerbate the symptoms of oily skin is untrue. Use of facial oils alleviates breakouts by re-stabilizing the lipid barrier. Also, because lipids dissolve lipids, oils actually helps to break up congestion.
When choosing an oil, look for one that is pure, cold extracted and contains essential fatty acids, (especially Omega-3s) and antioxidants. Look for those containing essential oils rather than artificial fragrances, avoiding citrus oils as they photosensitize the skin (sensitize it to the sun) and should not be used during the day without an SPF on top.
Cream, on the other hand, is a mixture of fats, water and actives that are able to hydrate skin due to their very high water content (60-80%). A Cream drives moisture into the skin while fatty oils and ingredients like vegetable-derived glycerin prevent the water from evaporating. This hydration boost enables skin cells to retain moisture, leaving skin supple, healthy and glowing. Additional active ingredients are also able to target specific skin needs, but the results may be less visible than with an oil as they’re at much lower concentrations.
However, 99% of creams contain waxes (cera alba) which form an occlusive (waterproof) layer on the skin. This will help to hold moisture in, but can build up leading to clogged pores and the barrier may prevent the oil components from penetrating. Our natural lipids reach the skin’s surface by way of follicles. When synthetic chemicals and/or waxes used in creams obstruct the mouth of these follicles, the sebum cannot get out, which can results in blackheads or inflammations. Also, a cream is much more likely to contain harmful chemicals and preservatives than an oil.
Therefore, my conclusion is that both oils and creams have their benefits, although creams are more likely to contain other ingredients that do more harm than good!
I use both oils and creams together – chosen very carefully to ensure they contain beneficial, not harmful ingredients.