Ok, I admit it: I'm addicted to reading labels. Be it clothing, food or cosmetics in particular, I can't help it; I passionately decypher the ingredients' list and pretend to be all the wiser. I'm sure at least some of you share this obsession with me, but how often do we actually know what the ingredients that make up our cosmetics really are? Most of the time, I don't. Do you?
I've been thinking about this recently while browsing natural skincare lines. I've noticed that I'm much more drawn to the products which the producer supplied with not only an ingredients' list, but also a detailed description of what each ingredient is supposed to do for my skin. Maybe it's just me, but I love knowing what it is that I'm putting on my face and how it is supposed to work to my skin's benefit.
Pursuing that train of thought, I decided to start a new series 'What Beauty is Made of', in which I'll try to break down the most common (or the coolest :) skincare ingredients for you, explaining what they are and what they do. Sounds interesting? Keep reading; if not, come back later.
So today we're going to devote ourselves to the study of base oils, which are also called carrier oils, fixed oils or vegetable oils (do I sound like a teacher? That's probably because I am one). Base oils are commonly used in natural skincare to dilute and carry essential oils into the skin. They differ from essential oils in that they usually have a delicate scent, aren't volatile and are derived from the fatty portion of a plant (seeds, kernels, nuts) and not from leaves or flowers as in the case of essential oils. Similarly to essential oils, base oils have many benefits; they contain vitamins, minerals and Essential Fatty Acids which are indispensable for our skin. To preserve all these fragile nutritients, base oils should be produced using cold-pressing, cold expeller pressing or maceration method.
Let's take a closer look at some of my favorite base oils:
Olive (Olea europaea) oil - The most readily available and universally beneficial oil. It's quite heavy and has a distinct scent, but works miracles on the skin: it's a great moisturizer (it's rich in omega-9 fatty acids and antioxidants), works a treat as a cleansing oil, can be used in a bath or combined with sugar for a great natural exfoliator. Try Spa Goddess's DIY lavender honey salt scrub recipe - it's good enough to eat!
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) oil - This oil is produced from a beautiful flower which blooms at the sunset, hence the name (how romantic!). Rich in omega-6 and other acids, it has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps to reduce swelling and irritation. It's beneficial in the treatment of various skin conditions including acne, eczema and psoriasis. Softens and hydrates the skin.
Jojoba (Simmondsia chinesis) oil - In fact, it's a wax produced from leathery leaves of a desert shrub of jojoba. Its composition is similar to that of skin's natural oils, which makes it a perfect treatment for oilier skin types: it mimicks the sebum so that your skin doesn't have to produce that much of it. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well and a very long shelf life.
Rose Hip (Rosa mosqueta) oil - This expensive oil hydrates the skin and retards the appearance of skin-aging signs, photo-aging included. It also reduces scars, helps strengthen broken capillaries and can be used to treat damaged, brittle hair or sunburns.
Meadowfoam (Limnathes alba) oil - Rich in Vitamin E, which helps to combat the signs of aging. It moisturizes the skin, protects it from sunrays and adds shine to lifeless hair. It's very stable and soaks in easily without leaving a greasy residue.
Have you tried any of these oils? What are your favorites? I hope you enjoyed this post and the concept of the series and stay tuned for a new chapter next week: we're going to experiment with hydrosols.