Using oils for skin and hair is taking the beauty world by storm, for their ability to make both stronger and healthier. Easily absorbed and antioxidant-rich, beauty oils offer many solutions for common skin and hair problems.
Using oils on your skin and hair brings impressive health benefits. They’re perfect as a night treatment because they help ‘trap’ skin’s natural moisture, preventing evaporation.
When choosing a beauty oil, go for unrefined, virgin, and organic varieties. Steer clear of synthetic fragrances (sometimes listed as parfum or fragrance) and opt for unscented, or scented with cold-pressed essential oils. Natural oils are also free from parabens, the most widely used preservatives in cosmetic products.
Best oil for skin
Coconut oil is fast becoming the best natural oil for skin, to help protect it from the ageing effects of free radicals. Some beauty experts say it’s the richest source of medium and short chain fatty acids, which makes it better at penetrating the deeper skin layer and connective tissues. It’s particularly rich in lauric acid, which can help treat inflammation – a known cause of skin ageing.
You can use coconut oil for skin as a moisturiser and make-up remover, or it’s ideal for use in cooking and as a salad dressing.
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Want glossy hair?
Argan oil comes from the nuts of the argan tree. Used by the indigenous Berber people of Morocco for centuries, it’s now used in a range of hair products. Argan oil is light and easily absorbed, with naturally high vitamin E levels and compounds called saponins, which make it the ideal hair softener and protector. Use argan oil for hair after washing to protect it from the sun.
Vitamin E is also good for repairing brittle or damaged, colour-treated or overstyled hair, while omega-3 and -9 fatty acids strengthen the protein bonding structures, even rescuing split ends. Leave a small amount on overnight for a super-moisturising hair masque.
Want super-soft skin?
Sweet almond oil comes from the kernels of the almond tree. It’s quite light, so is often used as a carrier oil by natural practitioners. Its thin texture and emollient properties means it absorbs well and will work on its own to make skin smooth and silky.
Sweet almond oil is also a humectant, which helps prevent the loss of moisture. And it contains the plant flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, which may protect skin from sun damage. It’s suitable for all skin types – although if you have a nut allergy, consult your doctor before using sweet almond oil for skin.
Want to beat adult acne?
There are some simple steps you can take to beat adult acne but using some essential beauty oils can also help.
Rosa mosqueta oil, or rosehip oil, is uniquely rich in vitamin A. Most nut and seed oils have vitamin E and omegas-3, -6 or -9 in varying proportions, but vitamin A is much rarer. Vitamin A is the main ingredient in pro-retinol, well known for its benefits for acne.
Rosa mosqueta also has more vitamin C than oranges and is rich in other bioactive ingredients vital in tissue-regenerative and restorative skin care. It can also be used to fade age spots, stretch marks and scars, ease eczema and psoriasis.
Add a drop of rose hip oil to three teaspoons of olive oil apply to damp skin and leave on overnight.
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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Always do a patch test before applying oils to your skin. This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine.