My first foray into oils outside the kitchen began with my hair. Nothing I picked up at the hair shop did a better job moisturising my tight curls than my favourite organic oils. The move from hair oil to face oil was accidental. I'd run out of my favourite Clarins moisturiser and I needed something to keep my face going till I could get to the beauty counter. My jar of coconut oil loomed into my vision and I thought why not? I haven't looked back since.
After months of experimenting, I've been extolling the virtues of oils as an affordable and effective way to improve your beauty game. Full disclosure, I'm not a dermatologist or a scientist. I'm just a girl who threw some stuff at her person and it made magic happen. It worked for me and it might work for you.
This oil is my everything. In a fire, this is what I'd rescue (sorry mum!). My jar of Virgin Organic Coconut Oil from Fushi has got me through some tough times. It's an effective moisturiser and detangler for my hair. I use it as a day and night cream for my face. Dab it round my eyes as an eye cream. I also massage a little into my lips before applying lipstick and it keeps chapping at bay. It absorbs into my skin fairly quickly without leaving a greasy film. It has a light coconut scent which I love and as it's solid at room temperature I've decanted a little into a pot that I keep in my purse in case of emergencies. I did experiment with it as a body moisturiser but I found it was too light and I would need to do middle of the day touch ups.
The Science Bit
Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids, iron and vitamins E and K. It also has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. The fatty acids do wonders for your hair as they bind to the protein found in your hair which help to soften and also help prevent breakage. It's also one of the few oils that can penetrate the hair shaft which means it can help retain moisture and protect from excess heat. On the skin, the fatty acids reinforce the natural lipid barrier locking in moisture and promoting hydration.
This is the daddy of my oil arsenal. It's the glue that holds everything together. Shea butter makes an excellent base for any hair or body creams that you care to whip up. I add a large chunk of shea butter to a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil, olive oil and castor oil. I melt everything down and mix in a makeshift bain marie. Once it's completely liquid, I add a couple of drops of tea tree oil and pop in the freezer for a few minutes. I take it out and whip until it's a cream like texture. This mix makes for a great hair sealant and a fantastic foot cream. I find it too rich to use as a daily body moisturiser but it is good on extra dry spots like elbows and knees.
The Science Bit
Shea butter is loaded with vitamin E, D and A which give it great healing properties. It's also packed with those essential fatty acids and plant sterols namely oleic, stearic, palmitic and linolenic acids. All this makes for a fantastic moisturiser that can reduce inflammation, restore elasticity and promote cell restoration.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is a great starter oil because it's inexpensive and chances are you have a bottle somewhere in your kitchen. Rub a small amount into your hair before washing and prepare to be amazed. I use olive oil in my hair cream mix and I also use it as a hot oil treatment for my hair. I fill an applicator bottle with olive oil and a few drops of tea tree oil, gently warm in a bowl of hot water and it's ready to use. It also makes a pretty handy body exfoliator when mixed with sugar or coarse sea salt.
The Science Bit
The health benefits for consuming olive oil are well documented but as a topical treatment for hair and body it's pretty amazing too. It's rich in monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, anti inflammatory agents and vitamins A and E. It has a similar chemical composition to sebum which means it is easily absorbed into the skin.
This is a fairly recent addition to my arsenal and I'm loving it so far. I use Extra Virgin Avocado Oil from Olivado which I picked up in Waitrose. It's fast becoming a favourite as I can use it from head to toe. I currently use it as an all over body mist post shower and it keeps my skin soft and glowing all day. I've also taken to adding a drop of it to my coconut oil when I massage it into my face at night. I've also incorporated it into my hair routine. I use it once as a deep conditioner and my curls love it.
The Science Bit
Avocado oil is a goody bag of nutrients that will nurture your skin and hair. It's loaded with monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, sterolins and vitamin E. Omega-3 fatty acids help protect skin from UV rays and sterolins help reduce age spots and encourage the production of collagen. Vitamin E strengthens hair follicles and prevents hair thinning. The oil also has natural humecant properties which means it adds and locks in moisture.
There you have it, my favourite beauty oils. My hair and skin have never looked better and my wallet is in pretty good shape too. If you are curious about introducing oils into your beauty regime, I encourage you to do your research and experiment. Remember not all oils are created equal. Always opt for the virgin and organic varieties, there is a significant difference in quality and worth the extra cost.
To all my fellow oil lovers, please share your favourite oils and ways to use them. I'm always on the hunt for new recipes and ideas!
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