Oil is important to our skin, there is no doubt about it. Here are the basic facts:
1) Oil or sebum is produced by sebaceous glands from our skin;
2) It waterproofs and lubricates our skins and hair;
3) Oil or sebum is secreted through pores.
Naturally it is important to keep the oil produced by the sebaceous glands balanced, thus our skin become healthy. Unfortunately it is not always easy to get to it, while heightened hormone levels could easily affect the oil production on our skin - that’s also why teenagers often have pimples and some women tend to have oilier skin during parts of their menstrual cycle; while they’re pregnant and in menopause.
It is impossible to stop the secretion of oil from our skin pores but it can be regulated. It’s important to note that oil secretion could be regulated but not be stopped totally, because our skin needs oil, that’s what makes our skin shiny and healthy!
I love using oils, and my skin loves them too! Some people go aghast when I tell them I use oils for my body and my face, when I mention the word “oil”, they think of “grease” and “sticky”. You may think that you have oily skin and putting on oil would make your skin more greasy, so by putting oil on your face, you have tricked your skin to think that “there is sufficient oil on the skin, I don’t need to produce more”! Actually the key factor is whether you are using the right oil for your skin type.
The truth is that - if you have acne prone skin like me - we need linoleic acid. There are studies showing that acne patients have been shown to have low levels of linoleic acid in their skin surface lipids.
Linoleic vs Oleic acid
Fatty acids are the building blocks of oil. The major difference between linoleic and oleic acid is that, we cannot manufacture linoleic acid from our body, we could only get it externally, i.e. via our diet or more effectively getting it from oils; while we could produce oleic acid.
Linoleic acid tends to make oil lighter, meaning it’s smoother and not thick (safflower oil, evening primrose oil and grape seed oil). However, oils with high linoleic acid go off quickly, but the antioxidants in rosehip oil (still high in linoleic acid but low in oleic acid) help keeping it from doing just that. There was one study that showed that a 25% side reduction on microcomedones (baby pimples) by applying linoleic acid to people with mild acne! Even though linoleic acid is still connected to glycerin in oils but our skin have the enzyme to slowly break off this acid.
Oleic acid, on the other hand, makes oils richer, it is extra-occlusive and can seal in moisture really effectively (olive oil, safflower oil, and sweet almond oil). These oils are especially suitable for very dry skin, as they can keep the moist in your skin.
There are no absolute answer to the good and bad of linoleic acid and oleic acid. Our skin needs both of them, the key is to find a good balance. You can see from the table below the % of both acids in some commonly found oils:
If you have acne prone skin, try to avoid the oils with high oleic acid. Safflower oil, evening primrose oil, grape seed oil, and hemp seed oil will work best for you: you get high acne-preventing linoleic acid while keeping the low dose of oleic acid to keep the moist on your skin.
I hope this article gives you confidence in using oil! If you are still not convinced, why not just try it out?! It may work wonders for your skin!
Coming up on how I use oil and how I mix them together for my skin. Stay tune!