Part 4: Plant oils and it’s compatibility with skin sebum:
In Part 1, I described the time-tested benefits of oil-based health and beauty rituals. In Part 2, I covered why essential fatty acids are essential to health, particularly skin health. In part 3, I put the spotlight on the vitality-adding phyto-chemicals, some of which can be applied topically. In this part, I’ll cover the compatibility of various skin types with different plant-based oils as I often get questions about this.
You probably already know that a layer of lipids covers the surface of the skin. Where does it come from? Some of the lipids are produced by the sebaceous gland present in the middle layer of the skin (called the dermis). These lipids are a mixture of triglycerides, wax esters and squalene. The cells in the epidermal layer - the top layer of the skin also produces lipids which fills the spaces between the cells – just like mortar or cement. The epidermal lipids are a mixture of ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol.
Skin sebum or lipids are necessary to keep the skin and hair supple, maintain the integrity and health of the skin and also protects the skin from external aggressors like harmful bacteria and pathogens. It offers the skin good barrier protection. It performs an anti-inflammatory function, helps in wound healing and transports vitamins and antioxidants to the skin’s layers. The skin lipid is acidic in nature so it helps to ward off harmful microorganism and bacteria.
How can plant oils be good for your skin?
Healthy skin depends on the balance of the stratum corneum. When the ratio of fatty acids and lipids are out of balance, skin conditions like acne, dry, scaly itchy skin and slow healing of wounds can occur. The skin will not provide an optimal barrier function in the absence of the essential fatty acid known as linoleic acid. Acne can occur when there is less linoleic fatty acid and excess production of sapienic acid. Excess sebum causes clogged pores and it causes inflammation, scaly skin and dryness.
It is a mistake to completely stop using oils and rely exclusively on oil-free skin care products. To bring balance to the skin, we need to feed the skin with oils high in essential fatty acids especially Linoleic acid and Palmitic acid. Oils high in Palmitic acid include cocoa butter and green coffee oil. A diet rich in EFA is recommended to bring balance to our skin’s health. We covered this in Part 2. Once the balance is restored, oils rich in Oleic acid can be used for external application.
If you have problem skin, you should be aware of the composition of fatty acids present in the oils to feed the skin with what is missing. The fatty acids of plant oils are compatible with the fatty acids in our skin sebum. Applying oils high in essential fatty acids, other fatty acids, phyto-chemicals and vitamins directly on the skin in the form of facial oils, creams, lotions, and skin balms make these nutrients available to the skin cells.
Topical application is necessary but insufficient. One’s diet should also change. In the next article, I shall cover oils in our diet.
As always, I welcome your thoughts. Either write to me directly or post your comments on this page. Best wishes for the week ahead.
Bhuvi – Founder and Formulator @PetalDew Skincare
Certified Organic Skincare Formulator (Advanced Diploma in Organic Cosmetic Science – Formula Botanica)
Credit and source:
1. Power of the Seed Your Guide to Oils for Health & Beauty By Susan M Parker