In Defense of Oils

The Beauty of It, with Maya Adivi

Oils are probably the most unjustly maligned ingredients used in skincare right now. There is a tendency to assume that since oilier skin types are more prone to acne, any oil applied to the face will end up causing acne. Even those with dry skin worry about oils suddenly causing breakouts. What makes this so unfortunate is that using the right oil in the right way could actually suppress overproduction of oil, minimize and eventually eliminate breakouts, help rehydrate and moisturize the skin, and have powerful anti-aging capabilities.

So how does oil suppress oil? It sounds counter-intuitive; however, our skin produces oil as a defense mechanism, especially when it is dehydrated or irritated. People with oily skin often opt for harsh cleansers to try and resolve the problem, but what they really end up doing is exacerbating it. A good solution is to opt for oil-based cleansers that won’t strip the skin and cause it to overproduce oil. A cleanser does not stay on the skin for long, so it’s a good place to start if you’re feeling a little nervous.

As for treating dehydration in the first place, the answer is simple. Oils like jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, or apricot kernel oil are occlusives. When applied to the skin they seal moisture in. This makes them especially effective in moisturizers that also contain water-attracting ingredients.

When the oils used are plant-derived, they are also rich in fatty acids and antioxidants that the skin badly needs, whether to eliminate the redness and inflammation of acne and sensitivity, or to stop the free-radical damage that causes premature aging. Coconut oil is reported as being especially excellent for dermatitis and rosacea.

When choosing natural skin care that includes oils, it’s important to keep in mind that different people will not have the same response to a product. That is why two people with the same skin type might find themselves having vastly different reactions to the same oil. In addition to that, the science of testing comedogenicity is imprecise. Jojoba oil and apricot kernel oil are both rated a 2 on the comedogenicity scale, and yet many reviewers will write about how one completely cleared up their skin while the other caused breakouts.

Another example is coconut oil, which has a high comedogenicity rating. However, it also has anti-bacterial properties. Some people found it broke them out, while others found that it totally eliminated their acne. Like with any cosmetic product, it’s important to remember that what might work like magic for one person might not work for another, and vice versa.

*Maya Adivi is a makeup artist trained in Toronto, Canada, with years of experience working with different skin care and make up lines. She is excited to be in Yerevan as a volunteer with Armenian Volunteer Corps. She is passionate about skin health, and is always looking for products that value scientific research over marketing buzzwords.

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