Skin types can be crazy to figure out at times. I’ve recently been battling some REALLY dry skin. And I’m not talking about the usual tight dry skin, but crunchy, flaky, alligator skin with a nice sheen of oil to top it all off…and it’s been such a nuisance to deal with.
One of the most difficult times to care for your skin is when you work and go to school full time like I do. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time for myself and my skin tends to suffer for it as a result, especially when I’m prone to getting acne, dehydrated dry skin, or stress induced oily skin.
So how did I manage to control the dryness and oiliness with such a busy schedule? The answer is easier than you might think.
HEALING OILS FOR BALANCED SKIN – WHAT ARE THE BEST OILS FOR YOUR SKIN TYPE?
It might sound counterintuitive to consider using an oil to deal with oily or dry skin, but I assure you that oils will be your new best friend, especially during the winter. Just remember – like dissolves like which means that carrier oil will cleanse and dissolve sebum. All you have to do is determine which natural oil is right for your skin type. While that may seem a bit daunting, you don’t need to worry, that’s why I’m here!
Healing oils have been used for beautiful nourished skin for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks may be best known for their use of freshly pressed olive oil to cleanse (by applying the oil to the skin and then scraping the pores) and moisturize their skin, leaving their complexions clear, supple, and glowing.
The benefits of using oil on your skin instead of moisturizers :
• Applying oil to your skin can actually trick it into thinking that it doesn’t need to produce more oil.
• Reduces clogged pores by dissolving “plugs”, blackheads, and whiteheads
• Reduces the formation of fine lines and wrinkles
• No harsh chemicals
• Doesn’t strip your skin of natural oils
• Moisturizes and soothes irritated skin
• Clears acne and balances the acid mantle1
YOUR SKIN TYPE AND HEALING OILS
So let’s go over really quick how oils are supposed to work and how to know if it’s the right oil for your skin type.
When applied to the skin, the oil should absorb completely. If it just sits on top of your skin, looks patchy, doesn’t sink in very well, or makes your face look even shinier than before, then it’s not the right oil for you.
If your skin feels “right” and looks supple, dewy, rested, not overly shiny, and the oil absorbs well, then you’re on the right track! Also keep in mind that if your skin is dehydrated (meaning that the pores look long and stretched) then you need to be patient. Dehydrated skin will not fully allow an oil to sink in until the acid mantle has been restored. To do this, you may need to use a bit of hyaluronic acid to help water stay trapped in your skin cells.
Oily Skin Type
Oily skin is characterized by the overproduction of sebum which creates a greasy feel and shine to the skin. People with oily skin usually have acne prone and sensitive complexions.
The best carrier oils to use for oily skin are oils that are light and contain a high amount of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid found in many light nourishing oils that do not clog the pores. Linoleic acid has been proven, when applied topically, to reduce clogged pores by over 25% in just a few weeks when used daily. My personal favorite non-comedogenic oil is hemp seed oil. You can read about why here.
Oils that contain the highest amounts of linoleic acid include:
• Safflower Oil– 74.62%
• Evening primrose oil– 73%
• Grape Seed Oil– 69.6%
• Sunflower Oil– 65.7%
• Hemp oil– 60%
• Wheat Germ Oil– 60% (I actually no longer recommend this oil as it almost always clogs the skin)
• Apricot Kernel Oil– 50.3%
• Sesame Oil– 50%
• Rosehip Seed Oil– 45.5%
• Tamanu Oil– 38%
Be sure to keep these oils in the fridge or in a cool dark place when not in use to prevent them from going rancid. You will know an oil had gone off by smelling it when you first open it compared to when smelling it when it’s become oxidized. You will definitely be able to tell the difference!
Dry Skin Type
Dry skin is characterized by tight, irritated, itchy, flaky skin. People with dry skin types are u1sually prone to acne due to “sticky” skin cells clogging pores.
The best oils to use for dry skin are oils that contain higher amounts of oleic acid, a monosaturated fatty acid found in heavier, more slow drying oils. These oils are well suited for thirsty skin and are absorbed more readily than oily skin types. As a side note, if you’re using oils high in oleic acid and you find yourself breaking out, then your skin may not be considered “dry” but dehydrated. These are very different things. if this is the case, use oils high in linoleic acid instead as listed above for oily skin types.
Oleic acid is known to reduce inflammation when used topically and internally, so make sure to get good quality fats in your diet. All skin types need to be treated from inside out and the outside in.
Oils that contain the highest amounts of oleic acids are:
• Olive Oil– 55-85% depending on quality (cold pressed is best)
• Macadamia nut oil– 85%
• Avocado Oil– 75%
• Canola Oil– 57% ( I no longer recommend this oil)
• Neem oil– 54% (this oil works better as a spot treatment due to its highly anti-bacterial properties)
• Hazelnut oil– 66%
• Almond Oil– 68%
• Argan oil– 42.8
Extremely Dry Skin Type
Sometimes even oils for regular dry skin won’t work out for everyone. This is where coconut oil and plant butters comes into play.
There’s been a lot of hype about whether or not coconut oil will actually make acne worse, but what I do know that it really depends. Coconut oil will moisturize even the driest skin types. If coconut oil breaks you out, it isn’t the right oil for your skin.
Shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter, and kokum butter will give you super smooth skin due to their high amounts of palmitic acid, but watch out for possible clogged pores! I’ve used pure shea butter without any problems as it actually has believe it or not, a comedogenic rating of 0-1! Finding the right oil for your skin type is all about experimentation. If you need a few more nifty tips for dry skin look here.
Combination skin Type
So what about those of us with combination skin?
Not to worry! You can actually get great results without having to buy 2 different oils. I put the percent ratios up there so that you can choose an oil that suits you best. Those of you with both dry and oily skin should choose oils that have a percent ratio closer to 50% such as almond oil, argan oil, apricot kernel oil, sesame oil, or rosehip oil. These oils are more balanced for combination skin types without being too far on either side of the spectrum.
I enjoying rosehip oil the most when my skin decides to change to a more combination skin type (yes, you skin can change with the seasons) and have had great results with it. All I need is 3-5 drops applied to damp skin and I’m good to go. No extra oiliness and no dryness. Using a few spritzes of homemade rose water doesn’t hurt either.
All Skin Types
Another oil I want to mention is, of course, jojoba oil. Even though jojoba oil contains fairly low amounts of oleic and linoleic acids, it is1 amazing for the skin because it most closely resembles our skin’s natural sebum.
Jojoba oil reduces inflammation, breaks up plugs in clogged pores (over a few weeks), and reduces the production of sebum. This oil is great for all skin types and especially beneficial for acne prone skin. Be aware though, jojoba oil is a purging oil and will dig out impurities for some people with a vengeance. if this is the case for you, you need to be patient for a few weeks. Use very gentle exfoliants or rhassoul clay to help pull those toxins from the skin twice a week.
I recommend picking one carrier oil and trying it out for at least 2 weeks. Play around with amounts and ratios to see what oil works best for your skin type. A few drops may work for some people of a certain oil, but you may need more or less than that, so listen closely to what your skin is telling you. Pretty soon, you’ll have more balanced and comfortable feeling skin.
Also note that you can mix oils to meet your needs (jojoba oil works very well for this) and you can even add a few drops of your favorite essential oils for added benefits like:
• Tea Tree Oil– for acne prone and dry skin
• Lemon Oil– to brighten skin tone
• Rose Oil– for oily skin
• Chamomile Oil– for combination skin
You can even infuse herbs into your skin care oils to add healing properties such as:
• Calendula flowers– for dry irritated skin
• Arnica flowers– for healing acne eruptions and bruising
• Comfrey– Really helps reduce inflammation and heals wounds (perhaps caused by picking)
• Aloe Juice– Good for healing and softening scars
The possibilities are endless! Have fun with it!