Oils as Moisturizers? The good, bad and ugly…

I recently had a client bring in an article from a popular magazine regarding moisturizers.images-17 My longtime client was educated enough to know that there was something wrong with this article even though it was written by an M.D. (an Obstetrician and Gynecologist). She knew I would be appalled and I just couldn’t resist writing a short blog on the subject to clear the air (and skin, for that matter). 

The doctor states that most moisturizing products contain chemicals and this is why we want to avoid them. This is correct to some small extent however, pretty much everything in any product whatsoever is a “chemical”.  By definition, any substance that is purified or prepared is a chemical, good, bad or otherwise.  She also states that many of these “chemicals” are on the FDA’s list of carcinogens for being xenoestrogens (mimicking estrogen in the body like parabens, for example). This is also valid and care should be exercised when using products with this type of ingredient. She also states that your skin is the largest organ of your body and anything is absorbed into it, which is why we should be extra cautious about what we put on it. From this line of reasoning, she continues to promote the use of cooking oils as moisturizers! Yikes and yuck!

First of all, you are not a sunflower, nor are you an olive nor a safflower so you can put those oils on your skin as often as you like but your skin doesn’t understand the “chemical” composition of them and no matter how much you’d like them to penetrate they simply will not. Additionally, because they do not absorb but sit on the surface of your skin and ‘slickerize’ it, they will be susceptible to oxidation from oxygen and light, especially fluorescent and UV light. If you are using these types of oils you will actually be promoting aging (=browning=age spots=free-radical damage=AGING!) of your skin every single time you grease yourself up. Think about the color of cooking oils (coconut excluded). The longer they sit on the shelves of your local grocery store the more and more yellow they become and eventually, will also smell. That is because as they oxidize they go rancid.

Aside from oxidizing your skin directly they also soften up the dead skin layers preventing the natural shedding of these layers that results in more moisturizing from your own body as the process of shedding dead skin cell layers leaves room for plump, juicy skin cell layers to work their way up. In the process of working their way up they simultaneously dump their Natural Moisture Factors from within which hydrates your skin from the inside.

There are two oils that you can actually use that rarely cause oxidation on your skin, are not carcinogenic, are not estrogenic and incidentally, are also non-comedogenic.  I do encourage the use of products that contain one or both of these oils as they also act as a driver for good ingredients like fatty vitamins (D, E, A and K as well as C if it is an Abscorbyl Palmitate or Absorbyl Tetraisopalmitate). Squalane Oil and Jojoba Oil are chemically almost identical to the sebum (oil) our skin produces and therefore, are in fact, absorbed by the skin instead of sitting on the surface and oxidizing. Squalane Oil will almost never oxidize and Jojoba Oil is also very stable as far as oxidation is concerned, just slightly less than Squalane Oil. Granted, you are not a jojoba bean or an olive plant (which is where Squalane Oil is derived from) however, the oils from these plants are so like our oil that the body doesn’t know any better and just sucks those oils right up until your skin has more on in the inside than the outside. If you are slippery after using these oils then you probably used too much and it is advisable to blot the skin with a clean tissue.

There is one other oil that has some benefits to the skin although it will not penetrate the epidermis. Coconut Oil has some healing, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties to it so it can be used to treat injuries, inflammation, and infections of the skin. While you are not a coconut (although some of us can be quite nutty at times ;o) your skin can benefit from the use of this oil as a treatment but as a moisturizer it will not give you what you ultimately are in search of…hydrated, moist, supple skin.

So there is my rant and reasoning on not using cooking oils as moisturizers.  I just thought I’d share and want to thank my longtime client Kathy for bringing this article to my attention so I could clear the air on this topic. If you are interested in the actual clip you’ll have to email me as it brought to me just as a clip with the date of January 12, 2014 with the physician’s name at the bottom.

Save those cooking oils for cooking and leave the moisturizing to Sanitas!

Cheers and healthy skin 🙂



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