Natural plant oils seem to be the newest addition when it comes to skincare, there's many different ones and they seem to be taken over more traditional lotions, cream and even cleansers!
The truth is that plant oils have been used for skincare since Ancient Egyptians, to cleanse the skin, fight ageing signs and protect it from sun and insects. They used oils like castor, sesame, olive and moringa oils (just like us!), and now many skincare brands and suppliers like to say that their oil was Cleopatra's favourite oil.
Many years and centuries later, science has discovered what egyptians already seemed to know. Vegetable oils have shown amazing results for skin care and skin wounds. Many of them contain specific compounds with antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-itch properties, promoting cell proliferation, increasing collagen synthesis, stimulating dermal reconstruction, and repairing the skin's lipid barrier function.
That sounds good, right? But how do oils actually work?
Well, in order to understand how oils work, you need to understand the role of your natural skin barrier. Your natural skin barrier is the outermost layer of your skin and it works as a first line of defense. It is composed of special cells (called corneocytes) and lipids (oils) forming a 'brick-and-mortar' structure. The skin-barrier efficacy depends very much on the composition and presence of the skin lipids, for example, the deficiency of linoleic acid on the skin leads to an altered barrier, and people with atopic dermatitis (AD), or acne, have shown decreased Linoleic Acid metabolites in their skin barrier. Natural oils play an important role in balancing, repairing and replenishing the natural skin barrier.
The role of oils in repairing the skin barrier
Image Source: Vaughn, A. et al. (2017) Natural Oils for Skin-Barrier Repair: Ancient Compounds now Backed by Modern Science. Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 19: 103-117
a) Normal Stratum Corneum
Healthy skin barrier protects against moisture evaporation, irritants, allergens, and microbial invasion. The stratum corneum (SC) is an important part of the skin barrier and is composed of organized corneocytes, epidermal tight junctions, natural moisturizing factors, and intracellular lipids that are essential to maintaining moisture and optimal SC.
b) Disrupted Stratum Corneum
The Stratum Corneum disruption is characterized by increased trans-epidermal water loss, decreased SC hydration, and increased pH. A disrupted skin barrier is involved in the pathogenesis of various skin diseases including atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis.
C) Natural Oil Reparation
Natural oils help repair the skin barrier by replenishing intracellular lipids, creating an occlusive seal, improving SC hydration, decreasing inflammation, and reducing microbes. They have the ability to protect, balance and replenish your natural skin barrier, which allows your skin to function properly without the need of external products.
Moreover, as mentioned in the beginning, many different oils contain different compounds absorbed by deeper layers of the skin that contain all sorts of properties: anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antioxidant... they contain many different vitamins and compounds with proven beneficial activity for the skin!
Here at Qualia, we have expertise in the medicinal uses of plants and we make custom formulas for your skin using natural oils, distilled oils and botanical extracts. If you want to try the wonderful effects of oils in your skin, take our online skin quiz and get your formula!