Using Oil Based Serums

Long thought of as the root of all problems face related, oil is becoming skin’s hero of the day. A pure, unadulterated oil can do so much – and so many things – for your skin. Let’s start with the basics of why.

Oil based face serums offer hydration and are a wonderful source of fatty acids and antioxidants. That’s probably reason enough to use them, right? Well, they can also balance oil production, meaning using oil properly can keep you from getting oily. I know. Oil based face serums also have the ability to cleanse skin without disturbing the acid mantle (you want that acid mantle intact!) which means bacteria won’t have such an easy time getting into your pores and causing breakouts. The molecule size of oils makes them wonderful vessels for transporting other things into the skin. This is something we need to talk more about…

One of the many things we recommend you use your serums for is adding it to your mask. The oil molecules will grab some of the wonderful ingredients in your face mask and head down into your skin with them. This trick is not limited to face mask ingredients by any means. If you have a favorite water based moisturizer you want to supercharge, add a few drops of your oil based serum to it before you apply to help the molecules go deeper than they would alone.

Do you want to use your oil based serum in its purest, simplest and most effective way? After you mask, your skin will be ‘open’ and ready to absorb whatever comes next. Now is the time to make your next step really count. First, you’ll want to apply a light mist of toner or steam water – it will be the hydration you’re about to lock in. When you apply your serum, don’t use much, you can always add more if needed. Dab and press it onto your damp skin with your clean fingertips. You can blend after you’ve done this, but you want that oil heading straight into your pores rather than be smoothed around the top of them. I like to add a spritz of toner again, after pressing and before I blend for an even, glowing finish.

Oil based face serums can also be used to oil cleanse. We recommend you use and oil or oil blend specifically created for cleansing, but you can certainly use any your skin likes. Don’t be afraid you’ll use it all up too soon – a little goes a surprisingly long way. Oil cleansing is a treat that people are really starting to appreciate. My favorite time to oil cleanse is in the morning. Spray your face with toner or steam water and apply a few drops oil to your fingertips. Massage your face in a circular motion, focusing on the bridge of your nose to get your lymphatic system draining any fluid that’s built up overnight. Enjoy this minute or two and then wipe your face with a warm, damp rag. If you have the time, you can hold the rag to your face for a quick steam like treatment before wiping. Your skin will feel amazingly fresh and not at all oily.

Now that you know more about its benefits, I’ll offer a brief run down of what to look for in an oil. Start with organic or wild crafted/harvested when possible. Cold pressed (no heat or solvent used to extract the oil) and unrefined are also important to look for. I’ve heard some say that refined is ‘cleaner’ even though you lose some of the constituents of the oil from processing. Oil on its own is hostile territory for bacteria. It’s just not an environment they can thrive in, so this is something I don’t consider a valid argument for using refined, but please research it more if it concerns you. If you’ve smelled an oil in it’s refined and unrefined states, you know there is a difference. Blueberry seed oil only smells like blueberries in its unrefined state. Never be afraid to ask about your oil – where did it come from? Is it refined? If imported, was the person who made this paid a fair wage? Is it sustainable (are we harming the environment to grow/collect it)?

Finally, let’s quickly go over the fatty acid profiles. As a general rule, dry skin likes oils higher in oleic acid, while all other types benefit more from oils high in linoleic acid. We’ll talk more about this in another post. Although this is a great guideline, it’s not the end all, be all reference for picking an oil your skin likes. If you try an oil based serum your skin doesn’t like, remember that oils are incredible multi taskers, so there shouldn’t be anything wasted. 

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