You soothe, nourish, heal me. You help me see my whole body more fully and you give you let me shine in all the ways that are healthy and right. Thank you!
All my Love!
From ancient days to modern times plant-based oils, their use on the skin, and their effect on the body have been a sacred component of a healthy balanced life. Many of us have fallen out of love with oil, we have been frightened off for fear of clogged pores, breakouts, or looking shiny! So here is my love letter to oil, starting with a look at how they have been used in the past and some simple ways we can bring them back into our lives now for our faces, body, and hair.
Ancient Skincare Essentials
Egyptians used castor, sesame, and moringa oils to clean their skin, the steaming and oiling of the body was an integral part of the bathing ritual for the Romans, and in the Indian healing practice of Ayurveda, the word for oil and love is the same, Sneha, and Abhyanga (skin oiling) is an important component of self-care. These ancient skin care practices can seem simple when we are faced with a multitude of "magic" creams today but there is no question that the purity and goodness of plant-based oils that worked so well for people for centuries.
In the middle ages, things took a waxy turn, thanks to Galen, an early Greek Physician, who mixed olive oil with beeswax and rosewater to create the first cold cream. The world then became obsessed with creamy and waxy variations of oil in skincare. It also, eventually, became a mass marketer's dream of new concoctions to slather on your face for a dream complexion or to give your body the "squeaky clean" sensation. This unfortunately also included adding some not-so-great ingredients like lead and petrochemicals! But thanks to the natural ingredient and green movements the dewy complexions and deep joy of using plant-based oils for skin care is on the rise again.
Oils For Facial Skincare
If you google "facial oil" today, you will be met with a myriad of articles and products about this rising (albeit ancient) trend. It can feel overwhelming, so here is a quick rundown on a few of the different plant oils you can pick up and use on their own and what they can bring to your skincare routine.
Argan Oil - anti-inflammatory and a wonderful oil for normal to oily skin and those prone to acne.
Avocado Oil - high mineral content, very moisturizing and nourishing. Good for combination skin.
Baobab Oil - anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and supports collagen repair. Good on chapped exposed skin with a fast absorption rate.
Jojoba Oil - contains molecules similar in composition to sebum, which the skin naturally produces. The overproduction of sebum can lead to acne, using this oil can help balance production and reduce breakouts!
Download this amazing chart from The Herbal Academy for more information about carrier oils and butters.
All of these oils are great on their own, but combining and customizing oil blends for your own skin is ideal. My best-selling Nourishing Oil Cleanser started out as my own personal blend of oils to use as a face cleanser to remove dirt before using a toner. It has a base of Rice Bran, Grapeseed, and Apricot oils with an added boost from Baobab and Jojoba. These oils make it great for combination skin ( mature, sensitive, and acne prone-I am a complicated woman!) I also use an essential oil blend of lavender, orange, chamomile, and geranium to give it a sweet and calming scent perfect for the end of the day. In winter, I often skip the toner and use the oil as an overnight or on the spot moisturizer for dry skin.
Just as in everything, how we use a product is just as important as what is in the products. Use the following directions for any facial oil to get the best results and remember that a little goes a long way.
Directions for Facial Oil Application
Pour a 3-6 drops of oil into your hands
Rub hands together to slightly heat the oil
Massage the oil into your face using fingertips in a circular motion, being careful with the delicate skin around eyes
Allow to sit on skin for 1 minute
Remove excess oil with a reusable facial pad
Follow with hydrosol or tonner for full skincare routine
Oils for Body Care
Using oil should not just be considered for the face but as part of whole-body care and wellness. Generations of people have used oil for their pure and simple moisturizing, protective and antibacterial properties. Although it may seem like a luxury, it is an important part of caring for your body as oil massage increases circulation, stimulates, and strengthens the lymphatic system, all important elements to help cleanse and revitalize the body. But the oils you use on your face may not necessarily be the same oils you use on your body or hair and finding out how much oil your skin needs can be a bit of trial-and-error.
Abhyanga (Skin Oiling) Self-Care Ritual
In the Ayurvedic healing practice of Abhyanga (Sanskrit term that translates to “oiling the limbs") helps balance the three outermost dhatus (tissues): mamsa (muscle or flesh), rasa (plasma and other fluids), and rakta (blood). Abhyanga can be performed daily, but even done a few times a week, it is a soothing, nourishing, grounding, and immensely helpful practice. A plain untoasted sesame seed oil is a great start to your abhyanga routine but there are added benefits to using herb-infused oils.
In addition to better sleep and healing dry or cracked skin, Abhyanga helps:
boost the immune system
nourish achy or popping joints
encourage lymphatic flow
soften and nourish skin
Watch this excellent video from Emilie Reid of Seasonal Intentions as she leads you through the Abhyanga practice and follow her on Instagram for more awesome yoga, Ayurveda, and seasonal living advice.
Oils for Hair Care
The low waste movement has brought oils back into haircare with renewed vigor. Solid shampoo bars are a great way to reduce waste but their oil bases can mean some try and error in finding the right one for your hair type. Below is a mini overview of the most popular base oils for shampoo bars.
Olive Oil has protective and moisturizing properties. Since it coats the hair shaft and shields keratin, olive oil has protective qualities. Olive oil protects against heat damage, imparts a sleek look and shine
Argan Oil is also known as Moroccan oil, is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants and Vitamin E. Argan oil is great for dry, brittle, frizzy, or coarse hair that is frequently styled and exposed to heat. Also ideal for people with hair that tends to get greasy.
Coconut Oil is rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for good hair health. Coconut oil works well for those wishing to repair brittle hair and split ends, and is recommended for people with slow hair growth.
Whether you are using a solid shampoo bar or not there are times when our hair needs a boost of love and moisture. A herbal infused hot oil treatment is a wonderful way to bring back nutrients to stressed out hair.
DIY - Hot Oil Hair Mask
This coconut, nettle, and honey hair mask is a great hair treatment for tired, over-styled, or dry hair. Nettles help promotes strong healthy, shiny hair, while the coconut oil softens, and the honey locks in moisture.
You will need
1/4 cup (3g) Dried Nettle Leaves
1/2 cup (100g) Unrefined Coconut Oil
Manuka or Raw Honey of your choice
Step 1 - Infusing the Oil
Add dried nettles and coconut oil into a heatproof container.
Place in a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a low boil for 20 minutes (make sure the water doesn't boil away).
Strain the melted oil using a fine mesh strainer, coffee filter, or cheesecloth.
Store infused oil in a cool dark place for up to 12 months. Remember to LABEL your jar!
Step 2 - Preparing Hair Mask
Prepare mask in small batches as needed.
Mix 1 tsp of infused oil mixed with 1 tsp of honey (Manuka is the best). Use more or less depending on your hair length, texture, and level of damage.
Step 3 - Using Hair Mask
Heat the oil and honey mix slightly in a bowl of warm water (optional)
Apply to wet hair and leave in for 5-10 minutes.
Shampoo and rinse well.
For all the ways you show your face, body, and hair love with oil remember that skincare is not self-indulgence, skincare is self-respect.
Yours in joy
Herbal Academy Common Carrier Oils PDF
Elsecar By The Sea Guide to Solid Shampoo Oils PDF