The body's largest organ, the skin helps to protect the body from the elements, facilitates the sense of touch and makes up a major part of external appearance. It also assists with numerous internal factors, including heat regulation. Key components of the skin are the interior dermal layer and exterior epidermal layer, which both require nutrients and care for optimal health.**
During the aging process, skin becomes thinner and less pliant, more susceptible to wrinkling and creasing, and slower to heal. It also falls under regular exposure to elemental factors such as the sun and wind, along with various harmful modern toxins. These include free radicals that cause damaging oxidative stress and accelerate skin aging at the cellular level. Other concerns include dry skin, sunspots, flaking, scaling and additional irritations and blemishes.
The skin naturally contains oils that help to maintain its health and vital appearance. As aging progresses, however, the glands that secrete these beneficial oils decrease, along with sweat glands, leaving the skin less nourished and hydrated. Synthetic cosmetics may further contribute to the depletion of these dermal components.
Natural skin oils can support and replenish dermal nutrient levels and moisture. These oils often feature essential fatty acids that support the lipid levels of skin, hydrating humectants, and antioxidants that help fight the age-accelerating, cell-damaging effects of free radicals.**
Among the most popular natural skin oils are:
Sweet Almond Oil: One of the most widely consumed nuts, the almond has been valued internationally in numerous cuisines for generations. Extracted from the variety referred to as Prunus amygdalus dulcis, sweet almond oil is plentiful in vitamins, notably E, along with minerals and fatty acids. Well-known as a light topical carrier oil that blends well with fragrant essential oils, it is regularly worked into massages and touted for its skin-hydrating properties.**
Argan Oil: Increasingly popular in skin and hair care, argan oil is sourced from the fruit kernel of the Moroccan argan tree. A valued export, the oil has long been a part of the nation's culture. Evincing a subtle, nutty aroma, argan oil contains beneficial compounds, including vitamin E and related tocopherols, as well as omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, lipids known as "good" fats. These nutrients feature antioxidant activity that has been linked to anti-aging qualities. The oil has been particularly associated with optimal skin hydration.**
Jojoba Oil: Like sweet almond oil, jojoba is often used as a carrier in aromatherapy, partially due to its neutral aroma. A liquid wax sourced from the plant's seed, jojoba oil has been traditionally used in Native American tribes, who appreciate it for moisturizing skin and hair. Due to its reputation as a soothing emollient, jojoba oil is commonly found in lotion and shampoos.**
Coconut Oil: Extracted from the whitish inner fruit of the coconut tree, this oil has a wide variety of uses, including numerous culinary applications. Incorporated into ancient Hindu and Ayurvedic health practices, coconut oil is abundant in medium-chain triglycerides, which are "good" fats readily absorbed by the body. These nutrients have been closely tied to moisturizing skin. Studies have further linked the oil to promoting ideal lipid levels on the skin's surface.** Related to these qualities, coconut oil also has a skin-soothing effect.**
Castor Oil: This oil is derived from the seed of a plant native to India. Called upon for an array of uses since ancient times, it has been utilized as a lubricant and digestive aid, but is now commonly tied to its skin-supportive properties.** Investigations have indicated that castor oil’s ability to uphold skin health is largely due to ricinoleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid with soothing biological activities.** Further research has shown that the oil also functions as an effective skin cleanser.**
Vitamin E Oil: Often considered one nutrient, vitamin E is actually a number of fat-soluble compounds known as tocopherols. While it can be taken internally, vitamin E is also available as a readily absorbed topical oil that has notable free-radical-fighting antioxidant activity.** This attribute, along its hydrating and soothing qualities, makes vitamin E oil a significant skin-promoting nutrient, particularly for healthy aging applications.**
Avocado Oil: Scientifically categorized as a berry, the avocado is a popular fruit that originates from Mexico, but is valued in many international cuisines. Avocado oil, which is derived from its greenish-yellow flesh, may be used in massage as a carrier oil because of its dermal-wellness benefits.** The oil contains beta-carotene and vitamin D and E, as well as other health-supportive fatty acids.** It has also been associated in studies with skin health and wellness, making it a well-regarded topical product.**
Magnesium Oil: Technically a solution of magnesium chloride and pure water, magnesium oil is used externally on the skin and appreciated for its ability to absorb into the body. The mineral itself is required but often lacking in substantial dietary amounts, so the oil can be an effective method of receiving the nutrient. Research has shown that topical magnesium oil aids in maintaining optimal dermal hydration.** These effects may result in soothed skin, with the mineral oil increasingly used in massage therapy and spas.**
Emu Oil: Sourced from the fat of the Australian emu bird, this oil has been historically used by the nation's Aboriginal tribes. Called upon to provide soothing comfort, emu oil is still utilized for the same purposes in the modern era. The oil is rich in beneficial fatty acids, notably omega-3s, and researchers have connected these nutrients to its skin-soothing properties.** These qualities may help with various kinds of skin discomfort.**
Kukui Oil: The tropical kukui tree produces nuts that have long been incorporated into Pacific cuisine and traditional wellness practices. The nut's oil contains antioxidants, vitamins and essential fatty acids, and was once used as lamp oil, leading to the nickname "candlenut." Kukui is applied topically to the skin, and has become increasingly known for its apparent moisturizing effect.**
Skin Oil Products
These skin-care products are generally offered as plant-derived liquids. Coconut oil is often available as a semisolid that converts to a more liquid-like form when handled. These oils are commonly components of other skin-supportive offerings such as creams and lotions.**
Skin Oil Directions for Use
Skin oils present active ingredients of wide-ranging potency, so there is not a set recommended amount. These products are only intended for external application, unless indicated otherwise on the packaging. If you have any concerns about using these oils, seek advice from your health care provider.