There is no doubt that eating the right types of oils can improve our health and vitality, but natural plant oils can have a dramatic effect on the skin, too. Their benefits are two-fold. Firstly, by including oils in our diet, or by swallowing supplements, we can dramatically improve our complexion and delay the signs of aging. Secondly, by applying oils directly to the skin, we provide it with many of the nutrients needed to heal wounds, soothe inflammation and keep it supple and strong. Oils are such effective moisturizers that they are the key ingredient in most rejuvenating and anti-aging skin treatments.
The use of natural oils in skin creams and beauty treaments is nothing new. Oils have been highly prized for centuries for their therapeutic effects, and one of the earliest recorded uses of oil on the skin is in the New Testament. ‘Mary took a pound of costly spikenard and anointed the feet of Jesus’, John 12:3. This simple gesture was, in fact the height of extravagance, as spikenard was an extremely expensive, aromatic oil from the remote valleys of the Himalayas. It was extracted from the tiny roots of the fragile spikenard plant, and this amount would have cost the average laborer an entire year’s wages.
In ancient Egypt, Queen Cleopatra was famed for the amount of time she spent beautifying herself, and her narcissitic regime included face masks and massage lotions. In the temple of Hatshepsut at Thebes, there are paintings of high-ranking Egyptian women having their shoulders massaged with aromatic oils. This treatment has been revived this century and renamed aromatherapy, and it remains a highly effective way of conditioning the skin. Pure, unrefined oils have certainly withstood the test of time and scientists have yet to improve on their ability to protect and repair the skin. Despite many millions of dollars spent on research and development by the cosmetics industry each year, natural oils remain our most valuable and versatile skincare asset.
Some of my favorite skin oils are ingredients in the Body Butter from Nature’s Nest Aromatherapy – Avocado oil, Meadowfoam seed oil, Olive oil, Grapeseed oil, Coconut oil, Sesame oil and Vitamin E oil. This Body Butter has become quite popular because of it’s dramatic effects on the skin and it’s proven versatility in improving many skin conditions.
Avocado oil comes from the flesh of the avocado and was one of the easiest vegetable oils for early civilizations to extract. It was first found growing in South American swamplands and still carries the nickname ‘alligator pear’. Oil from the flesh of the avocado is highly nutritious and rich in many nutrients, including vitamins A and D, and the mineral potassium. Avocado oil is a time-tested skin soother and softener, but scientists are only beginning to realize it’s full skincare potential. Research carried out has revealed that avocado oil not only smoothes the surface of the skin, but can also slip through and penetrate the upper layers. It is more easily sbsorbed by the skin than other well-known cosmetic oils. By carrying it’s vital vitamins and essential fatty acids below the surface of the skin, avocado oil plays an important part in delaying skin degeneration and slowing the signs of aging. Many vegetable oils are natural sunscreens – and again avocado beats the other beauty oils in it’s ability to block out the sun’s rays. The sun is the skin’s number-one enemy for encouraging fine lines and wrinkles.
Meadowfoam seed oil is an herbaceous winter annual plant native to the pacific northwest region of the United States. It was developed to replace sperm whale oil in the 1970’s. The oil from the meadowfoam plant is recognized for it’s outstanding oxidative stability. It is unique in that it contains over 98% fatty acids that have over 20 carbon atoms. It is said to moisturize the skin and hair better than most oils, and it helps prevent moisture loss. In hair care products, it helps add shine and moisture to the hair and scalp. In lip balms, it helps revitalize dry, cracked lips and keeps them moist longer. It has a high tolerance for heat and is suitable for a wide range of applications. Meadowfoam seed oil is one of the most stable lipids known, and it lends stability to other oils that are combined with it. It is often used as a binder, and may help extend fragrances better than other oils when used in bath salts, soaps, creams and massage oils.
Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies, and it reflects what’s going on inside; it’s the mirror to our souls, and if you treat it well, your skin will glow. To read about other vital skin oils, keep your eyes peeled for ‘Vital oils for skin care’ – Part two.
Until next time…