Most people that have an interest in skincare would have likely found themselves in this situation – standing in front of a beauty counter, trying to understand the differences in prices between skincare products. What makes something cost $30, and the other cost $300? Surely it would have to be the ingredients used right? Well, not always. Unfortunately, there’s a long list of things that determines the cost of a product and only a small part of it is how much the ingredients actually cost. Face oils are the perfect indicator for disparity in prices not necessarily matching up to the quality of ingredients.

At my last count, there were over 50+ oils that in combination or individually, are sold as serums for lipid dry skin. I am constantly fascinated by the marketing that goes into these products claiming that one oil is better than others and vice versa. The reality is that from a marketing perspective, it sounds exotic to be putting on marula, cacay or kukui seed oils instead of the standard oils such as rosehip, sweet almond and macadamia. However, looking at these oils from a science point of view, they all contain the same fatty acids just at different percentages. Fatty acids are also called omega 3, 6 and 9 and the most prevalent ones have the names such as palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid and alpha linoleic.

The truth is, I wish I could give you an explanation for the price differentiation, but unfortunately, I can’t. We’re all guilty of buying too much and having a bathroom cabinet full of half-empty products that don’t actually work. Consumers are continually searching for products that live up to their promises and the sad reality is that many do not. What’s even worse is that we’ve been led to believe that we need a plethora of different lotions and potions to get the results we want, but this kind of skincare routine can actually be doing more damage to your skin. Don’t get hooked by the hype as these products at the end of the day, are all oils from seeds.

Our skin contains oil and when it becomes depleted, we call this lipid dry skin. Oils are made up of fatty acids, with our skin oil being made up of two major fatty acids called Linoleic acid and Alpha Linoleic acid. We need to be looking for oils that contain these two fatty acids at high percentages with low-fat content. In my opinion, the oil that is best for lipid dry skin is Rosehip oil. Ideally, you would go for a light oil that contains good percentages of oleic, linoleic and alpha-linoleic acid and funnily enough- that is rosehip oil which is the most common oil in this market and is well priced.

Our skin also needs oil-soluble vitamins A & E so the oils also need to contain both of these. These vitamins are from a plant source are called Carotene (Vitamin A) and Tocopherol (Vitamin E). Both of these vitamins are highly coloured and have an odour to them. Unrefined oils are the best from a cold pressed source. Solvent / Co2 extracted oils from my experience contain a great deal more fats that will cause skin problems.⠀

With the information above, I set out to find the best oils for our skin which are listed below. They are listed below by the highest content of the fatty acids and oil soluble vitamins best for our skins and the smallest amounts of fats that will cause pore blockages.⠀

1. Rosehip Oil Unrefined⠀
2. Seabuckthorn Oil Unrefined⠀
3. Raspberry Seed Oil Unrefined⠀
4. Blackberry Seed Oil Unrefined⠀
5. Hemp Seed Oil Unrefined⠀
6. Cranberry Seed Oil Unrefined⠀
7. Chia Seed Oil Unrefined⠀

Just remember, an oil may sound exotic and may be marketed in a way that makes it sound incredible, but your skin doesn’t care about that. Your skin only cares about what can improve its health, and if it’s not on the list above I wouldn’t recommend it. 

Read More: Greenwashing – what does it mean to be ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ in the beauty industry?

Ross MacDougald

Ross Macdougald is an Australian Cosmetic Chemist who is the founder of Biologi, phytoverse and Plant Extracts.

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