My Little Secret…
The question I mostly get asked in interviews is to solve the secret of which products I use on my skin. Maybe not so surprising but… I use my own products daily, morning and night. In the first place I developed them for myself; with ingredients I could tolerate, which had proven effectiveness and in the correct concentration. Having said that, I do also have a number of other products on my bathroom shelf as well as my own creams. And most of them cost very little! So I am a fan of the old fashioned tube of Vaseline, but another one in my collection, which I am very fond of, is 100% vegetable oil. A good quality vegetable oil is a must in your beauty regime, and I am going to tell you why…
Most vegetable oils contain not only fatty acids but also anti-oxidants. These substances can keep your skin supple and hydrated whilst protecting your skin against sun damage. Oils usually also contain substances which are soothing and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Along with this, 100% vegetable oils don’t require preservatives as bacteria and fungus have no desire to live there. But before you go throwing out your newly purchased cream and replacing it with a bottle of vegetable oil, you need to know that there are much higher concentrations of active ingredients in a good quality cream than you’ll find in that bottle of oil. So an oil is a supplement to a good cream rather than a replacement.
My ‘secret’ uses for it
• I use a vegetable oil when my face is a little bit dehydrated. Many ingredients work best in a thinner water based cream, so it can be very annoying if your skin remains dry. A vegetable oil applied on top of your cream or serum is a perfect way in which to get your skin soft and supple again. Active ingredients in the cream penetrate into your skin, and the oil helps to prevent moisture from escaping so your skin doesn’t dry out. If my skin is really bad then a good facial massage with oil works wonders, and even more so when I’ve just washed my face and it is still slightly damp.
• I use an oil to remove my make-up daily, there are no aggressive surfactants needed and all the make-up comes off just like snow melting in the sun.
• I rarely use a body lotion, instead opting for vegetable oil on my body as well. I usually mix it with a little of my face cream (for the active substances). If, after a long bout with the hairdryer and having swum a few lengths of the pool, I can no longer do anything with my hair then a night sleeping with some oil in it brings back the shine. Don’t forget to rinse it out the next day though!
• A few drops of vegetable oil in your bath water will prevent your skin from drying out.
• Also my feet, hands, nails and nail cuticles are definitely placed in oil regularly during winter. Sometimes in combination with Vaseline.
• Vegetable oil on your baby’s delicate skin is very good, I used it on all of my children anyway. Much safer than all the perfumed rubbish!
My favourite oil
If my ‘secret’ story has made you enthusiastic and you would like to buy a bottle, make sure that you don’t get lost in the forest of 1000 and 1 exotic oils, with prices resembling liquid gold. To spare you from this I’ll give you the names of a couple that I have at home. The one I use depends on the condition of my skin (and my mood). One of my favourite oils is jojoba oil. This is a relatively light oil that is easily absorbed into the skin and is extremely suitable for the more oily skin because it doesn’t block the pores and it, as it were, dissolves sebum. But actually, this oil is suitable for all skin types. Because of the relatively high concentration of Vitamin E and the lack of unsaturated fatty acids, jojoba oil will keep for longer than most oils. Scientific research has shown that jojoba oil is anti-inflammatory, kills bacteria and protects against UV rays. What more could you want?
If my skin is rather dry or irritated I like to use Camelia japonica oil (from the seeds of the green tea plant). This oil has a neutral smell and a soothing effect.
Another fine, fuller oil which instantly makes your skin smooth and supple, is rice bran oil. Apart from Vitamin E, rice bran oil contains Vitamin B, Squalene and 1 to 2% Gamma–Oryzanol. This last ingredient is a powerful anti-oxidant and therefore important in the protection against damage by the sun.
If I am away on holiday I like to use Kukui oil. This oil contains a lot of Vitamin A, C and E and is almost instantly absorbed; So your skin doesn’t feel sticky!
And finally, tea tree oil. I only use it occasionally because it can irritate the skin and only in a freshly made solution, but if I have a spot or red area then I mix 1 part tea tree oil with 3 parts jojoba oil and apply it to the affected area. The Terpinen 4 Ol in the tea tree oil is effective against bacteria, yeasts and other nasty creatures which can cause skin problems, but use it sparingly!
Solving the secret: what you need to know about oil
You need to realise that vegetable oils have a short shelf life (maximum of 2 years from production) and they need to be kept cool. Vegetable oils, in particular, begin to oxidise and that isn’t good for your skin. You can usually smell this, products will have a slightly rancid smell. I like to order my products directly from a reliable supplier, then store them in the fridge, transferring a small amount into a bottle. Good quality oils aren’t usually cheap, so the chances are that an oil costing 1 euro is diluted with a cheap oil. You don’t have to pay the top price for a good oil either, more than 20 euros for a bottle really is too much and sadly not a guarantee of quality! To be sure, always check the packaging to see if 100% pure oil has been used. Anti-oxidants such as Tocopherol (Vitamin E) may well be added, which prevent oxidation of the product. The processing is also important. Don’t choose products where the oil has been extracted by adding a solvent (enriched oil); the concentration of active substances in these products will be lower. A last secret tip: if you don’t want to be remembered as the one that has a nutty smell; then buy an oil which has been cold pressed. The likelihood of having sufficient active ingredients by cold pressing is much greater. Ahh, no just one final secret tip, always make sure that the lid of your bottle of oil is tightly screwed up before you go on holiday. I found this out on our last holiday realising it is much better for all those lovely summer dresses which are also in your suitcase!
(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)