In This Article
In my last article, I reported on the benefits of cleansing your skin using oil rather than soap. To remind you, they are:
- Moisturization of the deeper layers of the skin, while soaps can dry the skin out.
- Feeding the good microbes on the skin.
- Creating a saponification or detergent effect on the skin, without destroying the good microbiology of the skin.
- Bringing to the surface, or pulling, impurities and toxins out of the pores.
But achieving these important benefits for the tight and tiny pores of the face is uniquely challenging if applied improperly. Folks commonly complain of breaking out, feeling greasy, or having a lackluster complexion when first using oils on the face.
When I first asked dermatologists about the traditional use of oil on the face, I was told that the vegetable oil molecule is too large to penetrate and moisturize the deep layers of the skin.
However, vegetable oil actually goes about moisturizing the skin in a completely different and more effective way than most moisturizers do. Let me explain.
The Secret Way that Oil Works
- Feeding friendly microbes: As I discussed in “The Great Soap Debate: Part I,” beneficial bacteria living on the surface of the skin are fed by the skin’s natural oil – called sebum. High quality vegetable oils will feed these friendly microbes in the same way, and in exchange the bugs will clean the skin. The oils feed the healthy microbes on the skin, who manufacture the skin’s own moisturizing factors. (3) So actually, even if the oil does not penetrate deeply enough into the pores to moisturize the skin with the same mechanics as a moisturizer would, it is still moisturizing the skin in this surprising, indirect way!
- A carrier for skin-supportive herbs: In Ayurveda, oils for the skin are cured and cooked with special herbs that moisturize and soothe the skin. The oil acts as a carrier for the herbs, driving the moisture deeper into the pores.
- Skin detox: When used on the face, oils can act as natural “pulling” agents, accelerating the detoxification of the skin. (1, 2)
- Swishing or gargling in the mouth with oil – traditionally called “oil pulling” – has been shown to have a saponification (detergent or cleansing) effect on the oral mucosa, proving that oil combined with water creates cleansing suds! (8)
Squalane – Customized Oil Therapy for the Skin
Before You Moisturize: Prep & Soothe the Skin
- Raw honey can be used as a natural moisturizer to soften and open pores for cleansing. Much like herbalized oils, honey naturally cleanses the skin and feeds the good bugs.
- When the honey is mixed with skin-supportive herbs it acts as a carrier, which delivers them deeper into the pores. Turmeric, Triphala, Amalaki and neem are the herbs traditionally used. Turmeric is a natural cleanser and toner. Triphala – a formula of three unique fruits – tones, scrubs and exfoliates the skin. Amalaki – otherwise known as Indian Gooseberry – supports a healthy complexion. Neem – which is called the “Queen of the Skin” – is known to deliver unmatched support for the beauty of the skin.
- There are two more important ingredients to finish this recipe: chickpea flour and clay. Both pull toxins from the pores that can negatively impact the skin. Chickpea flour exfoliates the surface layers of the skin and acts as a pulling agent, pulling impurities to the surface of the skin and out of the pores. The clay is carried by the raw honey along with the herbs into the pores, where it scrubs and attaches to impurities that may be congesting the skin. Note: the honey counteracts any of the drying properties of the clay.
- Sharma HM, Midich SI, Sands D, Smith DE: Improvement in cardiovascular risk factors through Panchakarma purification procedures. J Res Educ Indian Med, 1993; 12(4); 2-13.
- Heron, Fagan. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in its September/October 2002 issue, two
- The Skin Microbiome. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 April;9(4):244-53