Oil-based care has a whole host of benefits. It ensures suppleness, supplies the skin with valuable lipids and moisturizes - right? Not quite. The fact that oils have a moisturizing effect is a persistent myth. We'll tell you what it's all about, answer the question "Is oil good for the skin" and tell you what oils can really do for skin care.
Is Oil Good For Skin And Really Moisturizing?
Why it's a myth that oils moisturize
We've all read it countless times: " XY oil moisturizes and hydrates" . The problem: From a scientific perspective, this is not only wrong, but rather hair-raising .
Because the fact is: pure oils are completely water-free. They are even hydrophobic – i.e. water-repellent. It goes without saying that oils cannot therefore moisturize skin (and hair!). Nevertheless, they play an important role in the moisture balance of our skin. Sounds like a contradiction? We clear up the misunderstanding.
The important difference between moisturizing & retaining moisture
Facial oil actually ensures well-moisturized skin. But not by moisturizing. But by protecting the skin from excessive moisture loss . And it works like this: Oils support the functions of a healthy skin barrier by supplying the skin with important lipids. These, in turn, are important for retaining water in the skin.
To understand this interaction, it's best to briefly go back to our brick example from part 1 of ourfacial oils series.
You can imagine the structure of the horny layer of our skin as being similar to a brick wall that is held together and stabilized by mortar. Our skin cells are the bricks, the skin's own lipids are the mortar. This lipid matrix consists of around 60% ceramides, as well as 20% each cholesterol and fatty acids 1 .
If there are not enough lipids, the wall or skin barrier becomes fragile. The result: Firstly, the skin becomes more susceptible to stressors from the environment, secondly, moisture cannot be optimally retained in the skin and escapes more easily to the outside.
Because oils contain lipids, they can fill the gaps between the “bricks” and thus keep transepidermal water loss (which means water loss through the surface of the skin) in check: the skin appears well moisturized and healthy.
Facial Oil & Moisture: What is Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL)?
We'll briefly recap: Pure facial oils don't provide any moisture - for the simple reason that they simply don't contain any liquid. Instead, they ensure that existing moisture can be better retained in the stratum corneum by regulating transepidermal water loss.
- In dermatology, the term transepidermal water loss refers to the natural evaporation process across the skin surface. Fluid from the inside of the body passes through the dermis into the outermost layer of skin (the stratum corneum) and evaporates there. The more the body's own water the skin releases to the outside, the higher the TEWL value.
- The TEWL value can be measured with special instruments and is an important indicator of the condition of the skin barrier . A low transepidermal water loss indicates a good barrier and protective function of the skin.
- Our skin is in constant exchange with the environment, so the TEWL can also vary . If you spend a long time in very heated rooms, use aggressive care products that attack your barrier lipids or if the humidity is very low, this can have a negative effect on the loss of fluid through the surface of the skin.
Good to know: In addition to your skin type, external circumstances such as the season also play an important role in the decision for lipid-based care. Especially in the cold season, a high-quality facial oil or a care balm can effectively protect the skin against wind and weather. In summer temperatures, however, your skin feels the same as you: it craves fluid. In summer, rely on water-based products and ingredients like hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate your skin.
Why “occlusive” doesn’t mean moisturizing!
In skin care, occlusive means something like “enclosing”. Occlusive ingredients (one of the most well-known - and controversial - occlusives is mineral oil) form a kind of sealing barrier on the surface of the skin. In this way, they prevent excessive evaporation of the skin's own fluid (which brings us back to the TEWL of the previous section) and also ensure that the high-quality ingredients in your skin care really stay where they belong.
In this way, the moisture that is already present remains better in the skin and the skin appears soft and smooth .
In contrast to mineral oil, plant oils not only have an occlusive effect, but also provide the skin with its own beauty cocktail of valuable fatty acids, phospholipids, protective vitamins and antioxidant polyphenols 2 .
Note: Effective facial care should contain both occlusive ingredients and moisture-binding water magnets such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. This is also the reason why long-term care with oils alone is not recommended for most skin types. You can find out more about this in Part 1 of the Oils for the Face series.
Is oil good for the skin – and if so, why?
Facial oil has three properties that are good for your skin.
- It prevents excessive water loss across the surface of the skin
- It ensures soft, supple skin
- It supplies the skin with ceramides 3 (an important component of barrier lipids 4 )
How suitable a particular oil is for your specific skin type still depends on many factors. One of them is the fatty acid profile of the respective vegetable oil. Because it's quite different. By the way, we'll get to the bottom of what other skin care treasures (like antioxidants etc.) oils can provide you with!
- Saturated fatty acids include, for example, palmitic acid and stearic acid
- Palmitoleic acid is one of the monounsaturated fatty acids
- Typical examples of polyunsaturated fatty acids are Omega-3 (such as alpha-linolenic acid) and Omega-6 (such as linoleic acid)
Palmitoleic acid is contained, for example, in sea buckthorn pulp oil (see our FIVE facial oil regeneration ). It supports skin regeneration and ensures a uniform, even complexion by reducing discoloration.
Linoleic acid plays this role in ensuring an intact skin protective barrier
Linoleic acid is an important building block for the skin's own lipid matrix. If there is too little linoleic acid, it affects the functions of the skin barrier. The content of linoleic acid in the top layer of skin is usually reduced in people with a disturbed barrier function (such as neurodermatitis). A deficiency of linoleic acid has a direct impact on the permeability of the skin's protective barrier 1 .
Black cumin oil is a skin and facial oil with a particularly high content of linoleic acid - the latter makes up more than 50% of the fatty acids it contains! In our FIVE Facial Oil Balance we combine the oil from black cumin seeds with jojoja oil – another potent skin caress.
Jojoba oil: a unique softener
Contrary to what its name suggests, jojoba oil is actually a wax. Its composition is similar to that of human skin sebum 1 and is responsible for its regenerating and wound-healing properties . Jojoba oil contains vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin A5. Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant that not only has a cell-protecting effect, but also gives the oil its good shelf life and stability by protecting against oxidation.
- ensures silky-soft skin without leaving a greasy, oily film,
- prevents excessive transepidermal water loss without sealing the skin too much,
- relieves dry skin,
- and improves skin elasticity 5 .
We use the fantastic care properties of this beauty booster as a carrier oil in the FIVE facial oils .
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5 reasons why oil is good for the skin!
It's fascinating what our skin can do. In its function as a protective shield, on the one hand it protects us from harmful invaders such as microorganisms and pollutants and on the other hand it ensures a balanced moisture balance in our skin layers.
- ensures improved moisture content in the top layer of skin as it positively influences transepidermal water loss
- Thanks to its occlusive properties, it forms a protective film on the skin that prevents excessive loss of moisture and keeps valuable care ingredients in the skin
- repairs the skin barrier by replenishing the lipid matrix between the horny cells
- relieves symptoms of a disturbed protective barrier such as irritated and irritated skin
- prevents the penetration of harmful microorganisms as it supports the functions of a healthy skin protective barrier
The key is to choose the right oil for your skin type.
- Combination skin and impure skin: Clarifying jojoba oil and antibacterial black cumin oil (as in FIVE facial oil Balance ) are a perfect duo for balanced, pure skin.
- Normal, dry and demanding skin: The all-rounder jojoba oil stimulates the skin's own collagen production, ensures suppleness and protects against the influences of free radicals with antioxidant vitamin E. The FIVE facial oil regeneration also contains oil from the sea buckthorn fruit. Its high content of palmitoleic acid has a brightening effect and ensures a fresh, even complexion.
Special case of dehydrated skin: Why facial oil alone is not enough!
Short interim conclusion: Most skin types benefit from the skin-protecting properties of lipid-based care in their daily beauty routine. But what if you regularly use facial oil to care for your dry skin but feel there is no improvement?
Then it could be that instead of dry skin you havedehydrated or dehydrated skin. While true dry skin is a skin type, dehydrated skin is typically a temporary skin condition.
What is it?
an innate skin type
a temporary skin condition
What is missing?
What does the skin need?
Fat or lipids
These care ingredients are good
nourishing vegetable oils and
water-based care and potent
We remember: pure oils are completely water-free. If you only use oil for facial care when your skin is dehydrated, it won't be provided with the moisture it so desperately needs. Over time, improper care can cause symptoms to worsen.
However, that doesn't mean that you should completely ban facial oil from your skin care routine. What's more important is the right timing: If you use your facial oil on top of a mild, hydrating serum , the moisture from the serum is better trapped and retained in the skin layers - win-win!
Conclusion: Oil is good for the skin, but does not have a moisturizing effect!
Oils do not provide the skin with moisture because they simply do not contain any. High-quality plant oils and fats still have their place in effective skin care. Both alone and in moisturizers, they fulfill an important role: they protect against excessive moisture loss by regulating the permeability of the skin barrier. This means that the valuable ingredients from creams and serums as well as the liquid stay where they are needed - in the skin.
Because pure plant oils are also packed with high-quality fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins and phytochemicals, they are phenomenal beauty boosters that every skin type can benefit from.
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- Vaughn AR, Clark AK, Sivamani RK, et al. Natural Oils for Skin-Barrier Repair: Ancient Compounds Now Backed by Modern Science. Am J Clin Dermatol 19, 103–117 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40257-017-0301-1
- Pinto, JR, Monteiro e Silva, SA, Holsback, VDSS, Leonardi, GR. Skin occlusive performance: Sustainable alternatives for petrolatum in skincare formulations. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022; 00: 1–6. doi:10.1111/jocd.14782
- Conti, A et al. “Seasonal influences on stratum corneum ceramide 1 fatty acids and the influence of topical essential fatty acids.” International journal of cosmetic science vol. 18.1 (1996): 1-12. doi:10.1111/j.1467-2494.1996.tb00131.x
- Breiden, Bernadette, and Konrad Sandhoff. “The role of sphingolipid metabolism in cutaneous permeability barrier formation.” Biochimica et biophysica acta vol. 1841.3 (2014): 441-52. doi:10.1016/j.bbalip.2013.08.010
- Gad, Heba A et al. “Jojoba Oil: An Updated Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Uses, and Toxicity.” Polymers vol. 13.11 1711. May 24, 2021, doi:10.3390/polym13111711