I am not a skin care expert, or a beauty guru, or a makeup artist, if it matters. I am, however, an expert in me, and I knew that while the steps I was taking toward clearer skin (learning what acne was, and how to treat it; paying attention to what I was putting on my skin and to what effect; and searching for less common solutions) were positive steps, there was more healing to be done.
I’d stopped blindly buying products because they claimed to treat acne. I’d squashed down on my compulsion to pick at my skin, and I’d done more reading and research from sources I trusted on the wide (and intimidating) range of skincare available to me.
All of this led, eventually, to my discovery of the Oil Cleansing Method.
Minimalist Beauty, in particular, gave me the information I needed to decide what oils were best for my skin. Dawn’s post on oils for acne prone skin is very detailed and while I decided oil cleansing wasn’t the route I wanted to take, I knew I wanted to use oils to moisturize and repair my skin, but most importantly to improve (if not reverse) the over-production of sticky sebum which is, I think, the central cause for my enlarged, congested pores and the subsequent acne.
I’ve used Rose Hip Seed Oil at night, applied all over my face with a cotton round, and as an additive to black soap, to offset the harsh drying effects. I like it both ways, and have found it to be nourishing. I’ve read Rose Hips helps skin to repair itself, calms rosacea, treats acne, and slows the effects of aging (probably because of the Vitamin A).
I’ve also used Watermelon Seed Oil, which I’ve read is very effective at removing sebum and makeup. When I applied it to my face using a cotton round after cleansing, there was almost always a grunge from whatever my face wash didn’t or couldn’t remove, but it had a strong earthy odor to which I couldn’t quite become accustom and I didn’t like it as much as I liked using the Rose Hips.
As well, I’ve tried Argon Oil, but later learned it is an oil too high in oleic acid for my preferences. According to an abstract for government grant support, “Acne patients have been shown to have low levels of linoleic acid in their skin surface lipids.” It follows then that the ratio of linoleic acid to oleic acid matters to the healthy production of sebum. According to Dawn, “When our skin is deficient in linoleic acid, out skin’s natural sebum becomes thick and sticky which clogs pores and creates acne.”
If people suffering from acne produce sebum lower in linoleic acid than people who didn’t suffer from acne, perhaps applying an oil high in linoleic acid to acne prone skin could create a more harmoniously balanced sebum, and by extension less acne.
Oleic Acid VS Linoleic Acid
Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid also called omega-9 fatty acid. Linoleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid also called omega-6 fatty acid. You will find many skincare products claiming to be high in one or the other and when I learned the difference between omega-9 and omega-6 and how the different chemical compositions had the potential to effect my skin, I began to avoid anything high in omega-9.
If you’re interested, after doing a lot of research on the linoleic and oleic acid ratio of carrier oils (which are different from essential oils, more on that later), the oils I’m most comfortable using on my face are as follows:
- Rose Hip Seed Oil
- Grape Seed Oil
- Strawberry Seed Oil
- Maracuja Oil
- Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Evening Primrose Oil
I think it is also important to note that beyond the acid ratio, oils can also have a high comedogenic (pore clogging) rating and that Coconut Oil, high in neither omega-6 or omega-9 nonetheless has a comedogenic rating of 4/5. You can get some useful information on the comedogenic rating of different natural cosmetic ingredients here. And if Dawn’s post is missing an oil you’re interested in, you can read more about oils with high linoleic acid ratios here.