Friday, July 26, 2013

Not all Oils are Equal

Facial Oils are made up of blends of plant oils. There are no quality 'grades' but it is important to figure out what is for you and what isn't, especially when prices can vary a lot.

What kinds of oils there are:

Organic: These are oils derived from plants that have been raised organically.

Wild Craft:
These are oils derived from plants that grow in wild environments. There is a misconception that these are inferior to organic oils but this is not the case as wild craft means the plants grow in a natural environment that can sustain it. Think about it this way, would you prefer wild Salmon or organic farm-raised Salmon?

If your oil is not labelled, chances are, it is neither of the two.

Why it matters:

Many people believe 'organic' is a marketing buzzword, and I can understand that. However for something as concentrated as facial oils, it is important to realize what this means. Organic means the plant is raised without antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and that it is not processed with industrial solvents, radiation, or genetic engineering. The reason this is important for oils is because the concentrated nature means any of the "bad stuff" becomes even more concentrated when it is applied to skin. So that drop of rose oil you applied onto your skin could have pesticides and artificial growth hormones from 100 actual roses. Not so beautiful now right?

Does it really make a difference?

Yes, oils that are organic and wild craft are different from oils that are not. You can see this through comparing the scent, color, and texture. Generally I've found that the less processed and pure an oil is, the better it smells and feels on skin. Not to be confused with facial oils that use good smelling oils in their blends (i.e. The purest argan oil is never going to smell as pleasing as lemongrass oil)

Is all organic/wild craft oil created equally?

This is more complicated and the short answer is, no. There are many processes plants go through to become oil, including cold-pressed, steam distillation, and supercritical extraction. Some companies might use oils that have been extracted using a process that requires hexane, which is not clean. In general, you want to preserve the live nature of the plant as much as possible so look for companies that use cold-pressed methods or supercritical.

How can I tell which companies do extract the oils in the preferred methods?

This is trickier because there is no form of certification they can provide for extraction process and to be honest, many brands might not even be fully aware. It's kind of unspoken but realized that a lot of the natural beauty brands order their oils from online, which is fine but it's just something you should know even when you read their literature and marketing material about how pure their oils are. If you want the best oils, since these contain living nutrients, it is best to order from companies that don't source from online because those oils are less fresh (the more hands/shipping it goes through, the more the quality degrades when it gets to the final step: your house).

So the companies that probably have the highest quality are usually the ones who are able to source from their own lands and work closer to the actual source. This is highly different from those photos some brands put up of a garden they grow plants in, which I feel is incredibly misleading because the scale of those gardens would not be enough to sustain a 30-ml bottle of oil much less an entire operation.

Some companies that grow and use their own plants include: Dr.Alkaitis, Intelligent Nutrients, Kahina Giving Beauty (Argan Oil), Tata Harper, and Yuli. On a more budget-friendly level, Weleda sources directly from many farms as well, although they aren't know for making any facial oils. If you're using a product that contains similar ingredients with similar "organic" status, the oils from the aforementioned companies will likely be of a higher quality as they are closer to the source, which is natural skincare is incredibly important.

*Opinions expressed are my own based from knowledge of essential oil processing and candid conversations regarding sourcing from contacts at Dr.Hauschka & Weleda, neither of whose products, I have any incentive to sell 

1 comment:

  1. Very informative post! Happy to discover your blog and learn from you :-)