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Which Oils Are Best For My Skin?

Part One

Many of us suffer from dry skin, especially during the winter months or when living in dry climates.  A multitude of natural oils are available that can be used alone or in your favorite skin care recipes, each with their own special qualities.  In this article we look at some of the most popular oils including olive, jojoba and coconut.

Olive Oil

Of all the oils we can use on our skin, olive oil is the most readily available and has a long history of external use.  Olive trees originated in Asia but are now widely cultivated in Mediterranean countries where they benefit from mild winters and long, dry summers. These trees grow to about 25 feet and their 4-5 inch oblong grayish green leaves remain on the tree year round.   Olive trees live an average of 500 years but many are estimated to be 1500 years old and some trees in Greece may be 3000 years old!  The best olives are grown on trees in the worst growing conditions as rich soils can expose the trees to various diseases.  Check out the Olive Oil Source for everything you ever wanted to know about growing olive trees.

Olive Trees in Pelion Greece
Olive Trees in Pelion, Greece

Grades of Olive Oil

Olive oil comes in many different grades—from the highest grade, Extra Virgin which is the first cold pressing of the olives to Pomace which is the final pressing and includes the olive pits.  While extra virgin olive oil is best for cooking, the lower grades are better for soapmaking due to the presence of tiny particles held in suspension that resist saponification.  We recommend the higher grade olive oils for use in body care recipes.

Olive Tree Bearing Fruit
Olive Tree Bearing Fruit

Body Care Uses of Olive Oil

When used directly on skin, olive oil attracts moisture from the air while also providing a breathable barrier that keeps moisture locked in without blocking pores.  Not only can olive oil be used on skin but many people benefit from a periodic hair masque by applying the oil to scalp and split ends at night and shampooing out the following day.  Olive oil can also be utilized to soften nail cuticles and has a long shelf life compared to some other oils. We prefer a high grade olive oil for solar infusing our herbal oils such as Plantain.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil (pronounced ho-HO-ba) is extracted from the seed of the jojoba plant which is a small bush native to the Sonora Desert of Arizona, Northern Mexico, and desert areas of California.  The female plant produces seed which is pollinated by the male plant in spring and when grown from seed can take up to 3 years to produce. This “oil” is not actually oil but more like a liquid wax according to the Jojoba Company.  It is very similar to the oils produced by the human body and is readily absorbed by the skin.

Jojoba Bush
Jojoba Bush

Body Care Uses of Jojoba

Jojoba also has a very long shelf life and can be used to moderate oily skin due to its calming effect on overactive sebaceous glands.  This “oil” can also be used to treat acne because of its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities.  It naturally contains vitamins A and E and can be used to sooth chapped lips, cracked heals and elbows, and rough cuticles according to Natural Living Ideas.  Finally, due to its stable shelf life, jojoba makes an excellent carrier oil for essential oil blending.  The best quality “oil” should be cold-pressed and retain its natural golden color.

Jojoba Nut
Jojoba Nut

In Part Two of this post we will discuss another versatile natural oil—Coconut Oil and offer a simple recipe to create your own skin salve.

*All photos are licensed under the terms of cc-by-2.0

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