Oil-based grooming has a whole host of benefits. It ensures suppleness, supplies the skin with valuable lipids and moisturizes - right? Not quite. That oils have a moisturizing effect is a myth that persists. 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 point of view, this is not only wrong, but rather outrageous .
Because the fact is: Pure oils are completely water-free. They are even hydrophobic – i.e. water-repellent. It goes without saying that oils can therefore not 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 in that it protects the skin from excessive moisture loss . And it works like this: Oils support the functions of a healthy skin protection barrier by supplying the skin with important lipids. These, in turn, are important for keeping water in the skin.
To understand this interplay, let's 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 similar to a brick wall that is held together and stabilized by mortar. Our skin cells are the bricks, the skin's own lipids represent the mortar. This lipid matrix consists of about 60% ceramides, as well as 20% each of cholesterol and fatty acids 1 .
If there are not enough lipids, the wall or skin barrier becomes brittle . The result: firstly, the skin becomes more susceptible to environmental stressors, secondly, moisture cannot be optimally retained in the skin and escapes to the outside more easily.
Because oils contain lipids, they can fill in the gaps between the "bricks" and thus keep the transepidermal water loss (this means the water loss via the skin's surface) in check: the skin appears well moisturized and healthy.
Facial Oil & Moisture: What is Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL)?
Let's recap briefly: Pure facial oils do not moisturize - for the simple reason that they simply do not contain any liquid. Instead, they ensure that existing moisture can be better retained in the horny layer by regulating transepidermal water loss.
- In dermatology , the term transepidermal water loss describes the natural evaporation process over the skin's surface. Fluid from inside the body passes through the dermis into the outermost layer of the skin (the stratum corneum) and evaporates there. The more endogenous 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 stay in heavily heated rooms for a long time, 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 liquid through the skin's surface.
Good to know: In addition to your skin type, external factors such as the time of year also play an important role in the decision to use lipid-based care. Especially in the cold season, a high-quality facial oil or acare balm can protect the skin effectively against wind and weather. In summer temperatures, on the other hand, your skin feels the same way as you do: it craves liquid. 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 “including”. Occlusive ingredients (one of the most well-known - and most controversial - of which is occlusive mineral oil) form a kind of sealing barrier on the skin's surface. In this way they prevent excessive evaporation of the skin's own liquid (which brings us back to the TEWL of the previous section) and also ensure that the high-quality ingredients of your skin care really stay where they belong.
In this way, the moisture that is already present remains better in the skin, and the complexion appears soft and smooth .
In contrast to mineral oil, vegetable 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 polyphenols with an antioxidant effect 2 .
Note: Effective facial care should contain occlusive ingredients as well as 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 read more about this in Part 1 of the Face Oils 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 through the skin's surface
- It ensures soft, supple skin
- It supplies the skin with ceramides 3 (an important component of barrier lipids 4 )
However, how well a particular oil works for your particular skin type depends on many factors. One of them is the fatty acid profile of the particular vegetable oil. Because that's quite different. By the way, we’ll get to the other skin care treasures (such as antioxidants & Co.) that oils provide you with below!
- 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 (like alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 (like linoleic acid)
Palmitoleic acid is contained, for example, in sea buckthorn pulp oil (see our FIVE facial oil for dry skin ). It supports skin regeneration and ensures a uniform, even complexion by reducing discolouration.
Linoleic acid plays this role for an intact skin protection barrier
Linoleic acid is an important building block for the skin's own lipid matrix. If there is too little linoleic acid, this 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 (e.g. neurodermatitis). A lack of linoleic acid has a direct impact on the permeability of the skin's protective barrier 1 .
Black cumin oil is a skin and face 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 Face Oil Balance, we combine black cumin seed oil with jojojabo oil – another powerful skin care product.
Jojoba Oil: a unique soft focus
Contrary to what its name might suggest, jojoba oil is actually a wax. Its composition is similar to that of human sebum 1 and is responsible for its regenerating and wound-healing properties . Jojoba oil contains vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin A 5 . 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 it from 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 take advantage of the fantastic care properties of this beauty booster as a carrier oil in the FIVE face oils .
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5 reasons why oil is good for your skin!
It's amazing what our skin can do. In its function as a protective shield, it protects us from harmful intruders such as microorganisms and pollutants on the one hand and ensures a balanced moisture balance in our skin layers on the other.
- ensures improved moisture content in the top layer of skin, as it has a positive effect on 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 substances in the skin
- cements the skin barrier by replenishing the lipid matrix between the horny cells
- alleviates symptoms of a disrupted 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
Choosing the right oil for your skin type is crucial.
- Combination skin and impure skin: Clarifying jojoba oil and antibacterial black cumin oil (as in the FIVE Face Oil Balance ) are a perfect duo for balanced, clean skin.
- Normal, dry and demanding skin: The all-rounder jojoba oil stimulates the skin's own collagen production, ensures suppleness and protects against the effects of free radicals with antioxidant vitamin E. The FIVE facial oil for dry skin also contains oil from the sea buckthorn fruit. Its high proportion 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 the daily beauty routine. But what if you regularly use facial oil to care for your dry skin, but feel that there is no improvement?
Then it could be that you havedehydrated or dehydrated skin instead of dry skin. While true dry skin is a skin type, dehydrated skin is usually a temporary skin condition.
What is it?
a natural skin type
a temporary skin condition
What is missing?
What does the skin need?
fat or lipids
These care products are good for you
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 on dehydrated skin, it will not be supplied with the moisture it so urgently needs. Over time, the wrong care can make symptoms worse.
That doesn't mean you should completely ban facial oil from your skincare routine, though. The right timing is much more important: 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 don't hydrate the skin because they simply don't have any. Nevertheless, high-quality vegetable oils and fats have their place in effective skin care. They play an important role both on their own and in moisturizing creams: they protect against excessive moisture loss by regulating the permeability of the skin barrier. The valuable ingredients from creams and serums as well as the liquid remain where they are needed - in the skin.
Because pure vegetable oils are also packed with high-quality fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins and secondary plant substances, 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 and Silva, SA, Holsback, VDSS, Leonardi, GR. Skin occlusive performance: Sustainable alternatives for petrolatum in skincare formulations. J Cosmetic 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. 24 May 2021, doi:10.3390/polym13111711