I’m a huge proponent of using natural essential oils for easy DIY skincare. In fact, my love for oils is uncannily reminiscent of the Windex-wielding dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In reality, there are countless oils to choose from out there, but I’ve managed to narrow down my stash to the top five natural oils best suited for skincare.
1. Tea Tree Oil
What it is: Tea tree oil is an essential oil derived from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a shrub native to Australia. The oil itself is clear or very pale yellow, with a strong medicinal camphor-like scent. Thanks to its antimicrobial and disinfecting terpene compounds, tea tree oil is an excellent acne-busting natural remedy. Initial research suggests that tea tree oil is as effective as benzoyl peroxide in treating acne, but with fewer nasty side effects.
How to use it: Tea tree oil is potent, so those with sensitive skin should use caution. To safely use tea tree oil, add a small drop to your daily moisturizer. You could also dab it on the offending blemish with a q-tip or simply buy it pre-diluted for a gentler effect.
2. Rose hip seed oil
What it is: Extracted from the pressed seeds of a wild Chilean rose bush, this amber-colored liquid has remained a popular skin care ingredient for generations, and for good reason. Rose hip seed oil is chock full of provitamin A and essential fatty acids, yet still feels fairly light and non-greasy. Rose hip seed oil is particularly praised for its anti-aging effects, purported to reduce hyperpigmentation, fade scares and fine lines, and soothe eczema and psoriasis.
How to use it: Use rose hip seed oil as a gentle makeup remover. You can also add it to your moisturizer, or just go ahead and use it to replace your moisturizer all together! I like to blend a few drops into jojoba oil and apply the mixture as a nighttime treatment.
3. Argan oil
What it is: Much adored on the natural beauty scene, argan oil is a silky golden liquid pressed from the seed of the Argan tree, which is found only in Morocco. Because of its scarcity and laborious production methods, argan oil is on the pricier side. This “liquid gold” derives its benefits from vitamin E and a host of fatty acids which deliver powerful conditioning and anti-aging effects.
How to use it: Argan oil is suitable for all skin types, and can be used as a pure serum or mixed with other facial products to produce a glowing and even-toned complexion.
4. Jojoba oil
What it is: My personal favorite, and not just because it’s fun to say (pronounced ho-HO-ba). Jojoba oil is extracted from a shrub native to the southwestern United States and is technically not actually an oil, but a liquid wax. While this sounds scary, it is ideal for use on the skin because of its similarities to our natural sebum. Jojoba oil balances oil production by tricking the skin into thinking enough oil is being produced. And thanks to its fatty acids, jojoba oil is similar to argan oil in that it is suitable for all skin types and non-comedogenic.
How to use it: Jojoba oil is extremely versatile and has countless uses. But be warned, this oil is on the heavier side, which is why I recommend it be used mainly at night and sparingly during the day to avoid a greasy shine.
5. Coconut oil
What it is: Coconut oil holds the crown as the reigning king of the natural oils world. Extracted from dried coconut meat, the resulting product locks in moisture for hours and is loaded with healthy fats. Although coconut oil is a white solid at room temperature, it melts easily into a clear liquid when gently warmed between the hands (side note: this makes coconut oil ideal for travel!). When buying coconut oil for use on the skin, look for cold-pressed and unrefined versions.
How to use it: Coconut oil can be used in countless ways; use it as a makeup remover, a moisturizer for face and body, a pre-shave treatment, or to treat bug bites. It even contains a small amount of natural SPF, although I wouldn’t advise skipping the sunscreen altogether. Coconut oil even manages to one-up my beloved jojoba oil in that it can be used both on your face AND in your stir-fry! How’s that for versatility? And as a bonus, you’ll smell irresistibly of macaroons.
There you have it, the top five natural oils for skin care! What are your favorite oils?
Also see: 7 Uses of Argan Oil
12 Amazing Uses of Essential Oils
Using Chakra Oils for Meditation and Beauty
Also by Sarah McEwing: Organic and Natural Labels Decoded
Photo: Naomi King via Flickr; Sarah McEwing