Monday, February 10, 2014

Is there a reason to use expensive oils in our products?

I think we've established over the last week that some oils can penetrate our skin to offer an improvement to skin's barrier lipids, that polyphenols can penetrate our skin to behave as anti-oxidants, and that phytosterols probably don't penetrate our skin, but it's okay because they help our skin by increasing its barrier properties. So let's get back to Rosi's original question - is there any reason to use expensive oils in our products?

I think we need to do a bit more defining! (Yeah, I know, I'm a babbler. You ask me the time, I tell you how to build a clock, but it's not an easy question!) What is an expensive oil? I think it can be defined as an oil that costs more than our carrier oils. For instance, I pay $5.25 for 16.9 ounces/500 ml for soy bean oil and $7.50 for 60 ml/2 ounces of evening primrose oil, so it's safe to say that evening primrose oil could be considered an expensive oil. But there are good reasons for using each of these oils.

Evening primrose oil contains gamma-linoleic acid, which is great for improving skin's barrier repair mechanisms and reducing transepidermal water loss. It contains some nice polyphenols and phytosterols, but not a lot of Vitamin E.

Soybean oil contains a lot of linoleic acid, which is great for improving skin's barrier repair mechanisms. It contains a lot of phytosterols, which will help with inflammation, loads of polyphenols, and loads of Vitamin E, which is a great skin softener.

But for all of that, soybean oil can feel really greasy on our skin while evening primrose oil can feel dry. If you hate the skin feel of soybean oil, all the awesome-ness it offers is irrelevant.

We could do comparisons for tons of different oils and in the end, it comes down to what qualities you want in your product and what skin feel you want. I think the key is knowing your ingredients - knowing what they contain and knowing how they feel - so you can make educated decisions.

When researching your oils and butters, don't believe the hype. I can't count how many websites I came upon touting this oil or that one as the ultimate oil for all your problems, when the reality is that each oil offers something different to the formulator. As awesome as evening primrose might be, I can find really good arguments for using pumpkin seed oil, rice bran oil, pomegranate oil, and so on.

I know I harp on about it, but take some time to get to know the skin feel of your oils. (Click here for the series on this topic.) Spend some time in your workshop getting to know them! You won't regret spending the time on oils and butters because they are such an essential part of products from lotions to conditioners to anhydrous products.

To finally answer the question "is there a reason to use expensive oils in our products?" Yes, I think there is. And there are reasons not to use expensive oils, too. That's the very vague short answer. For the long answer, check out the posts from the last week!

Join me tomorrow for more fun formulating!


Anonymous said...

Hello Susan,
Thanks for the research to our question.

Pam said...

Thank you Susan for your dedication and sharing nature it is so refreshing.

My question is in the end when the soap has saponified and you are using it do any of these wonderful benefits survive thru the saponification process? I know good soap but I don't know that the properties of fine oils survive the process, just the quantities of oils in a formula affect the dryness or moisture to the skin. Maybe this doesn't make sense! But thank you all the same! Pam

Shannan Fonseca said...

Hi Susan, I am hoping you could point me in the right direction. I am trying to come up with a very special face oil for use after microderm abrasion and chemical peels. Yet, also could be used by anyone with dry skin as this location is in the relentlessly dry desert.I've read about everything from Prickly Pear Oil to Carrot tissue oil and Carrot EO. Please help. This is for a very special person who unfortunately won't be with us much longer. I want her skin to glow again and look a bit more "youthful", I think that would put a smile on her face and to know that I made it just for her....well I'm speechless. I would like to use as many natural and organic supplies as I can too. Thank you. Shannan

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Shannan. I'm sorry for the delay in writing to you, but as you may know, I'm struggling with the very recent loss of my mother.

If you were to pick any oil as the base for a face oil, I'd go with squalane, which is the unsaponifiable part of olive oil. It's found in our skin at about 12%, so it's considered bio-identical and it's well absorbed, leaving a non-greasy but moisturized feeling. You can get all kinds of versions, but I like the squalane I get from Voyageur Soap & Candle, which is olive based, or this one from Lotioncrafter. Lotioncrafter also carries this sustainable squalance. Formulator Sample Shop carries squalane from amaranth I'd start there with at least 20% squalane, although you can go as high as 50%.

Carrot tissue is nice at 5% - no higher as it's really bright orange - and maybe something like rice bran oil, sesame seed oil, or pumpkin seed oil for their awesome phytosterols and polyphenols as well as the lovely linoleic acid they add. If you want to be really decadent, try kukui nut oil for its silky and dry feeling. Finally, add some evening primrose or borage oil at up to 20% and you've got yourself something lovely and moisturizing.

I don't know anything about prickly pear oil. Sorry!

Check out the emollients section of the blog to learn more about oils!