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Skincare: Oils vs Creams, Which Is Best For You?

Kari Gran shares the benefits of using oils in our skincare routine, and which oils offer moisture without greasiness.

Some people are scared of oil, we love it. What is the reality here? We reached out to an expert on the subject, Kari Gran of Kari Gran Skin Care. She began to develop oils for her own use about 15 years ago as part of her exploration of a clean beauty routine for herself, getting away from hormone disrupting skincare products, which ultimately led to the creation of fan-favorite Kari Gran Skin Care. 
 
Why is oil-based better than water-based? 
 
For me, it’s simple. The majority of lotions and creams are formulated with 60-80% water, which doesn’t leave much room for the “good stuff.” As I got older, I started to find that the lotions or creams I was using made my skin feel nice but only lasted about 10 minutes; then I was dry again. Once I started using quality oils on my skin, it felt really good for more than 10 minutes! In fact, it passed the overnight test and I still felt hydrated when I woke up.  

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Skin-Healthy Oils and Essential Fatty Acids

Why are some oils better than others?
 
Many skin-healthy oils contain high amounts of essential fatty acids. These serve as essential building blocks of a healthy skin barrier – which is key to having calm, smooth, hydrated skin. Hello glow! For instance, rosehip oil is high in vitamin A, aka nature’s retinol, and absorbs really quickly. Another favorite is avocado oil; rich in plant sterols it has a superior moisturizing effect on the skin.


Why do some oils feel greasy and don’t absorb well?

A “dry” oil would be one that’s fast absorbing and has a smaller molecular structure.  Rosehip, as I mentioned earlier, is a great example of this. Castor oil, on the other hand, has a pretty big molecular structure and “sits” on the skin a bit longer. It can have a greasier feeling and takes a very long time to absorb. This is why I love castor in our cleansing oil; it has a great slip under your fingers, and you can do a wonderful facial massage with it.

Not All Oils Are Created Equal

Will my skin freak out if I use an oil?

It depends. Not all oils are created equal. I’m a product of the generation that was conditioned to fear oil: oil = breakouts. Mineral oil, petroleum/petrolatum are typically the culprits in this category. Think Vaseline and baby oil. Remember that talk about molecular structure? These are some really big molecules, and they fall into the “occlusive” category — they form a barrier on your skin’s surface blocking air, water or anything else getting in or out. Think of it as covering your skin in plastic wrap. A healthy skin barrier needs to breathe. Don’t forget, your skin is your body’s largest organ. 


Using oil on my skin sounds scary, but it works great. What are some of the other myths around oil?

That oil will make me break out. Hands down, that’s the winner. It all goes back to what type of oil you’re putting on your skin. Another thing to note: because an oil-based product is very concentrated, a little goes a very long way. If you’re considering trying an oil-based routine, maybe start with just one half of your face and then continue to use the products you have on the other. This is the one true way to test how a new routine will work for you. I wish I could take credit for this suggestion, however, my dermatologist told me this about 25 years ago!

Preserving Oil

Do you have to use preservatives with oil?
 
Generally, the shelf life of an oil can be extended with the addition of an antioxidant like vitamin E. Oils have the potential to oxidize (go rancid) when exposed to light and air.  The perfect example of this is if you store a beautiful bottle of olive oil in clear glass on a sunny windowsill, it will go bad quickly. Since I chose to formulate with oils, I made sure we stored them in dark glass that would help protect from light and air oxidization. Every bottle is small-batch produced and marked with an expiration date. 

“Women in other parts of the world have long known the secret of using oils in their skincare rituals”

What is the history of people using oil? I have an image of Cleopatra…
 
Well, you aren’t wrong! There’s actual archaeological evidence that the use of oils like castor and sesame were being used by ancient Egyptians; I’m sure Cleopatra falls into this category. Romans used almond oil and later in Italy a group of Dominican monks at Santa Maria Novella (established in the 1200s) blended an oil with avocado and macadamia oils.  And of course, olive oil has long been used in Italy and Greece. Women in other parts of the world have long known the secret of using oils in their skincare rituals; we’re just new to the party.
 

The mini kit, $25. Check it out.

 
After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder in her late-twenties, Kari started to think about the connection between what she put on her skin and her health. As a diehard beauty junkie, Kari wanted performance products that were also kind to her skin. Unable to find something in the market that met her conscious standards, she developed a natural, back-to-basics routine that made sense for her skin’s needs.

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David Stewart
David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

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