Read oil about it! Everything you need to know about using oils on mature skincare

Jun 04, 2023
Here's how older women can incorporate oils with their skin regime. Source: Getty

Face oils have had a surge in popularity over the years due to the fact that most skin types – including mature skin – can benefit from using oil-soluble products. Oils are rich in essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can nourish, hydrate, protect, and rejuvenate the skin. But will any old oil do? The answer is no.

There are oils on the market that are superior when it comes to assisting with an array of skin concerns. And there are other things you need to know when it comes to using an oil in your skincare regime.

All skin types can benefit from an oil 

While everyone’s skin type is different, we all have skin that contains oil which can become depleted – we call this ‘lipid dry skin’. Lipid dry skin benefits from oil-based products because any oil is hydrophobic, which means that it will keep water from escaping our skin. In basic terms, oils hold in water which means that our skin can maintain its hydration.

In your 50s and beyond, estrogen has an impact on ageing (during menopause estrogen levels will drop). As a result, we lose the suppleness and elasticity of our youth. Collagen becomes degraded and the effects of our environment are on show (for example, sun damage). Providing extra nourishment, and maintaining elasticity and collagen production are important now. The way you can do that is by adding oil to your regime.

Oils can also be great for sensitive skin; however, you do need to make sure you’re choosing the right oil. Rosehip oil is a great option for someone who struggles with sensitive skin because it contains anti-inflammatory fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and oleic acid. Because skin conditions like rosacea and atopic dermatitis are inflammatory disorders, rosehip oil may help to reduce the subsequent inflammation and redness, resulting in a decrease in symptoms.

Oils don’t ‘hydrate’ but they do lock in moisture

This is a common misconception in the skincare industry as we will often hear oils being described as ‘hydrating’. The truth is, they don’t actually hydrate the skin, but what they do is lock in moisture. Oils are occlusive, (meaning they sit on top of the skin and trap moisture underneath, keeping it locked in and significantly reducing levels of transepidermal water loss (TEWL)). This means that they don’t actually hydrate the skin per se, but because the moisture stays locked in, they do give the sense of hydration.

Oils are versatile

Most skincare oils can be used for maintaining hydration of the facial skin, but they can also act as an excellent body moisturiser. Add to that the benefit they can do to treat roughened hands, or as an after-sun oil or hydrator for the hair and you’ll see that oils are a very versatile product. What’s more, some skincare oils can be considered a great make-up remover because they can attract dirt and build up on the skin.

Last step in your skincare regime 

If you are using any other skincare products in your regime, it can be very confusing trying to understand what order to apply your products.

However, as a general rule, applying your oil should always be the almost last step. If using it at night-time, it should be your very last step, but if using it in the morning it’s the second last step before your sunscreen. The reason for this is because a skincare oil can put a light film over your skin which means anything you apply after it can have trouble absorbing or penetrating into the skin.

So, if you were to apply a water-soluble product after an oil, you’re essentially wasting your money because it’s not going to absorb very well.

As a general rule, a step-by-step of products should go something like this: Cleanser, exfoliant (once or twice a week), toner (if using), serum, moisturiser, oil, and sunscreen.

I personally think skincare routines have become too complicated as most people really only need a cleanser, exfoliant, hard-working serum and oil to provide everything your skin needs. All the rest of those products can be nice to have, but not essential for great skin.

Tips for using an oil

  • Start with a small amount of oil and gradually increase it if needed. Sometimes ‘less is best’ is a good motto to remember because you don’t want to look ‘greasy’.
  • Store oils in a cool, dark place to prevent them from going rancid.
  • Avoid using oils on broken or infected skin. This is especially important for mature skin as we can find that skin can easily ‘tear’ leaving an open wound that should not have oil applied on top of it.

Which oil is the best to use on my skin?

Which oil to choose can really depend on what skin type you have and what skin concern you’re hoping to alleviate. Given there are so many different skincare oils on the market, it can easily get confusing. However, as a general rule, the best type of oil is one that typically contains the two major fatty acids that our skin already has (Linoleic acid and Alpha Linoleic acid) at high percentages with low-fat content. So, something like Rosehip Oil is an excellent option for many skin conditions because it contains these fatty acids and will absorb quickly into the skin.

Otherwise, Blackberry Seed Oil also contains these fatty acids, along with Vitamin K which provides anti-ageing benefits, protects collagen and can help minimise dark circles around the eye area. What’s more, it can assist with redness, strengthen capillaries and is excellent for wound healing. In short, when choosing an oil, choose one that contains the fatty acids of Linoleic acid and Alpha Linoleic acid.

Also be mindful that there are different types of oils, in the way that they are processed. Always look for cold-pressed and unrefined oils because this means the oils have gone through less processing and ensures high and potent vitamin levels.

In the simplest terms, refined oil usually consists of artificial chemicals and added preservatives. In the extraction process, these oils undergo a lot of heat and chemical processing. Whereas, unrefined oil should be cold-pressed, pure and natural, without having undergone any kind of chemical processing.

Also note that if your current oil smells ‘lovely’, please check the ingredients as it may have a masking or synthetic fragrance that can sensitise the skin. Just like plants in nature have an odour, oil does too.

Some oils on the market have no smell at all. What this means is that it has undergone a chemical process to remove the smell, so you’re no longer getting a pure natural version of the oil. So, if your oil does smell a little, this is typically a good thing because it’s likely that you’re getting the oil in its natural state.

The other thing to know is that you really only need one oil in your skincare regime. However, you can alternate your oil if you’re looking for oils that suit different purposes, but I wouldn’t recommend applying too many at once.

Most skin types benefit from using oil-soluble products in addition to water-soluble products in their routine. However, as with all products, there is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’! Just pick one or two of your favourites and alternate the days that you use them.

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