It feels like every time I pick up a skin or hair care product these days, the packaging is in a hurry to reassure me that it contains a special kind of oil: “100% pure argan oil!” on the expensive moisturizer in a glass jar, or “made with pure olive, jojoba, grapefruit, avocado, and apricot kernel oil!” scrawled across nearly every bottle of lotion and shampoo at the drugstore.
Wow, that’s great, I always think. This product is obviously good for your skin and hair. But… why? I’ve been confused for an embarrassingly long time. What do all these different varieties do? Which oil is best for my skin? Does my hair like avocado oil or almond oil better? Here’s what I found out about 10 of the most popular oils in beauty products. (Note: this list isn’t comprehensive. There are enough beautifying oils out there to merit a part two of this story— let us know which oils you want to know about in the comments!)
Grapefruit Oil/Grapefruit Peel Oil (they are one and the same)
Grapefruit oil contains the enzyme bromelain, which exfoliates the uppermost layers of the skin. A serious anti-inflammatory, grapefruit oil also aids in fighting psoriasis and acne, and can even help stop the itching from mosquito bites.
Product picks: Veria ID Innerdosha In Control Serum, The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Beautifying Oil
Tea Tree Oil
From Australia, tea tree oil is a champion anti-viral and anti-fungal substance. It kills acne bacteria, heals cuts and sores faster, can help stop itching, and basically chases away any kind of lil’ nasty microscopic critter living on your face. Great for treating pimples!
Product picks: Evolution Man Cleanse & Shave, Arcona Tea Tree Mask
Peppermint essential oil is an antibacterial, and it helps to stop itchy skin, whether from dryness, bug bites, or rashes. It also fights dandruff!
Product picks: Lisa's Hair Elixir Hair Oil by Carols Daughter, S.W. Basics Peppermint Lip Balm
Jojoba Seed Oil
A non-greasy, anti-inflammatory oil, jojoba is one of the most common natural emollients, meaning it soothes and softens. It’s also long-lasting, and because it doesn’t spoil as quickly as other types of oils, it’s often used as a base for lotions and face creams.
Product picks: Dr. Brandt Glow Overnight Resurfacing Serum, Amore Pacific Green Tea Seed Treatment Oil
Apricot Kernel Oil
Cold pressed from the seeds of the apricot, apricot kernel oil sinks into the skin without leaving a greasy feel behind. It contains lots of good fatty acids, vitamins A, C, and E (all skin-boosters!), and it’s a gentle anti-inflammatory. It makes hair really shiny and soft!
Product picks: Kinky-Curly Perfectly Polished Nourishing Hair Oil, Dermalogica Precleanse
High in saturated fats, coconut oil is incredibly hydrating, and has been used for thousands of years to promote softer skin and hair. You’ll often find it in natural makeup and skin care products in various forms (sometimes labeled as Cocomide).
Product picks: rms beauty Cream Eye Shadow, Bliss Naked Body Butter
There really isn’t anything olive oil can’t do. An intense moisturizer, a cleanser, and a sun-damage protector, olive oil can be applied straight to the skin and hair, and added to cleansers and lotions for moisture. Its monosaturated fatty acids help fight inflammation, so it’s good on a sunburn, too.
Product picks: Redken Diamond Oil Shatterproof Shine Intense, L’Oreal Age Perfect Glow Renewal Facial Oil
Now one of the trendiest “miracle” oils in the Western world, argan oil comes from the kernels of the argan tree. Moroccan Berber women have used it for hundreds of years to take care of their hair and skin, as it’s high in vitamin E. Argan also contains active substances called triterpenoids, which help heal scars, reduce inflammation, and protect the skin from premature aging. The reason it’s more expensive than other oils? It’s labor-intensive to produce.
Product picks: LUSH Ro's Argan Body Conditioner, Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil
Naturally hydrating, avocado oil is a moisturizing superstar. It has one of the highest levels of vitamin E of any fruit, making it excellent for fighting the free radicals that want to make your skin age faster.
Product picks: Indie Lee Calendula Eye Balm, e.l.f. Daily Moisture Stick
Almond oil is a great moisturizing oil, but its benefits don’t end there. Capable of helping to even out skin tone and reduce scars, almond oil’s B vitamins and healthy fats help fight the signs of aging. Almond oil also has properties that can reduce sun damage.
Product picks: Korres Body Butter, Worker B Scented Lotion
Nature abounds in useful oils, and every face and head of hair is different. What oils do you find most useful? Which oils do you want to learn more about? Tell us below!
Grapefruit: El katsumata / Flickr
Avocado: Image Source
Almonds: Image Source