I think oils get a bad rep. The amount of “oil free” and “non-greasy texture” labels emblazoned on packaging is probably making oil feel really bad about itself. And that’s such a shame!
I think people have weird brain associations when it comes to oil. Oil spills, for example. Or, like, really greasy pizza, or greasy hair and not in a cool, Kurt-Cobain way. Oil reminds people of dirtiness. But that’s not right! Oils can be beautiful, too.
Here are my top oily picks, plus “expert” application tips.
For the face, many would expect oils to be a recipe for disaster. Most particularly, oily or acne-prone humans. Don’t worry: I am one of these, too. We are still invited to the oil party.
I imagine most of you have probably heard of tea tree, right? It’s supposed to be like nature’s benzoyl peroxide, which basically means it murders acne causing bacteria. Handy! There are multiple methods of application. For real big, painful boys, you can apply a drop directly with a cotton bud. For a great, spot-fighting, toning mist, mix about ten drops into about 200ml of rosewater in a spray bottle. You can even add a drop to your moisturiser for an overall purifying treatment.
But my favourite way to get tea tree onto my face is by mixing it with another oil – neem. It’s lesser known and quite weird, but supposedly effective at treating all manner of skin conditions from scalp psoriasis to eczema to insect bites. What I liked it for was hydrating, healing and acne fighting. The problem is, it absolutely stinks. Peanuts, petrol and oil is my best description. The tea tree helps to cut it a bit, but this is for nights when you’re sleeping alone for sure.
If you’re put off by the scent, then you can also mix tea tree with a “carrier” oil, which will minimise skin irritation and add a layer of moisture. Sweet almond, rosehip and jojoba are great for this.
Sweet almond is a mild and lightly hydrating oil, great for normal skin. Rosehip is great for scarring and hyperpigmentation. And jojoba is the best for super acne prone skin, as it is the least comedogenic and most similar to our skin’s naturally produced oil.
This also makes jojoba a great option as a body moisturiser. It sinks in faster than rosehip or sweet almond, so even using it in the mornings is feasible. It’s really great for sensitive body skins, that can’t cope with scents or colours, delivering a pure dose of hydration and not much more.
For exceptionally dry legs or feet, an overnight treatment of coconut oil works wonders. While I personally would never put it on my face, I love it for extreme nourishment on the body. It smells like beach holidays and leaves skin soft and appealingly sheeny.
Coconut oil is also my ultimate hair saviour. For times when my hair is straw-like beyond belief, an overnight soak in this followed by a shampoo in the morning always gets things back on track. You can also use coconut oil as a styling product, just applying a tiny bit over your hair to smooth flyaways and add shine.
If you find the coconut oil hair mask a bit thick and difficult to wash out (aka if your hair isn’t as hideously damaged as mine), my recommendation is instead for sesame oil. Because it’s a liquid at room temperature, it’s less likely to solidify and get stuck between hairs. You do have to forego the delightful coconut scent, but for soft yet non-greasy hair,
My final oil recommendation is a bit of a weird one – castor oil in your eyebrows. For me, the jury is still out as to whether this helps your eyebrows grow, but I can’t deny it improves the quality of existing hairs. They’re silkier, thicker, shinier, softer – generally healthier. I also like just a touch on no-makeup days as a sort of glossy topcoat. Whack some in an empty mascara tube and give it a go.