The Transition to Oils From a Lifetime of Oil-Free

The most frequently asked question I get when I tell people about my switch to using facial oils as a moisturizer is, ‘won’t oil clog your pores causing you to break out?’ The great news is NO! But I don’t blame anyone for asking. Our whole lives we’ve been told that we should use oil-free products and now I’m saying you should put oils all over your face? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. You can wear oils during the day, you can wear oils at night (they won’t get all over your pillow!) and you can wear them under your makeup. You can wash your face with oils, you can take your makeup off with oils. Can you tell I love oils? Let me tell you why.


Your Skin

Here’s the deal— your skin is made up of sebaceous glands that produce a protective oil called sebum. Not surprisingly, you have the most sebaceous glands on your back, forehead and chin and none of these glands on the palms of your hands or  the soles of your feet. For your skin to be healthy, you need to maintain healthy levels of sebum.


But what’s healthy? We all know that skin types vary between dry, oily and those lucky ones who have normal skin. What we may not know is the reasoning behind this is partly due to acids found in the skin’s oils. Sebum has, among other things, two types of acids; oleic and linoleic acid. Skin’s natural sebum is high in oleic acid. Oily and acne prone skin is shown to have low levels of linoleic acids. The good news is that there are oils out there that can mimic the skin’s natural sebum, and that contain high levels of linoleic or oleic acid depending on what you need for your skin type.


Daily Factors and Skin Care

Besides the fact that your skin is more oily in some areas than others, there are so many daily factors that can make the natural oils of the skin freak out. When you wash your face, you are actually washing away the protective oils from your face. Also, and this is going to get deep, the skin harbors a bacteria that consumes the natural oil found on the skin. This is why some people actually wash their face with oils and why facial oils will restore the skin’s natural oils.


Here’s another untruth we’ve been following our whole lives— alcohol based toners and cleansers are good to dry out oily skin. I bet you can guess from what I’ve been saying that they’re not. We’ve talked a lot about the skin’s natural oil content and how important it is, so can you imagine what putting alcohol on it would do to it? It would cause it to become dry and irritated and in fact, most dry or irritated skin is a result of an oil imbalance. This could be because of a product you are already putting on your face that’s drying it out or could be because your skin can’t absorb the oils it needs properly. A quick fix for that would be to exfoliate daily to slough off the dry skin cells, regenerate new cells and allow the oils to absorb properly. Another bit of advice I have for normal to dry skin is to not wash your face in the mornings. Since you washed your face at night and didn’t do anything but sleep, just wet the area with warm water and use an alcohol free toner in the morning. I use a microfiber cloth like this one to gently exfoliate with warm water in the mornings instead of washing. Not washing your face, exfoliating and using an oil based moisturizer will help your skin retain its natural oil balance.


Oils vs. Moisturizers

Still not convinced you should switch from your tried and true lotion-based moisturizer? Start paying attention to the ingredient list on your moisturizer or on all of the products you use for that matter. You’ll notice that you probably can’t pronounce most of the ingredients and that there are probably a few preservatives, fragrances and other harmful ingredients thrown in there. You can use the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Skin Deep Database as a great resource for looking up products and deciphering their ingredients.


There are so many different oils, most of which will be common names you may even have in your house, each with different vitamins and minerals that are so beneficial for just about every skin type. Usually, facial oils are a blend of carrier oils and essential oils.


A carrier oil is a very unassuming way of describing a category of fabulously beneficial oils. Carrier oils  are derived from the fatty portion of a plant–– usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts.  Carrier oils get their name because they are often used to dilute essential and other oils prior to application to the skin.  For example, hazelnut oil is an astringent and has some natural sun protectant. Rosehip seed oil has amazing anti-aging properties and pomegranate seed oil improves skin’s elasticity.


Essential oils are amazingly diverse oils derived from the aromatic portion of plants such as the leaves, bark, and roots, and can be used for medicinal purposes such as skin treatments, aromatherapy, cleaning agents and deodorizers.  For example, carrot seed essential oil has been known to revitalize, tone and provide anti-carcinogenic benefits while geranium essential oil is known to facilitate blood circulation just below the surface of skin which helps diminish scars, marks and other fine lines.


There are benefits to using oils that go beyond those your skin will reap and that is the lack of fillers, emulsifiers and preservatives needed to make the product effective. Of course there are some safe, paraben-free lotion based moisturizers out there, don’t get me wrong. It’s just easier to look at the ingredients in oils (usually, just oils) and know exactly what you’re putting on your face.


Overcoming Conditioned Behavior

As long as the oils you are putting on your face are organic, plant-based and well chosen they will be very easily absorbed, not greasy, and noncomedogenic (noncomedogenic is a fancy way of saying it won’t clog pores). By balancing the skin’s natural oil production, the oil actually helps maintain healthy skin.


Our fear of oils may be a case of Pavlov-like behavior with oil-free moisturizers, alcohol based cleansers and shunning oil based moisturizers. Oils have been used for skin ailments since the early Egyptians and allow for lots of flexibility with what benefits you’ll give your skin and are the future of safe cosmetics and skin care products.

Skin Care Tips and Tricks

You’re running here and there, so tired at night that you barely have the energy to drink a much-needed glass of wine and your skin care routine is rushed or skipped entirely. I get it. I usually choose wine too. I was trying to find a quote to inspire you but when you Google “keeping your head high and your neck strong” (you’ll see where I’m going with that later in the post), pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscles and large horses come up.  So, <insert inspirational quote here>  and instead here’s some skincare hints I’ve found to save you some time and your skin from the daily grind.


Natural Makeup Remover

Use organic coconut oil (the emulsified kind you get in a jar from the grocery store) to take off makeup at night. Just use your fingers and a Kleenex to wipe the coconut oil on your eyes and face. You only need a little bit and your makeup will come off easily.


To Wash or Not to Wash?

If you have dry to normal skin, don’t wash face in the morning, just use warm water and a microfiber cloth to gently exfoliate and then apply your favorite skin oil. Here are some more details.


Night time: Wash and dry your face with a product that does not contain alcohol. Consider using an oil based product or a clarifying product. I like this one. After cleansing your face, use an alcohol-free toner on your face. Moisturize your face, neck and under eye area. Use Hanu facial oil and you’ll have the added benefit of aromatherapy as you fall asleep, breathing in all the relaxing essential oils in the blends.


Day time: Only wash the areas that you feel are oily. If your skin is dry or normal, just wet it and use a microfiber cloth to gently exfoliate with warm water. I really like these microfiber cloths. Next, use an alcohol-free toner like Thayer’s Witch Hazel Toner (they have rose, lavender and cucumber!) on your face. Moisturize your face and neck using Hanu Facial Oil and put on Hanu Eye Oil.


Use Your Face Oil as a Face Mask

Hanu’s Facial Oils, whichever one is your favorite, work great as face masks. Just apply the oil liberally before entering the shower and leave it on your face for your entire shower. Use a clean microfiber cloth to remove the oil once you’re done. Presto, the combination of the carrier oils, essential oils and the steam will have given your skin a deep, pore-penetrating, moisturizing face mask.


Protect Your Face’s Natural Oil Content

I’m sure you’ve heard this before so this is just a reminder— don’t sit with your hands propping up your head.  It’s heavy, I know but read back to my blog post about the skin’s sebaceous glands here and you’ll remember you need to protect the skin’s natural oil content and keep harmful bacteria away.  By putting your hands all over your face (especially the chin area where you have the most sebaceous glands), you are asking for a breakout.


Tea Tree Essential Oil; Don’t Leave Home Without It

Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil is one of only two essential oils (the other one is Lavender) that you can apply directly to your skin without diluting it in a carrier oil. I’ve got to be honest with you, it doesn’t smell as heavenly as lavender but its antiseptic properties are well worth enduring the smell. Tea Tree possesses a high germicidal value and can penetrate pus (sorry for the gross factor but this is a must know) and by mixing with it, the pus liquifies and sloughs off leaving a healthy surface (credit book: 375 Essential Oils by Jeanne Rose). You can use this oil directly on blemishes, cuts and scrapes, and bug bites. If your skin breaks out, use Tea Tree oil directly on them immediately. You can get organic tea tree oil from my favorite essential oil company Mountain Rose Herbs. Make sure you’re only buying organic essential oils!

Conscious Cosmetics

Conscious Cosmetics

Ever since I got rid of “fragrance” in my skin care routine, I have emotional and physical reactions anytime I’m around it. Emotionally, I miss it. Physically, I sneeze. The emotional reaction is clear to me—I miss the musky scent achievable with synthetic perfumery. The physical side is my body now reacting to something I haven’t been exposed to in a long time. I used the same perfume and the same moisturizer for the last, well, as long as I can remember. It makes me sad that I can’t wear my perfume anymore. But, what makes me more sad (or mad really) is that the FDA considers “fragrance” to be a trade secret, one that manufacturers aren’t required to disclose on their labeling or anywhere else. I put the word “fragrance” in quotes because when you see it listed as an ingredient in your products it is not necessarily just one ingredient and it could be a wide range of different chemicals. The skin care industry doesn’t mandate that products are certified with the FDA, “fragrance” is a host of undisclosed ingredients— I feel like there are a lot of secrets going on in the cosmetics industry and I don’t like it one bit.


My Journey

I started creating skin care products because of my desire to create safe products for myself and for my family and I believe that adding “fragrance” to a product is just one way we are putting ourselves at risk. Once I started reading labels and using the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database to look up ingredients in products this became even more apparent to me. The database explains each ingredient in a particular product and calls out any harmful side effects each ingredient has.


What I read really scared me, I stopped using artificial facial products altogether and started using coconut oil mixed with frankincense essential oil. That’s it. It seemed safe enough to me. Frankincense had been used for centuries to treat all forms of skin ailments and coconut oil had recently been touted as the “cure-all, everything” oil. I felt great, my skin looked great. I was prepared to climb up a tree and start boycotting more things—toothpaste in favor of coconut oil, shampoo (ok, I haven’t tried the no-poo thing yet but I’m sure I will someday!). I realize I was being a little extreme here, but at the time it’s how I felt. Don’t worry, I have since researched products and found what I consider to be safe products for my family. I did enjoy the feeling of the oils on my skin though so I decided to continue making my own facial products.


I took some time to start researching oils and I became even more excited about the flexibility I’d have with ingredients I could put on my skin for different ailments. There are oils that can treat everything from aging skin to varicose veins and inflammation. There are oils that can moisturize, provide astringent properties, and balance uneven skin tone. I started buying oils, mixing them together and trying them on my face and neck.


Creating Facial Oils

Sometime after I started wearing my own oil mixture someone asked me about my complexion and when I told them what I had been doing they mentioned I should start a company. At first when I broached the subject with my friends they got excited about it for me. And for themselves— because what inevitably happened was they started telling me about their ailments. I immediately started dreaming about how I could fix them! Things got a little crazy at this point and I started mixing formulas for every ailment that came across my path.


Focus and Aromatherapy

When you decide to start a company and consult and pay for a lawyer, things start to get real. First, you just spent a lot of money for someone to tell you where to sign (oh, and all the things you should be worried about). My coffee-charged, super excited, all-or-nothing self needed to focus. So I started to hone in on what people really needed for a few products, readying the formulas and using many of my friends and family as testers.


I started taking basic aromatherapy classes, clinical aromatherapy classes and learning everything I could about formulating and mixing oils. One of the interesting things I learned was that your sense of smell bypasses the cerebral cortex, the intellectual part of the brain, and goes directly to the limbic system – the part of the brain that perceives smells and processes memories and instincts. This is one of the reasons why I now know that my old perfume will always give me an emotional response. I have so many personal memories stored up for this scent, but I also know wearing it is not worth putting on “fragrance”.


Eyes Wide Open

I want to know what’s in the products I put on my own skin. I really want to know what’s in the products I put on my two little girls’ skin. What all this means is now that I’ve been making oil based products for awhile it just seems like common sense to me that if the skincare industry doesn’t want you to know what’s in their products, then you definitely don’t want to put it on your body.  Let’s all join together and be sure we understand about what we put on our entire bodies — Conscious Cosmetics for all!