May 082011

Like many women, my hair and skin has tended to be oily for nearly all of life.  I remember the horror of my reaction when I went to the Shu Uemura boutique in San Francisco and was given a sample of their gorgeous cleansing oil.  Why would anyone with oily skin put more oil–on their face?   Yet the boutique’s associate had glowing, absolutely clear skin and he swore that his was oily too.  I began using Shu Uemura’s oil religiously.  I learned that Shu Uemura had personally developed it as an effective way to break down the chemicals in heavy theater makeup and sunscreen gently, without clogging pores.  Followed by a toner, it works beautifully.

I was also caught up in the Moroccan Oil craze.  My one (and only) bottle, now half-full (half-empty?) is in the photograph above. I bought it without reading the ingredient list (what an idiot).  As Beauty and the Brains points out here, the product ingredient list includes more than oil and some silicons.  In fact, I thought it would be interesting to compare the ingredient list with Leonor Greyl’s hair oil:

  • Moroccan Oil:  Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Butylphenyl, MethylPropional, Argania Spinoza Kernal Oil (Aragan Oil), Linseed (Linum Usitatissimum) Extract, Fragrance Supplement, D&C Yellow-11, D&C Red-17, Coumarin, Benzyl Benzoate, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone
  • Leonor Greyl Huile de Palme:  Natural Oils (97%) – Fragrance

Some difference, huh?  I find Leonor Greyl’s works well as a deep conditioner, or for use as a tiny whisper to tame frizz and condition my ends.  Although the $48 is expensive, the bottle is quite large, there are virtually no fillers.  So a little goes a very long way.  I’m secretly hoping Liz steals my Moroccan Oil so I don’t have to deal with the heartbreak of throwing it away.

I’m working my way through Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse (sold for around $30 on as well, although it looks brand new.  It absorbs almost immediately, without leaving any little stains on my keyboard or clothing.  On legs and arms, it adds a touch of condition and sheen.  After using this for several weeks, creams feel too heavy and take too long to absorb.  L’Occitane used to sell as a comparable product, the Buriti oil, but it seems to have disappeared from their website.  As you can see, I haven’t used much of mine because I got it late last summer and neglected it since falling in love with Nuxe’s.

There are several gorgeously scented summer oils that add sheen and condition the body, together with deeply heady fragrances. I remember ordering these two–Tom Ford Black Orchid and Estee Lauder Azuree–after reading about them on Blogdorf Goodman.  Although I don’t use them frequently, they are a gorgeous addition to a summer conditioning routine.

I’m gradually learning more about oil-based skin care products (you may have seen my Rodin Olio Lusso review here).  Although I had long avoided these as an option, I’m finding that I love their benefits.  I have not experienced a single break-out from any of them.  If anything, they allow my skin to cleanse and moisturize well without chemicals.  They are lightweight, effective and pleasant (and sometimes downright gorgeous).  Although I’m not likely to re-buy Moroccan Oil, I’ve enjoyed the others tremendously.


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  13 Responses to “How I Learned to Relax and Love Beauty Oils”

  1. Yay! I’m really glad you’ve learned about using oils in skincare. =) There’s so much bad information and prejudice out there. I don’t think most people realize that creams are just an oil (be it synthetic or natural) and water immersion with an emulsifying agent or that so so so many “oil-free” products actually aren’t if you carefully read their ingredients lists – it’s all just a bunch of marketing mumbo jumbo.

    I have oily skin as well, and I actually use a mix of natural oils as my nighttime moisturizer! It really saved my skin too! Around 4-5 years ago my skin was so unhappy – I was ridiculously oily and I would look like I had smeared grease all over my face about half an hour to an hour after washing it. I tried all the lightweight balancing gels and the harsh toners, etc and none of them worked, they only made me dry, flaky AND oily. Finally I realized that my poor skin was really dehydrated and pumping out sebum in a desperate attempt to create a moisture barrier and keep itself from losing more water. I started using jojoba oil as my moisturizer 2x a day, and it took 6 months, but my skin totally normalized. I mean, I’m still oily, but at least now I can wear makeup and only blot 1x a day! And, since jojoba oil is very similar to human sebum in chemical composition, it actually really helped with my blackheads (it can dissolve the stuff oxidized in clogged pores) and totally transformed my skin texture as well. Now I mix jojoba oil and olive squalane in a 1:1 ratio and I mix in two drops of rosehip oil with the half ml or so that I use each night since I moved to a drier climate and I wake up with glowy skin almost every day (if I’ve also had 7 hours of sleep haha).

    I do also love oil moisturizers though I haven’t been using one regularly recently since I got the giant bottle of Philosophy’s Apricots & Cream body lotion (which is lovely). My favorite is probably L’Occitane’s Grape Seed Beauty Body Oil, but alas it’s been discontinued. I’m still hoarding my last bottle… the Almond body oil is lovely too. I’ve also used straight almond or jojoba oil on my body, or in the bath (you need VERY little, just fyi) and love them as well. =)

  2. I don’t think oils are the ultimate panacea, but they get an awful bad rap. Congestion isn’t caused by oil alone, a pore is naturally supposed to have some sebum in it, it’s caused by excess skin cells mixing into the pore. I also wonder privately how easily an oil from a product can travel backwards into a pore, when skincare doesn’t penetrate that deep in the first place. In my experience, when a product does contribute to congestion, it accumulates slowly; when I break out immediately, it’s because the product is irritating. With the latter, I think it provokes an immune response, disrupting the skin’s natural functions (acne is by definition an immune response). With the former, I generally only have difficulty with mineral oil, which is such an excellent barrier former, it traps oil forming within the pore; it doesn’t invade the pore (if it did, we’d break out every time we used a cream) but it creates a condition where the pore clogs itself. I suspect it would be more dramatic on oilier skin. But with natural oils, they often have better absorption, and if they’re unrefined, the skin is more likely to recognize them as “like sebum”, so it shuts down sebum production accordingly. Since I’m quoting him twice, Colin’s Beauty Pages is an excellent resource, btw. It’s written from the perspective of a skincare chemist, so it’s both a unique and illuminating blog.

    Sorry to be so verbose. I’ve had a post on oils percolating in my head for a while, so it came out as a torrent. [looks sheepish]

  3. Amy, what is your opinion on argon(sic) oil skin cleansers? You hear about them a lot lately.

    • I haven’t tried them Susie, so I’m not sure! 🙂 Have you had any experiences with them?

      • Yes. I am now using an argan oil cleanser–organic–from Josie Moran (her own website; Sephora and Barney’s). I like it. She makes an argan oil moisturizer and hair oil, too, but I have not tried them. I used to use Cetaphil, but it contains propylene glycol which is a carcinogen, and I stopped using it. Plus, it was not moisturizing my face. The argan oil cleanser is pure and my face feels moist after I use it. Please continue with the skin oils; I think many women would like to know more about them. Thanks!

  4. I’m a recent convert to oil face cleansers myself. I am halfway through a bottle of Origins Clean Energy, and it has completely changed my super oily, acne ridden skin for the better. Overall my skin is MUCH more balanced, hardly oily at all, but still supple and moisturized. My breakouts (mostly hormonal these days) also subside more quickly and leave less scarring. It’s like magic in a bottle! I think its a shame that Origins advertises it on their counters are for dry skin only. I hate to think of all the oily ladies who are missing out on something potentially amazing for their complexions!

    As to hair oils, I still haven’t jumped on board yet. I have had Moroccan Oil used on my hair once at a salon, and it did leave my hair soft and lovely, but all the silicones (and the price, yikes) scared me away from purchasing a bottle. I have a small bottle of organic argan oil, though, that I have been meaning to try on my hair one of these days to see if it gives the same effect at all. (Also tried the argan on my face once, it was definitely a no go, yuck!)

  5. I’ve been thinking about tracking down Leonor Greyl’s hair oil – but I have been using Moroccan Oil without any negative reactions. Why are you so against it? It smells good – I use a TEENSY bit rubbed on my palms and then into my hair – I’m just about finished my first bottle and I’ve got a second waiting in the wings.

    I have been using DHC Olive Oil facial cleanser – like it a lot – and also Josie Maran’s Argan Oil moisturizer – I know that can also be used in the hair but I haven’t tried it. I do like it on my face – I’m mostly quite dry, but this oil is very light and seems to be absorbed quite quickly – I like it a lot – and again, a very tiny amount is used.

    • HI bisbee, although silicons tame my hair at 1st, they tend to dry my hair out in the long term I’ll admit that my hair is more processed than some women’s (although less processed than others)–I color my hair, but no perms and only occasional blow drying).

      • Interesting…I think I’ll try the Leonor Greyl’s – or maybe even the Josie Maran Argan oil – it does say it can be used on the hair!

  6. This post is one of my favorites of yours so far. Do you think these oils could work for sensitive skin (the cleansing oil for face, and olio russo?) I love that you are aware of good/bad ingredients – less leg work for the rest of us!

    • Hi Tammy, I’ve used oils when my face had some raw areas from allergies (vitamin E, specifically), so yes, but I think it’s all going to depend on the ingredients…thanks for your comment! 🙂

  7. Love this post as I have been partial to facial oils for years. I use them when my skin starts acting up however as I age am thinking I may need to use them regularly. Was wondering if you have tried Bobbi Brown’s EXTRA Facial Oil? It’s recommended for very dry skin (which I am not) however I have used it with no problem. I do love a good cleansing oil as it is the best way to take off sunscreen.


  8. Natural oils are wonderful. I’ve been using them for a while now and my skin has never looked better. I also use an Indian natural soap with sandalwood as a face cleanser (milld soaps are the best make-up removers in the world) as well as a soft cloth, and it’s all the facial beauty care I need. No dry spots, no oily spots, no spots at all, just healthy, glowing skin that makes people comment. Success, nature.

    One of my favorite posts of yours, Amy.

    Also, especially chemically touched hair needs all the care it can get! Oils and good conditioners (such as Aubrey Organics). Silicones clog hair and skin, but also give an okay coat against heat. If you straighten or blow-dry your hair non-stop, a little bit will go a long way, though oils are also protective.

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