By Arwa Lodhi
For centuries, beautiful women have been protecting their hair, nails and skin with one perfect product, provided by nature: vegetable oil. Now, get that image of chip-frying oil out of your head–there is a wide variety of different kinds of fragrant vegetable oils derived from myriad plants that each have their own unique beauty-enhancing properties.
These oils don’t clog pores, or leave your skin feeling greasy like mineral oil does. In Eluxe’s guide to good oil, we researched which oils brought the best benefits, and in which products you can find them.
So without further ado, here’s our list of the 10 Best Oils for beauty benefits of all kinds.
1. Monoi Oil
The “sacred oil of the Polynesians” traces its roots back to the native Maori tribe, the indigenous Polynesians in New Zealand. The British explorer of the eighteenth century, James Cook, discovered that Monoi oil was used by the Maori people for medicinal purposes, beauty routines, and religious rituals. To create this precious oil, the blooms of the Tahitian Monoi plant are soaked in oil carefully extracted from young coconuts.
Benefits: Monoi has soothing, restorative properties, and can be used on the hair, skin and nails. This miracle oil can prevent stretch marks on the breasts and bellies of pregnant women and reverses and prevents damage to even the most distressed hair caused by heat-styling, colour-treating and chemical straightening. Smells amazing, too!
2. Argan Oil
This ancient Moroccan beauty oil is extracted from the nut of a slow growing tree, which only exists in the driest parts of the world–hence the high price of the oil.
Benefits: the perfect all in one moisturiser for the skin, body, face, hands, nails, scalp and hair.
Brands: Look for brands that use pure, unadulterated oil, like those by Kahina and Moroccan Natural. Because it is so expensive, some brands only use a few drops and dilute the oil with other products, but pure Argan Oil, such as that used by the brands above, will give you the best results for smooth skin and hair–check the label! (PS: One that contains very, very little Argan at all is the popular brand Moroccan Oil.)
This oil is from the nut we all love to bake with and eat; the oil is taken from the pressed fruit of the humble almond tree.
Benefits: This sweet smelling oil is very high in Vitamin E and makes a great moisturiser and cleanser. Perfect for rubbing into cuticles, dabbing onto the ends of hair, or using to hydrate and nourish skin.
Pressed from the oil of the aromatic wood from trees in the genus Santalum. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and unlike many other aromatic woods, they retain their fragrance for decades. Due to high demand, the sandalwood tree is actually endangered in some parts of the world.
Benefits: Sandalwood essential oil is packed with benefits, including its properties as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, disinfectant, emollient, expectorant, sedative and tonic substance. It smells wonderful too, and is used not only in skincare products, but in perfumes as well.
5. Avocado Oil
This highly nutritious oil comes pressed from the humble pit of that salad favourite, the avocado. Whilst eating avocados provides essential Omega 3 fats, which are great for our skin, the avo kernal also produces one of the best oils for beauty.
Benefits: Cold pressed Avocado Oil is rich in proteins, antioxidant vitamins, and is particularly high in skin-protecting Vitamin E. This is a great one for sensitive skins, as avocado oil is highly alkaline
6. Olive Oil
A Mediterranean favourite, this oil has been used for centuries. The Romans used to apply it to their skin and have slaves scrape it off to exfoliate and cleanse their skin; today, it is rarely used in skincare products because of its potent smell.
Benefits: This is a deeply hydrating oil, rich in antioxidants and fatty acids that protect the skin from harm.
Brands: Though you can use olive oil right out of the bottle (as my grandma did!) it’s best when diluted with other natural oils to hide the vegetable smell. Odylique makes a great olive oil based balm for extremely dry skin–and don’t worry, it smells rather citrusy! Trevarno also makes a lovely cream using olive oil.
7. Coconut Oil
Derived from that trending favourite fruit, the exotic coconut.
Benefits: Where do we begin? Women in tropical countries have been using this for centuries as a hair tonic, massage oil, skin soother, and some even believe it can protect the skin from sun damage. The oil is high in proteins, saturated fats, antioxidants and may also have anti-bacterial and anti-microbial features. Eating it is just as beneficial as applying it to the skin, nails, or hair. Some like to ‘swish’ it in their mouths (moving it back and forth over the teeth) for about 10 minutes; this practice, sometimes called ‘pulling’, is said to detoxify the body and whiten the teeth. It can also be used to take off makeup; guaranteed not to clog pores!
Brands: It’s honestly best to just buy this in its purest form, but some brands that incorporate it with amazing results including, Dr Jackson’s Coconut Melt.
Extracted from the pips of grapes used to make wine, this oil is also used in the kitchen for cooking, or to put over salad.
Benefits: the oil is extremely rich in beta-carotene and vitamins D, C, E. It also happens to have a concentration of essential fatty acids like palmitic, stearic, and linoleic acid. These fatty acids have performed well in clinical anti-wrinkle trials. They have also proven to be effective at minimizing the prominence and size of scars. You can use this oil directly on your skin from the kitchen; cooking with it will bring the same beauty benefits.
This oil extracted from the seeds of flowering Evening Primrose plants.
Benefits: This highly curative oil can help with a variety of issues, such as cell renewal and correcting an uneven skin tone. Perfect for mature skins, it has an anti-inflammatory effect, and can be taken orally as a supplement for a variety of health concerns, ranging from PMS to asthma.
10. Moringa Oil
We might have saved the best for last! This exceptional oil, first used by ancient Hindu and Egyptian societies, contains an extraordinarily high content of antioxidants. Moringa Oil (or Ben oil, as it is sometimes called) is obtained by pressing the seeds of the Moringa oilefera tree. Moringa oil can be used in cooking as well as beauty products.
Benefits: The strong antioxidant properties protect the skin from sun damage and ageing. Both the fatty acid profile and antioxidant content can diminish the appearance of wrinkles, lighten skin tone, and deeply moisturise the skin and may be applied either during the daytime or night. Some people use this oil for post-acne marks, which actually tend to fade much quicker due to these skin-refining properties in the oil. Psoriasis and Eczema sufferers may find some relief with this oil, too.
11. Marula Oil
This is a seriously beneficial oil that’s high in anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients to calm reddened skin that’s irritated by pollution and other external factors. Expect a nice surge of plumpness and hydration after applying this oil, as it has a wonderful protective barrier that also retains the water that naturally occurs in your skin.
Benefits: Pollution protection, moisture retention.
12. Rosehip Oil
This may have ‘rose’ in the name, but don’t expect the flowery scent here – this oil is more herbally fragranced, and contains essential fatty acids help to regenerate skin cells and to repair damaged skin tissue. This is especially useful for pregnant women, those who have lost a lot of weight in a short time, or for mature skins.
Benefits: Perfect for dry, sun damaged skin and helping to improve the appearance of burns, scars, wrinkles and stretch marks.
Brands: De Mamiel Botaniques makes the best rosehip oil serum!
Main image: Flickr