The benefits of using plant oils for skin care have been known for centuries. Already in antiquity, their smoothing and softening properties were used in body lotions, massage cosmetics, and in bath additives. Oils also served as a base for active ingredients – plant extracts were dissolved in them, and essential oils were added. To this day they are a popular, safe element of caring for the health of our skin and appendages. Why does our skin need oils? And why do those obtained from plants have so many beneficial properties?
Lipids (commonly known as fats) are a varied group of water-insoluble organic compounds. Belonging to them are simple fats, vitamins ( A, D, E, K), sterols, phospholipids, wax, and many more. In the human organism, they have the function of energy storage, thermal insulation, building material (e.g. as elements of cell membranes), as well as even regulatory ( hormones and signal molecules). In the skin its primary function is cell bonding – they are an intercellular cement. Thanks to the cohesion of the stratum corneum (the most surfaced layer of the epidermis) it protects the organism from the penetration of external substances, whilst simultaneously keeping water from escaping the skin. They also keep the skin soft and elastic.
In the stratum corneum lipids contain ceramides, fatty acids, cholesterol, and cholesterol sulfate. An incorrect amount of any of these ingredients causes the skin to lose its physiological protective properties and can have negative changes – it may become dry, hypersensitive to outside factors (e.g., solar rays, allergens), and susceptible to bacterial superinfections. If it comes to disturbances in the hydrolipid barrier, which consists of previously mentioned lipids, water, urea, lactic acid as well as ions.
The decrease in the amount of lipids in the skin can occur for many reasons:
- incorrect skin care: too aggressive cleansing, the use of soap (alkaline pH), insufficient hydration, using incorrectly chosen active ingredients (e.g., acids, retinol);
- Mechanical injuries: during depilation with wax, machine, shaving stubble, frequent abrasions;
- unfavorable environmental conditions: strong winds, the cold, exposure to sunlight, dry air in air- conditioned rooms;
- Dermatological treatment: Anti-acne products can especially decrease the production of sebum and disturb the water-lipid balance in the skin.
In order to restore the correct functioning of the hydrolipid barrier, you should limit the operation of the listed factors and fix the effectiveness of everyday skin care. Knowing lipids that co-create the stratum corneum of the epidermis and support its protective functions, we can include cosmetics whose composition is based on these fats in our skin care. This will allow the skin to function properly, protect itself from microbes and it will not be as susceptible to irritations.
Plant oils used in the production of cosmetics have many advantages. They are rich in EFAs (Essential fatty acids), and bioactive compounds: Phytosterols, vitamins, and polyphenols. Thanks to this, in addition to the emollient properties (softening, moisturizing), they also have anti-aging, regenerative,anti-inflamantory, and Sebo regulative properties.