I love winter, unfortunately my skin doesn’t.
I have struggled with very dry skin for as long as I can remember. No amount of creams, lotions or potions would give me a lasting hydrated effect. The great claims on moisturizers seemed to just not work for me. When the cold winters came rolling around, my skin was in a crisis.
Working in the beauty industry, I had access to the best advice. The advice I received repeatedly was to layer and layer products, a common Korean skincare practice. I went to extreme measures slathering on the product to the point where I would even be applying extra layers of hydrating cream to my sleepy face in the middle of the night!
After several rounds of trial and error followed by a lot of independent research, I finally found the root of the cause. It was quite simple, actually. My skin was like a house with no roof. My skin barrier was failing in many ways because I kept cleansing with harsh chemicals (which could be in your regular cleansers!). Unknowingly, I was causing more damage than good. I wasn’t repairing the “roof” of my house, instead, I was breaking it down slowly. My dry skin was also suffering from uneven texture, which led me to think I should be exfoliating frequently. Thus, I ended up with a compromised skin barrier which needed more than just hydration or a moisturizer.
Then, I came across natural oils.
Natural oils effectively deliver the key ingredient, linoleic acid. Linoleic acid naturally replenishes skin by repairing its barrier. This leads to your skin developing an enhanced ability to retain moisture on its own. Many moisturizers on the market have claims of repairing skin, by which they stand true. However, for severely dry and depleted skin like mine, I found oils to be the quickest, safest and most natural option, as they contain high concentrations of linoleic acid which eventually helped repair my skin barrier.
Two critical steps in my routine changed my skin for good.
The first change I made to my routine was to eliminate the use of regular facial cleansers altogether. Specifically, I eliminated foaming detergent-type cleansers that contain SLS, SLES. To this day I do not use foaming cleansers, which strip the skin of natural oils and moisture. Instead, I incorporated what is now popularly known as “The oil cleansing method” into my routine.
Massaging my skin with oil cleanses and exfoliates any excess sebum or dead skin cells while replenishing it at the same time. If my skin begins to feel greasy I cleanse again with a mild natural soap. In winter, massaging with oil and wiping off with a warm face cloth suffices.
Coconut oil, which I had on hand, was a great cleanser, but the greasy texture might not be for everyone. For those who want to avoid greasiness, I also love to recommend balm-type cleansers. There are some great products on the market. Clinique’s Take the day off Cleansing Balm is a true and trusted cleanser for dry, sensitive skin, which you can rinse off easily. Darphin Aromatic Cleansing Balm is also a favorite, but a bit more expensive. There are also cheaper options readily available in Olive young, Espoir, Banila co., etc…
The second change was beginning to use natural oils before applying my regular moisturizer. It may sound a bit heavy but everyone needs that extra layer of protection in the winter and even oily skin can benefit if you choose the right oil.. Now if you have oily skin, you are probably thinking you have enough oil already and this would only break you out. But! Not all oils break you out! Rather, the right oil can repair your skin and regulate any excessive oil production. Check the Comedogenic rating below for oils and try the ones with a rating of 0~1. If you are on the dry or combination side, you can go a bit higher on the scale but I personally try to avoid oils above 2. Coconut oil has a rating of 4, so it may not be the best choice for your skin. Please experiment and find what works for you! Whiteheads or milia will be a sign that a certain oil is too much for your skin.
- Rating “0” – Shea butter, Argan oil, Hemp oil, Prickly pear oil, Safflower oil, sunflower oil, Camellia oil, Raspberry seed oil.
- Rating “1” – Castor oil, Rosehip oil, Pomegranate seed oil, Sea buckthorn oil, Emu oil, Neem oil.
- Rating “2” – Almond oil, Evening primrose oil, Jojoba oil, Olive oil, Tamanu oil, Avocado oil, Baobob oil, Borage oil.
Comedogenic Rating Scale
- 0 – Will totally not clog up pores, excellent for oily skin
- 1 – High chance that it won’t clog pores, good for oily skin
- 2 – May or may not clog up pores, not the best choice for oily skin
- 3 – Moderately clog up pores, don’t choose this for oily skin
- 4 – Moderately high pore-clogging ability, stay away from this oil
- 5 – Definitely will clog pores, don’t even think of this one. Also look out for oils high in Linoleic acid, the higher the better especially if you need repairing.
- Safflower oil : Linoleic acid content: 74.62% / Comedogenic rating: 0
- Evening Primrose Oil: Linoleic acid content: 73 % / Comedogenic rating: 2
- Grapeseed Oil : Linoleic acid content: 69.6% / Comedogenic rating: 2
- Sunflower Oil : Linoleic acid content: 65.7% / Comedogenic rating: 0
- Pumpkin Seed Oil : Linoleic acid content: 57.2% / Comedogenic rating: 2
- Argan Oil : Linoleic acid content: 37% / Comedogenic rating: 0
I have personally used rosehip oil (Trilogy Rosehip Oil) and prickly pear oil (Huxley Oil Essence) and experienced the outstanding benefits they can offer while not clogging my pores!
Take care before using any oil, first do a patch test so you can check if your skin will tolerate that oil or not. If you notice any irritation while doing the patch test, then do not use the oil as you might be allergic.
Feature Image via Tru