Saturday, September 29, 2012

Benefits of Plant Oil for Your Beauty


Oil.  It gets a bad rap when it comes to beauty products.  But I'm here to tell you that oil, good clean plant oil, is really quite good for you, your skin, and your hair.

I was once at a beauty products party and the leader put a cracker in a bowl of oil.  Even after twenty minutes, the cracker was still crispy and hard.  This was supposed to show us that oil is not good for our skin because oil does not soak into the skin (like the cracker, I guess).  Then, she told us to buy all sorts of expensive products that had no oil in them.

On the way home I thought "But our skin is not a cracker."  The human skin has oil in it.  It is made of oil, excretes oil, and when you put oil on your skin the oil DOES soak in.

Now, I'm not an oily person.  In fact, I'm a very dry person.  I have very dry skin that itches in the winter and is so sensitive that when I scratch it my nails leave big red marks.  If you have more oily skin I understand if you are hesitant to try oil.  I have heard that even for people with oily skin, oil is good for them. I don't know first hand, because my skin is not like that.  I guess you will just have to experiment and decide for yourself.

I have read a lot about the benefits of oil in many of my magazines lately.  They all say the same thing: that people don't believe it but (OMG) oil is good for you.  I always laugh a little when I see this because I think America is the only nation in the world that is so afraid of oil for their skin and hair.

Great Ways to Use Oil for Your Beauty Needs



I grew up in India and I saw the Indian men and women put oil in their hair every week.  They would rub oil in their hair and scalp and sit in the sun, then rinse it off later in the day.  I have never seen a nation with more beautiful hair.  Most Indian women have long, thick, beautiful hair.

I have put oil in my own hair plenty of times.  I like to use olive oil, apricot oil, almond oil, coconut oil, or any hair oil I find that smells good.  It is great for my hair.  Different oils are good for different times of the year.  For example, I never use coconut oil in the cold northeast winters.  Coconut oil is for hot tropical climates and coagulates in the cold.  I don't want that to happen in my hair, so I keep the coconut oil for summer.  I have one hair oil I bough in India that actually heats up when you rub it.  I love using that in the winter.

The oil conditions my hair like nothing else.  I like to put the oil in my dry hair and leave it on as long as I can.  If I have time, I sit in the sun, but most of  the time I wrap it up in an old scarf and sleep with the oil in my hair.  In the morning I wash my hair (usually twice) and skip the conditioner.  My hair comes out smooth and soft.



Once, while living in North India, I went for a massage in Rishikesh.  I was on vacation from my teaching job and a couple of friends and I decided to get a massage.  I have had several massages in  my life, in several different countries all over the world.  I had an open mind about this one.  It was meant to be a special yoga massage.

One of my friends was scarred for life.  She came out of the little room with a look on her face like she had been violated in some strange way.  I was actually scared to go in.  But I had paid, and I really needed that message.

It was a bit weird, I admit.  The lady that massaged me had me completely naked and had me in all these weird positions.  She even messaged my breasts (in a non-sexual way).  In the end though, I did feel better and more relaxed.

The point is, that during the message in Rishikesh my lady used so much oil.  She had a huge bowl of oil and pored it all over my body.  She then pored the remaining oil all over my head.  I was doused in oil.  I had to take a twenty minute shower just to get it all off.  But the truth is, it felt amazing and my skin felt like butter.   I had the softest and most radiant skin of my life.  I don't know what kind of oil she used but it was amazing.

Now, my yoga teacher, who has also lived in India for a log time, taught us that we should rub our bodies with almond oil (organic and all natural) every day before the shower.  The idea is that you rub the oil into your skin until it is a tacky texture, and then wash the oil off in the shower.  The almond oil will soak in enough to get the healing and moisturizing benefits in just that short amount of time.  My mother, who is also a yoga teacher, used to put apricot oil all over her body as well.  Growing up I though she was nuts, but now I understand.

I don't have time to do this every day, but the days that I do, my skin does feel better.  I'm getting over a bad reaction to the Sulpha antibiotic (a long story) and the almond oil has helped with the itching.  The oil also helps with slight aches and pains.  When my neck hurts from too much hunching over a computer, the almond oil is great for fixing that pain too.

Removing Makeup

I even use oil to remove makeup.  I started by buying the oil based stuff in the pharmacy.  I found that the oil based eye makeup remover worked the best and left my face feeling less irritated.  I read somewhere that your face should not feel tight after you wash it, something that always happened when I use a normal facial cleanser.  Now, I have moved on to making my own eye makeup remover, and in truth, I use it all over my face and neck.  This stuff is so gentle.  I use just a touch of very mild organic soap, olive oil, and water.  I'm thinking of tweaking the recipe and adding even more oil and less water.  We'll see how it goes.  The remover works great and gets off even water proof mascara.  I'm sold (and not just because I made it).  


I learned this trick from an old friend that was a show girl.  She did a lot of dancing in close quarters with very short skirts.  Instead of shaving with shaving cream or soap (the worst) use oil.  I have found over the years that the body oil you buy in the pharmacy is the best.  I used to love the Palmer's Cocoa oil but I can't find it anymore.  I love the smell of that stuff, it smells like chocolate.   Anywho, oil of any sort, and I have used olive in a pinch, is great for a close shave.  Oil also makes it much easier to shave in the shower because the oil does not wash off.  I can run my hands over my legs and find any spots I have missed.  I'm a blonde so that is important.  One caveat, make sure to tell your house mates you used oil in the shower because the tub gets slippery.  Hubby asked me to warn him after I shave.  

I just poor the oil right into my hand and then rub it all over my legs.  I just read a blog post about not liking using oil for your legs and I must say, olive is not the best choice.  You want something thinner in consistency so the razor does not get clogged.  Also, after your shower I have never had a problem with the oil staining my clothes or towel.

Internal Health

We have all heard about how good the "good oils" are for our health and I'm all for it.  If I have an excuse to eat avocados (oh wait, that's "good fats," whatever) I'm all in.  We need oil, and the better the oil the better it is for us.  I think of it like a car.   I have a good car made by BMW (a Mini Cooper) and I have to put the most expensive gas in it.  Every time I fill up I remember that for my car to run well I need to give it good food.  So I treat my car well, and it treats me well (still running perfectly after 6 years, knock wood).  Same with my body. I have to put good stuff in, to get a good result.  I feel it when I don't eat well.  So eat good oils.  

I just read an article in Whole Living about a woman in her early 60s who drinks olive oil from time to time.  She looked great. She said something that struck me as quite insightful.  It was along the lines of "You need to oil the system to keep things working."  Now our bodies are not metal, but if I want to keep my innards working I might just want to make it a little more slippery in there.  Who knows.  

That concludes my very own take on the whole oil craze in the United States of America.  Trust me, the rest of the world has been using plant oil as a beauty product for ever.

What is your take on oil?  Like it, hate it?  Use it for beauty or avoid it like the plague?  Lets start a conversation.  


  1. I use oil for practically everything. My current go-to combination is jojoba and vitamin e oil, which I use to wash my face and as moisturizer. I really need to start using it before I shower, like you suggest! I remember reading, too, that coconut oil is so good for your skin it will even get rid of those weird bumpy spots a lot of people have on their upper arms. My daughter has those, so I'm going to try coconut oil. I have plenty--I cook everything in it!

  2. I'm with you on the oil...for shaving, hair, moisturizing, everything! I have a collection of different types. The Palmer's Cocoa oil is hard to find, I buy it from an online drugstore. It does smell the best of all the brands in that category. I also like Argan oil for hair and face. It's very sheer and doesn't feel oily. There are many products that contain it, but the best is just a pure organic oil.

    What you said about the Indian women and their hair is also true in Brazil. It's common to spend one day of the week treating hair with various oils, and there are a lot of homemade formulas available. Also at the beach... oil protects hair and skin from dryness, and some even have SPF to prevent burning.


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