Using oils for skin and hair is taking the beauty world by storm, for their wide ranges of benefits. Easily absorbed and antioxidant-rich, beauty oils offer many solutions for common skin and hair problems.
Essential oils have been used for centuries for their soothing properties, and growing evidence indicates that they may have benefits for various skin conditions.
Essential oils are generally safe but should always be diluted with a carrier oil before use.1
Blemishes and oily skin
If your skin appears shiny and greasy, with blemishes and enlarged pores tea tree oil may help.2
In a 2016 study in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology, participants applied products containing tea tree oil twice a day for 12 weeks.
By the end of the trial, they had around half as many pimples as when they started. It’s thought the essential oil has cleansing and soothing properties.3
Darker patches of skin on your face – known as hyperpigmentation – are due to an increase in melanin, the natural substance that gives your skin its colour or pigment.4
In a 2010 study, published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, researchers investigated an active component of chamomile essential oil, called alpha-bisabolol.
They found that after eight weeks of treatment, hyperpigmentation was significantly reduced.5
General signs of ageing
As we age our skin loses elasticity and water, but according to a 2017 study from the University of Catania in Italy, another of the essential oils could help – rosemary.
The researchers applied rosemary essential oil inside a gel to 10 volunteers twice a day for a week, and found an improvement in their skin’s levels pf moisture and plumpness.6
Fine lines and wrinkles
According to a 2013 review published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, thyme essential oil may play help alleviate signs of ageing, such as wrinkles.
When our skin is exposed to stress such as pollutants and UV radiation, skin cell membranes can be damaged. Thyme oil is packed with essential nutrients, like flavonoids, that help fight these effects.7
Handpicked content: What happens to skin when it starts to wrinkle?
- Always make sure you dilute an essential oil with a carrier oil
- Essential oils have benefits for a variety of skin conditions
- Try essential oils to ease hyperpigmentation, spots, oily skin and acne scars
Oils can moisturise your skin
Using oils on your skin and hair brings impressive health benefits. They’re perfect as a night treatment because they help ‘trap’ skin’s natural moisture, preventing evaporation.
When choosing a beauty oil, go for unrefined, virgin, and organic varieties. Steer clear of synthetic fragrances (sometimes listed as parfum or fragrance) and opt for unscented, or scented with cold-pressed essential oils.
Coconut oil for skin
Coconut oil is fast becoming the best natural oil for skin, to help protect it from the negative effects of free radicals.
You can use coconut oil for skin as a moisturiser and make-up remover, or it’s ideal for use in cooking and as a salad dressing.
Handpicked content: 9 reasons why you should love coconut
Want glossy hair?
Argan oil comes from the nuts of the argan tree. Used by the indigenous Berber people of Morocco for centuries, it’s now used in a range of hair products. Argan oil is light and easily absorbed, with naturally high vitamin E levels and compounds called saponins, which make it the ideal hair softener and protector. Use argan oil for hair after washing to help protect it from the sun.
Vitamin E is also good for improving brittle or damaged, colour-treated or overstyled hair, while omega-3 and -9 fatty acids may help strengthen the protein bonding structures, even rescuing split ends. Leave a small amount on overnight for a super-moisturising hair masque.
Want super-soft skin?
Sweet almond oil comes from the kernels of the almond tree. It’s quite light, so is often used as a carrier oil by natural practitioners. Its thin texture and emollient properties means it absorbs well and will work on its own to make skin smooth and silky.
Sweet almond oil is also a humectant, which helps prevent the loss of moisture. It’s suitable for all skin types – although if you have a nut allergy, consult your doctor before using sweet almond oil for skin.
Want to beat blemishes?
There are some simple steps you can take to reduce the appearance of blemishes, but using some essential beauty oils can also help.
Rosa mosqueta oil, or rosehip oil, is uniquely rich in vitamin A. Most nut and seed oils have vitamin E and omegas-3, -6 or -9 in varying proportions, but vitamin A is much rarer. Vitamin A is the main ingredient in pro-retinol, well known for its benefits for blemishes.
Rosa mosqueta also has more vitamin C than oranges and is rich in other ingredients vital to skincare.
Add a drop of rosehip oil to three teaspoons of olive oil apply to damp skin and leave on overnight.
Handpicked content: Benefits of marula oil
- Essential oils can help moisturise your skin as well as improve the glossiness of your hair
- Essential oils may also help reduce the appearance of blemishes
Last updated: 18 March 2021
Reviewer: Doaa Almosawi
Joined Holland & Barrett: March 2019
Qualifications: BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science
After completing her BSc in Biomedical Science, Doaa worked in Research and laboratory for 3 years. Doaa was also a member of a product development team in a manufacturing company specialising in sun care and personal care products, researching and providing regulatory advice regarding international regulations.
Doaa is now an International Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate at Holland & Barrett.
Reviewer: Doaa Almosawi