Oil has a bit of a slippery reputation. For as beneficial as it can be in cooking and hair care, it’s also been known to fuel wars and wreak havoc on the environment. Lucky for oil, the beauty world is giving it a new spin as a beneficial solution for a myriad of skin issues.

“The most pivotal part in balancing your skin is to use oil,” says Kristen Ma, co-owner of Toronto’s Pure + Simple spas and author of Beauty: Pure + Simple. “Beauty oils provide the skin with nourishment and protection, and its natural emollients soften while locking in moisture.” It’s important to note that oils don’t necessarily hydrate the skin, which is why a water-based serum or moisturizer is also needed.

Counterintuitive as it may seem, oils will not exacerbate oily skin and will actually mattify its appearance. “The body is constantly trying to reach a natural state of homeostasis by balancing itself out,” says Ma. Oily skin is really the result of over zealous cleansing, which strips skin of its natural moisture.

Acne sufferers might be the most reticent about introducing oil into their skincare regimen, but its greatest benefit is to protect the skin’s barrier and prevent bacterial infection. For this, Ma, who spent years battling acne, suggests using a product with coconut oil which has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and is high in antioxidant vitamin E.

Other oils in Ma’s arsenal include sea buckthorn oil, which is lauded for combatting pigmentation and its repairing qualities making it ideal for daily use to calm inflammation. Rosehip oil also helps to fight hyperpigmentation of the skin, heal wounds and scars, promote circulation and is high in vitamin C, which is essential to preventing premature aging. Raw sesame oil (not the toasted kind you find in the grocery store) provides protection, nourishment, and is also good for dry and brittle hair and nails. Camellia oil (or tea oil) is anti-inflammatory, comforting and calming, ideal for eczema, rosacea and inflamed acne sufferers while evening primrose oil, which is rich in linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, is an effective anti-aging treatment. In fact, taken orally, evening primrose has been proven to naturally balance hormones and is recommended for menopausal women.

To prevent breakouts, Ma stresses using oils that are unprocessed or raw, since mineral and petroleum-based oils will clog pores. And as much as she touts the skin benefits of oils, like most other things, moderation is key. “If you’re using an oil that’s very stimulating, [like rosehip, castor or almond oil], try alternating every few days. Over stimulating the skin will constantly bring toxins to the surface and may result in a breakout.” Other oils used for calming, soothing or repairing skin are safe for daily use.

For her clients who are reluctant to delve into beauty oils, Ma suggests incorporating them into a day or evening skincare ritual, although they can be used for both. Layer it over a water-based serum or lotion, much like you would a moisturizer, and dust skin with a mineral powder during the day for added SPF and to combat shine. Don’t be afraid to grease up your skin this season.

Kiehl’s products avaialable in select locations.

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