Plant oils have been used for a variety of purposes throughout time. Various plant oils have been successfully incorporated into diets and even used as pharmaceuticals. Today, they are recognized for their therapeutic, anti-aging, and restorative effects on the health of our skin.
When it comes to natural skin care, there are two classes of products that we feel are must-haves: those are the plant oils (specifically coconut oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil, amongst others) and various essential oils. These are the true powerhouse ingredients that are the most nourishing oils for skin.
In this article, we’re highlighting the miraculously therapeutic benefits of plant oils when applied to the skin. Thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, these plant oils are capable of preserving, regenerating and repairing the skin.
Getting to Know Essential Oils
Essential oils are rising in popularity and these oils not only provide a wonderful, non-toxic aroma but also have many medicinal health benefits. In addition to their use as oil diffusers for aromatherapy, essential oils are being more commonly used in skin care products.
Applied to the skin, there are numerous essential oils that can positively affect the functioning of the skin. Most essential oils possess potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, mitigating the most harmful offenders to radiant and healthy skin. Some of our favorite essential oils for skin health are German chamomile, bergamot, vanilla, sandalwood, vetiver, rosehip and vanilla.
Health Benefits of Plant Oils
Besides essential oils, you’ll find various plant oils (coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, etc.) in most natural skin care products. Plant oils provide the perfect base for lotions, creams, nourishing skin oils, and moisturizers. They also happen to provide some rather impressive therapeutic actions on the health and functioning of the skin.
Plant oils like jojoba and other Vitamin E rich plant oils possess incredible anti-inflammatory effects, which not only protect the skin from cellular damage but have been shown to reverse damage and regenerate the skin.
However, let’s take a moment to more deeply explore their therapeutic mechanisms and effective benefits for skin health.
The skin encounters daily stress factors including environmental pollutants, irritating light, pathogens, and various toxins. These can sometimes result in injury or infection, leading to inflammation and therefore skin aging. When inflammation occurs in response to an injury or an infection, the inflammatory stimulates a natural immune response triggering a release of immune cells such as leukocytes, macrophages, mast cells, and dendritic cells. Additionally, various inflammatory mediators called cytokines are attracted to the site of injury or infection to help contribute to tissue repair and prevent infection. However, cytokines are also able to damage the skin tissue in proximity of the injured site of the inflammatory response. So depending on the intensity and duration of the inflammation, damage to the skin can be done resulting in aged skin. Therefore, the modulation of inflammation is one of the most important goals in maintaining skin health and balance.
Now for the good news. Since the metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the skin is high, plant oils like jojoba, provide a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and anti-proliferative property when applied to the skin.
Also, some of the major inflammatory chemicals in the body referred to as cyclooxygenase (COX) and prostaglandins E(2), which induce skin inflammation when at high levels, are “deactivated” by the topical application of Vitamin E rich oils like jojoba. In simpler terms, topical supplementation with plant oils provides localized anti-inflammatory properties. With inflammation being at the root of most skin disorders, the regular use of topical plant oils can act as a novel anti-aging, anti-inflammatory agent.
The aging of the skin can be split into two categories; chronological and environmentally-induced. Both of these factors have common changes in the physiology of the skin, which include the thinning of the skin, the loss of elasticity and the increase of skin roughness, wrinkling, dryness, and impairment of the skin barrier.
Skin aging depends on a decrease in the cellular functioning of the skin. Environmental or epigenetic factors in skin aging are affected by such things as exposure to radiation, air pollution, smoking, metabolic changes, environmental toxins, diet and other external stressors that affect the skin. Photoaging by chronic exposure to UV radiation is the best characterized. However different these factors may be in appearance, their biological effect is usually quite similar. Which is their cellular damage to the skin is by high levels of “reactive oxygen species” or free radicals. These ages or damage the skin as a result of collagen degradation and oxidative stress.
ROS levels can be regulated by various antioxidants like superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione (GSH). When the skin becomes unhealthy, the antioxidant capacity is being overwhelmed by stress factors. This is what causes oxidative stress, which damages skin cells and alters their gene expression, leading to aging, disease and cancerous cells.
Luckily, we can supplement antioxidants in times of stress when the naturally occurring antioxidants in the skin are overwhelmed. Of the many antioxidants, vitamin E (tocopherol), which is found exclusively in plant oils, possesses some of the most potent antioxidant activities.
Vitamin E has a dual effect, it is both anti-inflammatory and thereby antioxidative. It acts within the cellular regulatory systems, to prevent inflammation and inappropriate excitation to cells. Vitamin E is a powerful scavenger of hydroxyl radicals possesses anti-inflammatory activities in tissues. In study, an inflammatory induced response via acetic acid, which increased levels of inflammatory tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, myeloperoxidase and malondialdehyde, and decreased levels of antioxidants glutathione and superoxide dismutase was reversed by vitamin E. This suggests a powerful anti-inflammatory and regenerative effect by vitamin E.
Final Note: Selecting the Best Plant Oils
Topical applications of plant oils may have different effects on the skin depending on their composition extraction methods. Cold-pressed oils will possess the most therapeutic action and it is important to get fresh cold-pressed oils that are protected from such offenders as air, light and heat. This is why we selectively use cold-pressed extracts of our plant oils and store our products in dark Miron glass.
In conclusion, plant oils like jojoba oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, almond oil, coconut oil and others improve the health of the skin synergistically by several mechanisms. There is extensive research showing that these oils can promote skin barrier homeostasis, protect the skin from oxidative stress, inflammation, have antimicrobial and anti-cancerous properties, and even promote skin regeneration. With the science in mind, we strongly feel that quality, cold-pressed plant oils are an essential part of any natural skin care regime.
Which is your favorite plant or essential oil? Leave us a comment!
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