After a lifetime of being told to rinse their greasy faces, spa clients might be a bit perplexed when we encourage them to apply facial oils. There seems to be a proliferation of these unique products in the past few years, claiming to moisturize and cleanse at the same time, as well as stave off the appearance of advancing age.
But just what is facial oil?
“It refers to the base,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett of DLK on Avenue dermatology clinic in Toronto. “The base is the oil but the oil can contain anything in it.” that could mean argan, rosehip, olive, jojoba or coconut oils, to name but a few.
“[Facial oil] is a very ubiquitous term, so you have to try and figure out if people are talking about the base, or they’re talking about the active [ingredient], or they’re talking about essential oil,” Kellett says.
Facial oil wasn’t always as popular as it is today. According to Babor’s Benjamin Simpson, the late 80s and early 90s was a strictly oil-free era. “Our brand was actually founded on a facial cleansing oil called HY-OL, which is still a really successful collection for us to this day,” says the executive director of marketing and public relations for the professional skin care brand.
Babor’s HY-OL product, patented in the late 1950s, is made with pure vegetable oil and Quillaia extract that acts as a dirt magnet for an intense cleansing experience. “You apply the product to dry skin and you massage it in without water,” Simpson says. “On top of that you use our second step in the bi-phase cleansing method called phytoactives.”
When looking for the right facial oil cleanser, Simpson suggests looking for something water soluble to cleanse the skin without clogging or weighing it down. Kellett suggests facial oils are best used to prevent transepidermal water loss in the skin, something that adult patients with dry skin could benefit from.
These clients would typically be older adults who have decreased sebaceous gland activity, Kellett says. The sebaceous glands are oil glands on the skin that secrete natural sebum. As you get older the activity of the gland slows, causing skin to be drier and flakier. Clients who find that their skin is drier in certain seasons might be good candidates for facial oils.
Kellett cautions, however, that not all facial oils are right for all patients and still other patients should be avoiding oils altogether, such as those who are prone to acne, eczema, or dermatitis. Some oils, like eucalyptus and Vitamin C oil, can be irritating to the skin and are best confined to use on the less sensitive skin of the body, the dermatologist says.
“[Spas] should be looking for an oil that is non-irritating and can be used by more mature patients,” Kellett says. “You just have to make sure you’re using the right product for the right patient.”
By Hermione Wilson