Before applying any oils to the skin, it is important to receive a recommendation from your doctor. But to get you started, here are some of the most popular varieties of natural oils:
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is easily absorbed into the skin and is known to have many health benefits, including vitamins E and K, as well as its antifungal and antibacterial properties. The great exception? Along with cocoa butter, coconut oil is likely to cause outbreaks. “In general, coconut oil is a great option for almost everyone, except that if you have oily skin and are prone to acne, you would not use it on your face,” says Katta. In a study published in the journal Dermatitis, researchers found that coconut oil was better than olive oil for moisturizing the skin when used in a vehicle. Remember to look for unrefined coconut oil cold pressed for your face or skin care.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil does not usually trigger allergic reactions, says Katta, but for the best results, be sure to opt for the extra virgin variety. Olive oil contains vitamins A, D, E and K, and some research, such as a study published in October 2016 in the journal Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology, offer scientific evidence of its potential as a humectant. With its great consistency, it is a great option for a full-body application, says Katta. You may want to try an olive oil cleanser or a bar of soap for a cleansing that does not dry out the skin.
3. Sunflower Seed Oil
Sunflower seed oil is widely available, high in vitamin E, and absorbs easily into the skin, making it an excellent choice as a natural moisturizer. One study, published in January-February 2013 in the journal Pediatrics Dermatology, found that in infants sunflower oil better protected the skin’s barrier and didn’t cause or aggravate atopic dermatitis (a form of eczema), as compared with olive oil.
4. Shea Butter
Derived from the nuts of the African shea tree, shea butter is a substance similar to sebum that is commonly found in solid form, but melts at body temperature and is sometimes used as a moisturizer and hair product, says Katta, adding that she has not seen her patients have allergic reactions. Organic unrefined shea butter can also be combined with olive oil or coconut oil to create a softer texture for application.
5. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba is native to Mexico and the American Southwest, where its oils have been extracted from its seeds and used medicinally by Native American tribes. “I don’t see much in the way of allergic reactions to [jojoba], either. I haven’t seen that be as popular [as some other natural oils], so I just don’t have a lot of experience with it,” Katta says. In a review published in December 2013 in the Journal of the Italian Society of Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, researchers found jojoba oil may have anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effects, among other skin benefits.
6. Almond Oil
Made from pressed raw almonds, almond oil is full of health benefits, such as vitamin E, zinc, proteins, and potassium. It has a lighter texture than olive oil and shea butter, which many find appealing to use on the face. But Katta says that sweet almond oil can result in allergic responses, so she recommends avoiding it if you have sensitive skin.
7. Grapeseed Oil
Containing vitamin E and essential fatty acids, grape seed oil is light compared to other natural oils. It also offers antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, according to an article published in September 2016 in the journal Nutrition and Metabolic Insights. According to her experience, Katta says that grape seed oil is used less frequently for the skin than other oils, but is optimistic about its potential use for this purpose. “I have not seen allergic reactions to grapeseed oil,” she says. “It definitely has a series of phytochemicals that also have antioxidant benefits, so it’s somewhat intriguing.”