The magic of plants has been used for many centuries to protect and nourish the human skin. Over time, we learned that certain combinations (some with non-plant derived ingredients) will work better for specific skin problems. Finding the right combinations is a new challenge for consumers and suppliers in the cosmetics industry, but this challenge is easier understanding emollients.
Sophia Loren once said that the secret of her permanent beauty was to use olive oil on her skin. We do not know if she did it on a daily basis or if she knew it was an emollient oil what she was using at the time, but we do know that the efficacy of emollients in cosmetics has been proved in countless occasions. In the next paragraphs we will learn what are the best and most common emollients for specific skin problems.
First off, Let’s Talk about Emollients!
For those who are unfamiliar with what emollients are, you should know that they are ingredients used to soften and smooth the skin, they fill the very small gaps of cracked skin. In addition, they seal in moisture, which creates a protective barrier on the skin’s surface. They are an essential component of moisturizers, which provide a more complete skin care, but emollients alone work wonders. Moisturizers components include:
Plant Derived Emollients
Nature lovers will be happy to know that many of the best emollients come from plants. Indeed, plant oils are wonderful emollients that help consumers to get the feel of the baby smooth skin achieved by Sophia Loren and other outstanding beauty references. Emollient oils are extracted from fruits, seeds, and nuts.
From a chemical point of view, plant oils are a mixture of various natural fatty acids, which include:
- Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
- Oleic acid
- Linoleic acid
Best Emollient Oils
Plant derived emollients can be used for many purposes depending on their distribution of fatty acids. For instance, for dry/mature skin the best is to use plant oils that are high in oleic acid because they restock the moisture lost with age. The best examples include:
- Olive oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
- Almond oil
- Avocado oil
- Sesame oil
These are great for night creams because they help to seal in moisture.
In the case of skins that tend to develop acne, what consumers want to get are oils rich in linoleic acid because research has proved that acne patients lack of this specific acid on their skin sebum. For dehydrated skins, the sebaceous glands tend to produce more sebum to satisfy needs, but the problem is that excess sebum leads to breakouts.
Cracked skins are the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and this will happen if the skin is not properly hydrated. Bacteria also help breakouts. The good news is that emollients rich in linoleic acid can help prevent all these issues and work great for oily skins too because they are lighter oils with a thinner consistency, they do not feel too heavy.
The most common emollients high in linoleic acid include:
- Argan oil
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
For sensitive/inflamed skin, oils rich in GLA are the best option. Studies have found that borage oil is a powerful treatment for atopic dermatitis with no side effects. Other useful oil for sensitive skins is evening primrose oil, which contains 9-10% of GLA. Other conditions you can treat with these oils are:
Other Non-Plant Derived Emollients
There are other common emollients that also work great for skin problems, like petrolatum derivatives like mineral oil, and synthetics like dimethicone and cyclomethicone. You should also know that although butters are plant derived emollients, they are not emollient oils. Examples include:
- Cocoa butter
- Shea butter
The Emollients We Recommend
Our Dermanet line provides a comprehensive treatment with superior emollience in skin care. It has a high content of Glycerin with outstanding moisturization properties, but without the sticky after feel. The use of emollients in cosmetics has never seen anything like Dermanet line, which contains the best oils and butters in the market.