I’ve been consistently using natural ingredients for a simple skin care regimen for almost four years now. Simple ingredients have been the best thing for my skin especially without all of the questionable ingredients in many cosmetic skin care lines. While researching natural carrier oils, I’ve been learning about the composition of carrier oils, and what make them different.
One key factor that makes some oils work for some but not for others is the ratio of linoleic acid to oleic acid in the chemical composition in each oil.
Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid also omega-9 fatty acid. Linoleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid also omega-6 fatty acid. “Acne patients have also been shown to have low levels of linoleic acid in their skin surface lipids.” —Source
When our skin is deficient in linoleic acid, our skin’s natural sebum becomes thick and sticky which clogs pores and creates acne.
Usually oily congested and acne prone skin’s sebum is predominately composed of oleic acid. We can create the linoleic acid versus oleic acid balance needed by applying oils high in linoleic acid directly to our skin. When our skin’s natural sebum is predominately composed of lipids high in linoleic acid we have little to no break outs.
I did my own personal experiment where I eliminated all natural carrier oils that were high in oleic acid in all of my products, and instead only used products or ingredients high in linoleic acid. My experiment proved this theory correct. My skin has become much clearer since using only products or ingredients high in linoleic acid. There are many wonderful carrier oils in nature, yet if you are acne prone then being more specific about which oils that you use is important. One of my favorite oils, tamanu oil, has incredible skin regenerative properties for scars and burns. Once I found that tamanu oil is somewhat balanced between oleic and linoleic acid, yet still higher in oleic acid, I will only use it as a spot treatment for scars or as an under eye treatment versus all over my face and body.
Oils Higher in Oleic Acid
Avocado Oil—Oleic–63% Linoleic–9.8%
Apricot Kernel Oil—Oleic–64.2% Linoleic–28.3%
Hazelnut Oil—Oleic–79.2 Linoleic–12%
Shea Nut Oil-–Oleic–73.15 Linoleic–13.71
Macadamia Oil—Oleic–53.8% Linoleic–1.8%
Sea Buckthorn Oil—Oleic–28.4% Linoleic–6.8%
Olive Oil—Oleic–55.28% Linoleic–17.84%
Sweet Almond Oil (Organic)—Oleic–66.6% Linoleic–24.8%
Palm Fruit Oil—Oleic–41% Linoleic–9.5%
Somewhat Balanced Oils Higher in Oleic Acid
Jojoba Oil-–Oleic–5-15% Linoleic–5%
Flaxseed Oil—Oleic–21% Linoleic–16%
Tamanu Oil—Oleic–41.4% Linoleic–29.7%
Argan Oil—Oleic–42-48% Linoleic–30-38%
Coconut Oil (Unrefined)—Oleic–5-10% Linoleic–1-2.5%
Coconut Oil (Refined)—Oleic–4.39% Linoleic–0.95%
Oils Higher in Linoleic Acid
Safflower Oil—Oleic–8-30% Linoleic–68-85%
Black Cumin Seed Oil—Oleic–22.6% Linoleic–55.6%
Hemp Seed Oil—Oleic–10.71% Linoleic–56.48%
Evening Primrose Oil—Oleic–8.4% Linoleic–72.6%
Pumpkin Seed Oil—Oleic–23.3% Linoleic–57.2%
Rosehip Seed Oil—Oleic–13.9% Linoleic–44.1%
Grape Seed Oil—Oleic–16.2% Linoleic–70.6%
Soybean Oil—Oleic–22.72% Linoleic–52.97%
Wheat Germ Oil—Oleic–12.1% Linoleic–58.4%
(Please note that wheat germ oil is one of the highest ranking oils on the comedogenic list so results may vary greatly using this oil. I did not have success using this oil for skin at all, although I love using it for my hair. I wouldn’t personally recommend this oil for skin.)
Somewhat Balanced Oils Higher in Linoleic Acid
Castor Oil—Oleic–3.93 Linoleic–4.32%
(Please note that castor oil is a purging oil so definitely use with caution. This may not be the best oil to begin with.)
Kukui Nut Oil—Oleic–25.4% Linoleic–39.8%
Pomegranate Oil—Oleic–6.2 Linoleic–7.1
Sesame Oil—Oleic–39.21% Linoleic–45.69%
What I’ve found in researching these oils is that some carrier and cooking oils can be genetically modified which is unhealthy and can alter the chemical composition, therefore it is important to purchase organic carrier oils. For example I’ve found conflicting chemical composition percentages on both sunflower and safflower oil because these oils are sometimes genetically modified. If you are buying oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, the percentages for most of the natural oils that they sell are provided which is extremely helpful and many of their oils are organic. I also noticed that some oils percentages between oleic and linoleic acid varies slightly depending upon the where the oil is from.
If you have very serious acne, I would avoid all carrier oils with chemical compositions higher in oleic acid and use carrier oils/products that have ingredients with natural oils high in linoleic acid. This includes all skin care and hair care.
I personally don’t agree with avoiding all oils for those who are acne prone and looking for oil-free products. I truly believe in using natural oils and essential oils to balance the skin. Just like we learned in chemistry that like attracts like, cleansing with oils helps remove oils and dirt from the skin. I think cleansing the skin with oils, and using them to moisturize the skin as needed helps the skin to find balance and heal. My favorite way to oil cleanse is by gently removing the oil with a steamy wet microfiber cleansing cloth.
I have found oil cleansing to be extremely helpful and healing to my skin, yet using the right oils has been very critical to enjoying oil cleansing.
The general oils recommended for The Oil Cleansing Method, usually olive oil and castor oil, does not benefit those with serious acne or who are acne prone in the long run because of the chemical composition of olive oil. After having tried oil cleansing that way over four years ago, I had ruled out oil cleansing all together. The same is true for oil cleansing with jojoba oil. Although jojoba oil is very close to our natural sebum, some jojoba oil can have a chemical composition that is a little bit higher in oleic acid depending upon where it is from. It wasn’t until I started learning more about the differences with oils that I tried oil cleansing again successfully.
You can read exactly how I’ve used high linoleic acid oils in my oil cleansing skin care regimen for consistent results here. Also please note that healing acne is not only a topical solution and should be looked at from a whole body healing experience. I truly believe that the true cause of acne is toxicity within the body.
Also if you are acne prone, and try using only high linoleic acid oils, please share your experience. You can also see my extremely minimal beauty regimen here which is always updated!
(Image by Mountain Rose Herbs)