Your skin is irritated? It feels tight and itchy? Here’s a list of 10 oils to help you soothe it plus pieces of advice to use them properly.

 

 

How to choose and how to use them

Your skin can be irritated and feel itchy or even burn for many different reasons. I’m not going to talk about all of them but we can reasonably imagine that it has been in contact with an irritant (no kidding!) and is developing an inflammatory response. In this case, your skin needs anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Many people think that their skin is sensitive because it feels tight and itchy. More often than not, it’s because the skin is dehydrated. Maybe they don’t drink enough and/or they don’t hydrate their skin properly. If you do all that and your skin is still dehydrated it might be because its barrier is damaged. In this case, I’m sorry to tell you that you’re not waterproof anymore! Your skin doesn’t play its role properly and the water in your body escapes. Hydrate and look for ingredients that will help restore the skin barrier.

So, we want:

  • Omegas-6, namely linoleic acid which improves the barrier function and helps limit transepidermal water loss. 
  • Omegas-3, namely alpha-linolenic acid which has anti-inflammatory properties.

We like phytosterols too and vitamin E helps damaged skin in the regenerating process.

You can use one oil only but oils with a high amount of unsaturated fatty acids are very prone to oxidation. It would be best to blend your chosen oil with another one that would be high in oleic acid. It would be more interesting anyway because oleic acid is emollient and it will also leave a protective film on the skin. Whatever you choose to do, don’t forget to protect your oil or blend with antioxidants: vitamin E (0,5%) and rosemary CO2 extract (0,1%).

1. Hemp seed oil 

INCI: Cannabis sativa seed oil

Colour: from green to brown

Odour: herbaceous

I love this oil and it’s my first choice for an impaired barrier because of its great anti-inflammatory action and its barrier repairing activity. Its balanced ratio of omegas makes it a very interesting ingredient for all skin types. On top of that, hemp doesn’t need much water to grow and it’s a sustainable ingredient.

  • linoleic acid 57,50% 57,50%
  • alpha-linolenic acid 20,90% 20,90%
  • oleic acid 12,50% 12,50%
  • palmitic acid 8,8% 8,8%
  • stearic acid 2,30% 2,30%

2. Camelina oil 

INCI – Camelina sativa seed oil

Colour: golden yellow

Odour: it smells like asparagus

Here’s another plant that doesn’t need much water to grow! Archaeological finds showed that it had been used for thousands of years before disappearing in the 19th century. It’s now back in our fields and that’s for the better good because camelina is an interesting ingredient on many levels: ecological, nutritional and cosmetic. It’s particularly rich in alpha-linolenic acid, vitamins A and E, which helps soothe and regenerate sensitive and damaged skins.

  • alpha-linolenic acid 29,20% 29,20%
  • linoleic acid 23,30% 23,30%
  • oleic acid 18,40% 18,40%
  • gadoleic acid 13,80% 13,80%
  • palmitic acid 5,90% 5,90%

3. Perilla oil

INCI – Perilla ocymoides seed oil

Colour: from pale to golden yellow

Odour: it smells like pencil lead!

It comes from the seeds of the perilla plant, an aromatic herb from the Far East where it’s used in traditional medicine as well as in cooking. It’s one of the richest oils in omegas-3 and topical application of perilla oil soothes eczema, psoriasis or allergies. It’s also a wonderful ingredient for dry, dehydrated and/or mature skins.

  • alpha-linolenic acid 60,16% 60,16%
  • linoleic acid 17,26% 17,26%
  • oleic acid 13,04% 13,04%
  • palmitic acid 5,71% 5,71%

4. Primrose oil

INCI – Oenothera Biennis oil

Colour: from yellow to a yellowish green

Odour: sweet and pleasant

This oil is very effective at treating sensitive or sensitized, damaged skins. Evening primrose oil has gamma-linolenic acid on top of a high content of linoleic acid, which is essential for immune defence against allergies and infections. It’s very prone to oxidation because of its high content in unsaturated fatty acids though, so I recommend that you don’t stock up and prepare only small quantities.  Thankfully, the evening primrose CO2 extract has the same properties with a lot more stability and it might be a better option if you’re planning on using evening primrose often.

  • linoleic acid 73,90% 73,90%
  • gamma-linolenic acid 9,32% 9,32%
  • oleic acid 6,75% 6,75%
  • palmitic acid 6,53% 6,53%
  • stearic acid 1,99% 1,99%

5. Avocado oil

INCI – Persea Gratissima oil

Colour: from yellow to green

Odour: sweet and pleasant

Avocado oil is rich in oleic acid and is, therefore, a nourishing, emollient, softening and protective oil. It’ll bring softness and comfort. Its vitamins A and E have regenerating properties that will be useful if you’ve scratched your skin a bit too furiously.

  • oleic acid 62,90% 62,90%
  • palmitic acid 16,70% 16,70%
  • linoleic acid 8,80% 8,80%
Photo de Aaron Burden sur Unsplash

6. sweet almond oil

INCI – Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil

Colour: slightly yellow

Odour: sweet and pleasant

It has been used since the Ancient World and is so familiar that it has probably become a bit unoriginal. Yet, it’s one of the richest oil in vitamin E and it’s a great choice, as it soothes and softens rough, itching, irritated skin and prevents cracks.

Warning : don’t use it if you’re allergic to nuts.

 

  • oleic acid 65% 65%
  • linoleic acid 25,73% 25,73%
  • palmitic acid 6,45% 6,45%
  • stearic acid 1,55% 1,55%

7. camelia oil

INCI – Camelia Sinensis seed oil

Colour: golden yellow

Odour: sweet and subtle

It’s very close to olive oil’s composition but it has the exotic aura of the Land of the Rising Sun. It is said that it’s the oil traditionally used by the geishas and you can’t beat that even if the camelia sinensis type we find on our occidental markets comes from China. Whatever. The fact remains that it’s just as rich in vitamin E as olive oil and a lot easier to use thanks to its neutral smell.

  • oleic acid 76,07% 76,07%
  • palmitic acid 8,37% 8,37%
  • linoleic acid 7,53% 7,53%
  • stearic acid 2,11% 2,11%

8. Calendula macerate

INCI – prunus amygdalis dulcis oil, calendula officinalis extract

It’s an extraction by maceration in a carrier oil so I decided that it counts. You can buy the macerate and in this case, it will most probably be a maceration in sunflower oil. I buy CO2 extracts (obviously, I can’t make them) but I’d rather make my own macerates because A. it’s fun and B. I can choose the synergy. Sweet almond oil is a perfect choice in my opinion – it’s stable and it’s soothing. Forgive me if I don’t elaborate about calendula, I wrote an article about it not so long ago. You’ll find it here.

Warning: don’t use it if you’re allergic to the Asteraceae family of plants.

9. chamomile macerate

INCI – prunus amygdalis dulcis oil, matricaria recutita extract

And that’s another plant we’ve been using for time immemorial! There are actually 2 types: Roman chamomille (anthemis nobilis) and German chamomile (matricaria recutita). Both are used in natural cosmetics and both have bisabolol, although you’ll find it in greater quantities in German chamomile. Bisabolol is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-irritant and antifungal ingredient. The number of « antis » speak for themselves: it’s a great ingredient.

Warning: don’t use it if you’re allergic to the Asteraceae family of plants.

10. St. John’s wort macerate

INCI – prunus amygdalis dulcis oil, hypericum perforatum extract

St. John’s wort has anti-inflammatory and healing properties. It is used to soothe mild burns and bruises, and help with healing. It’s particularly useful for sunburn and has also a proven efficacy in treating eczema.

Warning: St John’s wort is phototoxic. Don’t expose your skin to the sun after using it.

Photo de Julia Caesar sur Unsplash

In a nutshell, you’ll want a higher amount of linoleic acid if your skin is mostly dehydrated and you’ll go for a high amount of alpha-linolenic acid if your skin is inflamed. In my opinion, it’s more useful to pair your chosen oil with a more stable one (high oleic acid content).

Again, it’s not one product that will solve your problem. The oil or the oil blend will most certainly soothe your skin but it’d be a good idea to change your routine too. Avoid harsh cleansers and hydrate, then seal the hydration with your chosen oil synergy and say goodbye to itchy skin!

Take care of you!

Sources et lectures

Les bienfaits des huiles végétales, Michel Pobeda

20 best skincare herbs for treating eczéma, Herb & Hedgerow

Chamomile – Uses in natural beauty and skincare, Herb & Hedgerow

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