I believe that truth is elusive. Nobody knows the entire truth about anything. And when Seth Godin said “All Marketers are Liars,” I believed in his restatement that good marketers tell great (and believable) stories.
So when ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ became a thing, we were all too quick to jump to the bandwagon. We all turned our backs on parabens, SLS, and whatnot. Heck, even hair removal wax now has an organic variety!
But what would you do if I tell you that your expensive bottle of beauty oil–or facial oil–is actually making you look older, saggier, and wrinklier instead of its promised younger-looking fairer skin? Oh man, you better read along and think twice of putting that on before tonight’s bedtime.
I was one of those who were excited when beauty oils became a thing. I mean, I saw this article from an international magazine where is showed which celebrity swears by which oil and I was like, ‘Who wouldn’t want to look like Miranda Kerr? Oh, I better get a bottle of rose hip oil.’ But then I thought I should go for Kukui Nut Oil since it sounded more unique and it wouldn’t hurt to have Lupita Nyong’o‘s flawless glowing skin. So there I was, quickly browsing through Google and ordering myself a bottle.
I’m sure you’ve had that experience too. Well, I guess our facial oils will have to take a back seat as I tell you the truth about these PUFAs or polyunsaturated fatty acids.
As BeautyEditor.ca shares, there are two types of fats: saturated and unsaturated–also called as polyunsaturated. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature; saturated means that the fat molecules have all the hydrogen atoms they can hold.
In contrast, unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and have some hydrogen atoms removed. Why does this matter? Because this opens up the structure of their molecules in a way that makes them susceptible to attack by free radicals. Yup, in essence, these PUFAs are the culprit behind skin aging as they’re very unstable, oxidizing quickly when exposed to oxygen, light, and heat. This is the reason why most of our beauty oils come in amber or blue tinted bottles to try to protect them from oxidation. But wait, imagine them going rancid as you let them sit on your face and contribute to the cell’s aging. Oh. God. NO.
There’s more! Aside from oxidation and aging, PUFAs affect your thyroid function (hello, slowed down metabolism!), also causes inflammation, degeneration, impaired digestion, and age spots.
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) include all liquid vegetable oils (the fats found in most processed foods which include canola oil, soy oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, fish oil, flax oil etc, with the exception of extra virgin olive oil) and the fats present in things like grains, seeds, nuts, legumes and conventional poultry (see more here). These fats are unstable to oxygen, light and heat and oxidize (spoil) easily resulting in free radical damage (inside and out). Saturated fats on the other hand, such as coconut oil and butter, are protective. You can read more about recent research regarding how we need to rethink fats here and the anti-aging properties of saturated fats here.
PUFAs are everywhere. It’s in our beauty oils, lotions, hand creams, and even in the food we eat. So if you actually put a conscious effort in staying away from PUFAs, you might find you’ve got nothing left for consumption.
Here’s a list of common household PUFA oils that you should stay away from:
- Almond oil
- Argan oil (oh hey, liquid gold!)
- Avocado oil
- Canola oil
- Cod liver oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Fish oil
- Flax oil
- Hemp oil
- Linseed oil
- Palm oil
- Peanut oil
- Safflower oil
- Sesame oil
- Soybean oil
- Sunflower oil (this used to be a beauty fad in the Philippines)
- Vegetable oil
- most seed and nut oils are PUFAs
And the only safe oils for topical use are:
- Olive oil (although it can be comedogenic for some)
- Coconut oil (again, use with caution on your face as it could cause breakouts)
- Jojoba oil
- Vitamin E (note that this is a fat-soluble vitamin so too much of this is not OK)
- Shea butter
And while we think it’s just easy to toss that bottle of avocado oil to the bin, I would like to remind you that getting rid of PUFAs should start from what we eat–ergo, our cooking oils.
So here I am debunking your belief that canola or sunflower oil is the best cooking oil for you. Nope, the only safe oils to eat are Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Butter, Tallow (Beef Fat), and Lamb Fat. Since the last two are hard to find, you’ve got these three alternatives for cooking:
It pays to check the label and educate yourself. Keep in mind that Pure Olive Oil is OK for cooking while EVOO or Extra Virgin Olive Oil is for dressings. Olive Oils are monounsaturated oil that’s safe to use in small amounts and fattening in large quantities. So this gives you Coconut Oil as the best option. Or butter.
I’m sure by now you have realized that it’s impossible to totally get rid of PUFAs. Like, when you’re out in a restaurant, it’s impossible to ask the chef to ‘Please use only coconut oil or butter in cooking my food.’
So here’s what you can actually do.
The things you can get rid of at home is easy to control. The things outside, well, let it be. Sadly, the modern diet has way too much PUFA, and also an imbalance between the two main types of oils: the Omega-3 long chain fatty acids and Omega-6 seed oils.
Keep in mind that Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, while Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. In a nutshell, the more Omega-3 fat you eat, the less Omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation. A diet high in Omega-6 and low in Omega-3 will increase inflammation. On the flipside, a diet high in Omega-3 and low in Omega-6 will reduce inflammation. Excess inflammation causes serious diseases including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, many types of cancer, etc.
Since our body is currently ingesting so many PUFAs, you can cut down on Omega-6 levels by reducing consumption of processed/fast food and minimizing your use of PUFA vegetable oils like corn, sunflower, safflower, and soy in cooking. Then, of course, up your intake of Omega-3 oils by starting with a tablespoon of Virgin Coconut Oil or VCO a day then gradually increase to up to 3 tablespoons a day–that’s 1 tablespoon every after meal. I, however, like taking my first tablespoon first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.
I wouldn’t want to tell you the benefits of VCO because that’s another lengthy story. But here’s a good article from Dr. Peat about coconut oil and why you should start taking it.
You can take any brand of VCO, just make sure that it’s 100% cold pressed and ANH (absolutely NO HEAT). I started with a 250ml bottle but with all the benefits of VCO that I’m beginning to learn, I think I’m going to get that 1L bottle next.