On my last trip to Jamaica, I asked a good friend how she kept her skin from drying out. This lady is outside in intense sunlight from early morning till sunset. But her skin stays soft, radiant and wrinkle-free.
Her answer may not surprise you. Coconut oil. Applied lavishly twice a day.
Coconut oil is a hot topic in health and skin care. I recommend it to my patients, both internally and externally.
A few tablespoons a day prevents diabetes, boosts your immune system, promotes a healthy thyroid and more.
As good as it is for your health, it’s just as impressive on your face.
Coconuts are packed with protein, vitamin E and medium-chain fatty acids. These protect your skin from free radicals that lead to cell damage and aging.
Coconuts are also hypoallergenic and contain antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasitic healing properties. What more could your skin want?
But coconut oil isn’t for everyone.
The reason is because it’s highly comedogenic. That means it can clog pores and cause acne and blackheads, depending on your skin type.
On the comedogenic scale, with 5 being the highest, coconut oil rates a 4. That’s important to know if you’re prone to outbreaks.
So I came up with alternatives my patients at the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine could use instead. I wanted all-natural oils with a proven track record.
1. Argan Oil
Argan oil is native to North African, and Moroccans have used it for centuries to protect their skin. It’s so highly prized they refer to it as “Liquid Gold.”
It’s rich in an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid that erases signs of aging. It has anti-inflammatory properties that eliminate mild acne and erase the “leathery” look that comes from too much sun exposure.
Argan oil also has 200% more tocopherols — antioxidant-rich vitamin E — than olive oil.
Your skin soaks it up easily. This leaves you with a dewy glow without the grease. It’s great for all skin types even if you have sensitive skin.
While I was researching argan oil, I came across a study published last year. It found eating argan oil provides an anti-aging effect because it improved skin elasticity. From the inside out.1Of course I had to try it. I was pleased with its mild, nutty taste.
Look for 100% argan oil. Combining it with other ingredients degrades the oil. Make sure it’s sold in dark packaging because light breaks down the oil’s healing properties.
Comedogenic rating: 0
2. Avocado Oil
The ancient Aztecs have rubbed avocados on their skin to protect themselves from the harsh elements of Central America since the 13th century.
And today, it’s still one of the best things you can do for your face.
You know avocados are one of the fats that I recommend you eat often. Its healthy fats are close in nature to the natural oils in your skin.
The oil from the fruit is so good for your skin that I include it in my revolutionary eyelift and rejuvenating facial mask.
Avocado oil increases the amount of soluble collagen in the skin. This keeps your skin smooth and elastic, and eliminates the tiny fine lines around your eyes.
It also does an amazing job of retaining water in your skin, making it a great moisturizer.
It even helps to heal wounds.2 This is great news if you have eczema, acne or psoriasis.3
Buying a good avocado oil is a lot like buying a good olive oil. Look for extra virgin, cold pressed oil. I recommend an organic, non-GMO brand.
Comedogenic rating: 2
3. Sacha Inchi Oil
Some years ago, I was trekking through the heart of the Amazon rainforest in Peru with my colleague and guide Dr. Octavio Zolezzi. He suddenly stopped me and pointed out a big bushy plant with large star-shaped fruit.
It was the Sacha Inchi plant.
After learning about its incredible health benefits, I knew I had to bring it back to the U.S. It wasn’t easy… and getting it through customs was a challenge.
But I’m glad we were successful… because this oil is something special.
One thing that makes it so special is its super high concentration of linoleic acid — 85%. Compare that to coconut at 10%.
This fatty acid is exceptional if you suffer from mild to moderate acne.
A group of acne sufferers who applied linoleic acid to their skin saw a 25% reduction in the size of their outbreaks in just four weeks.4 Linoleic acid also helps to reduce redness, even out skin tone and fade scars.
As an added bonus… this high amount of essential fatty acid allows the oil to penetrate deep into your skin. This helps you moisturize without the greasy feel of other oils.
Another unique aspect of Sacha Inchi oil is its rich antioxidant power.5
Antioxidants, specifically vitamins A and E, neutralize the cell-damaging effects of free radicals. This protects your face from sun damage while reducing the appearance of wrinkles and age spots.
Comedogenic rating: 0
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Boucetta KQ, et al. “The effect of dietary and/or cosmetic argan oil on postmenopausal skin elasticity.” Clin Interv Aging. 2015 Jan 30;10:339-49. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S71684. eCollection 2015.
2. de Oliveira AP, et al. “Effect of semisolid formulation of persea americana mill (avocado) oil on wound healing in rats.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:472382.
3. Stücker M et al. Vitamin B(12) cream containing avocado oil in the therapy of plaque psoriasis. Dermatology. 2001;203(2):141-7.
4. Letawe C, Boone M, Piérard GE et al. Digital image analysis of the effect of topically applied linoleic acid on acne microcomedones. Clin Exp Dermatol. 1998 Mar;23(2):56-8.
5. Rosana Chirinos, Gledy Zuloeta, Romina Pedreschi, et al. Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis): a seed source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, tocopherols, phytosterols, phenolic compounds and antioxidant capacity. Food Chem. 2013 Dec 1;141(3):1732-9.