Ask Mama Cubana Week Five
By: Gigi Anders
When Mama Cubana comes to visit, she raids my beauty closet. She winds up driving home laden with multiple Target bags full of the greatest goodies because, as she likes to put it, “I am de mother.”
During her most recent raid, Mama Cubana was particularly spellbound by two Clarins products I thought I’d hidden well, but she managed to find them – Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil and Santal Face Treatment Oil ($58 each). She alternated using them nightly and that was that. Into her Target bags they went.
“I'm not easily impressed weeth beauty products. But when I tried de face treatment oils, I said ‘Dees ees for me.’ Now my friends are saying de same. Let me tell joo why I likee. Ees so easy to apply, eet just rolls over, and de smell ees heavenly. And eet makes my face feel maravilloso. I’m happy, honey.”
Mama Cubana has normal skin which can get drier during extra-cold weather. The Blue Orchid Oil, ideal for dehydrated skin, restores vitality and radiance with patchouli and blue orchid extracts (which is also what makes it smell so good.) Hazelnut oil softens, smoothes, and seals in moisture to help minimize the appearance of fine lines.
The deliciously herby Santal Oil targets dry, irritated, or stressed-out skin with 100% pure plant extracts and zero preservatives. Sandalwood, cardamom, rosemary, parsley, and lavender tone, soothe, and comfort skin that’s dry, irritated, or stressed-out. Hazelnut Oil relieves and reduces redness, and prevents further moisture loss.
Both oils are fabulous, as Mama Cubana can now personally attest. It got me thinking: Are oils really better than regular moisturizers? Should we all start using only oils? Are oils a a thing?
So I called on our advisory dermatologist to the stars, Dr. Tina Alster, to explain.
Gigi Anders: Tina, please discuss the facial oils trend.
Tina Alster: Everybody’s been jumping on the oil bandwagon. Oils are a definite trend and are not for everybody. There are pros and cons because there are so many different oils and skin types. Bottom line: Some oils help the skin barrier. They can strengthen and thicken it and improve the function of that barrier, especially Argan oil.
GA: What about people with acne? Wouldn’t oils be a no-no?
TA: For acne, evening primrose oil can be helpful. It’s an anti-inflammatory that’s also good for eczema.
GA: What about for those in search of deep hydration?
TA: Sea buckthorn. That extract has been shown to really work.
GA: How about buying oil-filled capsules at the drugstore and just squishing those on your face?
TA: Capsules or anything that you break open have never been approved. ‘Oh, use Vitamin C and E’ -- everybody says that. Anything that splatters on the face is not intended for the skin. The concentration and formulation is different from what’s contained in good oils. Capsules are not meant to be put on the skin.
GA: So we want the high-quality stuff, the real deal.
TA: Most of the best facial oil products have been tested in laboratories. If there’s any irritating stuff in them, it’s corrected before they’re ever brought out to the market. CVS and Duane Reade brand facial oils are not what you should be putting on the skin.
GA: Okay. You’re in Sephora or at Nordstrom or Target. How do you know which oil is right for you?
TA: Not all oils are created equal. There are different strengths of oils. Some are better than others. Some are thinner. Some are really heavy and not for people with oily skin because they’ll clog pores. Your Mama Cubana used high-end ones from Clarins because they’re more elegant. You’re paying for a high-end product. It’s like buying a suit from The Limited or from Chanel. Clarins is packaged more nicely and you’re also paying for ingredients that are very refined and contain no cheap preservatives.
GA: So what you have to do is feel it?
TA: Pick the right weight. It’s worthwhile testing out products beforehand. Check the weight of the oil, see if it has a fragrance or ingredient you don’t like or have an adverse reaction to. As a dermatologist I see a reaction at least once a week. Extracts and botanicals, plant oils, you have to be really careful.
GA: How are oils and serums different?
TA: A serum is just a lighter oil; it contains more water than oil.
GA: Is incorporating serums into our daily skincare what led to the oil fascination?
TA: Yes. Particularly for people who are applying many things to the face, it’s a very nice niche thing for layering. The ingredients can be for anti-aging or hydration or anti-oxidants. The trend has happened in large part from layering; first serum, then moisturizer, then sunscreen. You can wear oil instead of cream. It’s a personal preference. Everybody is a little different. It’s what you’re used to. Most people tend to not want to do cream after cream after cream -- unless they’re super dry. As your Mama Cubana said, they’re easier to apply and to layer.
For newbies to the facial oil genre, Dr. Alster says to avoid anything labeled organic.
“God only knows knows what they’re using in there.”