Using oils to cleanse oily, congested skin. Sounds a little bit like rubbing soil into your jeans to get the grass stains out right? Dubious? I was slightly confused about this cleansing method too, so I set out to find out just why oil cleansing not only works, but has plenty of devotees the world over. Firstly: not all oils are created equal. In my head, ‘oil’ could mean anything from the contents of the vat my fish supper was fried in to the contents of the sump in my car. It’s certainly a broad definition: an oil is a hydrophobic substance that is usually liquid at room temperature. Although it will not mix with water, it blends easily with other oils. Oil can come from animals, plants or chemical processes. Also, it comes from our skin!

An oil dropper of siam botanicals facial serum

Use natural oils to work with your skin

Having been exposed to decades of marketing intended to encourage me to buy harsh astringent chemical products, I’ve been wary of embracing my skin’s natural oils. Don’t they cause breakouts? Well, the short answer is no! Our skin has evolved to take care of itself perfectly well. The oils it makes are what keep it hydrated, help to heal minor wounds and keep infections at bay. The problem with this harmonious system comes when we expose our skin to environmental factors that disrupt this balance, such as polluted air, makeup or chemical irritants. If skin isn’t properly cleansed, these beneficial natural oils can clog our pores and when trapped lead to blackheads, blemishes, and unhappy skin.

Using harsh chemical cleansers will strip the oils from your skin. It’s true! They will! But they will strip all the good away along with the bad, and can lead to irritations, rashes, dryness and …you guessed it… unhappy skin.

But what if we were to use a natural oil, with antibacterial properties, that was similar in consistency and chemical make up to the sebum made by our own skins? Well, the oil cleanser gently mixes with – and lifts out – dirt and oil from your pores, leaving them cleansed without drying, working in harmony with your skin’s own amazing self-regenerative properties.

apricots ripe on the tree

Apricot kernel oil is rich in essential fatty acids, and a sustainable by-product

Siam Botanicals’ COSMOS Organic Apricot Facial Cleansing oil has been carefully blended with oils of castor seed, sweet almond, apricot kernel and black caraway seed. Used daily in conjuction with a face cloth and hot water, this oil cleanser will care for oily skin, removing impurities and congestion without upsetting the skin’s delicate balance. Simply massage the cleanser into dry skin (no eye make-up remover required either) and then soak your face cloth in hot water, drape over your face and allow your pores to open. Then simply wipe away: the cleanser, impurities, stress and makeup. Intended to be used before bed: the added bonus being that a quick splash of warm water is all that’s required in the mornings!

Castor seed oil is a key ingredient: it has been traditionally recognised for its antiseptic and astringent properties. Although it feels quite a heavy oil in the hand, it’s actually very similar to the skin’s own oils and as a result is a highly effective deep cleanser.

Siam Botanicals Rosehip and teatree oil cleanser

Hydrating and cleansing: Rosehip and Teatree oil cleanser

Do you have drier skin that needs a little more hydration? Try our COSMOS Organic Rosehip and Tea Tree oil cleanser. Rosehip oil is naturally moisturising: blended with olive fruit oil and just the right proportion of Tea Tree oil, this cleanser will gently remove impurities whilst controlling and reducing blemishes thanks to it’s naturally antibacterial properties. Of course when you use either of our oil cleansers you can rest assured that our premium organic ingredients are working with your skin to support its own natural systems.

Moringa has been cultivated as a food and beauty crop for over 5000 years and is native to the tropics, especially India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The leaves, pods and seeds are all edible and highly nutritious – so much so that the dried leaves are used to combat malnutrition in poorer areas. It’s known colloquially as the ‘miracle tree’. I thought that was quite a claim, so I set out to find out why!

Siam Botanicals' Argan and Moringa Face Polish

Siam Botanical’s Argan and Moringa face polish contains Moringa oil for happy skin

The answer partly involved free radicals. Free radicals are not an obscure garage band from 1975, but oxidative compounds inside your body that are both by-products of your own metabolism but also cause by pollution and other environmental factors. They can cause damage to DNA which in turn can accelerate the visible effects of the ageing process and even cause chronic illness. The best way to reduce the impact of free radicals is to provide your body with plenty of antioxidants – which can be found in fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of other plant-based sources. This is where we get to the “miracle tree”. Raw moringa oil, derived from pressing the seeds, combines a whopping 46 separate antioxidants. It is one of the most concentrated natural sources of oleic acid, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, which boosts the production of collagen and helps to keep free radicals in check!

Moringa, or Drumstick tree, in blossom

Moringa, or Drumstick tree, in blossom

Moringa oil – also known as ben oil – has been traditionally used for its moisturising, cleansing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, so any minor breakouts or blackheads will be soothed away. Happily, moringa produces a light oil that your skin will drink happily with no greasy residue. Our single-ingredient cold pressed Organic Moringa Oil is great for face, hands and nails, keeping skin nourished and cuticles soft. If your skin is struggling a little with the pressures and pollution of city life, our Replenish facial serum contains moringa and argan oils as well as juniper seed and grapefruit oils to cleanse and purify. We have always known it was great, but it was lovely to hear that it had been commended in the 2019 Beauty Shortlist awards!

Siam Botanicals Replenish facial serum

Siam Botanicals’ award-winning Replenish formula facial oil

With the great news that micro beads have now been banned from cosmetics in the UK, US, Canada and scores of other countries, its a great time to discover some natural alternatives to those horrible micro plastics!

Siam Botanicals have just the products to help you switch to your more environmentally friendly exfoliating regime:

A 100% natural skin-brightening and gently exfoliating facial polish with the remarkable antimicrobial and skin-healing properties of coconut oil, raw organic honey and brown sugar.

 

This unique formula is a gentle and highly effective facial polish that also works as a moisturizer, exfoliant and deep cleanser. It combines organic argan and moringa oils with 100% natural jojoba wax beads. Active buriti oil works as an additional powerful antioxidant, which can help prevent the skin from premature aging.

 

This fine powder is a gentle exfoliating agent with an alluring jasmine scent. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe sunburn. A rice powder mask can also help to reduce the appearance of dark circles around the eyes.

Since Siam Botanicals burst (ahem) onto the twitter scene a few months ago, we’ve ‘met’ lots of like-minded people. But in spreading the word with regard to the benefits of natural skin care, it’s important that we make a concerted effort NOT to scaremonger and exaggerate the dangers of all non-natural products. It could put off the very people we’re hoping to attract: ‘There are bad chemicals in ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!’, we hear them cry in despair. ‘What difference will changing my face cream make if there are cancer-causing substances in everything I eat and touch and breathe?’

If we, the natural skin care companies of this world, are trying to establish consumers’ trust by being honest and transparent about our ingredients, we need to make sure – to the best of our knowledge – that we are not perpetuating myths or half-truths that are just as misleading, in their own way, as those peddled by mainstream companies. We should concentrate on the many benefits of our own products rather than denigrating our competitors’; otherwise we risk sounding like hysterical evangelists.

There are various questionable facts and statistics out there, but the one I’ve chosen to talk about in this blog post – because it’s the one I see perhaps most often on the internet, disseminated by credible companies and expert bloggers alike – is that our skin absorbs 60% of everything we put on it. I will admit that I read and retweeted this myself a while back. But what exactly does it mean? And is it really true?

Does my body soak up water like a sponge when I bathe? Not that I’ve noticed. If I pour wine on myself, will I get drunk? That would be a waste of wine. How long would it take for my skin to absorb, say, 60% of a slice of cake? Hmmm.

 

First of all, skin care products are (in broad terms) designed to penetrate the skin’s outer layer, where they help to hydrate the skin by reducing moisture loss. If, instead, most of them are sinking straight through all layers of the skin and into your bloodstream, they’re not really doing their job as a skin conditioner. So the 60% rule, if true, doesn’t really reflect too well on any skin care products, natural or not.

If something is absorbed into the skin’s outer layer, it does not necessarily follow that it is also absorbed into the blood. There are several layers of skin that would need to be penetrated before absorption into the bloodstream occurs, and the rate of penetration (of the skin) and subsequent absorption (into the bloodstream) depends on the weight of the molecules in question and their solubility – many are simply too heavy to get past all those layers. It also depends on the condition of the skin, and where the skin is (because some areas of skin are thinner than others). Penetration and absorption are not one and the same thing, and often the distinction is not made, or not understood, or perhaps even wilfully ignored because it suits someone’s agenda to convince people that dangerous doses of lethal chemicals are maliciously invading their bodies every day.

So, with so many variants, it cannot be an incontrovertible fact that the skin absorbs exactly 60% of everything you put on it. Let’s briefly deal with another version of this factoid: that ‘up to 60%’ is absorbed. Meaning, I presume, that it could be 59.9% absorption, or 0.01% absorption, or anything in between. Which is about as vague and unhelpful a statistic as you can get. I’ve even seen ‘between 60% and 100%’ – which is, I hardly need to point out, very different to ‘up to 60%’. It would be good news for that wine, though; I hate wastage.

These different versions of the same ‘fact’ can’t all be true. And how are they helpful anyway? You don’t need to absorb 60% of certain chemicals for them to have a negative effect; even tiny amounts on a regular basis could be harmful. There is no doubt that some substances DO pass (to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the chemical) into the bloodstream. This is far from ideal. But the body is very clever, and is designed to filter out and excrete potentially harmful matter. So, if a certain synthetic chemical is found in urine, that’s the body is doing its job. When, however, a potentially harmful ingredient does slip through the skin and isn’t excreted – and there is no (credible) blanket statistic for how often this happens – it can accumulate in our bodies. In many cases, the possible effects on the human body, over time, are as yet unknown or insufficiently researched.

At Siam Botanicals we believe that natural products are best, not only because they don’t contain potentially harmful synthetic chemicals but, even more importantly, because they do contain botanical ingredients that have benefits not found in synthetic alternatives. For example, synthetic lavender fragrance is added to non-natural products because it smells nice (and because it might make customers think there’s actual lavender in there). It serves no other purpose. Lavender essential oil, on the other hand, is an ingredient in our natural products because it has antibacterial and antiseptic properties. And – BIG added bonus – it happens to smell divine! Siam Botanicals products contain no synthetic preservatives either, because they offer no benefit to the user (and can be a health hazard or a skin irritant). And also because they are not necessary; we have the advantage of being a small-batch producer and can achieve a shelf life of 18-24 months for our products using only natural botanical ingredients.

Our message is simple: it’s better to use a product that contains no synthetic chemicals at all – especially when they are there purely for the convenience of the manufacturer and have no skincare benefit. This makes sense, even without recourse to unsubstantiated statistics.

Products with active botanicals sell themselves, so let’s not undermine our own credibility by resorting to questionable facts, half-truths and scaremongering as a marketing strategy. Let’s not ignore inconvenient facts or make claims that are just as ‘creative’ as the ones we like to criticise and ridicule. We’re better than that.