Which Oil Should I Use?
A while ago I wrote a blog entry called 'Oil - Natures Miracle', discussing the importance of oiling the body and its many health properties. Oil is indeed a wondrous gift from nature and so beneficial to well-being, so as a follow-up, I wanted to talk about some of the many different oils that can be used and their specific benefits.
It is important that you try different oils on your skin and see how you get on with them. This can change seasonally. If you have a predominantly kapha constitution, using oil for massage may not be necessary at all, or should be used minimally.
Many of the oils are available in supermarkets and health food shops, and if they are food grade, there is certainly no problem using them on your skin.
It is useful to warm the oil first, which can help with absorption and offset the Vata qualities. However, if this is too time consuming, just rubbing the oil in your hands can create heat.
Abhyanga (massage) in Ayurveda regularly uses sesame as a base oil, and with good reason. It is well absorbed by a number of skin types, is warming, high in vitamin E and contains antioxidants. It can also aid sleep if applied to the feet before bed. Sesame oil is particularly beneficial in the winter time as its warming qualities are much appreciated during that particular season, but it is also very grounding during the autumn vata season.
Make sure you buy raw sesame oil; toasted sesame oil is available from most supermarkets, but is for culinary purposes only.
Hemp seed oil
My personal, current favourite oil, hemp is extremely nurturing to the skin, and is tolerated by virtually all skin types. Hemp seed is useful as a food, and hemp seed oil is beneficial both internally and externally. The balance of Omega 3,6 and 9 is perfect for the human body, and it truly feels like food for the skin when massaged in. It also, magically, balances the skin's oil production, so is good for people with acne and other conditions. Hemp seed can also accelerate wound healing and alleviate eczema, is hydrating and reduces inflammation. Also, while no substitute for a good, natural sunscreen, hemp seed oil has an SPF of 6, so will give you some protection from UV rays, and can also be used for after sun care.
With all of these benefits, it really should be used every day.
A popular massage carrier oil, and full of health benefits, jojoba is another oil which is suitable for most body types. It has many of the same benefits as hemp seed oil, including being high in antioxidants, anti-aging and a wound healer. It is also good for sunburn and can reduce the appearance of scars and fine lines.
Again, it is worth trying the different oils and seeing which one is best absorbed into your skin; jojoba is more expensive than hemp and sesame oil, but is readily available online and from many essential oil shops.
Coconut oil is very popular at the present time, and again has many general skin and wider health benefits when used internally and externally. It is high in vitamin E, smooths the skin and can help to prevent premature ageing due to its abundance of antioxidants.
Coconut oil is cooling, and therefore good for sunburn. I personally find it a bit oily and not as easily absorbed as some other oils, but this is very much down to skin type, and others have no problems absorbing it.
Once again; self-massage is one of the best things you can do for general health care. It is extremely nourishing, grounding and healing for the whole body. It is also rejuvenating, slowing the ageing process and keeping skin strong and elastic.
I recommend some form of Abhyanga every day if possible, but at least once a week. Enjoy!