Essential plant oils

Essential plant oils

Used in cooking, cosmetics or as an ingredient in food supplements, plant oils have nourishing, hydrating and protective properties. They come from oil producing plants thanks to a variety of extraction processes (pressing or refining) from all over the world.

Which is the best plant oil?

None and all at the same time depending on taste or nutritional or cosmetic need. The list of plant oils available today gives an idea of the variety of ecosystems and plant survival mechanisms. To survive winter or to reproduce, plants store nutritional reserves in tubers, bulbs, fruit or seeds.

These latter provide nutrients (carbohydrate, protein, lipids) necessary to the germination, protection and development of new plants. Their composition varies according to climate, soil or reproductive conditions. Some contain predominantly proteins (leguminous seeds) carbohydrates (starchy seeds) or lipids (oil seeds). Nuts and oil seeds constitute the raw material of oils used by man.

The unique properties of natural plant oils

All plant oils are made up of different types of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (omega-9) and polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-6 (Linoleic Acids) and omega-3 (Alpha-Linoleic Acids).

Polyunsaturated fatty acids, in the form of phospholipids, are among the constituents of cell membranes, to which they add fluidity. This flexibility is essential for communication between cells. In the form of tri-glycerides, they provide energy to the cells after having been converted into ATP (available energy).

They bring suppleness and tone to the skin and maintain its hydration.

Nutritional plant oils

The use of first-press virgin plant oils, preferably from organic agriculture, are the best choice for cooking. They are allies for digestion, bringing quality nutrients and fatty acids.

  • Sunflower, grapeseed, corn or sesame oils are the richest sources of Linoleic Acid (LA) and omega-6.
  • Rapeseed, walnut, flax seed, almond and soya oils amongst others provide high levels of Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA) or omega-3.

These oils are best used raw to retain all their nutritional qualities. Some oils that have an elevated smoke point are traditionally used in cooking, such as olive oil, sunflower oil or coconut oil in particular.

Which oils are best for beautiful skin?

Plant oils have been used since the dawn of time for cosmetic care, in local application: ointments, macerates, concentrates and combined with essential oils. The list of plant oils used in cosmetics is infinite! The absolute classic sweet almond oil reserved for children. Carrot, jojoba, nigella or argan oil, shea butter, etc. are used alongside nutritional oils such as olive, wheat germ, avocado, hazelnut or walnut oil. Each possesses its own qualities and corresponds to a specific type of skin or a specific skin problem, such as dry skin, dehydrated hair, broken nails, sunburn. Their nourishing and protective qualities are undeniable.

A few drops of oil warmed in a cupped hand is often enough for daily facial skincare.

Which are the richest skin oils?

Very ingenious wild flowers from the fields, true allies for beauty, grow in harmony with their environment and get the maximum benefit from it. Three flowers stand out for their cosmetic benefits. Borage, evening primrose and rose hip have hidden treasures in their seeds! They boast high levels of PUFAs (poly-unsaturated fatty acids) but also minerals, trace elements and vitamins.

Borage and evening primrose oils contain Gamma Linolenic Acids (GLA) from the omega-6 family which act as an intermediary in metabolising poly-unsaturated fatty acids. They have nourishing properties and play a major role in hydrating the skin and maintaining its suppleness. Omega-6s, which are transformed into prostaglandins by the body, are known for their benefits for premenstrual syndrome.

Borage Oil benefits

The plant loves well-drained soil rich in humus. When flowering, the plant covers the fields with blue star-shaped flowers, which are very popular with bees and which make their honey from them. Its fruits (the tetra-achenes) provide a GLA-rich oil. Borage oil helps to maintain the beauty, suppleness and elasticity of the skin thanks to its high content of omega-6 fatty acids. Furthermore, borage oil is free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids and therefore has no known contraindications.

Evening Primrose Oil benefits

The plant which produces the oil is nicknamed “evening primrose” or "Beauty of the night”. Their brightly coloured flowers (yellow, pink, orange or red) release an exhilarating fragrance when they bloom at dusk. Evening primrose[A1]  is “a woman's best friend for those who suffer from irregular cycles and reactive skin. The beneficial effect is obtained by the consumption of 6000 mg of evening primrose oil.

Rose Hip Oil benefits

Its seed (arkene) is a star ingredient for cosmetics manufacturers who harvest its essential fatty acids and carotenoids. Used in anti-ageing products, rose hip is also known for its hydrating properties.

 Isabelle Bruno, wellness and health editor.

Did you know ?

Choose oils from organic farming obtained after a first cold-press (<50°). These oils are known as “virgin”. Their beneficial molecules are not affected by these treatments, unlike hot extractions.