Ever since I started obsessing over skincare, I have been very interested in oils and what they can do for the skin. I was so happy when last year I purchased my first ever face oil in the way of Sunday Riley's infamous Luna Oil. I can happily say it really is worth the hefty price tag as just a few drops go such a long way and it does amazing things for my skin. I have however struggled slightly in finding a lighter day time oil that I can wear during the day as I generally dislike oils that take a while to sink into the skin. I know that oils are good for your skin, but it is that feeling of greasiness that really irks me, especially coming into a humid summer in China.
When the Mr and I did our usual exploration last weekend, we stumbled across the eco&more concept store in the very cool and trendy K11 Mall located in Shanghai's Huangpu District. The brand eco&more is based in Shanghai and was founded by a Chinese lady name Jeni Saeyang who lived in Australia for a number of years. Whilst she was abroad she lived a relatively chemical free lifestyle and found it difficult to get the same products when she moved back to Shanghai, thus eco&more was born. The company is dedicated to making green household products (and some body care products) that contain safer ingredients in comparison to the many available in the supermarket. They do not use harsh chemicals such as EDTA, Parabens, Triclosan etc and are also free from animal testing. Some products from the baby range even have an ECO-CERT approval as the company strives for safer and more natural ingredients in their products. The company is also the only PETA certified company in China.
What actually drew us to the concept store on the day was the layout and very pretty egg chair situated in the store. As you can see in the above picture it is quite a stunning and eye catching little space. Whilst having a good browse in the shop I stumbled across some information cards about workshops that they held on a regular basis there on aromatherapy and the use of essential oils. The workshops that intrigued me most were the ones specifically on the use of oils in skincare and how you can concoct your own creations at home if you have a basic understanding. This perked my interest and I booked in for a workshop recently and left with a great foundation on how to use oils in my daily skincare regime.
My teacher for my hour long workshop was a lovely Chinese lady named Candy, she apologised for the fact her English wasn't great (it was actually great, I understood her perfectly and she explained everything so well - I made sure I told her that at the end of the workshop). Candy was extremely friendly and knowledgeable, as soon as I came in she was so welcoming. She explained to me the format of the workshop and how she was to run it and was open to any questions at any time. The workshop mainly compromised of a power point presentation with lots of interesting and detailed information about oils, the two types of different oils and some activities in between.
Candy thoroughly explained to me what a carrier oil was and how important they are in for skincare and how they are the foundation for creating a special unique oil for yourself. Carrier oils are oils that are generally derived from a nut or seed and are generally odourless. They can be used by themselves, as each carrier oil has its own special characteristics or can be used with an essential oil. Carrier oils are perfect to be used with essential oils (in comparison to say a mineral oil) as they not only dilute the essential oil but they also help the essential oil be 'carried' and absorbed into our skin.
Essential oils are oils generally derived from the actual plant and it is important to note that generally essential oils are NOT to be applied on the skin by themselves due to the fact that their chemistry can irritate the skin and are quite potent. Essential oils generally do have a smell and thus are used alot in aromatherapy. Like the carrier oils, all essential oils will have their own special characteristics that will help our skin and address certain skin concerns.
Candy suggested that if we are to make our own special concoction for the skin - it is best to use a ratio of 1-2% essential oils and 99% carrier oils. It seems very small doesn't it? This is due to the fact that essential oils are extremely potent and a little bit goes a very long way. This percentage generally is the safest dosage amount for the skin. More does not mean better in this case!
I found it really interesting to learn about the characteristics of some of the carrier oils and also how some oils are better for certain skin types. For example, grapeseed oil and joboba oil were the two oils that Candy had mentioned in the presentation (and I am sure there are many more out there) that are great for oily or combination skin. Grapeseed oil is what is described as a 'slightly drying' oil due to the fact it has something called a high iodine value (amount of iodine per 100gm of oil). It is also rich in Omega 6 fatty acids and as studies have shown, those that suffer with acne have a low amount of this particular acid. When I tried this oil on my skin, it absorbed almost instantly making it a great option for a base as a daytime oil or for someone with oily skin. The other oil I found quite interesting was jojoba oil, whilst there was no sample of this. I found the fact that this oil, isn't really an oil but a liquid form of wax and it very very similar in molecular structure to the natural sebum that the human skin secretes.
Candy also went on to describe in detail other oils such as Sweet Almond Oil, Argain Oil and Coconut Oil as other examples of carrier oils. She mentioned that lose with dry skin will most likely benefit from Sweet Almond Oil and Argan Oil due to the fact that they are quite high in Vitamin E as Vitamin E is known to help repair dry and damaged skin (and a great antioxidant!). Coconut Oil is a special oil that is great for sensitive skin types as it contains two special acids - Lauric Acid which is an antibacterial and Myristic Acid which is a great anti-inflammatory.
I also found it really interesting to try some of the oils as well and actually see and feel the difference in consistencies. Grapeseed oil basically just sunk into my skin and was quite thin in consistency, sweet almond oil was a little bit thicker and took a while for it to penetrate my skin and finally coconut oil was thicker (like a butter) and it took the longest to sink in.
The second part of the workshop was looking into essential oils and the different benefits they can have on the skin. Candy spoke in depth about how some oils can work in the prevention of anti-ageing and really went into the science of it all. We did a fun little quiz where there were about 15 points on the board to do with our skin's age ie. 'When I laugh I show some lines around the eyes, I am noticing dark circles underneath my eyes, I notice some sagging around the cheek and jaw line etc". For every point we would agree to, it would contribute to our skin's age and characteristic (ie. we are ageing). At the end, the number of points that applied to us were tallied and from there we were able to find what our 'skin age' was.
Some of the essential oils that Candy spoke of had characteristics that can limit or slow down the processes of anti-ageing. These were Sandalwood, Frankincense, Sweet Orange, Geranium and Rosemary. Please note that there are probably plenty more out there but those were the few examples she gave, she could have spent forever discussing them all though. All these oils that Candy spoke of can help prevent different aspects of the anti-ageing process and also contain some vital antioxidants to help fight pollution as well.
Candy suggested some different concoctions that we could make at home using both carrier oils and essential oils to treat different concerns. She said that it was really important to learn about what each oil does and how it can help with the skin. Even though in the workshop there was a particular focus on anti-ageing, she mentioned that those with bad acne can use a combination of grapeseed oil, tea tree oil (antibacterial) and geranium oil (anti-inflammatory). For those with dry skin she suggested a combination of sweet almond oil, lavender oil (soothes the skin) and sweet orange oil (boosts collagen synthesis). Candy also mentioned that essential oils can also be added into our existing skincare (ie. as booster to our moisturiser) but use with caution as a little bit does go a long way. She herself likes to mix and match her own concoctions at home and she mentioned the examples that she gave were very, very basic. She said that the advantage of mixing your own oils is that the formulation is really quite individualistic and can be completely tailored to your needs but in saying that you really do need to understand your essential oils and skin as well. She also mentioned that it can be a process of trial and error and that is half the fun of it all.
What I took away from this workshop wasn't really how to create my own face oils at home (and that isn't why I signed up for it) but to have a general understanding of what a face oil is generally made up of and how it all works (I sound like such a nerd!). If I were to create anything it would probably be a cleansing oil that consists of Jojoba oil (carrier) and Jasmine and Rose Geranium Oil (I took a small sample of Jasmine oil home) and the only reason why I picked these essential oils is because I like the smell. However, I think in doing this workshop, I have gained a pretty good foundation on what type of face oils might suit me over others in terms of a carrier oil. I have also discovered that there is just a plethora of different types of essential oils out there, extracted from plants that can do so many amazing things for our skin if we find the right ones. I also love the emphasis on a little goes a long way with oils, as you really do not need much to boost your skin (especially those essential oils).
If you ever are in Shanghai or if you ever do go to Shanghai, definitely stop by the eco&more concept store at the K11 Mall. You will see many different products to use around the home but you can sign up to some really informative workshops like these. The cost of this workshop was Chinese RMB $180 which is about AUD$38 or USD$27, it goes for an hour and I found it very informative.