Plant oils (and extracts) can be very nourishing and replenishing to the skin. Everyday, new research provides additional information into this fascinating field. The internet is full of fantastical claims, articles,  and miraculous reviews, all attesting to the glories of one brand or another’s  plant oil product. Or one oil type vs another, as the ultimate “fix” to all your skin woes.

Unfortunately, online claims, and information are a mixed bag of true factual data, urban legend style “factoids” ,  inaccurately interpreted studies or data,  “puffery claims”, sales pitches, and speculation.

This makes it very difficult for the average user to judge what they should (or should not) be using.

A well formulated oil, of the right type, can certainly do wonders for skin health, and healing. Regular use will add a super charged boost of intense moisture and nutrients; but they also have limitations.

Studies, industry data (and real user experiences) support the use of beneficial oils for dry, dehydrated, and flaky skin; as well as a treatment for skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin ailments.

Gentle, beneficial oils can come from differing sources; synthetic, animal or plant based. All provide a host of positive benefits both in skin hydration, healing and repair.

Oil Types:

Skin safe benificial oils, whether plant based, animal based, or synthetic, can all enhance your skin care regiment.

Mineral oil, a popular synthetic oil, is often (incorrectly) called out for being “bad”, even though it is one of the best moisturizing oils around.  Its easily available, has a low price point, and countless studies back up both, its long term historical safety, and efficiency at maintaining skin moisture levels.

This oil is a popular ingredient for use on the most delicate of newborn skin (The main ingredient in Baby Oil), or damaged and abraded skin, to enhance healing, and protect delicate tissues. This oil is a lighter version of petrolatum. A very common ingredient in a range of well formulated moisturizing products.

Emu oil, from flightless birds, or Lanolin from sheep wool, are common examples of two popular animal sourced oils.  They provide potent anti-inflammatory activities, wound healing and pain relief benefits, as well as concentrated nurturing fatty acids. Very rich and heavy oils, that have a strong following world wide.

Plant oils come in a range of types, and weights.  Different world regions each have their own personal favorites, based on local availability.  But the internet has opened a world wide trade in many exotic botanical oils, that were previously hard to obtain.

They add in a very wide range of differing antioxidants, which are wonderful for combating inflammation of all types. This can help mitigate, and even prevent skin damage from environmental stress, UV exposure, pollutants and more.

When the skin absorbs an oils components, it does not matter from where it is sourced, as far as its effectiveness, or the skins ability to use it. No specific origin source is “better or best”, at least from a skin health standpoint. The skin simply uses the molecular components of each, and integrates them into the skin matrix. It (the skin) does not know, (or care) if the source is plant, animal or lab birthed.  If the skin needs an Omega 3 fat, of a specific molecular size, and you apply that omega 3 fatty acid (in correct size) to the skin – the skin will utilize it to address the dryness issue it has.  Oil thickness, and molecular size are factors in absorbancy, but this is related to “size” and makeup of the molecules in the oil.

Some oils will have more overall, broad spectrum benefits vs another oil source type – such as a plant oil being preferred for its broad range benefits. But that is more related to the available range of nutrients and chemical “parts” that make up the actual oil – not “because” it is from a plant.

And as a user, you may personally feel more comfortable using a plant oil vs a synthetic or animal sourced product. Which is also important for a user stand point.

Mineral oil – or any oil for that matter – is not the Evil “You must avoid this at all cost or you will never have a good spray tan” villain that the internet wrongly claims. This is a myth. Many oils work amazingly will for dry skin concerns, even when wearing a spray tan.

Almost any cosmetic quality, skin friendly oil,  – animal, plant or synthetic, can be safety used with sunless tanning, when used correctly, in the appropriate form for your needs, and at the correct time in your regiment.

Beneficial oils can be used on both face and body. It is not true that one must only use certain oils for certain body parts. Other then issues related to thickness and viscosity, which might limit which specific oil would be used on acne prone skin for example; generally any oils used on the body can also be used on the face with the exact same benefits. Using oils on the skin, ether neat or mixed with other products, does not crause oily skin. And in fact are an effective treatment to help heal the skin barrier and regulate the skins normal oil production.

The correct oils can actually lessen any prevent acne, and lessen oily skin issues. I used them myself for many years to “cure” my acne issues with great results (along with other skin care product changes)

Oil when used alone, may not hold moisture into the skin as long as a well formulated lotion, but they can easily be layered with, or added to your preferred lotion or cream, to provide an added moisture boost, if needed.

However, for those who do not need a heavy moisturizer, oils alone, can be very effective, and beneficial as part of an overall skin care regiment. They can compliment any sunless tan. Leaving skin glowing, flexible, and well moisturized.

Which Oil is the Best one?

There actually is no one “Perfect” or “Best” oil. When using a single ingredient oils, you are limited to the specific attributes and benefits of that single oil. So you will only benefit from its unique chemical make-up and components that “it” brings to the table. This is a limited approach.

No “one” oil has the full spectrum of available fats, amino acids anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, vitamins, minerals etc that can be brought into play when enhancing and repairing the skin.

Rather then focusing on only one great player, bring in the entire A team to accomplish your goal!

For example Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Coco Butter are all thicker and heavier oils, and also very rich in saturated fats. This makes them excellent moisturizers, that work well to help hold water into the skin and limit evaporation. A great option for very dry, and very rough, or damaged skin.

But due to their thickness, they can cause some pore clogging for some people, so limit use on the face (or acne prone areas) if you are acne prone. They are also slower to absorb, and can rub off easier on clothing, hair etc. Apply lightly, to minimize rub off, which can cause the tan to fade or peel for some users.

Though these are richer in saturated fats, it is not in itself necessarily a “better” moisturizing product, compared to a well formulated lotion or cream with a range of ingredients, that also include emollients, and saturated fats.

I have found some clients who use thick plant butters and oils (those that are solid at room temperature) can have problems with tans not developing or sticking well, or fading poorly.

I suspect this is from poor exfoliation of the oil layer that is coating the skin, as any “solid” oil can act much like wax or tallow in bar soaps, leaving a layer of “stuff”, on the skin. Please advise that client to exfoliate the skin will with a cloth or mitt, and cleanse well after, with a mild shower gel before spray tanning. If they still have issues, please advise them to try a lighter weight oil type. (or switch to a lotion)

Avocado oil, Olive Oil are heavier oils, rich in anti-oxidants and very soothing these are great for dryer skin, but should not be used if you are acne prone (use one of the lighter oils below. ) These are thicker oils, though not as heavy as the Coconut oil thickness product type above.

Argon oil, Safflower oil (a cheaper oil very similar to Argon oil in attributes) are both medium weight oils. They work well on many skin types.

Argon oil, though often touted as the “perfect” oil is actually lower in fatty acids, than more common less exotic oils such as Olive oil, Corn oil or castor oil. So though beneficial, it is actually lower in Fatty acids, which are one of the primary moisturizing attributes when using oils.

Other medium weight oils that work well: Seasame, Almond, Olive, Flaxseed, may be to heavy for Acne prone skin, but work well for normal skintypes.

Marula, Grapeseed oil, Rose Hip Seed oil, Apricot, Carrot Seed, Jojoba,  are thinner and lighter weight and faster absorbing. These are  excellent oils for acne prone skin, as they do not clog pores, but are also lower in fatty acids then coconut oil. Grapeseed and Jojoba are very inexpensive, and an excellent option for face an body use, and work well to regulate overall skin oil production, and help treat acne relalted issues, when used as part of an overall treatment plan. (my personal Go To oils for acne prone skin)

All of these oils are very beneficial, all will sooth and replenish, and provide healing nutrients to dry, dehydrated or flaky skin. All will bring many wonderful attributes and enhancements to the skin.

But no one oil, in itself, is the end all, be all, “perfect” or “Best” oil for sunless tanning use. Rather, all are great players, and any can work very well, and  effectively, based on your needs, enviroment, skin health.

Instead of sticking with one single ingredient oil (Coconut oil for example) – it is much more beneficial to the skin, to use an oil blend, with a range of beneficial oils. As each oil then brings in its own unique attributes and varied anti-oxidant makeup.  You also received improved skin absorbancy and dry time . Over all the skin functions best with a range of anti-oxidants instead of just one or two singles.

Note: these are only a few of the most common, of the many great beneficial oils out there. This is not intended to be a complete list. I suggest you do your own internet research to better inform yourself of which oils will best suit your specific needs,

Oils are wonderful skin treatment enhancements and “add-ons”, however they are not as emollient, or easy to apply as a lotion. So though they can provide immediate moisture, they do not tend to last as long through out the day as a more emollient lotion type product.

Lotions formulated with added in oils will give a well rounded mix of beneficial oil boost to the skin, along with miniaturization, in an easy to use format.

The Yum’e Lotion line incorporates a number of concentrated beneficial plant oils, and extracts, in a rich lotion base, and is available with or without an added DHA glow enhancement.

You may also add a few drops of your personal favorite oil, to any well formulated lotion, of your choice.

Which Oils should I look for when sunless tanning? I thought an oil would make my tan come off?

In most cases, the oils used for untanned skin, are the same oils you can use while spray tanning. Care should be used to exfoliate and cleanse skin well pretan, and monitor skin for excessive “peeling” or faster then normal fading when you begin adding in oils to your skin care plan. This is more  due to differences in your own skin chemistry and makeup, and how you react to the added moisture holding components against your skin.  Just like lotions, some people also find some lotions type suit them better than others.

Be aware, as seasonal, or skin changes occur with life, you may need to adjust the oils used, or how you apply them. Thinner faster absorbing “Dry Oils” will be less likely to cause issues when spray tanning. Care should be used in amounts applied and how they are applied.

But assuming no issues occur, feel free to use the oils or oil blends that you prefer. Most people find they have no issues, with normal use, unless over applied, which can increase tan wear, as a heavy lotion, or oil can cause dead skin cells to loosen a bit easier.

How to use oils:

Oils applied lightly to shower damp skin (or a few drops mixed into your preferred lotion) work well for most users.

Skin should not feel oily or “slick” after a few minutes. If skin feels slick or oily, after 20 minutes, you are applying to much. If you see you have more tan rub off, or faster fade (especially in skin folds on arms/elbow bends and legs/knees, between breasts  – then skin is staying to “damp” in these areas. You may see this if you are in a humid location, or work out often with heavy sweating.

This is an indication, that you may need to apply less product, or change to a lighter weight oil, or switch to a lotion product instead.  Some clients find they do better without any added moisturizers.  Adjust based on your needs.

One step in spray tan removal is a liberal HEAVY THICK oil coating with a slower absorbing oil, (mineral oil is one) worn for 30-60 minutes, followed by a long tub soak and scrub – the thicker oil layer can help loosen dead skin cells, along with the water soak, and scrub down

If oils alone do not work for you, stick with a lotion, that already incorporates beneficial oils, in a blended form. Oils contained in an lotion base are not a problem, as the formulation will change how they absorb.

Considerations when choosing an oil for personal use:

The best oil for you personally, is really more personal preference. Viscosity, thickness, how fast or slow it absorbs into the skin, scent and skin feel will vary from one oil type to another.  Shelf Life, Cost and availability must be factored in.  And based on your skin needs, and how you will be using the product, will dictate which is the best for you.

For example if applying under makeup or over acne prone skin, you would opt for a quicker drying, thinner dry type oil (Grapeseed, Jojoba are two popular ones)

If you prefer a thick velvety richness, with a heavier texture, and  will not be dressing right away or applying makeup (maybe you use it before bed) then a thicker oil such as Coconut, Shea or Coco butter will suit you better.

A dryer enviroment such as Arizona, or someone with very dry skin, will tend to prefer a thicker heaver oil. In a humid enviroment, most will tent to prefer a faster absorbing thinner oil.

Oil blends can provide the extra moistureization of a thicker oil type, with faster absorbancy, and lighter skin feel. You will also benefit from a wider range of anti-oxidants, Tampa Bay Moistaire or Hydration spray are examples of Quick Dry – “Dry Oil” blends.

When using your own single ingredient oils, please use caution to avoid oils that can irritate or sensitize the skin.

Fragrant or Essential oils, for example should not be used at a high concentration on the skin surface, or at high levels in skin care products, as they can irritate and cause UV sensitivity. These are fragrant concentrated oils such as Lavender, Peppermint, Citrus oils etc.

If used, limit use to very small amount, and monitor skin for reactions, skin barrier damage etc.

For skincare topical application, use base or carrier oils, which are milder and gentler on the skin, and less likely to cause irritation.

These can be purchased  through Cosmetic outlets, online sources, but also usually very inexpensively at drug stores, and health food stores.

Stay Glowing! – Vicki


Source materials:


References for this information:
Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, July 2016, page 51
Clinical Interventions in Aging, January 2015, pages 339-349
Journal of Chemistry, August 2014, pages 1-8
Skin Research and Technology, August 2012, pages 364-369
Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, July 2012, ePublication
Planta Medica, March 2006, pages 311-316
Biofizika, March-April 2004, pages 322-338