Understanding Fats used in skin care...

three jars lined up

Amanda Matson – Guest Blogger, making handcrafted skin care!

There are essentially two types of lipids: fats and oil.  They both contain a combination of fatty acids, however, fats, like butter, lard, tallow and coconut oil, are solid at low temperatures and contain a higher percentage of saturated fatty acids. Oils are liquid at low temperatures and contain a higher percentage of unsaturated fatty acids. Oils come in two sub-types: monounsaturated (e.g. olive oil, avocado oil, castor oil) and polyunsaturated (e.g. canola oil, sunflower oil and flaxseed oil). Unlike the more stable saturated fats, PUFA oils have two or more double bonds, which makes them chemically unstable and easily oxidize when exposed to heat and light.
The higher an oil is in PUFA, the more prone to oxidation it is. Coconut oil, for example, is made up of over 90% saturated fat, with only a tiny percentage of PUFA. Its chemical composition makes it far less prone to oxidation than something like safflower oil, which is almost 80% PUFA.

Oxidation produces free radicals—the nasties that cause our cells to age—meaning that the higher an oil is in PUFAs, the more likely it is to cause free radical damage to your skin (think age spots and wrinkles).
Most seed oils can only be extracted through a pretty complicated industrial process involving hydraulic presses, high heat, and extreme pressure.  You can get oil from olives, in contrast, through simple cold pressing, a far simpler and more traditional technique. 
Popular cosmetic oils like almond, argan, rosehip and grapeseed may be organic and cold-pressed, but they are still high in PUFAs, and best avoided, especially on your face.

Good oils to keep an eye out for at the top of ingredients lists include:
Tallow, Coconut, Cocoa, Shea, Babassu, Mango, Macadamia, Marula, Jojoba, Lard

Grass-fed beef tallow, as well as lard (rendered from pork that was not fed corn and soy), are stable, saturated fats that are chemically similar to sebum, the natural oil produced by our own skin. They are more effective moisturizers than high-PUFA seed and nut oils, as well as being kinder to your skin and better for your overall health.

Given what I have learned about the skin-damaging effects of PUFAs, I steer clear of oils with more then 10% PUFA in the all the skincare I make.  For example, I use a combination of coconut oil, shea butter, mango butter, jojoba oil, and castor oil in my Butter is Better whipped face and body butter.

For further information:
Deep Nutrition by Dr. Catherine Shanahan (includes hundreds of references) https://drcate.com/the-hateful-eight-enemy-fats-that-destroy-your-health/
Dr. Ray Peat  http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/unsaturated-oils.shtml
Absolutely Pure  https://www.absolutelypure.com/fatty-acid-content-of-75-cosmetic-oils.html

Some of our favourite ingredients for skin products, ROCHAFARM Pork Lard and Ontario Bees Wax

At Seasons Pharmacy and Culinaria, we are pleased to offer a variety of soaps and skin care products, handcrafted by Amanda.

Special Event!

On Feb 20, 2021, starting at we are hosting an online class for making a calendula-infused body butter, with ROCHAFARM pork lard, rendered in house. If you are interested, please contact the pharmacy 705-222-2200. Kits for making body butter will be available effective Feb 16, 2021.