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Holistic Beauty and Skin Health Part 3: A Whole Food Philosophy for Skin Care

By: Jimm Harrison
Posted: August 27, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 3 of 6

Vegetable and fruit oils are commonly refined, bleached and deodorized, also known as RBD. Cosmetic manufacturers often prefer RBD oils for their perceived stability, as well as to keep the natural color and odor from interfering with a finished product.

The problem is color and odor can contain therapeutic value that includes antioxidants, phytosterols, chlorophyll, lecithin and fat-soluble odor molecules. The process to refine oils can use bases, acids, bleach and extreme heat, possibly leaving toxic compounds and altering the molecular chemistry of the oil. Certified organic oils use nondestructive diatomaceous earth, but they also still may use damaging heat in refinement.

Partially refining a vegetable oil does remove any undesirable, naturally occurring heavy metals, but the trade-off can be the loss of therapeutic nutrients. Refinement choices in spa products should be based on the manufacturer’s knowledge, with the goal of delivering the best results and safety in formulations. Look at your own fixed oils. What color are they—red, light brown, green or pale yellow to clear? How do they smell—nutty, fruity and fatty or faint and practically unscented? The more natural they appear, the more natural botanical benefits they can likely supply.

Essential oil adulteration

Essential oils are a challenging skin care ingredient due to their lack of standards and regulations. Any synthetic fragrance compound can be labeled as an essential oil, and essential oils are often adulterated through a process of adding individual compounds or synthetics.

Adulteration is performed to stretch the quantity of expensive oil or “balance” the fragrance. The processes can disrupt the natural harmony and holistic structure of the oil and potentially make it an irritant or lessen its therapeutic value.