Tips & Tricks

Oil As A Moisturizer?

"I've been using Rosehip oil as a night cream…but it doesn't seem to be as moisturising as my night cream. What am I doing wrong?"

Take a quick look on the net and you will find a host of sites recommending the use of oils in place of a moisturiser, but is this really the best thing for your skin?

Now what we most commonly see is older clients using oils as an anti-aging strategy. These clients are in their mid 30's and the wrinkle brigade has started to visit. Most commonly the oil of choice for these ladies is Rosehip oil. The reasoning being is that Rose hip oil is high in essential fatty acids and also contains Vitamin C and also trans retinoic acid (Vitamin A).

Oils should be used with ceramides and cholesterol for healthy skin.

Upon presentation to our clinic, they present with an aging and inflamed skin. Their skin barrier is majorly impaired and they are rapidly aging. They are confused as to why their skin looks like it does.

Now why is this the case…. If they are using an oil that has “benefits"?

It comes down to the fact that our skin requires 3 things in balance to maintain our skin barrier (2)

These are:
Fatty Acids

Rosehip oil, along with all vegetable oils only contains one of these…….Fatty Acids. Rosehip oil does not contain ceramides or cholesterol. So when you apply just oil to the skin you are setting up the skin barrier to break down even further, because it needs all 3 of these things to be maintained (2).

As we age there are distinct changes in the skin. It is harder for us to maintain moisture in our skin. By the time those pesky wrinkles have begun to emerge the aging process has long already started and simply applying an oil will not make it better.

When we age the number of skin cells available to make the lipids we need to restore the skin barrier are dramatically diminished (1). Because our skin barrier has difficulty maintaining itself we get increased production of inflammatory compounds (Interleukin-1a) that destroy our collagen and elastin. Occluding the skin with oils does NOT correct this, in fact it makes it worse.

By just using oil you stop the skin barrier from repairing and your skin will develop a low level grade of inflammation which is basically cooking your collagen and elastin…..yes you are ageing yourself.

Aged skin has specific needs. Aged skin has reduced ceramides and cholesterol in their skin. You need both of these in your moisturiser or you need to be supplementing with a ceramide serum ( .

The other disadvantage of using oils is that you are missing out on a host of ingredients that don't dissolve in oil. Ingredients such as water soluble vitamins, hyaluronic acid and herbal extracts. These can rapidly rejuvenate aging skins and by using just oil you miss out on them.

To effectively manage the ageing process you need a balance of active ingredients. The best combination would be one that combines natural oils with ceramides and cholesterol ( .


1. Elias & Ghadially (2002) The Aged Epidermal Permeability Barrier –
Basis for Functional Abnormalities. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine (18) 1.

2. Mao-Qiang et al. (1996) Optimisation of Physiological Lipid Mixtures for Barrier Repair. Society of Investigative Dermatologists (106) 5.