They’re lush in texture, fragrant in scent, and loaded with healing compounds. Oils from around the world can soothe, heal, and moisturize hair, skin, and nails, fast. Benefits: straight oils usually contain only one or two ingredients, so they’re simple for sensitive skin, and highly versatile: add to baths or massage oils, mix a few drops into moisturizer, or use as is. And they’re highly concentrated, so you need only a small amount. Six to try:
1. Argan oil
Pressed from the nut of the argan tree and native to Morocco, this rich, healing oil has been used for hundreds of years to smooth skin, heal wounds, and soothe rashes, and to treat hair and scalp conditions like folliculitis, psoriasis, and dandruff. It’s especially nourishing for hair, and helps treat split ends, tame frizzy locks, and soothe irritated hair follicles.
Use it—to make hair soft and lustrous: place a few drops in your palms, rub hands together, and smooth over clean hair to add shine and manageability; massage a few drops into scalp to fight dandruff and irritated scalp; massage a liberal amount into dry hair, wrap hair in a towel, and leave in for at least two hours before shampooing.
Did you know?
Argan oil works wonders on hair, helping to treat split ends and tame frizzy locks.
2. Monoi oil
Made by soaking Tahitian gardenias in coconut oil, this lush, fragrant oil has been used for hundreds of years by French Polynesians; considered a sacred oil, it was traditionally used by priests in purification rituals and to anoint newborn babies. Because the base is coconut oil, monoi oil is deeply moisturizing, has anti-inflammatory properties, and contains lauric acid and other fatty acids that soften and soothe skin, and strengthen hair and nails.
Use it—to soften and moisturize skin and nails: rub a few drops of monoi oil into cuticles; add to a warm bath, or massage into still-damp skin after showering; smooth over face and neck after cleansing.
3. Tamanu oil.
Derived from the nuts of the Calophyllum inophyllum tree, a large evergreen native to Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific, tamanu oil has been studied extensively for its medicinal and cosmetic uses. It was traditionally used to heal wounds and regenerate skin, and to treat scars, cuts, burns, and bites. Studies show it’s rich in calophyllic acid, a fatty acid, and calophyllolide, an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory that’s unique to tamanu. The oil is thick and rich, but easily absorbed by the skin.
Use it—to heal scars and blemishes: smooth it over cuts and scars to heal and regenerate; apply a few drops directly to acne and blemishes, for antimicrobial benefits; massage into areas with stretch marks to diminish their appearance.
4. Sacha inchi
Made from the seeds of the sacha inchi (also called Inca peanuts), a plant that grows in the highlands of Peru, sacha inchi has a history that dates back thousands of years. Early Incans grew sacha inchi for the seeds and seed oils, which were used for cooking and in skin care. It’s rich in vitamins A and E, skin-healing antioxidants that have been shown to reduce wrinkles and heal skin from sun damage. It’s also high in omega-3, -6, and -9 fats, with exceptional levels of omega-3s, for powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.
Use it—to fight wrinkles: gently dab a few drops around eye area; add to your nighttime moisturizer and smooth over face and neck; add to lotion and rub into hands before bed, then cover with cotton gloves to allow oil to penetrate overnight.
5. Pomegranate seed oil.
Made by pressing the seeds of the pomegranate fruit, native to the Middle East and Mediterranean, pomegranate seed oil is rich in ellagic acid, a powerful antioxidant, and punicic acid, a type of fatty acid. Pomegranate seeds have potent anti-inflammatory effects and, taken internally, may help to guard against breast cancer and other cancers. Some studies suggest it’s a safe and effective topical chemopreventive agent against skin cancer.
Use it—to heal sun damage: apply liberally to sunburns; smooth over sun-damaged areas on skin; dab on before moisturizing to create a protective barrier.
6. Black seed oil.
Made from the Nigella sativa plant native to Asia, black seed oil is also called black cumin or black coriander oil, and is used both topically and taken as a supplement. It’s loaded with powerful phytochemicals that act as antimicrobials, are antibacterial, and promote healing of skin. Studies have shown black seed oil is as effective as prescription medicated creams in decreasing itching and redness.
Use it—to heal and soothe eczema: add a few drops to a tepid bath, and soak for a skin-soothing treatment; rub into hands and all areas affected by eczema for instant calming.