Creams and lotions ultimately dehydrate the skin because of the surfactants/emulsifiers that are used to keep the ingredients (oil and water) from separating. There are very few creams and lotions that are edible, but as the public become more educated, more edible creams and lotions will be made without surfactants. Surfactants are similar to detergent. They feel great when they are applied to the skin, but then, when you shower or bath, the water suds up the surfactants still sitting on the surface of the skin and inevitably washes away any of your skins own natural oils. Carcinogenic, toxic pollutants are as damaging when applied externally as they are when ingested.
Using oil on the skin can help prevention and eliminate ama in the outer layers of the body. Ama is a Sanskrit word for toxin. The use of creams, lotion, and refined oils are not only harmful, it suppresses the metabolism and poisons the body. This may not be apparent immediately, but there is no question that many of the fancy products that people are applying to their skin today is indirectly linked to our society’s manifestation of a low immune system, among other things. The immune function is weakened by constantly fighting ama (toxins). On the other hand, using nourishing oils expel ama and strengthen the immune system. Ayurveda states that you should not apply anything to your skin that you would not put in your mouth, i.e., food.
Ayurvedic Classification of Massage Oils
What is the best oil to apply to your skin? As stated by Chakara, an ancient Ayurvedic text, there are two sources of anointing substances for the skin: vegetable or animal (ranging from ghee, milk and bone marrow, believe it or not!).
When making choices on which oil to use, one must absolutely remember to consider the allergies of the person receiving the oil massage. Although not extremely frequent, allergic reactions can be triggered by dermal application of oils. It is advisable to avoid nut-derived oils (almond, macadamia, peanut and even apricot kernel, etc.) for those with wheat & gluten allergies, celiac disease (CD) or dermatitis herpitiforus (DH).
It is a known fact, at least among the aromatherapy community, that grapeseed oil is the universal safe haven and that when in doubt, it is advisable to do a patch test on the skin of the inner fore arm (which is most sensitive) to test reactions. Be sure to find cold-pressed grapeseed oil. To stay on the cautious side, it is advised to use a 1-3 percent dilution of essential oil per milliliter of carrier oil base.
One should bear in mind that the lower spectrum of dilution percentage will address subtle, mental, emotional issues and the higher end will have more of a physical impact. In French aromatherapy, dilutions range from 1-99% in medical practice.
Below is a list of oils rated in terms of the doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. The = sign indicates that it balances all three doshas. The minus sign indicates that it reduces and soothes a particular dosha. The plus sign indicates that oil increases and aggravates a particular dosha. Once you determine which dosha is excessive within your physiology, you can decide which oil to use. An Ayurvedic Counselor can help you with this or take the dosha questionnaire here. Key: ‘V’ is vata ‘P’ is pitta‘K’ is kapha The minus sign means it will reduce and soothe the dosha. The plus sign means it will increase and aggravate the dosha. The equal sign means it will be good for and pacify all three doshas.
Mahanarayana oil: V-P-K- "Oil of Krisha". Infused with 34 or more herbs, this mystical oil is one of the best remedies for arthritis and pain.
Castor oil: V-P-K+ This oil has been a naturopathic arsenal for time immemorial. Famous medical intuitive and author, Edgar Cayce, advocates it for many things. When applied with heat, it dissolves cysts, growths, warts, and cellulite. It helps softens corns and calluses. When applied to the feet, it helps pull excess heat from the body and increases the energy of the eyes. It is recommended as a warm compress for the belly and back pain. It increases immune function by increasing white bloods cells when applied topically as a compress on the belly.
Corn oil: V+P+K-This is highly diuretic, consequently, it is the carrier of choice in the case of edema and swelling. It can be used on all skin types.
Apricot kernal oil: VPK= This is good for all skin types and is very rich and nourishing. It is helpful for prematurely aged, sensitive, inflamed, delicate or dry skin.
Avocado oil: V-P-K+ This thick and heavy oil is very penetrating and nourishing for dry and dehydrated skin. It is good for eczema, solar keratosis, and conditions where skin elasticity can be improved, such as stress lines and wrinkles. It can go rancid quickly.
Sweet almond oil: V-P+K+ This is helpful for all skin types, especially good for eczema and helpful in relieving itching, soreness, dryness and inflammation. It is useful against burns(although aloe vera would be your first choice) and thread or spider veins. Very lubricating, but not penetrating, it makes a good massage oil and protectant. It tends to go rancid fairly quickly.
Sesame oil: V-P+K+ This is a thick oil with a strong smell. It is used in cases of rheumatism, arthritis and as a tanning aid, and it softens all skin types. It is the oil of choice according to ancient ayurvedic books.
Aloe Vera: VPK= This is considered a medical oil, this is actually the first choice of applications for burns, scalds, skin irritations, abrasions, as long as it’s fresh. The cold pressed, stabilized version can be used on open wounds directly. The leafy extract will sting if applied directly on an open wound due to the high level of bitters; it’s generally used only for local applications.
Flax seed oil V-P+K- This oil is said to reduce cholesterol when taken internally and it is useful externally for oily skin, acne, psoriasis, and eczema. It is an estrogen precursor when taken internally. The high vitamin E content makes it useful for preventing scarring and stretch marks. It needs refrigeration as it goes rancid very easily.
Peanut oil: V-P+K- This is used for all skin types. It is helpful for painful sprains, bruises and inflamed joints. Very light and odorless, it goes rancid easily.
Grapeseed oil: VPK= This is the carrier of choice for the massage therapists who cant afford fractionated coconut oil as a base. It is light, excellent for all skin types, odorless, penetrating and has no allergic pathogens known. It is slightly astringent, tightens and tones the skin and does not aggravate acne.
Evening primrose oil: VPK= This oil is indicated internally for PMS and menopausal symptoms. Externally it helps in cases of psoriasis, eczema, prevention of prematurely aged skin, wound healing, and any sort of dermatitis. It tends to go rancid very easily.
Olive oil: V-PK+ This is a very heavy duty, strong smelling oil that is indicated in conditions such as acute rheumatic pain, sprains, bruises, hair and nail care and cosmetics. It is fairly stable.
Coconut oil: V-P-K+ Refined coconut oil is extremely compatible to human subcutaneous fat and along with macadamia oil, it is the base of choice in French aromatherapy. The penetration rate of essential oils applied via this medium is superior to others. The refined and sterilized coconut goes under the name of fractionated coconut and does not go rancid. Due to its lightness, it does not clog the pores, making it an ideal carrier for trouble skin. It helps pitta people stay cool in the hot season. It is also used as a tanning aid.
Sunflower oil: V-P-K- This is s light textured oil that is easily absorbed. It is useful for all skin types, and can be used to treat leg ulcers and skin diseases, bruise, diaper rash and cradle cap.
Macadamia nut oil: V- P+ K+ This has a high absorption rate and is good for all skin types. It tones aged or dry skin and is used for skin softening and wound healing.
Wheat germ oil: V-P-K+ This thick and sticky oil is used to treat dry, cracked skin, eczema, psoriasis, prematurely aged skin and stretch marks. It is an estrogen precursor when taken internally. Synthetic anti-oxidants oil are commonly added at this oil at the time of production.
Jojoba oil: V- P+ K+ This is very similar to human sebum, its high penetration rate is very nourishing for the skin. It is good for inflamed skin, psoriasis, eczema and any sort of dermatitis. It can also help to control acne and oily skin or scalp, since excess sebum actually dissolves in jojoba. This oil contains myristic acid, which is anti-inflammatory and good for helping pitta problems.
Neem oil: V+P-K+ This helps clear skin eruptions, roscea, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and acne are a classic pitta problem, and in India, neem has come to the rescue against topical fungi, viruses, and other infections.