Saturday, June 8, 2013

Skincare Saturday: Grapeseed Oil

I've been exploring diy skincare the last couple months, and after some overly-optimistic headlong dives using a ton of ingredients at once, I've scaled back and am gradually adding things one at a time. I'll be featuring one or two ingredients per week, talking about their properties, benefits, and my experience with them.

I am not a chemist, at all. I cannot overstate that. As such, I rely on internet sources for my information; I have neither the time nor the interest to read scholarly articles on the subject, but I will try to relay reliable information. For anyone who's interested, I highly recommend Points of Interest; Susan (Swift) is incredibly knowledgeable and there's a ton of information on her site, including several extremely helpful ingredient comparisons and oodles of recipes. Wikipedia, in spite of its faults, is still a good place to start, and if you're a science-minded person, you can go straight to the research articles themselves.

First, some very basic terminology: carrier oil means an oil that can be used at high ratios in skincare formulations; as such, they are usually more affordable. With my oily, acne-prone, sensitive skin, I prefer carrier oils that are lighter and drier (such as grapeseed or safflower), whereas those with mature or dry skin might prefer heavier, richer oils (like avocado). Carrier oils serve as the base for other ingredients, such as essential oils, which are extremely concentrated, usually fragrant, and need to be diluted like whoa, and exotic oils (following Garden of Wisdom and Points of Interest), which are more expensive, often richer or higher in healthy ingredients, and which can help skin more dramatically. I'll be talking about items from each type in this series, but today my focus is on a carrier oil, grapeseed (or grape seed) oil.

Grapeseed oil comes, unsurprisingly, from the seeds of grapes, and can be made from the leftover seeds from winemaking [1]. While grapeseeds themselves contain a lot of resveratrol and proanthocyanidin, a polyphenol anti-oxidant, neither are oil soluble and therefore don't really transfer to the oil [2]. Fortunately, other things make it a good ingredient for skincare, such as a high percentage of linoleic acid (~70%), which has been shown to be effective at repairing skin texture and reducing inflammation, as well as beneficial for acne [3]. The high rate of linoleic acid means it has a short shelf life of 3-6 months (slightly longer if you add vitamin E or another antioxidant and/or refrigerate it) [2], but as it's lightweight and cheap, it's an excellent carrier oil and therefore can be used at high percentages in skincare formulations, making it easier to get through it before it goes bad! It's claimed to be good for stretchmarks and the skin around the eyes, and as it's mildly astringent, it's good for acne as well [4]. And, of course, you can use it in cooking!

I ordered a 4 oz bottle of Aura Cacia grapeseed oil, which I've been using the past few weeks (it contains added vitamin E, not just pure grapeseed oil, to extend the shelf life). It's light yellow in color and nearly scent-free, though there is a hint of earthiness (quite mild), but it gets along well with essential oils for aromatherapy. I find it to be lightweight and thin/dry, which means it absorbs quickly, and thus far I've had no issues with it breaking me out or increasing my oiliness. Because it's light and dry, it's a good carrier oil for oily skin, and its relatively fast absorption makes it nice for massage as well––don't have to walk around all shiny! I plan to use it as a base for homemade scented body oil, and it's also nice for oil cleansing (though my experiences with homemade emulsifying cleansing oils will have to wait for another time).

Density: 0.910-0.922 g/ml [4]
35 drops/ml
(I used a 3 ml transfer pipette to draw 1 ml of oil 5 times and then counted the number of drops per ml; the average was 35 (range: 34 to 37), but please use that only as an estimate! The $0.05 pipettes I used were not necessarily accurate, but it's a good estimate, at least.)

Available: from, Walgreens, and grocery stores.


Have you tried grapeseed oil? Do you use oils? What's your favorite carrier oil?
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