By Kolbjorn Borseth
We would all like to stay forever young and keep our skin like that of a newborn baby, but it is not possible. We can however reduce the skin's aging process which starts to deteriorate as soon as we are born when the free radicals start the oxidation (destruction) process of all our connective tissues. We slow this process by using antioxidants such as Carotene and Vitamins A, C and E.
Oxidation is the same process that affects the skin, but it also affects creams and base oils as soon as they are made. In creams and oils, the free radicals start to feed themselves on the oil molecules and the destruction eventually renders the cream rancid.
Vitamin E Oil
INCI name: Tocopherol
Vitamin E is the name given to several tocopherols of which alpha-tocopherol is the most active. Alpha-tocopherol can be produced chemically (dl-alpha-tocopherol) or be extracted from e.g. soy beans and sunflower oil.
The tocopherols operate and are active both in the product and on the person's skin and inner organs. The need for tocopherols in products or in the human body will depend on the amount of compounds prone to oxidisation such as polyunsaturated fatty acids which are present. The more polyunsaturated fat one eats, the more tocopherol one will need. Similarly the more polyunsaturated fat in a product, the more tocopherol it will need to contain.
Tocopherols protect against the side effects of radiotherapy and cytotoxins. Free radicals are formed during exposure to sunlight, during the breaking down of environmental pollutants and during the oxidation of oils when exposed to heat or sunlight. Vitamin E applied to the skin will penetrate it and take care of the free radicals. The vitamin will absorb the sun's dangerous ultra-violet rays which are responsible for the reddening of the skin, sunburn and more serious burns. Ultraviolet rays and the free radicals age the skin more quickly reducing its elasticity and creating wrinkles. Vitamin E therefore works to prevent wrinkles, stimulates the blood circulation and regulates the skin's elasticity.
In ointments and creams vitamin E oil will help to heal cracks and sores in the skin and will remove scars with regular use over a longer period of time. Taken internally, high doses are not dangerous but can raise blood pressure. Very high doses can also cause stomach problems and fatigue.
Vitamin E Oil used as an antioxidant to protect products
Hemp seed, evening primrose, borage, kiwi seed and rose hip are a few examples of vegetable oils that go rancid after 5-6 months if no vitamin E is added. So, never buy any of these fragile oils that contain high quantities of omega 3 fatty acids or gamma linolenic acid or GLA if they have not being bottled using a nitrogen cap or without containing an antioxidant added by the producer or supplier within a limited time of production. It is damaging to your skin to use a rancid oil on it. It is too late to add an antioxidant such as vitamin E oil when you receive the oil. Food grade vitamin E oil is the easiest and safest to work with and we add this oil to our fragile oils and only buy oils that we know are not rancid because of production, storage and bottling methods. Vitamin E oil is an antioxidant that acts as a barrier for the other ingredients in the product. The free radicals attack and start to feed on the most potent molecules in the blend (which in this case is vitamin E oil). The other ingredients are then safer for longer, prolonging the shelf life of the product or oil.
This destruction of vitamin E oil can take 1.5-2.5 years. The smallest amount of vitamin E oil to add to an oil or product is 0.5% which will prolong the shelf life from 5-6 months to 1-3 years. A cream is prolonged from 6 months to 1.5-2 years. In the destruction process of the vitamin E oil, there are no waste materials created. When the vitamin E oil molecules are destroyed, the other raw materials are attacked, which eventually makes the product rancid.
Vitamin E Oil used as an antioxidant to protect the skin
This same process occurs in the skin, but unfortunately you need to apply vitamin E oil every day to protect the skin effectively.
0.5% vitamin E oil is only enough to be an antioxidant for the product ingredients. For skin protection you need to increase the amount to between 2-30%. Vitamin E oil can easily be blended into your base oil or oil blends. Applying 30% vitamin E oil keeps the skin in good condition and actually increases the growth of new skin cells. It also increases the circulation, so don't worry if your skin gets slightly reddish. You can safely use up to around 50% vitamin E oil in oil blends or serums for the skin. It is, however, a greasy substance so if you have oily skin you need to combine it with a high dosage of thin dry vegetable oil, such as kiwi seed, chia seed and camelina. Tip: when using more than 2% of vitamin E oil in your blends, add rosemary CO2 extract (another antioxidant) to protect the vitamin E oil from going rancid.
In this country (United Kingdom) people tend to use wheatgerm as an antioxidant. However, wheatgerm from factories goes rancid within a few weeks. This is because it naturally contains very little vitamin E oil (0.4-0.5%). It has a large amount of unstable, and therefore oxidation-prone, fatty acids that makes the rancidity process even faster. This is why the smell of wheatgerm is normally so bad. A rancid product accelerates the rancidity process of the skin and through that we get wrinkles.
When I started my own skin care factory in Sweden in 1985, we had little knowledge of these properties for wheatgerm and used 5% wheatgerm in all our products. The shelf life of my creams was just 8-9 months before they went rancid. A friend and researcher into vitamin E oil convinced me to use 100% food grade vitamin E oil instead of the wheatgerm oil and the shelf life more than doubled. So if you want to double the shelf life of your skin add vitamin E oil. Professional cosmetic products rarely use wheatgerm these days.
Aromantic stock Natural as well as Simulated Natural) vitamin E oil
Our Natural Vitamin E Oill is extracted from sunflower seeds. Natural Vitamin E oil is increasingly active as soon as it makes contact with the skin and so is better for healing purposes. We use our artificial food grade Simulated Natural Vitamin E Oil as an antioxidant to protect products. Simulated Natural Vitamin E Oil is active in the base oil or cream and is therefore better than the natural variety as a product antioxidant.
Wheatgerm and vitamin E oil should not be confused as being preservatives as they do not preserve the products from bacteria and fungus. For that you need to use proper preservatives.
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INCI name: Retinol Palmitate
Vitamin A nourishes the skin, counteracts inflammations and protects cell membranes and other structures within the cells from the damage caused by free radicals and in this way helps to prevent skin disorders. It also plays an important role in the functioning of the eyes and the making of new skin and mucous membranes. It prevents infections in the mucous membranes (respiratory). Vitamin A occurs naturally in liver, fish oils and egg yolk (primarily as retinol). The daily recommended intake for adults is 2.500-5000IE. Excess vitamin A is stored in the liver. With larger doses (50.000-100.000 IE per day) the liver is unable to store the excess and this is then spread around the body and can cause symptoms such as headache, hair loss, feeling unwell and fatigue.
Vitamin A is produced synthetically. Natural compounds can be used e.g. those found in Carotene. Retinol palmitate is absorbed by the skin. It is used in skin care products for dry, aging, lifeless skin, also in the treatment of acne, eczema and psoriasis. Vitamin A increases blood flow, stimulates the skin and protects against sunburn. Vitamin A is also used in anti-wrinkle creams as it is supposed to heal damaged connective-tissue, which helps to smooth the appearance of wrinkles and scarring.
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INCI name: Ascorbyl Phosphate
Vitamin C is essential for the formation of collagen. Collagen is a protein and the main ingredient in the fibres which make up our connective tissue, which partly makes up the outer layer of our skin. The collagen fibres, together with elastin fibres and normal levels of moisture, give the skin its pliability and tone. Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant to add to water-based products and works alongside and in synergy with the oil-based antioxidants such as vitamins A and E.
In addition, the skin is the first line of defence against many environmental assaults. It is here that Vitamin C also serves as an antioxidant by scavenging free radicals. These are highly reactive chemical species that are generated in cells and tissues by sunlight, tobacco smoke and also many seemingly normal metabolic processes that involve oxygen from the atmosphere. These scavenging reactions deplete the level of Vitamin C in the skin and so it makes sense to apply it topically to those areas where it can boost needed antioxidant protection.
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Vitamins for hair
There are certain vitamins which can be used in hair care products. Vitamins are most effective in hair packs which are allowed to stay in and work on the hair for an extended length of time. This gives them the chance to attach themselves to the strands of hair and work on them effectively. There is not much point in using vitamins in body soaps as these are washed off long before they get a chance to have any effect. D-Panthenol (pro-vitamin B5) is the vitamin which is most used to nourish the hair.
INCI name: Panthenol
This ingredient is currently fashionable under the name pantothenic acid or pro-vitamin B5. D-Panthenol binds water in the outer layer of the skin. It penetrates into the skin and into the top layer of the nails. It also penetrates into the hair follicles and strands of hair, creating a protective film and making the hair soft and pliable. Different experiments with D-Panthenol have shown that it:
- Promotes cellular growth, which speeds healing in the case of burns, acne, sores etc
- Soothes itchiness and infections of e.g. the scalp
- Is anti-bacterial
- Increases pigment production and reduces the damaging effects of sunlight.
D-Panthenol can be used in skin and hair care products in doses of 3-6% of the 75% solution D-Panthenol. It is good for dry, thin and sensitive hair.
Vitamin-rich Anti-Wrinkle Oil Blend Recipes
These recipes below make 100ml and are suitable for all skin types, except oily or combination skin.
Simple Face Nourishing Oil for all skin types (except oily and combination)
- 30ml Apricot Kernel Oil
- 25ml Kiwi Seed Oil
- 20ml Evening Primrose Oil
- 13ml Macadamia Nut Oil
- 10ml/g Vitamin E Oil
- 1ml/g Vitamin A Palmitate
- 5 drops Rosemary CO2 Extract
- 12 drops Essential Oils
Simple Intensive Care Face Serum for all skin types (except oily and combination)
- 45ml Kiwi Seed Oil
- 27ml Evening Primrose Oil
- 25ml/g Vitamin E Oil
- 2ml/g Vitamin A Palmitate
- 12 drops Rosemary CO2 Extract
- 12 drops Essential Oils
For more oil blend and serum recipes, see my book, The Aromantic Guide to Unlocking the Powerful Health & Rejuvenation Benefits of Vegetable Oils.
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