Liz Cardwell is the owner and sole employee of the Granola Goat, an indie skincare line created with whole plant ingredients. The Granola Goat is registered with Leaping Bunny and PETA as cruelty free and all products are vegan. Also, Liz donates at least 5% of monthly gross sales to organizations that promote animal rights and to organizations such as the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center—which I think is pretty extraordinary.
I started to explore The Granola Goat products at the start of 2017 and I haven’t looked back. In that time, Liz and I have become close friends and I often chat with her about all things facial oils. I asked if she would be willing to do a guest blog post to share some of her amazing wisdom with you all and she kindly agreed!
**NOTE: This post is not sponsored. I genuinely adore Liz and her products and I learn so much from her, so I wanted to share some of her knowledge with you all!**
This post will cover the following:
- Background on why Liz fell in love with facial oils
- Important things to consider when choosing and oil
- Rules of thumb on fatty acid profiles and choosing the right oil
- Types of prices to expect (Note that while prices in the retail market may vary drastically, anything too high or too low should both be red flags)
First, here is a little background on Liz’s journey with facial oils:
“Oils saved my skin. In a for real, for real way. I was never into skincare in my 20’s, when I really should have been laying the foundation for healthy aging. This was in the 90’s and no matter what I tried, my face burned or broke out. At that time there wasn’t a lot of availability in the way of ‘natural’ products, or even a lot of awareness about preservatives or fragrances and what they can do to sensitive skin. For Pete’s sake, we didn’t even know how to face mask properly! So I went without.
In my 30’s I started really feeling the need to take better care of my skin. By then we had more options and great information at our fingertips. This is when I discovered the benefits of using oils over the water-based moisturizers my skin had never been able to handle. I found the culprit behind my previous failed trials to be the preservatives required when water is involved as well as the synthetic fragrances used.”
What do you love about facial oils?
“Aside from being a great source of fatty acids and anti-oxidants, face oils can also balance oil production and can cleanse skin without disturbing the acid mantle, making it harder for bacteria to get into your pores and cause break outs. The molecule size of face oils also makes them wonderful vessels for transporting other things into the skin, making them perfect for adding to face masks or other treatments.
My first oil was raspberry, and it’s still my favorite. Over a decade later and I’ve not found any other oil that my skin responds better to than raspberry. As a life long “why?” asker, I had to know what makes raspberry oil so great. I started researching the properties of oils, which led me to question the manufacturing and the sourcing. I began to realize how incredible important these parts of the equation are to the oil’s effects on skin.”
Stability: Why does stability matter?
- “When an oil goes rancid, it becomes full of free radicals, which are exactly the opposite of what you want on your face.
- The best way to tell if an oil has gone rancid is by the smell—if it all of a sudden smells awful or has drastically changed colors, that is a good clue.
- Google Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and you’ll get some very conflicting advice. Many people claim polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs/omega-6 and omega-3) oxidize too quickly and warn that you are spreading free radicals all over your face by using them. Although these oils are less stable than monounsaturated fats (MUFAs/omega-7 and omega-9), there may be some confusion between oils used for skin and oils used for cooking. Heating oils high in linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega-3) is not equivalent to applying these cold pressed oils to your skin. Oils high in oleic acid (omega-9) are much more stable, but that doesn’t mean that PUFAs are unstable.MUFAs are also more occlusive, so while they may be good for very dry skin, ironically they may also be damaging to the acid mantle. Good advice would be to tread lightly into high oleic oils and take advantage of their benefits by blending them with other oils. Using them undiluted might upset your skin (not always the case, but something to be aware of).”
- Why would a company use a refined oil? “The allure of refined oils for the producer is the clarity. The natural scent is also removed, and this gives more of a ‘blank slate’ for building the look and aroma you want in your product. I was shocked to find out that blueberry oil actually smells like blueberries in its unrefined form.”
- What happens when an oil is unrefined?“Just as processed foods are not the most nutritious choice for our bodies, I don’t believe overly processed oils are the best choice for our skin. While the fatty acid content is typically unchanged by refining, it does remove vitamins and minerals. I had used refined blueberry oil and was not overly impressed in its effects on my face, but the unrefined was heavenly!
I also discovered fresh is key – even after only a few months, the scent begins to fade. Which leads us to choosing and sourcing your oils.”
Sourcing: What should we know about sourcing?
- “There are several easily accessible and trusted oil suppliers if you plan to purchase single oils for use. I think this is a great idea to find which oils you really love. Then, if you prefer more complex blends, you can seek them out in formulations from skincare companies. It’s typically a low investment strategy that can really pay off. Go with reputable companies such as Mountain Rose Herbs, Aura Cacia, NOW Foods, or any other company that offers transparency of processing and sourcing.
Please avoid third party retailers where adulteration has been a problem.”
Choosing Your Oil: How should people choose an oil for their skin?
- “Deciding which oil(s) to incorporate into your routine can be daunting, but just start somewhere. I believe strongly in the power of intuition. Is there an oil you keep seeing or hearing about? It may be the one you need to try first. Fatty acid profiles are important, fortunately you have an impressive source of information right here.”
Oil Pricing: Any tips for how to evaluate the price tag of a certain oil?
- “I think a good rule is to look at the average price of an oil from different suppliers. Buying a blend makes this harder, because you don’t typically know what percentage of each oil is used. However, when you’re buying a single oil and it’s much cheaper than the average, I would be suspect of the quality. Likewise, if it’s considerably more expensive than average, it’s unlikely to have a reason pertaining to quality. Higher price tags could simply be carrying the cost of better marketing and design work.
Typical Pricing (not wholesale pricing) and Description of Specialty Oils:
- “Below is a list of what I would consider a Goldilocks zone of pricing for less common carrier oils. These are for individual oils, not a formulated blend. Carrier oils are literally the carrier for the essential oils or extracts you may or may not wish to add. Used without additives, they still provide essential fatty acids, plus vitamins and minerals (especially in their unrefined state).
More common and easier to source oils include: apricot, avocado, grapeseed, and sesame. These are budget friendly as well, although typically they are refined.”
Hemp – $3/oz organic from Canada – Packed with essential fatty and amino acids, hemp is a superstar for all skin types with one caveat. Hemp seed oil is not stable and should be used within six months of opening.
Pumpkin – $3/oz certified organic from the US – A good choice for oily skin, the zinc and vitamin c in pumpkin seed oil can also help firm and tighten.
Marula – $6/oz wildcrafted/fairly traded from Africa – An oil high in oleic acid, but with a very small molecular size. This allows it to penetrate deeper than other oils. If used with essential oils, it will bond with them and transport them into the skin.
Baobab – $6/oz wildcrafted/fairly traded from Africa – High in oleic acid, but an excellent rejuvenator for damaged skin.
Watermelon – $7/oz wildcrafted/fairly traded from Africa – High in linoleic acid and exceptionally skin friendly for all concerns. Use alone or as a host to transport your essential oils. This oil is silky and light.
Red Raspberry – $7/oz conventional (most common) $20/oz certified organic from the US – Highly anti-inflammatory and loaded with antioxidants, this oil is an excellent choice for damaged, sensitive skin, but is beneficial to all.
Argan – $8/oz wildcrafted/fairly traded from Morocco – Although high in oleic acid, this oil has a 0 comedogenic rating that gives it a wide range of fans.
Moringa – $13/oz wildcrafted/fairly traded from Africa – Rich in vitamins, incredibly high in oleic acid and incredibly stable.
Tamanu – $14/oz wildcrafted/fairly traded from the South Pacific – A unique oil with amazing healing abilities. Especially useful for problem or oily skin, but also frequently recommended for mature skin.
Prickly Pear – $85/oz wildcrafted/fairly traded from Morocco – Great for smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, this is another oil high in linoleic acid. Linoleic acid may help lighten hyper pigmentation as well.
Sea Buckthorn Berry – $23/oz certified organic from Tibet – Especially useful in healing burns and wounds, this bright orange oil regenerative and full of vitamins and minerals. Staining can occur if applied undiluted.
Liz’s Take Home Tips:
- Unrefined oils retain more of the plant’s vitamin and mineral content. Cold pressed, organic, sustainable, and fairly traded are other things to look for. Always ask if you’re not sure how an oil was manufactured.
- Expensive doesn’t equate to magical. Some oils are simply labor intensive to produce. They may be fabulous (I’m looking at you, prickly pear seed oil), but they are not so unique that they have special abilities. Remember, prickly pear seed oil contains betalains, but so do beets – at a fraction of the price.
- Most oils generally have a long shelf life (1-2 years), but oxidation happens more quickly with a bottle being opened and closed. Look for pumps rather than droppers so that less oxygen is flowing over your oils. Also make sure you store oils in amber or Miron glass and preferably in a cool place that doesn’t have extreme temperature fluctuations. Refrigeration can also help.
- Oils high in linoleic acid are usually a safe bet for all skin types, although oils high in oleic acid offer longer shelf lives and are good for very dry skin. If you love an oil that is high in oleic acid, it is best to use it in a blend with other oils.
- Sourcing is of paramount importance. Always go with trusted suppliers and do not be afraid to ask questions.
For more information on using facial oils, please see Liz’s blog post here.
Liz sells some awesome facial oils that you should definitely check out. Below Liz breaks down the different oils and what skin type they would be best suited for. what I personally love to do with Liz’s oils is to mix two different oils to make a custom oil that addresses my skin’s concerns for that day. One in a Melon is AMAZING for that and is one of my favorite oils by Liz.
Red Raspberry Carrier oil options (Red Raspberry is exceptionally high in vitamin E and A and helps to reduce sun damage and scavenge free radicals)
FOR SUN-DAMAGED, SCARRED SKIN
24 Carrot – $31
Ingredients: Rubus Idaeus (Red Raspberry) Seed Oil*, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Berry Oil*, Boswellia Carterii (Frankincense)**, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender)**, and Daucus Carota (Carrot)** Essential Oils.
- Liz’s summary:
- Not to be confused with cold pressed carrot seed oil (a green, slightly citrusy scented carrier oil), the carrot seed essential oil used here, partnered with the red raspberry seed oil is specifically meant to help reduce the appearance of and stop the creation of sun damage. Sea buckthorn berry oil is used to heal skin, especially useful for burns, and recommended for cancer patients with radiation burns. Lavender and frankincense essential oils are helpful in reducing the appearance of scarring.
FOR DULL, TIRED SKIN
Brighter Days – $33
Ingredients: Rubus Idaeus (Red Raspberry) Seed Oil*, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Berry Oil*, Santalum Paniculatum (Sandalwood)** and Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli)** Essential Oils
- Liz’s summary:
- My signature blend of red raspberry seed oil with sea buckthorn berry oil is used here to bring life to dull, tired skin. The carrier oils alone give a beautiful glow to skin, and the addition of sandalwood and neroli have a rejuvenating effect on skin at a cellular level.
Ingredients: Rubus Idaeus (Red Raspberry) Seed Oil*, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Berry Oil*, Boswellia Carterii (Frankincense)**, Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh)**, Santalum Paniculatum (Hawaiian Sandalwood)**, Helichrysum Italicum (Helichrysum)**, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender)**, Essential Oils.
- Liz’s summary:
- Created as a good choice for any skin type, this blend of essential oils hit all the marks for a variety of skin complaints. Mature skin will love the helichrysum (immortelle), scarred skin will love the frankincense and myrrh, problem skin will benefit from the astringent and antibacterial sandalwood, while all skin types benefit from lavender.
FOR MATURE SKIN
Simply perfect – $33
Ingredients: Rubus Idaeus (Red Raspberry) Seed Oil*, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Seed Oil**, Rosa Damascena Bulgarian (Rose) Otto*, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli)**, Boswellia Carterii (Frankincense)** Essential Oils.
- Liz’s summary:
- Breaking routine, this serum pairs red raspberry with watermelon seed oil. This blend is light and blends quickly and effortlessly. Formulated as a reparative serum for mature skin, the rose otto (not a solvent extracted absolute) is an exceptional ally for all skin and even for mental and emotional well-being. Neroli and frankincense join in here to provide additional rejuvenation.
Tamanu Carrier oil options (Tamanu is an excellent option for problem, acne-prone skin. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and analgesic)
FOR OILY, PROBLEM SKIN
Not a Problem – $28
Ingredients: Calophyllum Inophyllum (Tamanu) Seed Oil*, Cupressus Sempervirens (Cypress)**, Cymbopogon Flexuosus (Lemongrass)**, Juniperus Communis (Juniper Berry)** Essential Oils.
- Liz’s summary:
- Excellent choice for problem skin but can be very drying. If it is too drying for your skin, use as needed or to add to other oils or treatments (I love mixing 1 pump Not a Problem with 1 pump Simply Perfect). Makes a wonderful addition to a face mask. The blend of cypress, lemongrass, and juniper berry essential oils were picked to combat the oiliness which often accompanies problem skin.
Watermelon seed oil carrier options (Watermelon seed oil is great for oily skin due to its high linoleic acid content, it is an anti-inflammatory, high in anti-oxidants, and is gentle and great for acne-prone skin)
FOR ACNE-PRONE SKIN
One in a melon – $24
Ingredients: Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Seed Oil**, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Berry Oil*, Santalum Paniculatum (Sandalwood)** and Leptospermum Scoparium (Manuka)** Essential Oils
- Liz’s summary:
- Soothing watermelon seed oil and healing sea buckthorn berry oil combine with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory sandalwood and manuka essential oils to create a non-drying blend for problem skin.
FOR INFLAMMED/RED SKIN
Starry Night – $24
Ingredients: Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Seed Oil*, Tanacetum Annuum (Blue Tansy)**, and Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium)** Essential Oils
- Liz’s summary:
- Watermelon seed oil is blended with blue tansy essential oil for its amazing ability to calm redness (and your mind). Geranium essential oil, possibly the most underrated essential oil, is wonderful for toning and tightening skin due to its astringent qualities.