Is My Beauty Oil...Rancid?

You’ve finally broke out of your romantic slump and landed a date with the newly moved-in hottie from downstairs. You jump out of the shower to grab your $80 special-occasion-only body oil, only to find the once sweet, sexy, can’t-take-your-hands-off-me scent is...not. Hmmm, is it nuttier than I remember? Maybe it's those undernotes or something coming up for air? Rather than waste time debating whether or not you can make it work for the evening, take a deep breath, throw it out and vow to become a more informed huile-ista.

Oils, like any other natural ingredient, can only maintain their freshness for so long before going bad. The bitter, musty smell of rancid oil is unmistakable—if you’ve never had the opportunity to experience it, well done—you’re taking care of your skin and using up products regularly!

For those of us with an undeniable obsession to horde GWP freebie creams and/or pricey body products for special nights, here’s why we shouldn’t:

Oxidation...
Oxidation is simply the chemical reaction that happens between an oil molecule and oxygen. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Wrong.

[Quick pre-cursor]
When we’re born, our delicate, damage-free baby skin comes into contact with free radicals found in the air and begins the oxidation process in our skin. And by “oxidation process” we mean...aging. Yep! It starts from the second we come into existence. (On a side note—antioxidants, which we hear ever so much about, fight free radicals and actually help slow down the aging process.)

[Back to oil speak]
Those same pesky free radicals that give us wrinkles attack the oils in our precious creams and body products, and it’s when they take over that oils become rancid & malodorous. Here’s the kicker: Oxidation causes a complete and permanent change in the base oil molecules. Basically—once completely oxidized, the moisturizing & skin-saving qualities for which you paid top dollar are now ineffective.< Good news!
Some oils resist oxidation better than others. Coconut, for example, is one of the most stable oils on the market. It rarely turns rancid and delivers its skin-softening benefits even after you’ve left it sitting on the shelf for months. (P.S.—it’s also a natural antioxidant!) Other fruit & nut oils vary in stability, and some oils (read: Vitamin E) are even used as a natural preservative for their less-resistant counterparts.

The low-down? Many products come with an expiration or ‘best by’ date. Listen to them. If you’re wondering whether or not you can still use that soothing lavender oil that came in the gift basket from Aunt Phyllis 3 years ago - don’t. Toss it out and treat yourself to a new, fresh, un-oxidized bottle that will nourish your skin while turning heads as your intoxicating scent floats by.

We asked the always insightful founder of Infiore, Julie Elliott, what you can do to prevent current faves from turning murky:

"If oils are not stored properly in a cool place away from direct sunlight and heat they will turn rancid pretty quickly. Heat is the biggest enemy since it changes the molecular structure and viscosity of the oil. Pure natural oils should be treated like food - buy fresh, store properly, and use them in a timely manner so that you benefit from their highest potency, vitality, and healing properties.

Store those precious huile bottles in hidden dark corners or drawers, but never in the bathroom. Or, select oils that have been carefully packaged into dark bottles, which guard against the oil from becoming...impotent.