Asking Dr. Villafranco About Face Serums That Work

Elevating the simplicity of oils are a slew of few docs getting into the huile game. Specifically, to face serums. Why would the big brands bother? I had the fortuitous chance to chat with charming Dr. Sarah Villafranco, who took an enormous leap of faith and left a burgeoning career as an ER doc to start up Osmia Organics after experimenting around with natural soap-making. The brand offers a selection of exquisite oil formulas  - which are both efficient and intelligent – and dedicated to the aromatherapeutic and sometimes rapturous effects of smell.

Very few beauty folks have an interest in the science behind the skin-transforming oils and elegant essences. But, I…like Dr. Villafranco…share a mutual fascination with the effortless benefits of using an oil in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and qualitative. Here’s what the good doc had to say about face oils:

As a physician, why do you see more brands launching oils today & moving more towards holistic skincare?

Dr. Villafranco: People, more than ever, are educating themselves instead of just doing what others (including their doctors) tell them to do.   If you do your homework well and thoroughly (and sort through all the hype and extremist points of view), you will make an informed, and hopefully less toxic, decision for yourself.  Companies are seeing this trend, and responding by making a more honest effort to use healthy ingredients, like beautiful oils, in their products.

Why are face oils here to stay? Yes, I’m assuming they are and will.

Dr. Villafranco: Because they work!  There are fewer ingredients, and without a water phase, less need for preservation.  They are a lovely way to soften the skin and deliver antioxidant, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory ingredients to the skin. They go on smoothly, gently, and have an aromatherapeutic boost as well.

What’s your take on brands using mineral oil in cosmetics? Science shows it’s not toxic, but greenwashing argues it is; but we’ve all been using baby oil since the start of the century. Should a consumer watch out for this?

Dr. Villafranco: Oh, there are so many opinions on this issue.  I just have trouble with the idea of applying a barrier to my skin (think saran wrap), which is, by definition, an exchange organ.  It is more comedogenic (acne causing) than many plant oils.  And, it is a petroleum product.  As a society, it would certainly make sense to diminish our use of petroleum products, and it will take a LOT of us making these small changes to make a difference.

I so agree! From a scientific point of view, what are the benefits of adding a face oil to our skincare regimes?

Dr. Villafranco: A lotion is made up of oil and water held together by an emulsifier.  But, any product with a water component, especially if it is a jar into which fingers dip, must be preserved - usually with a paraben.  Almost all of the large companies use paraben-based preservatives - they work well to keep bacteria and mold from growing in the product.  However, they may also be responsible for large-scale hormone and endocrine shifts in the population.  Using a pure oil eliminates the water phase, need for preservatives, and concentrates the formula making its active ingredients more effective.

Any tips on getting the most out of a face oil?

Dr. Villafranco: Yes!
  • Apply a face oil to damp (even wet), clean skin. Never put it on dry skin - it will just make you look oily!
  • A few superpowers to look for are Sea Buckthorn, Pomegranate, Rosehip seed, and Evening primrose oils.   
  • Anytime you apply your face oil, continue down and treat your neck and upper chest, as well. 
  • Avoid face oils with citrus essential oils in them - they can cause photosensitivity, which can result in an awful rash.  This is one thing you don't want to find out the hard way. 
  • Depending on the level of purity you are trying to obtain, you may want to stay away from oils with absolutes as well - they are solvent-extracted, and could potentially contain a small amount of hexane.
What would or do you say to the woman who still fears the face oil and thinks she’ll break out from using one?

Dr. Villafranco: Here's what I would say: You're right, you might get a zit!  But, then your skin will adjust - that's its job!  And if breakouts continue, you are either using too much product, applying it to dry skin, or using an oil formulation that is too rich for you.  Now, there are a few skin conditions out there that really don't do well with straight oils, such as eczema/psoriasis and perioral dermatitis.  But, most skin will do really well with the right face oil, which will give you a youthful, delicious glow!

Try these picks

Facial Calibration Serum ($50); fantastic for oily skins, this Kukui & Acai based serum also features lush Rosehip and Schisandra Fruit that maximize water replenishment while enhancing skin's natural ability to retain moisture. For centuries, Schisandra has been considered in Asia as a highly effective healing plant; its precious extract penetrates skin easily to soothe stressed, sensitive and hyperactive skin from the inside out. The clean-scented, ultralight oil has a delicate herbal touch, which echoes faintly of Rosemary and Osmia’s proprietary essential blend, which are undoubtedly from the pure, good stuff.  If a dry oil could be made for the face, this is it. No slick left behind.

Stream Body Oil ($75); in similar vein, this sharply fresh and green treatment brings the same Kukui to Borage, Hemp and Evening Primrose in a denser formula. The Cannabis plant is a natural source of amino acids, and even contains a good amount of Vitamin E. It's also a natural antioxidant, so right off the bat, it's good for your skin. It's also got a quality not many plants can boast: it's oil doesn't stick to your skin. Osmia’s elixir opens with an arresting almost tangy blast of Juniper Berry that is sweetened by Geranium. The scent doesn’t turn woody but rather embraces skin with a soft finish.

Dr. Villafranco also reminds us that heavier body oils are for the...body always, not the face. Ever. Use immediately after showering or a bath while skin is slightly damp for the best penetration.

Detox Exfoliating Mask ($50); nothing works better than prepping skin with a deep cleansing mask before your face serum. With anti-inflammatory and calming properties, this uses three kinds of clay to clean out the pores and activated Bamboo charcoal to draw out deep-dwelling pore-cloggers from the daily smut - environmental toxins, dirt, and debris. A couple tablespoons of water added to a heap of this powder in the darling little ceramic bowl (yes, spatula included) and you’ve got a non-drying treatment that leaves you with bright, smooth and well-hydrated complexion after it tightens and dries up. Absolutely my new fun fave alternative to the rich, gooey ones as you scrub gently while rinsing and let the finely milled walnut shells deflake your skin. And, you know if a doc has made this, it’s good for sensitive skins, too.

Luster ($15); probably the most perfect gloss you can find that’ll suit your natural lip colour. Made from the highly emollient Castor oil, the second skin natural colour is from wild harvested Alkanet and Beet Root added to Beeswax for a non-tacky but lip hugging formula. This faint Geranium scented, semi-dense lip rouge tints each person uniquely, depending on her natural lip coloring and body chemistry. I can’t get enough of the dewy wash of colour left on lips!

There is little question that Dr. Villafranco has a deep respect for nature as seen in her products. The delightfully nouveau-style products are remarkably consistent in their quality and beautifully proportioned essences. But, what I truly appreciate is how physicians being a new class of specialists to serious skincare.

I can’t wait to try Flower Body oil soon enough as you know of my penchant for all things floral. After all, when a doc says an oil matters to skin…I really ought to slather, sniff, and opine sooner than later, yes?