You might wonder what Pliny the Elder, Cleopatra, Miranda Kerr, Megan Fox, Gwyneth Paltrow and two sisters from Cornwall have in common? The answer is that they are all keen advocates in using skincare oils. Meet Sarah and Emma, the owners of Siskyn Skincare Oils….
I’d come across Siskyn skincare oils on social media and was delighted to meet Sarah and Emma in Truro last month, on a business course. We quickly got chatting about all things dermatological (as you do) and they kindly let me trial a few of their products so I could let you know how I got on.
I’ve now been using their products, pretty much exclusively, for the last 3 weeks and I can honestly say that my skin feels smoother and softer than it has for a while. But before I start to rave about their products, I wanted to understand something about oils on the skin, as it sounds – well, a bit counter-intuitive.
Oils have been used for centuries
Skincare oils have been used throughout history and across cultures. Pliny loved almond oil for cleansing, Cleopatra used rose, frankincense and myrrh and ancient Ayuvedic practices recommend oils for both mind and body. In fact, I learnt that the Sanskrit word for oil (sneha) also means love. As with most things, science is catching up with ancient practices and revealing the reason these oils are both effective and beneficial.
Getting rid of Panda eyes
First up was the BIG test – could the Camellia & Safflower Hot Cloth Cleansing Oil remove my mascara? My heavy-duty-waterproof-mascara which has seen me through a wedding, several family occasions and a good few weepy films, with nary a Panda eye in sight. For me this was huge – and a claim that the sisters make on the packaging. …..and it did. Easily. With just a few gentle swipes of a warm cloth my mascara was gone. The cleanser isn’t fragranced which means that its fine for use around the eyes. At first, if I’m honest I missed the fact that it wasn’t perfumed, but the Day and Night skincare oils more than made up for it – and after a while, I’d forgotten all about it and just enjoyed the feeling of swooshing my make-up off.
The Day (Rose & Neroli) and Night (Frankincense and Jasmine) are the most delightful oils to use after the cleanser. They feel silky and luxuriant, smell divine and really make you want to just keep massaging your face. They are light and completely non-greasy and have left my skin feeling silky smooth.
Finally, the Rosehip & Tamanu Scars & Stretchmark Body Oil promises to help with stretch marks and fade skin discolouration. Once again this is non-perfumed meaning that you can use it on your face, and it comes with its own pump dispenser. I’ve had a couple of really stubborn dry patches which have markedly improved since using – and its a cracking product for shaving your legs. I feel like those women in the old advert that use to drop a stocking onto a smooth leg and watch it glide off.
The science bit
You might remember from Biology classes at school, that the skin is our largest organ and one of its functions is to act as a barrier and protect other organs. The very top layer of the skin looks a little bit like a wall made up of bricks and mortar. The ‘mortar’ consists of layers of lipids (made up of fatty acids) and it helps keep the skin moisturised and supple. Strip away too much, and the delicate balance of the barrier layer can be damaged and, ironically the skin over-produces sebum which can make it greasy. So maintaining a good and effective skin barrier is vital. Also of importance is the eco-system of microbiomes that live quiet happily on the surface of your skin. These little chaps are vital to our health and effectively warn our immune systems when bigger pathogens loom on the horizon.
Using oils, which contain fatty acids, therefore, maintains this essential barrier in a gentle way, our faces were never meant to be scrubbed clean (another good reason to abandon micro-beads forever!).
Are you still with me……?
For more on this, scroll down to the bottom, where I get a bit nerdy and provide a few references for further reading.
So back to the plot:
Siskyn was born 5 months ago, although the sisters have been making oils for themselves and their friends for years. Sarah and Emma both suffered with various skin complaints which lead them on a journey to produce luxury, clean, vegan products. They mix the 100% botanical oils themselves and each product is free of nasties. For more information, check out their website here.
They’ve impressed Birchbox, one of the largest monthly beauty boxes and they’ve also made their way across the pond in another box scheme, Nourish. Sarah told me that it can be nerve-wracking watching Vloggers opening their boxes on You-Tube, but so far they’ve received nothing but high praise.
The accolades keep coming in for these entrepreneurial sisters, and I can see why. They’ve got something, which is both ancient and very, very current. You go girls!
Currently not stocked in Truro – but we reckon that will change soon…….
The nerdy bit:
As my Grandma used to say ‘You need to eat a peck of dirt before you die‘. She was absolutely right, research is showing that there’s more to our gut and our skin that previously thought. 20 years ago when I worked in Gastro-enterology; I was an international symposium where one of the papers suggested that people in the West maybe more likely to succumb to complex diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis) if you had an inside toilet. Meaning; we can sometimes be a little too clean in the West. We’ve become preoccupied with cleanliness to the point of obsession using antiseptic wipes and anti-bacterial soaps, perhaps a little too regularly.
Research is showing that Grandma was right. Good old soap (or perhaps oil) and water do the trick and allow our immune systems to meet and respond appropriately to bacteria, rather than developing an over-blown immune response which may then trigger an auto-immune condition.
It’s become a bit trendy to eat kimchi, sauerkraut and live yoghurt to help keep the colonies of bacteria happy in our gut. Perhaps the next big thing will be paying our respects to the little chaps on the surface of our skin who are doing a tremendous job keeping the bad guys out. Let’s give them a helping hand shall we?
- The Skin MicroBiome; Grice, Elizabeth Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Apr; 9(4): 244–253 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3535073/
- Lipids and skin barrier function–a clinical perspective. Jungersted JM1, Hellgren LI, Jemec GB, Agner T. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Apr; 9(4): 244–253.