Vegetable oils vs. Esterified oils: Which are better for the skin?

As you know, all of Pai’s lovely certified organic creams are made from only the purest plant extracts and absolutely no chemical nasties or irritants.

But, that’s not the only reason we’re so proud of them.

Pai is also one of the few skincare companies, mainstream or organic, to not use Esterified oils.

Instead, we work with natural Vegetable oils with real skin benefits, and here’s why.

What are Vegetable oils and why are they used?

Vegetable oils are naturally occurring oils which are made up of Triglycerides, as well as skin-loving vitamins and regenerative sterols.

These Triglycerides have the same structure as the lipids in skin cell membranes, and so Vegetable oils have an incredible affinity with the skin.

This affinity allows the skin to easily absorb the oil’s skin-nourishing, conditioning and protecting components.

It might help to think of Vegetable oils as full-fat milk and Esterified oils as skimmed milk – Vegetable oils are rich, unprocessed and retain all of their natural goodness, right through to the end product.

What are Esterified oils and why are they used?

Unlike natural Vegetable oils, Esterified oils are produced from two successive chemical processes:

1. Saponification – using an alkaline component on a Vegetable oil to separate the fatty acids from the glycerol.

2. Esterification – using an acid environment and the previously obtained fatty acids to create a synthetic Triglyceride, or Ester.

While Esterified oils can be derived from a combination of natural raw materials, they are always a result of these chemical reactions.

Having been processed, these Esterified oils have very different properties to natural Vegetable oils.

They are colourless, odourless and cheaper than Vegetable oils, making them an attractive option to the majority of manufacturers.

They are also relatively ‘dry’ oils, which feel lighter on the skin and absorb quickly.

Though they are practical, Esterified oils have very few skin benefits.

The new synthetic Triglyceride structure is stripped of its natural antioxidant, nourishing and regenerative properties, making Esterified oils comparatively inert.

How can I tell the difference between Vegetable and Esterified oils on an Ingredients list?

The naming structure for Vegetable oils is:

‘Name of plant in Latin + oil’, eg. ‘Helianthus Annuus Oil’ is Sunflower Oil.

Unsurprisingly, Esterified oils have more synthetic, “chemical” sounding names, and are commonly listed as:
‘-yl -ate’, eg. ‘Octyl Palmitate’.

So get scouring those lists, and maximise your skincare by opting for products that only contain natural Vegetable oils.

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