Natural Oils are often derived from organic sources, like plants (sunflower oil and palm oil) but in the past they were also derived from animals, for example shark squalene and whale oil.
Natural oils from plants are produced by a series of refining and extraction procedures. The refining and extraction procedures differ slightly depending on the type of fruit going into the extraction process.
The general process for extracting the oil would involve the plant/fruit going through a pre-treatment involving humidifying, heating and rolling the fruit. The rolling is done to make the oil more accessible for later processing techniques; the heating is done to make the oils more fluid. After the pre-treatments the plants are then pressed using a filter press or a screw press and the oil is run off.
Can they be used in the cosmetic industry?
Pure natural oils are not often used in the cosmetic industry; it is more their natural derivatives and refined oils that are used. The reason natural oils are not used is due to the high amounts of colour and odour still attached to the oil and more importantly natural oils have a higher rate of oxidative and hydrolytic rancidity.
The chemical structure of natural oils, is one composed of triglycerides and fatty acids, and the length of the fatty acid carbon chains indicates the melting point of the oil.
Oil is liquid at room temperature due to its having a shorter carbon chain which gives them a lower melting point. Oils also have an irregular structure, with a looser packing and weaker forces between molecules.
The chemical structure of oils is significant as it can give us an indication on how quickly or likely natural oil can go rancid. If oil contains oleic acid it is more likely to go rancid because of the double bonds it contains and thus it is not used in cosmetic products.
Refined natural oils are known for their emollient properties and their anti-inflammatory effects on the skin which is why refined natural oils and their derivatives are added to the formula.
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