Vegetable oils are natural ingredients of choice for cosmetic formulations.
Their varied composition makes them a multifunctional source of ingredients with many potential applications:
- Vegetable oils are mainly composed of triglycerides. Saturated or unsaturated fatty acids (omega 3, 6 and 9) are responsible for the texture of the oil, its resistance to oxidation and its main activities (skin protection, hydration, elasticity, healing aid, etc.). The balance of omega 3 and 6 (1/4 – 3/4) in hemp oil for example, means that it is nourishing and gives it decongesting and repairing properties.
- Unsaponifiable matter, such as sterols, tocopherols (vitamin E), fatty alcohols, paraffins or squalene, are found in oil in smaller quantities (with exception of avocado oil, wheat germ oil or baobab oil) but have highly desirable biological properties for cosmetic use. For example, the vitamin E in plum oil has antioxidant properties.
The specific composition of an oil depends on its plant origin, which is why it is a preferred source for formulators as a multifunctional ingredient for the development of natural cosmetics. The manufacturing process of a vegetable oil is also decisive in preserving its composition and quality.
Cosmetic vegetable oils: refined or organic?
Vegetable oils can be obtained by different processes. Depending on the extraction and refining methods used, the initial quality of the fruit or seed will be more or less preserved, and the name of the product obtained will vary.
Refined oils, obtained by chemical extraction
Refined oils are obtained by chemical extraction and then undergo total chemical refining in several stages.
Initially, the use of non-polar organic solvents makes it possible to obtain the crude oil. A chemical extraction is then carried out. The solvent generally used is hexane, obtained from distilling petroleum or natural gas. Using a product from petrochemicals raises issues of green chemistry and how to integrate the process into a responsible and sustainable approach.
Secondly, the crude oil obtained has to undergo various refining stages, to eliminate various undesirable compounds from the finished product.
- The oil undergoes a treatment with hot water (degumming) and generally the addition of phosphoric acid to remove phospholipids.
- Chemical neutralisation is then carried out with soda, to eliminate various free fatty acids, metals, certain pigments, contaminants, oxidation products, etc.
- Then come various washing and drying processes designed to destroy the auxiliary compounds of manufacture such as acids, bases and water.
- The oil is then decolourised by passing it through bleaching earths, and filtered.
- Finally, it is deodorised by injecting steam under vacuum and at high temperature to eliminate all volatile compounds.
Refined oil is thereby obtained. This method is often used because it offers a higher yield than other extraction processes and allows the removal of many unwanted compounds if the raw ingredient is potentially contaminated. A more standardised but also more stable oil is obtained. The oils can also be hydrogenated to obtain thicker texture for instance, closer to butters.
Organic vegetable oils obtained by mechanical extraction
Organic vegetable oils can be obtained by industrial hot or cold mechanical extraction (or first cold pressing). They do not involve any solvent treatment, and refining can only be done very partially.
Industrial hot mechanical extraction: the cleaned, shelled and crushed seeds or fruits are hot pressed to obtain the crude oil. This oil can undergo partial, ‘physical’ refining, comprising fewer steps than conventional refining: degumming, discolouration and deodorisation.
However, heating the raw material destroys some desirable molecules it contains, such as vitamins, sterols, etc.
Mechanical cold extraction, or first cold pressing: the seeds or fruits are pressed to extract the oil, which is not subsequently refined. The first cold pressing method preserves the original plant’s qualities, since only a mechanical process is needed to extract the oil. Following a first cold pressing, generally only deodorisation and possibly discolouration are performed. This method does not allow such high yields as the previous ones, but is part of a sustainable approach. It also obtains a superior product.
At Sophim, we place our trust in suppliers who prioritise respect for their product and extract their oils by first cold pressing. We also try to use local sourcing as much as possible. We have thus referenced three organic virgin oils of French origin.
Our organic vegetable oils of French origin: French suppliers, sustainable and experts
Sophim, a specialist in making natural products, seeks ingredients that come from a responsible and sustainable approach. For the three organic virgin oils below, we have chosen to place our trust in responsible French suppliers with family know-how. These cosmetic vegetable oils are of a superior quality, organic, and produced with respect for nature and our national terroir.
Suppliers of virgin oils at the heart of the French terroir
The suppliers of these three organic cosmetic vegetable oils have made the strategic decision to locate their production in the heart of the French terroir, as close to nature as possible. The plum orchards are located in the south-west of France, close to where our plum oil suppliers operate. The hemp oil processing workshops are located as close as possible to the hemp crops, in the north-west. The raspberry oil processing plant is the only one in France, in the north of the country. The three organic vegetable oils that Sophim offers are Made in France products.
Our suppliers have taken advantage of their regions’ rich resources by carefully selecting raw ingredients near their workshops, supporting local crops to control the quality of plants and fruits, and choosing to establish themselves in France as close to their customers as possible. For organic hemp oil, our suppliers provide the growers with harvesting equipment, enabling them to keep growing plants in their own department of France, without having to relocate or subcontract the cultivation. For organic plum oil, the manufacturers have chosen to use the finest raw ingredient: the Ente plum. It is these plums whose stones are used to extract plum oil. The orchards are located within a radius of under 50 kilometres from our supplier’s operational site. For organic raspberry oil, the seeds are usually processed in Germany. Sophim has selected the only supplier offering oil processing in France, thus ensuring superior product freshness and quality.
The richness of our regions’ terroir, the diversity of the French climate, France’s strong agricultural tradition and the passion of our French organic vegetable oil manufacturers ensure they can rely on local sources which are in turn strengthened by this new business.
Today more than ever, the cosmetics industry and its consumers are demanding sustainability and traceability.
That’s why Sophim chooses to select responsible suppliers who take a sustainable approach at every stage of production of their organic virgin oils.
Responsible cultivation of raw ingredients
Our suppliers’ objective is to contribute to the development and sustainability of local producers while minimising their carbon footprint.
One of our partner suppliers has decided to pool equipment resources: so for organic hemp oil, they provide growers with harvesting equipment. This means a limited number of machines need to be acquired, and helps minimise the carbon footprint of the product from hemp cultivation.
Like Sophim, which uses co-products from the food industry to manufacture its squalane, then recovers its own generated co-products, some of our suppliers are initiating a circular economy approach. This is the case for organic plum oil: the kernels of dried prune stones, produced from Ente plums, were until now destined to be destroyed by farmers. They are now reprocessed by our supplier to extract organic plum oil.
Organic raspberry oil also gives new life to co-products from the food industry, which lets our suppliers extract organic oil from raspberry achenes (seeds).
Traceability and quality of raw ingredients
Sophim wants to offer products that are traceable and whose quality is guaranteed.
Our partners’ proximity to their raw ingredients ensures this transparency: the plum stones, raspberry achenes and hemp crops are all traceable, while all of our partners and their processes are identifiable, from cultivating the plant or fruit up to producing the oil, largely integrated by our suppliers.
This proximity also guarantees the quality of our organic vegetable oils: reduced transport times preserve the quality of the seeds, plant or fruit, which are harvested at the opportune stage of growth and do not suffer the drawbacks of a long journey before processing. Proximity also helps reduce our products’ carbon footprint.
Production in line with organic farming standards, marked by a circular economy
The production of Made in France organic cosmetic vegetable oils is also responsible. Our oil suppliers work in organic farming and do not add any chemicals or additives to their natural oils. What’s more, the principles of circular economy and sustainability are applied when processing the oil.
Our organic plum oil supplier processes the wastewater from washing the fruit. For organic raspberry oil, our supplier recovers the by-products from the production process. The cake resulting from the production is crushed, sieved and debacterised to obtain a natural exfoliant.
Seasoned family and artisan know-how
Our suppliers are experts at producing organic vegetable oils. Like Sophim, they are family businesses on a human scale, some of which have been passed down from generation to generation. Today, driven by the modern vision of the founders and their children, our suppliers and Sophim unite around a common expertise, dear to their respective family histories: producing natural ingredients for cosmetics.
Our suppliers are enthusiasts with decades of training in cultivating and transforming natural ingredients into oils. Passing on know-how and sharing technical knowledge are key elements, so each stage of production can be carried out with respect for the product.
This artisanal, historical expertise, enriched over time by the necessary innovation, is found at different levels of the oil transformation process.
Organic plum oil is obtained via a series of mechanical steps, the legacy of this family know-how. The excess water is first removed naturally to preserve the integrity of the fruit and seeds. The plum oil is then extracted by first cold pressing. After being filtered several times, the oil is stored away from light, to preserve its original properties without adding any preservatives. Organic raspberry oil is also obtained from a mechanical process: the seeds are crushed using a screw press.
The innovation brought by new generations of entrepreneurs is reflected in the integration of the production process over time, guaranteeing our suppliers their autonomy and effective control of product quality.
For organic hemp oil, our suppliers transform the raw ingredients themselves in their workshops, using an artisanal and family approach. To compensate for the lack of technology for hemp, they have developed specific and innovative machines (seed hullers) which are more respectful of the seeds, hulling them without crushing them.
From cultivation to final production, the artisanal processes for producing our organic vegetable oils are the legacy of seasoned family know-how, applied by expert and passionate suppliers with respect for the product.
Benefits for the skin and hair
Natural vegetable oils have historically been used in cosmetics for their many valuable properties. Their composition is a source of multifunctional ingredients with recognised benefits.
Benefits of plum oil (Prunus Domestica Seed Oil)
Throughout history, the plum has featured in the diets of successive civilisations. Already present in the Bronze Age, it was the Romans who gave it prominence by importing it into the Mediterranean basin. In the 13th century, French monks who created the Ente plum by cross-breeding realised by chance that sun-dried plums gave rise to a delicious fruit: prunes, the preferred raw ingredient for our organic plum oil.
Today, plum oil (Prunus Domestica Seed Oil) is a product of choice for cosmetic formulations. It offers good stability to the formulas it is incorporated in, and excellent resistance to oxidation.
It has recognised benefits: its generous helping of omega 9, rich in oleic acids, gives it skin protection actions. It preserves the skin’s suppleness and elasticity. Its strong hydrating power makes it a good ally for dry to very dry and atopic skin. It has even more applications in cosmetics since organic plum oil is edible. It can therefore be integrated equally well into products for facial care, body care and hair care as well as makeup.
Lastly, it has fine sensory qualities: its sweet smell of bitter almond is soothing and delicious, and offers the user a feeling of well-being, a private moment of relaxation.
Benefits of hemp oil
Traces of hemp cultivation date back to 8000 BC: it was one of the first plants cultivated in the world. The organic hemp oil extracted from it has multiple applications in various sectors: stationery, construction, textiles, etc.
Today, organic hemp oil (Cannabis Sativa) is also a prized component of cosmetic formulations due to its fatty acid composition.
Its ideal proportions of omega 6 and 3 (3/4 – 1/4) play an essential role in skin protection, acting effectively on skin irritation and dryness. It is an effective agent for hydrating the skin and preventing it from ageing: ideal for mature, tired and dry skin. It has all the more applications in cosmetics as its fatty acid composition allows deep hydration of the hair, fortifying and nourishing it over the long term. Organic hemp oil can therefore be incorporated into facial and body care products as well as hair care products.
Like organic plum oil, organic hemp oil has particularly appealing sensory qualities. Its refreshing effect gives the user a feeling of vitality. Its light, non-greasy texture quickly penetrates the skin and ensures comfortable use during application.
Benefits of raspberry oil
The raspberry took its name, Rubus Idaeus, from a Greek legend. A fruit greatly prized by the gods of Olympus, it was born on the slopes of Mount Ida in Crete, hence its name “bramble of Ida”. Historically, the raspberry bush has appeared in the mountains of Western Europe. It was during the Renaissance that raspberries became a ‘noble’ fruit and started appearing in gardens. They are cultivated for perfumes, liqueurs or for their health benefits. It was not until the 19th century that they were eaten at the table.
Nowadays, organic raspberry oil is an essential element of cosmetic formulations since it contains omega 3 and 6, vitamin E, carotenoids and anti-free radical components.
Its composition of over 80% fatty acids gives it essential skin nutrition properties. Its omega 3 and 6 content is particularly relevant for the process of reconstituting the skin’s lipids and controlling insensible water loss. In addition, omega 3 is involved in maintaining the skin’s elasticity and reducing the discomfort of skin irritations. Organic raspberry seed oil therefore has repairing, nourishing and soothing benefits. It is suitable for sensitive, atopic skin.
Its high level of vitamin E and carotenoids, natural antioxidants and anti-free radical components gives it protective properties and helps the skin defend against signs of ageing or oxidation. Raspberries’ capacity for partial absorption of UVA and UVB helps protect skin exposed to the sun.
Organic raspberry seed oil thus has many cosmetic applications, for example in creams or serums designed for mature skin, protective and repairing balms for the face and hands, or even sun care products.
Organic raspberry oil is also rich in sensory properties. Its dry feel guarantees lightness on application, and its scent with soft accents of red fruits reinforces the formula’s sweet naturalness.
If you have any questions about our oils, feel free to contact us