The Benefits of Cold Processed Skin Care

You put the water in the oils and you heat it all up (coconut optional), or at least that’s what  most skincare companies do when mixing their product ingredients together. While this method is commonly used problems can arise when emulsifying agents and high temperatures (often as high as 175-195 degrees Farenheit) break down key ingredients, like essential oils, botanical extracts and vitamins, like vitamin A and B. The result – a final product with active ingredients that may not be as effective as they once were due to possible changes during the heating process. In an effort to maintain the integrity of ingredients a few skin care brands are turning to cold processing.  

Cold processing is exactly as it sounds. It’s the process of mixing product ingredients together using extremely low to no heat during manufacturing. Dr. Mark Gray, founder of cold processed skin care line Ao Skincare, explains that in addition to protecting active ingredients cold processing is more eco friendly than traditional heating practices and one of the reasons the San Francisco based brand utilizes this alternative method. “The whole process of heating and cooling is very energy intensive. It’s 90% of the energy used to make traditional emulsified or heat processed products; its a big energy consumption. So by reducing that we are also reducing the carbon footprint and making a more eco friendly product,” explains Dr. Gray.

Though cold processing is at the forefront of both delivering highly active skin care products and eco consciousness, don’t expect every major brand to start switching their processing techniques just yet, explains Dr. Gray, “It’s not ideal from a lot of point of views because with the technology and understanding we have now, cold processing is limiting. We are limited with the ingredients we can use. For example, it’s very difficult to use cold processing with waxes or certain oils.”

If you’re looking to amp up your skin care routine with active cold processed products, we recommend swapping out one or two key items in your daily arsenal that have the most impact on your skin, like a daily serum, oil or mask.  Ao Skincare’s cold processed Peak Strength AM Serum-Shot made with locally sourced ingredients found in Zealand (artesian water, NZ Tree Fern extract, Bakuchiol extract, Totarol extract, Mānuka Honey and others) is one of our faves. Manuka honey provides  hydration and moisture retention, while vitamins B3, B5 and C firm skin and Ferulic Acid boosts vitamin potency. Or if you’re suffering from over exfoliation or dehydrated skin, check out the Swiss made and cold processed brand Luzern. Their Serum Absolute Rehydrate relives redness, irritation and dryness with oil extracted from organically grown, high altitude rosehips.

– by Becca Mendoza

Photographed by Amy Chang



"Skincare science needs to be on the very edge of social change and evolution in order to succeed."

Dr. Mark Gray