Over the summer, it’s easy to be lazy about taking care of your body skin: Sunburn is a more pressing concern and you’re sweating out of every pore anyway, so you skimp on a regular moisturizing routine. But that’s not going to fly come wintertime, when dry, flaky skin can really make you suffer.
And regular old body lotion isn’t your only option anymore; its fancier cousin, the body oil, has been making a name for itself lately. Not only do body oils lend a more luxurious, pampering feel to boring moisturization, but they’re actually healthier for your skin.
“Moisturizers are great at keeping the skin hydrated, looking healthy and reducing the signs of aging,” says Dr. Ariel Ostad, an NYC-based dermatologic surgeon, “but compared to other beauty and skincare products, moisturizers often contain the most amount of synthetic chemicals and petroleum by-products, which can lead to serious health concerns.”
Oils, on the other hand, are made from natural ingredients that protect the skin’s lipid barrier and prevent moisture from evaporating. “Most natural oils are easily absorbed, non-greasy, and non-comedogenic,” adds Dr. Ostad, so you don’t have to worry about clogged pores, no matter your skin type. Plus, natural oils are full of vitamins and nutrients that will seriously improve your skin’s health.
Some oils you’ll find commonly in these products: castor, jojoba, sweet almond, grape seed, sunflower seed, argan, olive, and coconut. Avocado and apricot oil are also common ingredients, and are great for dry, aging skin, Ostad notes.
Just like lotion, it’s best to apply body oils after a bath or shower — when skin is clean, warm and moist, oils are better able to penetrate and absorb into the skin. Ostad also recommends exfoliating regularly. Thorough exfoliation with a body scrub should only be done 2 to 3 times a week, but a gentle everyday exfoliating shower gel (we like St. Ives Purifying Sea Salt Body Wash). Massage the oil into skin liberally. Wait a few minutes, and blot away any excess oil. Wait a few more minutes before getting dressed to make sure it’s completely absorbed.Ready to oil up? Check out some of our favorite body oils in the gallery below: