The Importance of Body Oils in Your Beauty Routine
The use of body oils as moisturizers appears to be a new trend. However, we have to remember that body oils existed long before lotions arrived on the scene. Records dating back thousands of years exist that refer to the usage of body oils in ancient times for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Scented oils were symbols of wealth and status, and some were more valuable than gold.
Ancient Egyptians are known to have favored the use of a variety of oils to soften their skin -- including castor, rose, almond, cedar, olive, and sesame oils. It’s also common knowledge that Egyptians used spices and oils for embalming and preserving mummies. These practices were so effective that archaeologists could study the mummies thousands of years later. Cleopatra was known to prefer olive oil and sesame oil and loved to bathe in aloe. Ancient Egyptians associated pleasant scents with holiness. Aboriginal tribes in Australia are reputed to have used emu oils to moisturize their skin for more than 40,000 years! Pliny the Elder, a Roman philosopher, wrote about how almond oil reduces wrinkles, improves the complexion, and removes facial spots. There’s also the famous Bible story of the three wise men bringing Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Despite the introduction of modern, lab-created perfumes, lotions, and other beauty products, oils are still prized today for their natural properties.
Benefits of Body Oils
Oils are extracted from plants, roots, nuts, seeds, flowers, fruits, leaves, wood, and more. They offer a plethora of benefits for your skin.
Hydrating: Did you know that skin is the last organ to receive water? The body prioritizes other vital organs first, so it’s essential to drink plenty of water and moisturize daily. Oils bypass the protective barrier of your skin and seal in moisture, leaving you with a healthy glow. By improving cell cohesion, oils lock in moisture to keep your skin hydrated for more extended periods of time.
Mimic the Skin's Natural Oils: Our skin produces a natural oil called “sebum.” However, as we age, its production diminishes. Some oils have a similar chemical structure to sebum, and therefore are an excellent addition to your skincare routine, as the body reacts to them in a friendly way.
Using harsh cleansers can also strip the skin of its natural oils, so applying oil that mimics the natural sebum produced by our skin helps restore its balance.
Many people with naturally oily skin believe oil will make their skin worse or cause them to break out. However, the opposite is true. When harsh products are used on the skin, it sometimes overproduces sebum leading to oily skin. This is because the skin is overcompensating for the sebum that has been stripped away. Because they have small molecules, oils like marula and jojoba are non-comedogenic and won’t clog your skin, so they are safe to apply to your face and help rebalance sebum production.
Safe for Sensitive Skin: People with sensitive or acne-prone skin can find relief from body oils, as it is rare to have an allergic reaction to them. For those with eczema or psoriasis, oils are non-irritating, gentle, and usually safe to use (be sure to test a patch of skin first to ensure there is no reaction). Some oils do have chemical additives, so be sure to read the ingredients first.
Body oils are usually also safe for babies and pregnant women. They are great to use during pregnancy to avoid stretch marks. Naturally occurring anti-inflammatory properties in almond oil, for example, help minimize the appearance of stretch marks and scars.
Good-quality body oils do not contain parabens, phthalates, neurotoxins, carcinogens, and other disruptive ingredients linked to hormone issues, cancer, allergies, and other illnesses.
Some moisturizers contain synthetic fragrances containing phthalates, which help preserve scent but can build up in the bloodstream and become toxic to the human body. Body oils containing natural essential oils such as lavender, grapefruit, and sandalwood offer a pleasant scent without the potentially harmful side effects.
Powerful Healing Properties: Good-quality oils are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that heal and regenerate skin. Because the molecules in essential oils are so small, the skin has an easier time absorbing the oil. Oils like jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, and almond oil are rich in Vitamin E and antioxidants. These protect cells from free radical damage, which leads to aging, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles. Many essential oils also contain antimicrobial properties and have a long shelf-life (remember, the mummies?). Patchouli and sandalwood oils, for example, have a shelf life of 6-8 years.
Versatile: Not only can oils be used to moisturize the face and body, but they also work great to condition the hair, remove makeup, massage the skin and relax the mind and body. Lavender essential oil’s therapeutic properties promote relaxation and stress-relief. Try our “Nourished-Shell” Nourishing Body Oil for a soothing moisturizer containing lavender.
Body Oil vs. Lotion
Let’s go over some of the differences between body oil and lotion. Although body oils have a long and rich history, many people overlook their benefits and importance, preferring lotion to moisturize their skin. We have to remember that the introduction of lotions is very recent, and body oils have been effectively used to soften and moisturize the skin for thousands of years.
Some believe that body oils leave an undesirable greasy finish. However, oils are usually surprisingly lightweight and do not leave an oily residue. They penetrate the skin’s outer layers to help rehydrate and seal in moisture, whereas lotions are water-based and do not deliver the same occlusive properties. Because oil’s structure is similar to that of sebum, our skin treats it like its own and integrates it more effortlessly than water-based lotions.
When it comes to oil, a little goes a long way, which can save you money. Oils are also ideal for massages, as they do not evaporate the way lotions do.
Body lotions and oils work great when used together. Try applying a layer of oil over lotion to protect the skin and seal in moisture.
Face and Body Oils
Read on for a non-exhausting list of carrier oils and essential oils that are renowned for their healing properties and often present in natural face and body oils. (Essential oils such as grapefruit or lavender are highly concentrated, so need to be diluted with carrier oils such as jojoba to prevent irritation to the skin.)
Jojoba Oil: Jojoba oil contains natural fatty acids that protect the skin’s outer layer, lock in moisture, and repair the skin. It is non-comedogenic and helps prevent clogged pores. It’s a great choice for those with oily skin because it mimics the natural sebum produced by our skin, which can train it to produce less oil.
Argan Oil: Argan oil is another option for those with oily skin, as the oleic acid it contains helps soothe skin and reduce oil production. It helps reduce scars and fine lines, and studies show it promotes skin elasticity.
Grapeseed Oil: Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, grapeseed oil effectively combats dry skin and is especially known for helping reduce lines around the eyes and on the neck.
Rosehip Oil: High in Vitamins A and C, rosehip oil brightens skin, reduces scarring, increases elasticity, and reduces fine lines and wrinkles.
Bakuchiol: A natural, herbally-derived alternative to retinol often used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines for its powerful skin benefits, bakuchiol is high in antioxidants that regenerate cells, promote collagen production, and improve skin tone and elasticity.
Squalene: Our oil glands naturally produce squalene, which is responsible for locking in moisture and preventing free radical damage that causes fine lines and wrinkles. As we age, our production of squalene diminishes. Our plant-derived squalene works in the same way to lock in moisture and prevent free radical damage that causes fine lines and wrinkles.
Hemp Oil: Hemp oil contains natural anti-inflammatory properties and is packed with antioxidants that increase collagen production and prevent free radical damage to cells, leading to firmer and more toned skin.
Grapefruit Oil: Bromelain, an enzyme that promotes the breakdown of collagen and helps prevent new fat cells from forming under the skin, is present in grapefruit oil and contributes to its anti-aging properties.
How to Use Body Oil
So what is the correct way to apply body oil?
The ideal time to apply body oil is when your skin is still damp after a shower or bath soak. Be sure to cleanse and exfoliate your skin first to ensure you get the most out of the oil. Apply the oil liberally over your skin in circular motions (don’t forget to pay extra attention to dry heels, knees, and elbows). Remember, a little oil goes a long way.
If you use lotion, it is a great idea to apply body oil after its application, as it seals in moisture for optimal hydration and a beautiful glow.
Allow the oil to dry before putting on your clothes. Remember, although you may expect oils to leave a greasy finish, they are surprisingly lightweight and absorb well, so you don’t need to worry about them rubbing off on your clothing.
If you really want to amp up your self-care routine, try our “Firm Shell” Firming Body Oil with our Anti-Cellulite Wooden Massager to reduce cellulite and relieve fatigue. This practice is called “maderotherapy” and helps stimulate circulation and facilitate drainage of fats and toxins through the lymphatic system.
Oils are a natural and environmentally-friendly way to moisturize your skin without worrying about harmful ingredients that are toxic to your body or the environment. They also offer a therapeutic and sensory experience that is unmatched. Try incorporating them into your skincare routine and see the results for yourself!