December 10, 2014

A Guide to All-Natural Body Oils.

coconut oil

As someone who suffers from severely dry skin during the fall and winter months, one of the most important weapons in my arsenal against it is body oil.

As I shared in a previous post, one thing I have found particularly useful is layering body oil underneath of a heavier lotion. I love oils in general and use them year round on both my face and my body.

First of all, I love them because they work.

Second, they also tend to be economical. (In many cases, just a little goes a long way.)

Also, because of their very nature, most oils don’t require preservatives.

Lastly, oils are great for those interested in aromatherapy. (Nearly all essential oils need to be diluted, and it is recommended that an unscented, “carrier” oil be used.)

When it comes to choosing what oil to use, the choices can be overwhelming. Walk into any health food store or natural foods supermarket, and it’s possible that an entire shelf or multiple shelves will contain various oils.

How do we know which oil is best for us and our needs?

Below are five common oils and their respective properties. While it is in no way complete, these are amongst the most common ones to be found in most mainstream health food stories or supermarkets. (Sources: Jo Wood’s Naturally and Valerie Ann Worwood’s The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy.)

1. Almond Oil or Sweet Almond Oil

Considered by many to be an all-around all-star, this oil tends to be reasonably priced and makes a great massage oil and bath oil. While it doesn’t clog pores and is considered suitable for all skin types, I personally think this is best for for drier skin types. (It can feel a bit “heavy “on oily skin.)

This is also great to use on young children and is a wonderful alternative to petroleum-based “baby oils”.  It can also be massaged into the scalp to treat “cradle cap”.

2. Grapeseed Oil

Another inexpensive oil that truly is suitable for all skin types including those with very oily skin. I use this as my main oil during the summer months.

It’s also nice to mix in with Epsom salts when creating homemade bath salts. I’ve found that doing so when adding essential oils makes the salts hold their scent for a longer period of time. (It also doesn’t leave the bathtub dangerously slick afterwards.)

3. Jojoba Oil

Moderately priced, suitable for all skin types, and blessed with a naturally long shelf life, jojoba oil is a favorite of many. It’s used as a replacement for whale oil and a little known-fact about it is that it is fungicide which would also make this a great bath oil.

It closely resembles the sebum/oil found in human skin, and I know many who love to use this for a hair and scalp treatment. One word of warning, though. Use sparingly if being used for that reason. A little goes a very long way and too much will result in very greasy hair.

4. Coconut Oil

A great oil for the entire body. Pure coconut oil has a rich coconut smell which I happen to adore but others may not. (De-scented versions are available.) Pure coconut oil is solid at room temperature but quickly becomes liquid when it makes contact with the skin. (Also, depending on where one lives and whether or not they have air conditioning, it may be liquid throughout the summer months.)

While I know some people who slather it all over including the face, I think it’s best used on the neck down.

5. Argan Oil

The latest wonder oil, this oil is extracted from the kernels of the argan tree which is found in Morocco. Though commonly used as a food oil there, most people in the West who apply it topically for cosmetic reasons.

Aragan oil is expensive, but a little of it does go a long way.

I call this the oil for the oil phobic. Even people with oily, acne-prone skin can use and enjoy this one. Indeed, it’s been shown in some studies to improve acne.  Best of all, it truly does absorb into the skin and leave it feeling soft and not the least bit greasy.

For pregnant ladies, argan oil is the ultimate luxury belly oil. (I used it throughout my second pregnancy and because it absorbed so quickly, I didn’t have to worry about it leaving oily marks on my clothing.)

In closing, choosing the right body oil is cinch if we know the various properties of specific oils. Not only are they are great, natural moisturizing option, but just the process of massaging oil into the skin can be incredibly psychologically soothing and luxurious. To paraphrase those old L’Oreal ads, we’re worth it.




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Author: Kimberly Lo

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: phuthinhco at Flickr 


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