Remedy Dry Skin: Ditch the Lotion and Switch to Body Oil
During the season of fall, the skin needs more hydration. With increasing winds, cooler temperatures and dryer air, it's normal for the skin to become dry, flake, become tight and even crack at the surface. For many of us, body care goes as for as slathering on lotion when we happen to think of it, and it's even rarer if we stop and consider wether lotion is actually the best way to moisturize.
5 years ago I made the switch from lotion to oil to hydrate the whole body and wish I would have sooner. A couple times I have put on lotion (to see how it felt since only using oil) I could tell the lotion didn't hydrate my skin the same, the fragrance smelled off and my skin got dry only a few hours after.
You may be thinking, "Are body oils better than lotion?" The reality is they both moisturize the skin, but body oils go the extra mile. If you've considered making the switch, it one of the smallest changes you can make with the biggest impacts to your overall health.
For reference, when I say "oils' or "body oil" I mean a carrier oil that is cold pressed, unrefined (ideally organic) like jojoba, sesame, almond, sunflower, rosehip and coconut (to name a few). More details below.
Here's why you should ditch the lotion and make body oils your new best friend.
Oils moisture the skin better
Oil is a type of fat and loves to combine with other types of oils. Since your body produces its own oil, called sebum oil, they take a liking to each other and blend well. This allows oil to penetrate past the skins top layer and sink deeper when applied. Even for those who have oily or acne-prone skin, applying oil can be very beneficial because the added oil will help regulate your bodies sebum oil production brining your skin into balance.
I experienced this first hand in college when I started using oil to help dry patches, oily patches, eczema and acne on my skin. It took a couple weeks to balance out but ultimately it made a huge difference.
Oils are synthetic and preservative free
Lotions are made up of water and oil, but in nature, these repel each. So how are lotions smooth and not requiring a shake to the bottle before use? The water and oil are stabilized and combined by emulsifiers and additives. But whatever you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream and filtered through your organs, so you are essentially "eating" those added man-made ingredients. These additives keep bacteria from growing in the water and give the lotion a longer shelf life. But an oil does not have any water and needs no added synthetics or parabens.
Oils deliver antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients to the skin
Oils are bioactive, which refers to the amount of ingredients that absorbed into your bloodstream after applied to your skin. How cool is that?! This means oils are creating a moisture barrier at a cellular level and over time using oil, keeps your hydrated from the inside out.
Oils protect you from free radicals and environmental stressors
When your skin is feeling dry, tight and irritated, it's likely your moisture barrier on the top layer of your skin is compromised. Within those micro cracks, it's easier for pollutants, bacteria, harsh chemicals and environmental stressors to get it, leaving your skin tired and dull. Instead, apply oil and experience the naturally healing properties with less ingredients.
"Cherry on top" benefits of applying oils to the body
Deep sleep - Less waking up in the middle of the night
Regulates nervous system - more calm, less worrying
Decreases craving snacks and sugary foods - your body absorbs that fat it needs from the oil
Brightens awareness and energy - stabilizing your mood
Muffles the mental chatter - leaving more room for relaxation
In the past, my own pattern of increased anxiety (sometimes depression) would happen during the transition from fall to winter. I know this may sound silly and too good to be true, but applying oils to my entire body have 100% helped me feel more in my body, grounded, less anxious, calm and less in my head when my thoughts are spinning out.
Options to apply oil to the body
Before shower on dry skin - apply a generous, even layer of oil to your whole body (excluding the bottoms of your feet to not slip in the shower). Ideally in a warm space to absorb the oil for 5 minutes. Shower normal but do not lather skin with soap. After shower, pat dry with towel and rub in remaining oil.
After shower on damp skin - Similar to how you would add lotion after a shower. Shower as normal, pat almost dry and massage in a thin, even layer of oil. Since your pores are more open because of the warm water, the oil will absorb in and not leave you feeling greasy and oily.
As needed - Add a small amount of oil to tops of hands, under eyes, elbows and any other place that needs a little boost of moisture anytime
To get started, use a carrier oil like sesame (not toasted), jojoba, sunflower, or almond oil and leave it in your bathroom. These oils are different than essential oils. Caution: do not use essential oils directly on your skin. They are concentrated and require a carrier oil to dilute it. Add them if you want for aromatherapy and medicinal benefits.
Again for reference, when I say "oils' or "body oil" I mean a carrier oil that is cold pressed, unrefined (ideally organic) like jojoba, sesame, almond, sunflower, rosehip and coconut (to name a few). Stay away from most oil blends that typically have cheap filler oils like mineral oil with synthetic fragrances and other filler ingredients. Purchase an oil at your local health food store that has one oil on the ingredients list.
Have fun with your oils! Experiment and start with a small amount and slowly apply more as needed.