Our bodies make up 90% of our skin’s real estate and nearly 60% of what we put on it is absorbed into the skin, so it’s important to take bodycare just as seriously as we do the skin on our faces. For many of us, bodycare goes as far as slathering on some lotion when we happen to think about it, and it’s even rarer that we take the time to find out whether lotion is actually the best way to moisturize.
A question we’re frequently asked is, “Are body oils better than lotions”? In short, both can do the work of moisturizing skin, but body oils go the extra mile. If you’ve been considering a clean swap, opting for a body oil over a lotion is one of the most important shifts you can make. Why? To put it very simply, our bodies are literally contained by our skin, and what you put on your skin is ultimately absorbed into your bloodstream. Read below to find out why you should ditch the lotion and make body oils your new best friend.
1. Oils retain moisture better
When an oil is lipophilic, it technically means it’s “fat-loving” and will mix well with other oils (fats) like sebum on your skin, so they can penetrate more deeply into the skin and retain moisture under the surface. Oils can most accurately match the natural sebum of your skin. Oils are actually encouraged for those with oily and acne-prone skin because they balance natural sebum production and your skin no longer has to overcompensate by producing excess oil, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.
2. Oils are preservative and synthetic free
Lotions are made with a mix of water and oil, but much like a bottle of salad dressing, oil and water don’t mix! To make lotion, oil and water must be combined through the use of additives and emulsifiers. In order to keep bacteria from growing in water, preservatives like parabens or any other synthetics are added into the lotion so that it remains shelf stable. Preservatives tend to be problematic, but the beauty of an oil is that its anhydrous, meaning there's no water present and no need to add any synthetics to the formula to make it shelf stable.
3. Oils are bioactive, delivering nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants to skin
Bioactive refers to the amount of ingredients that are absorbed into your bloodstream after a product is applied to your skin. Because of their lipophilic nature and their small molecular size, the nutrients and vitamins in essential oils can absorb easily into the skin, revitalizing on a cellular level and creating a more resilient moisture barrier. Lotions, on the other hand, can moisturize, but typically just sit on the top of your skin until you wash them off
4. Oils can repair and regulate damage on the skin’s surface
If you’ve ever felt like your skin is dry, tight, or irritated, it’s likely the moisture barrier on your skin’s surface has been compromised. But what is a moisture barrier, anyway, and how does it get damaged? Your moisture barrier is the outermost layer of skin on your body that locks in water and defends against bacteria and other environmental stressors from penetrating under the surface layer of skin. When your moisture barrier is damaged, whether it’s from harsh chemicals, over exfoliation, or pollutants, it creates the tiniest cracks in the skin, which leaves your skin vulnerable to outside irritants that can cause wrinkles, breakouts, discoloration, and other issues. Unlike lotions, which tend to sit on the surface of the skin, essential oils have the ability to penetrate through the surface and ingredients like rosehip, jojoba, and carrot seed naturally heal and restore compromised moisture barriers.
5. Oils protect against free radicals and environmental stressors
Because oils are pure and don’t contain water or fillers, they are able to seal good ingredients in, and keep the bad ones out! Free radicals like pollution, cigarette smoke, the sun, and exposure pesticides, among others, can lead to premature aging and damage on the outer surface of the skin. When you switch to an oil, which protects skin starting from the inside out, pesky outside stressors have a more difficult time doing damage to your body’s surface. Oils that contain cypress and squalane are particularly helpful in shielding from free radicals and daily wear and tear, and can help reverse issues like dullness, premature wrinkles, and discoloration on the skin.
If you're ready to make the switch, look for oils like ours that contain beneficial essential oils and CO2 extracts that ensure your skin is receiving all of the good-for-you ingredients body oils have to offer!