BODY OILS AND CREAMS: PROS AND CONS

Taking care of your skin can involve all sorts of complex rituals, but the most basic might be the most important of all: moisturise it well. In fact, dermatologists will tell you this simple habit is super critical, especially during this time of the year when temperature variations (from dry cold air outdoors to overzealous heating indoors) can wreak havoc with your skin. UK consultant dermatologist Tee Wei Siah confirms: ‘Skin becomes dry and cracks easily during winter time, when there is less moisture in the air. Therefore, it is not uncommon for skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis to flare up during cold weather’.

Every cell and component of our bodies relies on hydration in order to function properly. Without it, your skin’s natural barrier breaks down, which makes you more susceptible to itchy and chapped patches but also irritation such as eczema and skin infections. Applying a moisturiser – whether oil or cream-based – reduces loss of water in your skin and creates a barrier of moisture, resulting in a healthy-looking glow rather than the dull look dry skin can result in.

Body oils and creams in a flatlay

The beauty market certainly isn’t short of offers when it comes to moisturisers, but where to start? From body oils to creams and lotions, the overwhelming amount of choice and options can confuse even the savviest beauty shopper. You can find this article on Eluxe Magazine too if you fancy hoping over for an alternative selection of products, otherwise, read on!

Here are a few things you should know:

  • All lotions are oil and water held together by an emulsifier (like in salad dressing, oil and water will separate without an emulsifier, which holds them suspended in each other). An emulsifier is usually a lab-manufactured chemical. Some newer ones are non-toxic and biodegradable, but some, including one called “emulsifying wax”, can cause skin irritation.
  • Most lotions are about 65% water. Because there is water in the product, it must be preserved, as bacteria and mould will grow in water over time without preservation. While preservatives in natural beauty products are improving (not many green brands use parabens anymore), no preservative system is without flaws, and some are highly allergenic.
  • Most lotions contain “fragrance”, which is an ingredient that can contain hundreds of chemicals, including hormone disruptors and petrochemicals.

Woman holding bottles of body cream and body oil

Now, let’s look at body oils. What makes them different from lotions?

  • Body oils are made of oils alone, without the water component.
  • They do not need emulsifiers.
  • They do not need preservatives. (But they should contain antioxidants, like vitamin E or rosemary extract, to prevent rancidity and increase shelf life.)
  • Many body oils are scented with pure essential oils, rather than synthetic fragrances. (Note – beware of those with citrus oils like lemon and grapefruit – they can cause serious burns when exposed to UV light.)

With information like this, why would you even consider a body lotion over an oil? Why pay a premium for a product that is 65% water, when you have this commodity readily available from your shower head or bath tap? Instead, why don’t you pay only for the healthy, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, nourishing plant oils, and apply them to sopping wet skin? Well as with most beauty products, one solution most definitely does not fit all, and this is certainly true of moisturisers. Depending on your skin’s needs, your lifestyle and your beauty routine preferences, a lotion or an oil will be better suited to you.

Fushi Rosehip Oil with brown ribbon and straw

Go for an oil if

  • You have the luxury of time. It can be such a pampering experience to just spend an extra few minutes massaging oil into skin and let it sink in to ensure it doesn’t transfer onto your clothes, allowing to make the most of the beautiful scent of essential oils.
  • You want a pure, natural product. Oils tend to feature a short and simple to read list of ingredients derived from plants, seeds and fruits, so you know exactly what you’re putting on your body. You can even go with single oils such as rosehip or argan oils which can be certified organic.
  • Your skin is not sensitive. Essential oils (especially from the citrus family) have been known to irritate sensitive skin as they contain many allergens, from Limonene to Linalool and Citronellol. If you’re ensure about your skin’s reaction to certain oils, it’s always best to do a patch test first before covering your entire body in the stuff.
  • You want a multi-tasking product. If you like to keep your beauty routine as simple and streamlined as possible then some oils will be suitable to apply on your face as well as your body and even hair and cuticles. Argan oil for example is known for its skin moisturising benefits as well as improving hair health. Plus certain beautifully scented blends can double up as your signature fragrance.

Natural body creams and oils on a stripy background

Go for a cream if

  • You have a tight morning routine. With a higher water content and lower viscosity, body lotions are more quickly absorbed by skin than oils. Dr Tee Wei Siah agrees that a ‘lotion hydrates the skin and keeps it supple without the sticky and greasy feeling’. So opt for a moisturising lotion if time is of the essence and you want your beauty routine to be as efficient as possible.
  • You’re a bit of a lizard (in terms of exposure to sun not scaly skin). According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, ‘photosensitivity is a process where a given chemical absorbs ultraviolet light and initiates a reaction, typically on the skin. Certain essential oils, especially expressed citrus oils, can contain constituents such as furocoumarins, coumarins, and linalol/linalool, which are potential photosensitizers. This means they can cause serious skin damage when exposed to the sun such as redness, itching, burns, blisters, and permanent skin discoloration.’
  • Your skin is sensitive. Although oils can be classed as natural, this doesn’t mean that they are automatically suitable for you (you can be allergic to eggs or peanuts right?) as they can bring on irritation and allergies.
  • You want to target a specific skin concern. Whilst oils will moisturise skin for a radiant and supple result, creams can have the added benefit of addressing concerns such as blemishes, fine lines and uneven skin tone.

Aveda Shampure Body Lotion on stripy background with lavender

2 natural skincare creams to try

  1. Aveda Shampure Body Lotion 200ml: This lightweight lotion contains 25 pure flower and plant essences to help you create luxuriously smooth skin, and will also leave you smelling gorgeous with Aveda’s beautiful signature aroma
  2. Love Beauty and Planet Body Lotion 400ml: this deliciously scented coconut water and mimosa flower body lotion has a light and quickly absorbed formula

2 natural oils to try

  1. The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil 30ml: This comes in UV-protective packaging, helping to guard the oil from the sun’s rays which can also change the components of certain natural products
  2. Fushi Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Oil 100ml: this certified organic vitamin-rich multitasking oil boasts benefits such as anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing and fading scars.

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