You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: Your skin is your body’s largest organ and first line of defense against the outside environment. One aspect of keeping your skin healthy means making sure it stays moisturized, as chronically dry skin can lead to infection and other ailments. Certain lotions and creams can be fantastic in their hydrating capacity, but if you’ve been sleeping on body oils as an option here, too, then it’s time to explore this under-utilized category. Why? Because body oils can help seal your skin so it retains water, giving you a supple, youthful, and even glowy appearance, from your head to your toes.
“Oils can have components of fatty acids like ceramides or linoleic acid, and from that perspective, they provide a minimal sealant effect,” says Dr. Orit Markowitz, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of OptiSkin in New York City. “They can also house certain anti-inflammatories such as safflower and tea tree oil.” When searching for a body oil, Dr. Markowitz suggests looking for both these categories of ingredients, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish for your skin on any given day.
Sometimes the best moisturizer is the one you’ll actually use, and contrary to what you might think, many of today’s oils sink right into the skin, leaving behind virtually no residue—unlike thicker creams and ointments. “The benefit of an oil versus an ointment is that it’s not as greasy,” says Dr. Markowitz. “Because it’s thin, it’s going to absorb in the skin a lot faster and won’t rub on clothing.”
Generally speaking, oils should be the first thing you put on your skin to really get their maximum benefit, says Dr. Markowitz, and most formulas can be applied right after showering while your skin is still somewhat damp. If you’re mixing up your own skincare cocktail though, it’s best to apply your body oil as a final step, so it can seal in the extra moisture your lotion or cream is delivering.
Ready to add a body oil to your beauty routine? Start with one of these hardworking products that’ll hydrate your skin—and then some.
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Nécessaire The Body Oil
The consistency and texture of this cold-pressed, vegan body oil set it apart from others on the market; it’s not heavy or runny at all, and devotees rave about how quickly the product melts into and hydrates parched skin (even though the dropper could benefit from a redesign). Use this solo or team it up with your go-to body lotion. Because it’s unscented, you can even try it as a base to give your favorite fragrance a little extra staying power.
True Botanicals Pure Radiance Body Oil
Powered by green tea seed, hemp seed, and sandalwood oil—in addition to a slew of other antioxidants and essential fatty acids—this pregnancy-safe, hypoallergenic blend can be applied post-shower for an instant, all-over glow-up. A little goes a long way. Try it twice a week to start reaping its skin smoothing benefits, and up your applications if you just can’t get enough of the subtle woodsy scent.
Neutrogena Body Oil
You can’t go wrong with Neutrogena’s lightweight, sesame oil-based formula: It’s fragrance-free, glides on easily without feeling greasy, and is well-priced to boot. Massage a couple of drops into your skin to soften it up, or add it straight into your bathwater for a similar silkening effect.
Keys Soulcare Sacred Body Oil
Musician Alicia Keys partnered with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Renée Snyder on the skincare brand, Keys Soulcare, which is all about creating a ritual around caring for—and loving—the skin you’re in. Formulated with baobab and jojoba oils as well as vitamins A, C, and E, the Sacred Body Oil is part of Keys Soulcare’s four-step regimen but a hero product on its own. Used regularly, just a few drops of this multitasker can revitalize dry hair, brittle nails, and rough skin. Its secret weapon? Marula oil, which targets age and dark spots, if hyperpigmentation’s a concern for you.
Supergoop Glow Oil SPF 50
Dr. Markowitz recommends the Supergoop Glow Oil with SPF 50. “If my patients like to use an oil, I like them to always be protected with an SPF,” she says. In addition to functioning as sunscreen, Supergoop’s nourishing formula is also packed with marigold extract to fight free radicals and fatty acid-rich meadowfoam seed oil, which seals moisture in and prevents water loss so your skin stays supple.
Ellis Brooklyn Marvelous CBD Massage and Body Oil
If you’re a believer in the power of full-spectrum CBD, then Ellis Brooklyn’s aromatic massage oil will pack a one-two punch when it comes to awakening your senses and relieving that tension you’re holding in your body. Try this one on tired joints and muscles, working it into areas like your neck, shoulders, back, and even legs. Pain relief may be top of mind for this blend, but it’s finished with sweet almond oil, too, so it’ll work wonders on dry skin.
Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Mind Shower Oil
Looking for a one-and-done oil to save you time? Then Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Mind Shower Oil will be right up your alley. This oil-to-milky cleanser delivers moisture via a generous lather while showering, leaving behind silky-smooth skin once you rinse away the suds.
Sol de Janeiro GlowMotions Goldie Rocks Glow Oil
For those who want to shimmer, shine, and smell like a tropical vacation, your best bet is something from Sol de Janerio’s GlowMotions collection, which comes in a handful of sun-kissed shades. Key ingredients cupuaçu butter, açaí oil, and coconut oil condition and nourish skin, leaving it supple, while tiny flecks of glitter provide a sheer but buildable glistening effect. Fans of the brand’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream will also appreciate that these oils carry that same, yummy signature scent. Rub a pump or two into clean, dry skin to avoid streakiness.
Biossance 100% Sugarcane Squalane Oil
A true multitasker, Biossance’s sugarcane-derived, vegan squalane oil is gentle enough for the face but can be used for head-to-toe hydration. Try it on dry, cracked hands or as a post-shaving treatment to soothe razor burn. It can even tame flyaways!
Bio-Oil Skincare Oil
Another well-priced, cult drugstore favorite, Bio-Oil uses a bevy of vitamins and botanical oils to heal, repair, and, in some cases, prevent skin issues ranging from stretch marks and scarring to uneven skin tone and dehydration. For best results, put it on twice a day; a large bottle should last you well over a few months.
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