Protect, repair and revitalize your skin with these amazing body oils.
Spring is the most refreshing season. After the long winter, we’re ready to get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Spring is also a fantastic time to give our skin some replenishment after the harsh, dry conditions of winter. Natural body oils help protect, repair and revitalize skin, and a number of oils may provide a variety of healing benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and regenerative effects. Many can also help us achieve healthier, younger-looking skin by reducing the appearance of wrinkles and improving skin elasticity, as well as prevent dryness, flakiness and rough patches.
“Using natural plant oils is a wonderful way to help nourish, replenish and plump our skin,” says Erin McIntosh, herbalist and marketing director for Mountain Rose Herbs. “Harsh, drying soaps strip our natural oils, which actually protect our delicate skin.”
When shopping, ensure oils are 100 percent pure: Buy products that are certified organic, have been minimally processed and are as unrefined as possible. “I like to use cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils that are unrefined,” McIntosh says.
Use the following healing oils alone (pour a few drops of oil onto your fingertips and massage directly onto your face in circular, upward motions) or in homemade moisturizers, skin softeners, massage oils, make-up removers, leave-in hair treatments and much more.
Argan: Popular in personal-care products, argan oil can be found in lotions, shampoos, balms and serums. The nutritious oil comes from the seeds of the argan tree, a shrubby African evergreen. It has skin-softening, protective and regenerating properties, including the ability to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and revitalize damaged skin.
Best For: Reducing signs of aging
Jojoba: Derived from an evergreen shrub native to the American Southwest and northern Mexico, jojoba is a natural anti-inflammatory. In a recent review of studies, researchers at the Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences in Ahvaz, Iran, found that it’s suggested effective at treating skin conditions including wounds, infections and aging skin. Jojoba can also moisturize and soften skin, help reduce the appearance of stretch marks, and treat dry scalps. “Jojoba oil is compatible with skin because it has similar absorption properties to our own naturally produced sebum,” McIntosh says.
Best For: Healing inflammatory skin damage such as wounds, minor cuts, stretch marks and dry scalp
Sea Buckthorn: Oil is extracted from the seeds and the small orange and red berries of the thorny sea buckthorn shrub native to Europe and Asia. This seed oil is rich in essential fatty acids, as well as vitamins C and E. The fruit oil is also rich in omega-7, which may boost collagen production, protect against oxidative damage and repair sun-damaged skin. Valued for its anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-wrinkle properties, sea buckthorn oil works to heal, soften and regenerate skin, according to The Aromatherapy Encyclopedia. “A little goes a long way,” McIntosh says. “This is a great oil to add to facial-care recipes.”
Best For: Repairing damaged skin
Pomegranate: This Asian fruit is more than a superfood. Its seed oil is prized for its skin-healing benefits—just one pound of oil requires more than 200 pounds of seeds. Pomegranate seed oil hydrates skin, and can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin elasticity. A recent study suggests that pomegranate seed oil is effective at promoting skin regeneration of the outer epidermal layer. It’s also fortified with punicic acid, an omega-5 fatty acid that locks in moisture and keeps out bacteria. Pomegranate seed oil’s high antioxidant content makes it great for aging skin because it inhibits free radicals that can damage and age skin.
Best For: Protecting skin from damage and encouraging cell regeneration
Tamanu: Known for its anti-inflammatory and skin-regenerative properties, tamanu oil is an extract from the kernel of the tamanu, or laurelwood, plant—an evergreen tree common to tropical Asia and once considered sacred. Some proponents claim that tamanu oil can promote the formation of new skin tissue. Another study, published in a 2002 issue of the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, studied six subjects with visible scars for six weeks and found a significant improvement in appearance. Use tamanu oil for sunburns, rashes, psoriasis, scratches, acne and other skin conditions.
Best For: Speeding up the wound-healing process
Find great skin-nourishing products in Editor's Choice: Healing Body Oils.
Always do a patch test with any skin product or homemade ablution by placing a small dab inside your wrist or the crook of your elbow. Cover with an adhesive bandage for 24 hours. If you experience an adverse reaction, discontinue use. If you or a household member has (or suspects) nut allergies, steer clear of all nut oils.
When treating any skin condition, consult your qualified health-care practitioner to learn what’s best for you. Be sure to follow product manufacturers’ instructions when using any healing skin oil or product.
While you likely already use many of these food-grade healthful cooking oils in your kitchen, they can serve double-duty as carrier oils for homemade skin-soothing recipes.
Coconut: Coconut oil soothes and moisturizes skin and can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Because it’s usually solid at room temperature, it provides a good base for homemade ointments.
Olive: The emollient properties of olive oil have long been known: In ancient Greece, olive oil was used by athletes to hydrate the skin. When making your own massage oil, it’s best to mix olive with a lighter carrier oil (such as sunflower oil) to reduce olive oil’s thickness.
Sunflower: With very little scent, this light oil protects, moisturizes and regenerates skin. It’s rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as vitamin E, B-complex vitamins and folic acid. It’s appropriate for all skin types and makes a great carrier oil.
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