The skin that covers your body from the neck down makes up 91% of the surface area of your skin, which absorbs much of what you put on it. While there are lots of facial products I’d like to get off the shelves because of their questionable ingredients, switching to clean body products is definitely the place to start. It comes down to math: if you’re trying to decrease the number of ingredients you’re exposing yourself and your family to, the most effective way to do it is by starting with the products that get used daily on the greatest surface area of skin.
WHAT'S IN A BODY LOTION?
Here are a few things you should know:
- All lotions are made of oil and water (or a water soluble substance like aloe) held together by an emulsifier, something that keeps the oil and the water blended. Just like when you make a salad dressing, oil and water will separate without an emulsifier; they need something to suspend them, either as oil droplets in the water, or water droplets in the oil. An emulsifier is usually a lab-manufactured chemical. Some newer ones are plant-based and biodegradable, but many, including one called “emulsifying wax” are ethoxylated, a process that uses and sheds some very unhealthy chemicals like 1,4-dioxane.
- Most lotions are about 65% water. Because there is water in the product, it must be preserved, as bacteria and mold 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 perfect, and some are allergenic.
- Many lotions contain “fragrance”, which is an ingredient that can contain hundreds of ingredients, without disclosing the specifics. Many fragrance ingredients are allergenic, and some contain phthalates to stabilize the scent.
WHAT MAKES BODY OIL DIFFERENT FROM LOTIONS?
- Body oils are made of oils alone, without the water component.
- Body oils do not need emulsifiers.
- Body oils do not need preservatives. (But they should contain antioxidants, like vitamin E or rosemary extract, to prevent rancidity and increase shelf life.)
- Many natural body oils are scented with pure essential oils, rather than synthetic fragrances.
WHY SWITCH TO NATURAL BODY OIL?
Why would you get out of the shower, dry off all the water from your skin, and then apply a product, complete with emulsifiers and preservatives, that is 65% water? Sounds absurd, doesn’t it?
Why not pay only for the healthy, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, plant oils, and apply them to sopping wet skin? You provide the water, and use your very own hands to rub a beautifully-crafted natural body oil into wet skin, creating the emulsion as you go? You’ll have to get used to walking around naked for 3-4 minutes while it soaks in, but once you’ve made the switch, you won’t even think about it anymore. With a well-balanced body oil, you will not feel oily after it absorbs, and you will feel perfectly moisturized all day long.
Whether you’re on a mission to clean up your beauty routine, an environmental advocate working to decrease environmental toxins, a new mom who wants to reduce ingredients for herself and her baby, or just someone who really loves potions, this new habit is for you. Try it for two weeks, and see if you don’t become a believer.
CAN I MAKE MY OWN BODY OIL?
Of course you can! If you want to make your own body oil, here’s a DIY natural body oil recipe that will feel great on your skin, sink in quickly, and leave you soft and happy. You can order most of these oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, and even find some of them at your local natural foods store.
In an 8 ounce bottle, combine:
- 4 ounces organic sunflower oil
- 2 ounces organic jojoba oil
- 1 ounce organic sweet almond oil
- 1 teaspoon natural vitamin E oil
- Optional: 5-10 drops organic lavender essential oil (or other skin-safe essential oil of your choice)
Apply to wet skin, dance naked, and enjoy!
BODY OIL FAQs:
What does body oil do?
Body oil, when applied to wet skin, seals in moisture and fortifies the protective lipid layer of the skin.
Is natural body oil good for your skin?
Body oil is a great choice for all skin types. When applied to wet skin, it helps the skin hold moisture and keeps the top layer of skin soft and nourished.
Should I use body oil or body lotion?
Body oil has fewer ingredients than lotion, and does not require ingredients like emulsifiers and preservatives. In addition, you’re not paying for water, which is the main ingredient in most lotions.
Which natural body oil is best?
Choose an Osmia Body Oil based on the product description and your scent preferences. Night is a best seller, and Naked is not scented if you’re looking for a simpler option.
What is the best body oil for dry skin?
Sunset and Water are especially nourishing to dry skin, but the most important thing is to apply any Osmia Body Oil to sopping wet skin and allow it to air dry for maximum moisture. You can also combine your body oil with a natural body butter for extra nourishment—our body mousse is incredible when combined with a few pumps of body oil!
With love and beautifully soft skin,
This article was originally published on MindBodyGreen.com - see it here.