No matter what time of the year it is, keeping your skin properly moisturized can be difficult . In the winter, the lack of humidity and cold air causes your skin to get a little dry, while in the summer extra exposure to the sun leaves your skin in need of more hydration to keep it moisturized. When thinking about the best way to keep your skin's thirst quenched, you might first turn to body lotions; however, these creams tend to rub off quickly and leave your skin dry again quickly. An alternative to body lotions, body oils offer the perfect way to keep your skin moisturized while relaxing your mind and improving your body's overall health.
While some people figure that oil and skin don't mix, thinking that this might leave their bodies feeling greasy, body oils actually enhance the quality of your skin because they soak quickly and deeply into skin to leave it moisturized all day long.
Body oils are smooth, thick and highly concentrated liquids that are usually clear in color and enhance the appearance and quality of skin. The best body oils are organic, free of chemicals and extracted from roots, fruits, flowers and leaves. In the next pages, we'll take a look at the physical, emotional and even financial benefits of using body oil.
The most obvious benefit of body oils is their remarkable ability to moisturize your skin. Unlike some body lotions, the best organic body oils are free of chemicals. What's more, body oils will lock moisture into your skin for hours, while body lotions rub off more quickly. When your skin has a healthy balance of moisture, it feels soft and supple, making you both look good and feel good.
If your take the time to massage body oils into your skin, your body easily will absorb them, so you won't be left feeling greasy.
To maximize the amount of moisture that your skin absorbs, wash off any perfumes or lotions and exfoliate your skin before applying body oil. Allow the oil to soak in for at least five minutes before getting dressed so that your skin, rather than your clothing, is the thing that remains moisturized.
By massaging your skin with body oils, you can help to improve your overall health by reducing aches and pains and decreasing stress. Jamie East, educator and esthetician at Van Davis Aveda Salon in Winston-Salem, N.C., says that one of her most powerful tools in improving her guests' health is essential body oils.
According to Jamie, in times of stress, the skin is the last tissue to receive nutrients because blood supply is first routed to vital organs such as the heart and brain. Stress can also lead to the increased production of oxidant molecules or "free radicals" on the skin which break down cells leading to premature aging. Skin is especially sensitive because blood vessels dilate, resulting in redness and sensitivity. And as your skin cells shed, they leave your skin with a dull, dry appearance. To combat all these skin care concerns, Jamie pulls from her arsenal of therapeutic massage techniques and essential oils to improve her guests' overall health.
Some body oils contain special blends of ingredients designed to target specific areas of your body. Some can help to relieve upset stomachs; others improve circulation, alleviate pain in sore muscles and relieve stiff joints. For example, oils that contain black pepper (Piper nigrum) or ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduce pain and improve flexibility for those suffering from arthritis while German chamomile helps to treat eczema.
Many of the benefits of body oils relate to their use in massage therapy. Body oils make it easier to rub and massage skin, causing less friction and discomfort when a masseuse manipulates your body tissue.
Jamie at Van Davis Aveda asserts that essential oils work on the body in two distinct ways: by inhalation of the aroma and by topical application. The essential oils that she applies directly to the skin during her facials have a low molecular weight and are lipid (fat) soluble, so they are absorbed easily and are highly compatible with the skin's oil and cellular structures. She combines these oils with specific massage techniques for effective delivery and penetration of the body oil.
For oily acne-prone skin, Jamie uses tea tree oil to regulate and balance oil secretions and hormonally driven skin breakouts. She also incorporates a detoxifying massage to aid in ridding the body and skin of any impurities or toxins. To rejuvenate healthy skin cells and reduce stress-related skin problems, she uses lavender or vanilla for their soothing and calming effects on the skin. She also recommends combining Swedish massage techniques to calm the nervous system and increase nutritive circulation in the skin.
While the body oils used in massage create an enjoyable experience due to their pleasant smell and moisturizing properties, massage itself also offers many proven health benefits.
In addition to helping alleviate everyday aches and pains, studies have shown that massage lessens stiffness and increases the function of joints for those suffering from osteoarthritis, reduces symptoms of cancer and side effects of treatment and relieves anxiety and depression, according to WebMD.
In addition to physical improvements such as moisturized skin and pain relief, body oils can have a positive effect on your mental health. By using body oils, you can increase your level of relaxation and overall sense of emotional well-being.
Jamie at Van Davis Aveda is a strong proponent of the mental benefits of essential body oils. Her clients can attest that body oils reduce stress, relax and clear the mind, lessen anxiety, fulfill the need for nurturing touch and promote self-esteem.
Some body oils are designed to boost various aspects of your mood. For example, body oils that contain rosemary enhance alertness, while lavender body oils increase restfulness. Need a jolt of self-assurance? Rub yourself down with jasmine body oil to increase your level of confidence.
In addition to the many physical and emotional benefits of body oils, making the switch to body oils can save you money. This might seem contradictory because the best body oils are more expensive than lotions, but remember that a little body oil goes a long way.
To moisturize skin effectively and create a pleasant massage experience, use just a little bit of oil to cover a lot of skin. While it might take several pumps of body lotion to quench your skin's thirst, a tiny dollop of body oil will be sufficient in covering most of your body.
To maximize your body oil purchase, apply oil to your skin after a shower. This way, your skin will still be damp and absorb the moisture of the body oil more quickly and effectively. Also, if you warm your body oil on a low setting in the microwave or in your hands before you apply it to your skin, it will become lighter and cover more area, so that you'll end up using less during each application.
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- East, Jamie. Van Davis Aveda Salon. Winston, Salem, NC. Email Interview. (June 12, 2012).
- Essential Oil Benefits. (May 30, 2012).http://www.essential-oil-mama.com/essential-oil-benefits.html
- Body Recovery Online. "Body Oils." February 14, 2012. (May 30, 2012). http://www.bodyrecoveryonline.com/body-oils
- My Women Stuff. "I Love BodyOils." (May 30, 2012). http://www.mywomenstuff.com/2011/09/30/i-love-body-oils-the-case-for-body-oils-and-why-i-love-them/
- WedMD. "Massage Therapy Styles and Health Benefits." (June 4, 2012). http://www.webmd.com/balance/massage-therapy-styles-and-health-benefits
- University of Minnesota. "How Do Essential Oils Work? (June 4, 2012). http://takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/aromatherapy/how-do-essential-oils-work