Body oil vs. lotion: Which is better?

Dr. Janet Zand

March 12, 2021

Is body oil better for your skin ... or is lotion better?

Body oils seem to absorb right into the skin, which makes them feel like they’re really working. Plus, oils also tend to have simple, clean ingredients.

However, body lotion is a longer-lasting moisturizer, so your skin stays protected long after you apply it.

So ... which one should you use?

Well, as it turns out, it depends on the timing.

To explain what I mean, let’s start with a few key differences between oils and lotions.

The benefits of oil

Body oils — such as avocado, jojoba, and almond — are great for reintroducing moisture into the skin. That’s because these oils mimic our skin’s natural oils.

In fact, researchers found that when these oils are absorbed into your skin, your skin actually treats them like its own natural oil!So your skin uses it to repair itself, maintain the moisture barrier, and more.

Another benefit to oils is that they tend to be cleaner than lotions.

See, most oils contain a single ingredient, or a handful of ingredients at most. And these ingredients are usually safe plant oils, like almond or jojoba. Lotions, on the other hand, are more likely to contain additives and other questionable ingredients.

I’ll tell you how to find safe products in just a minute. But first let’s talk about the benefits of body lotion...

The benefits of lotion

If you’ve tried both lotions and oils, you probably noticed that lotions keep your skin moisturized for longer.

That’s because many lotions often have ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Hyaluronic acid attracts and retains moisture in the skin, and ceramides help hold that moisture in your skin for longer.

These two ingredients are real powerhouses when it comes to moisturizing your skin and keeping it moisturized.

So how do you decide between lotion and oil?

Well, it really comes down to timing...

How to decide

If you’re just getting out of the shower or bath and your skin is still wet, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Oils will lock in the water absorbed by your skin, helping to keep your skin hydrated. Lotion will do the same. For extra dry skin, you can even apply oil and then lotion, to really boost and then lock in the moisture.

If your skin isn’t wet, go with a lotion.

Why? Because lotions are partly water-based, and the water helps lotion penetrate your skin better. And the more it penetrates your skin, the better it can deliver the hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and other moisturizing ingredients. So think of lotion as an “any time” moisturizer.

Finally, whether you go with an oil, lotion, or both, make sure you’re buying products with clean ingredients.

You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s especially important with body moisturizer. That’s because you apply body moisturizer every day and to large areas of your skin. So if the product contains toxic ingredients, you’re applying a lot of those toxins to your skin. And from there, the toxins can end up in your bloodstream.

In fact, studies have shown that substances like parabens — which are common additives in skin lotions — can be detected in the bloodstream shortly after they’re applied to the skin. And if these substances are found in your blood, that means they are also in your liver and other places in your body!

An easy way to check a product’s safety is to do a quick search on sites like The Good Guide or The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. You can also use an app like Think Dirty.

These types of sites and apps rate the safety of a product based on its ingredient list, making it easier to find clean products.

So ... try these tips out, and let me know how it goes. I think your skin will look and feel much better!

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