Whether used in the bath, for massage or as daily skin care, body oils provide emolliency and protection from the elements. They also make ideal bases for extracting healing properties from botanicals, or for adding essential oils to enhance the effects of the body oils themselves. Each body oil possesses specific healing qualities, providing a variety of choices for every skin type or skin problem. Always do a patch test on a small part of your body to rule out allergies before using unfamiliar body oils.
Olive oil remains a favorite with natural-skin-care enthusiasts because it moisturizes and nourishes. The rich oil is high in skin nutrients such as linoleic acid and beta carotene, according to Drugs.com. Manufacturers express the oil by pressing olives. Use olive oil to make herbal-infused body oils; the mixture is less likely to go rancid than many other body oils. Herbalist Dina Falconi prefers virgin-grade olive oil over other olive oils, citing its superior retention of nutrients. All olive oil grades are somewhat strong smelling, so combine it with an odorless oil when scent is an issue.
Like olive oil, sesame oil's natural antioxidants make it more shelf-stable for infusing herbs. Derived from sesame seeds, sesame oil makes a superior choice for oily skin because it is somewhat drying. For use as a moisturizing body oil, combine it with peanut or olive oil. Falconi cites evidence that sesame oil provides some protection from the sun. Consider using it in natural sunscreen formulas, combined with the natural sun-protecting vitamin known as PABA, or para-aminobenzoic acid.
Extracted from the seeds of a desert shrub, jojoba oil is technically a waxy fluid. Falconi notes that of all the body oils, jojoba most resembles sebum, the natural substance our bodies produce but which lags in older people. Falconi recommends it for dry, aging skin. Drugs.com notes that studies show jojoba also helps people with psoriasis, sunburn and chapped skin. The oil is colorless and odorless.
Solid Vegetable Oil
One of the most inexpensive and easily found body oils around, solid vegetable oil -- whether name brands like Crisco or a generic version -- can work wonders for problem skin, according to author Barbara Loecher in "New Choices in Natural Healing for Women." The book includes an interview with a dermatologist who recommends solid vegetable oil for eczema and general moisturizing because its thick texture helps seal in moisture. Apply it within a few minutes after taking a shower.
Aromatherapists prize grape-seed oil because it is light and odorless. The oil also tends to have a drying effect, which is helpful for people with oily skin but counterproductive for aging, irritated or dry skin. Combine it with other oils if emolliency is the goal.
Wheat Germ Oil
High in vitamin E, wheat germ oil makes an ideal addition to body oils. However, its strong smell and heavy texture make it somewhat overpowering when used alone, so combine it with lighter oils like grape-seed oil or sesame oil to balance its effects.
- "Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair"; Dina Falconi; 1998
- Drugs: Jojoba
- Drugs: Olive Oil
- MotherNature: New Choices in Natural Healing for Women: Skin Problems