A beginner’s guide to body oils

Several years ago, a colleague of mine was talking to me about how much she loved a body oil made by the company we were working for. I replied that I didn’t really understand oils – didn’t they just make you sticky? She insisted that I take home a bottle (perks of the job if you work in beauty) and told me I would end up addicted to the silky soft feeling of freshly oiled skin sinking into bed.

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A good body oil won’t make your skin sticky, just silky soft and smooth. Nothing soothes skin after shaving like an oil, and nothing feels more luxurious. I’ve been obsessed with oils now for ages, and I know that there is SO much choice. Unlike with skincare, you don’t really have a body skin ‘type’ so I thought I’d make it easier for you to pick your new favourite bodycare by talking about the different types of oil out there (and sharing some faves of course!)

Before we begin, there are a few things all body oils should have in common. Their base should be natural oils such as jojoba, almond, rosehip, coconut, sacha inchi, sunflower, avocado and apricot kernal. They shouldn’t be based on mineral oil, as this really defeats one of the main purposes of body oils – that the skin is able to absorb it fully, and really benefit. Their fragrance should also be totally natural – given that they’re absorbed so completely, do you really want some weird-ass ‘blue’ or ‘amber’ notes being sucked into your skin? The oils and extracts used to fragrance an oil should usually have some skincare benefit too, or at least smell like heaven in a bottle. Anyway, lets get started!

The All Over Body Oil: These are oils that can be used on your hair and face as well as body. Most oils can be used like this but some are specifically designed for this purpose – they tend to use rosehip, jojoba and almond oils which are lighter and particularly beneficial for the skin of the face, and easily absorbed by the hair. Their perfumes tend to be gentler as well. Divine Oil from Caudalie is a wonderful example of this – although it’s intensely nourishing and has a heady, sensual scent, it’s really gentle and sinks straight in. This also makes it perfect for the summer!

The Coconut Oil Body Oil: Everyone should own a coconut oil based body oil if you ask me. The heaviest oil you can put on your body, we all know about it’s miraculous qualities. You can use it on your body for intense nourishment, and the hair as a daily or pre-shampoo treatment. Good coconut oil products will be solid at room temperature (anything that isn’t is either very diluted or very chemically – avoid). Hei Poa make the best ones, using monoi which is an absolutely heavenly scent. They aren’t easy to get in the UK but Amazon carries them.

The Detox Oil: These are often marketed as anti-cellulite or slimming oils (especially in January.) I’m fine with this claim in many ways – first of all, many actually do help, and second, how are you supposed to know what they do if they don’t write it on the box? But at the same time, there are brands that will say things like that to play on women’s insecurities. I trust a brand like Weleda to be doing it for the right reasons, and their Birch Cellulite Oil is magic for not only getting to the dimples that exercise can’t, but also giving your skin more radiance, by stimulating drainage and circulation. Look for oils containing stimulating ingredients like rosemary, birch, lemon and cypress. If you that one’s not for you, an alternative can be found at forskolin online.

The Stretch Mark/Scar Fading Oil: These are usually marketed towards pregnant women, but there’s no reason that anyone with stretch marks or scars can’t use them. To be honest, most oils will help as they feed the skin and help it to renew. For pregnancy, ones with arnica are great as they help with the stretching, and for scars, anything with rosehip and jojoba is best as these are most similar to the skin’s own sebum which means they get absorbed really effectively. You can even use rosehip on acne scars, it’s that effective! Look for healing ingredients in oils like these, such as arnica, rose, vitamin E, calendula, lavender, and if you’re really serious about this, retinoids – but NOT when you’re pregnant, ok?! Save retinoids for when the only contact you’re having with a baby is cuddles.

The Budget Friendly: Once you’re addicted to oils, your regular body lotions and butters will be about as appealing as a sticky an old tub of aqueous cream. So you might need something a bit cheaper for your everyday post-shower routine. There are lots of options, but this is where you get into the territory of rubbish, artificial flavours and mineral oils. Play it safe and get Lush’s Elbow Grease, not only is it the best smell on the PLANET, but it’s super nourishing, lasts for EVER, and comes in cheap for what you get at £5.95.

The Sports Oil: If you do lots of exercise, are planning a big hike or are just about to start a new spin class, it’s a very good idea to get an oil specifically for soothing and relaxing aching muscles. I love Weleda Arnica Massage Balm which has a massive amount of arnica in it, but look out for oils with peppermint, thyme, rosemary and ginger too.

The Massage Oil: Any oil can be used for massage, but sometimes it’s nice to get one especially for a nice rub down with your partner (and you can make sure they like the scent too!) – For this, I always recommend Lush’s massage bars. They have a massive range, and because they’re solid they’re perfect for a long, slow massage as they don’t sink in as quick.

The Eczema Oil: Now I’m not a medical professional and never claim to be, and eczema IS a disease, so check this with your doctor or derm if you feel you need to. The key when looking for an oil for eczema prone or hypersensitive skin is to look out for simplicity. You do not want essential oils anywhere near you. Look for calendula, chamomile, evening primrose, rosehip, sesame, safflower, almond or jojoba. They should be 100% natural, and ALWAYS patch test first!

The Luxury Oil: Everyone needs a treat every once in a while, and a really nice way to treat yourself, or someone else, is with a really luxurious, beautiful body oil. Applying oil is an act of self care, especially if done slowly, after a bath and before bed. REN’s Moroccan Rose Otto Body Oil is rich, beautifully fragranced with rose oil, and amazing for the skin. At £34 it’s not super expensive either! When buying a luxury oil, look for a story behind the oil or the extracts it contains. You’re looking for something precious to pamper yourself with!

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Serge Lutens Fleur d’Oranger

A few weeks ago we visited Kew Gardens, when the rhododendron flowers we out and the entire place was peppered with their brightly coloured, delicate petals. As I wandered along a path bursting with white and cream flowers, my nose was suddenly full of an astonishing scent.
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I wandered around smelling the flowers for ages, saying to my boyfriend ‘Where on earth is that smell coming from, it’s beautiful!’ until a lady with a pram behind me said ‘oh, um…I think it might be my perfume’. And yep, it was. She kindly told me the name so I could note it down on my phone, and as soon as we were on the bus home I had it in my Feel Unique basket.

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Fleur d’Oranger is blossomy, sweet and springy, with a warm, glowing basenote that reminds me of rain hitting the hot ground at the start of a thunderstorm. The sweet notes are so perfectly balanced, it’s incredibly delicate but there’s some strength to it, and on my skin at least, it has serious staying power. It smells like all my favourite parts of nature rolled into one perfect bottle. This is the perfect, perfect summer perfume, and I honestly think it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever smelled.

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If you like sweet, blossomy scents with a seriously deep and interesting side, this is the one for you. Find it on Feel Unique. It makes me feel special, sexy, happy and fresh, all day long!

Silky Underwear from Lush is the Best Thing Ever

Silky Underwear, Lush’s luxurious dusting powder, first caught my eye when I was around 13. Lush was pretty new where I lived and it was very exciting. My mum would talk to the sales assistants and I would wander around the store, reading and smelling everything. Obviously as a 13 year old it caught my eye because it sounded ‘naughty’.

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I didn’t pick it up because I thought I’d get told off. Then as I grew up it seemed like an unnecessary frivolity, so I never used my pocket money or student loan to try it out. Then I got a grown up 9-5, and I thought ‘I’m the kind of person who buys this now’. And now I regret the 25 years I spent without it, because I’ve found several different uses for it already, which would have been great for a teenager or student. You live and learn.

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Everything about Silky Underwear is amazing – the gorgeously sexy scent, the soft, light texture, the way it sinks in and nourishes the skin better than many creams…

Jasmine is one of my favourite scents. I live near the Langham Hotel in London, and on the way home on nights out in the summer I would take a shortcut up Regent’s Street, past their jasmine bushes. The night-blooming flowers would fill the warm air with their perfume, a beautiful treat after the car fumes of Oxford Circus and the sweaty clubs I’d been in minutes earlier. I used to pick a couple of blooms so I could wake up with the scent on my pillow. Naturally, I can’t wait to cover myself in this powder for in the summer. For me, jasmine is the ultimate summer scent. It’s heady, but light enough that it doesn’t feel cloying in the heat.

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It’s just as well that jasmine goes with summer, because Silky Underwear can be used for thigh chafe – I get this sometimes when I wear dresses (I think it depends on what shoes I wear, which should tell you a bit about how ridiculous the concept of a ‘thigh gap’ is. I’ve used it on my underarms instead of deodorant, and it actually kept them dry (and odourless!) So I think it’s going to work great on any thigh issues I may experience.

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The soft, light powder contains cocoa butter to moisturise the skin (I don’t fully understand how they’ve managed to turn cocoa butter into powder, but I’m a fan) and cornstarch, along with magnesium carbonate and kaolin rather than nasty talc. My geologist boyfriend really enjoyed explaining where these two ingredients come from and what they do…I chose not to share this with you, you’re welcome. The scent is jasmine absolute and vetivert oil (which is apparently an aphrodisiac…well helloooo), and it is D I V I N E. IMG_5879

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As you can see here (you might have to squint, I am about as white as the powder) it sinks straight in. My skin is left SO soft, and the scent lasts for ages. It’s a different experience entirely from using a cream as the skin is dry, but incredibly well nourished. This really is the perfect way to moisturise in the summer. I’m in love.

IMG_5875In fact, I loved it so much I actually bought a bottle for my friend in Canada for her birthday – I used the Canadian website* and my PayPal account (and her husband, who kindly messaged me their address and phone number without telling her), and it arrived within three days. The wonders of global connectivity! In the UK Silky Underwear is a mere £4.50, and if you’re of the Canadian persuasion (or know someone who is) then it’s just $7.95

Thank you Lush, we both LOVE THIS 🙂

*didn’t think there was much point trying to send a bottle of white powder across an entire continent in the post.

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