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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My favourite summer body care

So after the week from hell (not in a bad way, in a literal temperature way) I thought I’d quickly share some of my favourite warm weather bodycare products, incase you were looking for an excuse to spend a few more pennies this summer 🙂

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How to go anti-perspirant free!

I stopped using anti-perspirant about three years ago now, and I will NEVER go back. I made the choice because I didn’t like the idea that I was blocking a natural process. I can see that it might seem like the kind of thing only inconsiderate ‘hippies’ might go in for. Well, I am a bit of a hippy, but that doesn’t mean I’m inconsiderate, because the thing is, going perspirant free does not increase the number of times I get body odour! Read on to find out how I keep myself smelling nice without stopping my body doing what it needs to do.

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How to keep body odour at bay without anti-perspirant

  1. Use a good deodorant. Of course, going anti-perspirant free doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a good, natural deo. I’ve tried them all, and for my everyday, morning application I love PitRok and Salt of the Earth. I use PitRok if I’m not showering, but if I do shower I use Salt of the Earth which needs to be used on wet skin (or wetted before use). These both do an amazing job and I often find they last all day. 
  2. Keep underarm hair sweet. If you’ve decided to dump the razor as well as the anti-persp, I have one great tip for how to help yourself feel more confident with your newfound armpit hair, and that’s to look after it. Apply a scented oil or balm like Lush’s Elbow Grease and your armpit hair will be smelling like a fresh bouquet all day. You can’t beat it.
  3. Re-deodorise at your desk. Whatever your job, you will find that occasionally you have some odour to cover up. This can easily be sorted out with Weleda Sage Deodorant, which eliminates odour in seconds, and lasts for ages. If your job is less sedentary than mine, you may have to do it more often, but to be honest I walk (briskly) two hours a day and my boyfriend cycles to work and works on his feet and neither of us have ever had a problem that Sage Deo couldn’t fix.
  4. Nighttime protection. This is an important one for the summer. If you start to smell at night because you’re entwined in sweaty sheets (or a sweaty significant other) it’s very likely that some BO will set in overnight and be really difficult to shift come morning. You can prevent this with a sprinkling of dusting powder before bed – Lush’s Silky Underwear is my all time fave though they have others, some of which I think are actually designed to combat odour!

So, there are my tips! As I mentioned, I don’t have a hugely active lifestyle (I don’t work on a building site) but I do exercise and I do walk a lot to and from work, and this routine works perfectly for me.

Are you thinking of going anti-perspirant free? Or have you already done it and have your own fave products? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Eloquence Beauty Nourishing Treatment Oil

Eloquence is a new skincare brand with a really interesting key ingredient: Sacha-inchi oil. I was  intrigued by this unknown plant extract, so when I was given the chance to try some products from Eloquence’s range, I jumped! The sacha-inchi plant is native to Peru, and after I googled it I realised that here was another plant I’d often seen when I was volunteering in the Amazon Rainforest. The oil from the seeds is extremely high in omega fatty acids, protein and antioxidants, which makes it a perfect choice for a nourishing product like Eloquence’s Nourishing Treatment Oil*

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The oil has a gorgeous citrusy scent which really sets it apart from most of the nourishing oils I’ve tried. It’s a thick, dense oil but they’ve somehow managed to make it absorb wonderfully without leaving greasiness or residue, so it’s basically the best of both worlds in terms of body oils. I love to use it on my legs after I shave, and I’ve also been massaging it into my nails at night because they’ve been flaky due to major stress I’ve been under recently. The oil was actually a lifesaver for this – it sinks into my nails instantly and leaves them shiny and healthy looking.

What I really love this oil for though, is my hair. Oh my word is this an amazing hair oil. The combination of coconut, sweet almond, olive, argan, sunflower and grape seed oils together with the magic sacha-inchi oil sinks into dry hair to leave it super soft and shiny. I’ve been using it on the curls around my hairline as they have a very brittle, dry texture and it is looking so much better! I also apply a little to the ends each night which is a lovely, indulgent experience as my hair smells divine when I sink into bed. Plus, bye bye split ends!

This is an utterly gorgeous multi-use, luxury oil that I cannot recommend highly enough. It is seriously one of the best oils I’ve ever used, and with the citrusy scent and easy absorption, it’s perfect for the warmer months! Get it from the Eloquence website for £29.99 – link

 

 

Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Scrub

Exfoliation is probably one of my favourite aspects of skincare. However, I have to be careful not to overdo it when I scrub my dry, delicate skin. I really think that when you have sensitive skin, you should be very careful about the quality of the exfoliators you buy. Which is why I feel absolutely no guilt about enjoying the wondrous, luxurious Geranium Leaf Body Scrub from Aesop.

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The exfoliating granules in Aesop’s Geranium Leaf Body Scrub are made from finely ground pumice and bamboo stem powders, which lift away dead skin gently, but amazingly well – my skin has never felt so smooth, and I suspect it’s because they’re so fine and therefore able to really get under the dead skin. The thick gel makes it a gorgeous product to massage into the skin, and, enriched with oils of mandarin, bergamot and geranium, it conditions and deeply cleanses the skin without drying it at all. These oils also make it smell glorious. 

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I adore body scrubs and have tried so many over the years, but the fresh, refreshingly sweet scent, gorgeous texture and gentle effectiveness of Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Scrub makes it the best one I’ve ever used, by a long shot. It’s £25 for 170ml, which isn’t cheap, but if you’re looking to splash some Christmas money on a treat (or you can afford it anyway, in which case good for you!) I really think you’ll be glad you did. You can get it on Cult Beauty here – link

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How to shave your legs like a feminist

1. Acknowledge that, as a feminist, you never want to tell other women what to do with their bodies and anything you may or may not say about hair removal is merely a suggestion based on subjective experiences.

2. Grow out a different body hair area to ensure there’s always a part of you that doesn’t unintentionally cater to the male gaze. With smooth legs comes great responsibility to ensure men don’t think you’re on their side.

 

3. If you start dating a beard bro, be sure to grow out enough body hair in the first few months that you can be certain of any feminist ideals he might claim to have (if there isn’t a man, skip to the end of step 4).

4. Once you’re sure of the aforementioned man’s regard for you and the choices you make about your body, or you get bored of the fur covering your lower extremities, decide that it’s time for a shave.

5. Invest in some nice products. You’re doing this for you, after all. May as well get it right.

6. Choose your first product: An exfoliator. These come in several shapes, a konjac sponge, a body brush, exfoliating gloves, or my personal preference, a scrub. I LOVE & Other Stories’ beautiful Body Scrubs.

7. Choose your razor. I always used to preach that expensive razors were a joke and that we should always go withthe 10 for a £1 orange Bic multipack, but I’m told by some of my fellow feminists that women with thicker or coarser hair actually need to take a three-bladed approach to their hair removal. So pick whichever razor you like, but DON’T go for the higher priced pink option just because it claims to be specially designed for your legs. It isn’t.

8. Second product: shaving aid. You don’t need to use special shaving gel on your legs, but don’t cop out by using your shampoo, or worse, conditioner on your legs. I know so many people who do this and I don’t get it – you’re shaving the hair off for heaven’s sake! When you shave, you’re leaving the product on your legs for longer than normal so it’s imperative to use something actually designed for your body, not hair. A moisturising and gorgeously scented shower gel is what you want. Korres Bergamot Pear, or any of & Other Stories’ Shower Gels are perfect.

9. Warm your skin under the shower to soften the skin a bit, and then exfoliate. This’ll help make the exfoliation more effective.

10. Turn the shower off because otherwise you’ll waste a tonne of water. I actually have a little plastic pot in the bathroom, which I fill with water to rinse the hair off the razor as I shave.

#sustainability on the #newyork subway

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11. Try not to cut yourself. (If you do slip, cool the area asap. Your blood vessels are open from the warm water, which is why shaving injuries bear a striking resemblance to the elevator scene in The Shining. I usually just rinse the blood with cold water and then apply a flannel soaked in cold water as I hobble back to my bedroom…)

12. Should you manage to complete your shave without abandoning due to injury, gently pat your skin dry.

13. Time for the third product. Lush’s Silky Underwear Dusting Powder contains cocoa butter, cornflower and jasmine. It smells unbelievably sexy, and it makes your body feel smoother than smooth. Sprinkling it over freshly shaved legs gives the ultimate smooth shave feeling. I don’t know if people with dark skin tones can use aggressively white dusting powder, and if I’m right, then try my other favourite body moisturiser. Korres Bergamot Pear Body Milk contains aloe vera, almond and shea butter as well as the most beautiful fragrance known to humankind. These are two of the best body products I’ve ever tried.

14. Do this:

15. Go outside and show your legs off! Only if you want to (and you slather on some SPF) of course.

Korres Bergamot Pear Body Milk and Shower Gel Review

In August last year, I visited New York for the first time. The first of many times, I very much hope. My friend and I stayed in a wonderful Airbnb apartment with a friendly couple and an adorable dog. The apartment was in South Williamsburg, and I’m so glad we chose somewhere a bit different rather than going for the centre of Brooklyn or Manhattan. Naturally, being tourists, we spent all our time in those areas anyway, so it was great to see a bit of New York that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It really is an amazing city. I ate so much pizza and so many bagels.

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It was August, and nothing could have prepared me for how hot it was. Hotter than the rainforest – and I would know, I spent two months living in one. I’d worn a very loose dress (#5 on that list) with a strappy back for comfort on the plane, but after getting out of the subway and realising I was surrounded by Hasidic Jewish people, I almost cooked myself keeping my hoodie on as I attempted to find the apartment. At least I didn’t offend anyone!

Before I left for NYC, a combination of job interviews an a terrible cold resulted in me doing some extremely last minute holiday prep. As I wasn’t going to be staying in hotels, I needed shower gel. This compact and beautiful Korres Bergamot Pear Shower Gel bottle caught my eye on ShowerHacks.com. Although it’s 250ml like most shower gels, it just seems to take up less space than others. Maybe it’s my imagination, but a basic bottle of Radox definitely looks bigger, yet holds the same amount. Perhaps Korres are cutting down on packaging? They certainly seem like the kind of company who would – they have a lovely ethos.

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I didn’t open the shower gel until several days later when, jetlagged, boiling hot and possibly a bit smelly, I undressed in our host’s walk-in shower. Tiled in dark red, with a waterfall shower head attached to the high ceiling, it was cool, quiet and calm in that shower. The water fell heavily and I set it to cold. I flipped the lid and poured some gel onto my travel sponge, and as I massaged the gel over my hot skin I absolutely couldn’t believe how gorgeous the scent was.

The Bergamot Pear fragrance is sweet and fruity from the pear, but there’s a gorgeous freshness and bit of sharpness to lift it up. As I stood there in the shower the scent restored me completely. It woke my mind up and washed away all the drowsiness in my muscles. Although it’s sweet, the fragrance is incredibly clean, so you get all the benefit of a super freshening shower gel without the artificial tang.

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As the boiling hot New York summer progressed, we spent sleepless nights under thin sheets, and long days exploring the city. Naturally, I showered a lot – waking myself up and cooling myself down in that beautiful bathroom, and whenever I’ve used the shower gel at home since, it reminds me of the wonderful time I had.

With aloe vera gel and wheat proteins, the shower gel isn’t just good for the senses, it’s great for the skin too. The cooling aloe is probably why it felt so good on my skin after long days out, and the wheat has kept my skin soft and supple all through winter too – I’ve been using it almost constantly since the summer.

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I saw the Body Milk in Liberty’s a while ago, but because I have so many body oils, creams and lotions, I stopped myself from indulging. I really wanted to though. That scent is hard to resist, so after I got my new job, I decided to treat myself. Well, I’m glad I did; This is the ultimate summer body lotion. The milk sinks into the skin immediately, leaving it incredibly soft, and beautifully scented. There’s aloe in there again to cool, along with shea butter and jojoba to soften. I’m completely obsessed with it – I usually to forget to moisturise after a shower because I’m really not a morning person, but since buying this I’ve remembered to do it every single day.

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I really can’t describe how gorgeous these products are. I know that’s technically the whole point of blogging about products, but to be honest I just really want you to go to your nearest retailer and have a sniff, because I know you’ll buy it. If you’re looking for some fruity, clean and fresh smelling body care for the summer months, these are your guys. At £10 for the Body Milk and £8 for the Shower Gel, you can’t really argue with the price either.