If you’re in the world of cosmetics and toiletries, if you like to pamper yourself with the best cosmetic products money can buy, or follow the latest trends in the green cosmetics, chances are you’ve heard or read companies trashing and bashing each other’s bath and body products, in particular body lotions and body oils.
There are those that believe wholeheartedly, their mission in life is to speak ill of lotions as if it was the devil in your bathroom; warning you of the dangers this demonic entity poses, while the other side of the spectrum, defenders of lotions and haters of body oils, engage in well… the same silliness.
Supporters and formulators of body oils, as if it was a matter of a cult, would without mercy, try to sway you away with some of the most ridiculous marketing tactics. “You’re paying for mostly water!”, some would say; or “that lotion contains alcohol!” oh dear!
Some equally ridiculous statements are made by proponents of body lotions as well, in an endless social media battle for a spot on an imaginary pedestal somewhere in the heavens of cosmetics.
On both sides of this nonsensical futile feud, there is one commonality: ignorance about the benefits both can actually have on the skin.
Can’t we have both?!
We can! The fact of the matter is we should all use both, body lotions and oils. They both have a reason, time and place in our bath routines depending on the season and time availability. Yes, the time of the year and the weather alongside its capricious moisture fluctuations, must be taken into consideration when it comes to the application of either of these products.
Granted, not all body oils are created equal and just because they might say they’re formulated with all organic ingredients, doesn’t mean they’re good. Formulating a well balanced body oil can be a tricky task. Too much of one particular oil, or blending the wrong oils and the result can be, well… not that good. Nonetheless a well balanced, nourishing, natural, body oil made with fresh oils, is a must in any respectable bathroom routine. They are tricky to use and if you don’t know how to apply them properly you could learn to hate them very quickly though. But with a bit of time and practice you will end up loving every drop!
As it happens with body oils, not all body lotions are created equal either. Body lotions are considered emulsions, which are products that contain water (or water based ingredients) and oils (usually between 5% and 35% depending on the product) held together by an emulsifier (the binding agent). It takes a good deal of chemistry, a proper lab with the proper lab equipment, and ingredients knowledge to even begin designing the product on paper before even starting mixing the ingredients as the number of variables are astronomical in comparison.
Formulating a well balanced highly functional body lotion is much more a scientific achievement than formulating a body oil, so it’s understandable why many kitchen born natural brands avoid formulating lotions like the plague. But just because a brand or a formulator shies away from them, doesn’t mean they’re bad at all. A good, well balanced body lotion is also a must in your bathroom routine and the results can be instantaneous in contrast with any body oil.
To better understand why these two can live together in any bathroom routine, let’s start by breaking apart the pros and cons of each:
When applied properly on wet skin after a warm shower or bath they absorb rather quickly into the deeper layers of the skin, locking in the necessary hydration (from the water deposited on your skin after the shower) and nourish the skin (from the vitamins and nutrients of the oils in the formulation contain) leaving in most cases, no oily residue behind.
Body oils are best or most suited for when the weather has turned warm and the air is filled with moisture, being summer the best time of the year to apply them and get the benefits they were formulated for, especially if you’re aiming for that skin glow.
High nourishment and moisturization when the product is applied correctly.
A little goes a long, long way! Saving you some money in the long run.
Longer shelf lives compared to body lotions and no bacteria and mould growth to worry about, assuming you don’t get your wet fingers inside that bottle that is.
They do not require emulsifiers, therefore some heat won’t alter them.
They can be applied cold, if you fancy that, or warm.
They’re great for massage applications. When applied warm they can relax sore muscles.
Can also be applied on hair.
They can be formulated with natural high quality ingredients and essential oils instead of artificial fragrances.
Body oils must be applied on wet skin only if the intention is to use as moisturizers, which limits their convenience as a purse or carry on product, therefore these products are considered bathroom only cosmetics.
Body oils do not provide hydration as they do not contain water. Oil and butters are hydrophilic, which means they naturally repel water. They instead work by locking moisture in the skin, which should be applied by other means such after showering or bathing. If the skin is already depleted of hydration, applying oils or butters won’t solve dry skin problems.
Not much nourishment and no moisturization if the product is applied incorrectly, which deters consumers from purchasing body oils.
Some formulations can clog pores increasing the chances of acne and breakouts.
They do go bad, and become rancid but do not generally grow mold or bacteria. Paying attention to that PAO symbol and when it was produced is important.
Because they lack skin absorption enhancer ingredients (ingredients such as ethanol that would make for the quick absorption into the deep layers of the skin), massage and heat are a must.
The application of body oils isn’t as straight forward as body lotions.
Dry skin applications without massage and/or heat might result in poor absorption and an unpleasant oily skin.
Require more time to apply, which means setting aside some 20-30 minutes out of your busy routine.
Because body lotions contain relatively large amounts of water or water based ingredients (glycerine, aloe vera juice, hydrosols, etc) there is no need to wet or hydrate the skin prior to their application, which makes these products portable and ready to use anywhere, anytime and can be applied on dry dehydrated skin without a problem.
Although body lotions can be applied at any time of the year during any season, they’re most suitable during the colder months, when air is dry and the skin requires to be hydrated more often.
They’re easier and quick to apply.
Body lotions are formulated with transporter or absorption enhancer ingredients (ethanol, and others) which allow for a more immediate absorption of ingredients to the deeper layers of the skin without the need for heat, wet skin or long massage applications.
They can too be formulated with natural high quality ingredients and essential oils instead of artificial fragrances.
They too can be applied on hair.
Body lotions provide high nourishment, hydration and moisturization for the most part. Of course, that depends on the formula, manufacturer, brand and ingredients.
Body lotions can also server as hair conditioners.
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Lotions require a preservation system (set of preservatives or blends) when formulating. Lotions without preservatives are the perfect breading ground for microbes. Special attention is required when buying and using these products.
Due to their nature and the requirement for preservation systems, body lotions have shorter shelf lives and are prone to growing bacteria and mould after their expiration date or if stored/used inappropriately.
They’re not good for massage applications as they get absorbed rather quickly.
It might take a while for skin to glow with the use of body lotions, as they do not contain the same amount of oils compared to body oils.
They can too clog pores, depending on the ingredients in their formulations, increasing the chances for acne and breakouts.
Skin feeling oily is also a problem with some formulations.
Depending on the product, an immediate second application might be required to achieve the necessary results.
When exposed to extreme heat and other unfavorable conditions, body lotions can separate (water and oil separation is a problem with all emulsions) rendering them unusable.
Don’t let your favorite natural brand trash your favorite body lotion or body oil. There is no need for this feud at all. Both products can be used successfully throughout the year to help you achieve the ultimate goal, healthy radiant skin.
Enjoy your lotion, your oil or both!