I Can’t Stop Buying Body Oils for My Reptilian Winter Skin

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A little oil can go a long way. Photo: ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

When the temperature outside dips below 40 degrees, I don’t worry about what to wear (as a former editor at Vogue China, I’m good on the coat). My No. 1 concern is actually my skin; because I spend every weekend up in the Berkshires, where the temperature is consistently five to eight degrees colder than the city, my main goal is to keep it from resembling an alligator’s.

A few years back, when I traveled a lot for work, my skin became so dry, cracked, and painful that I thought I had eczema. I ran to my dermatologist, who advised me first not to shower every day (especially not with scalding-hot water) and instead to damp a cloth with warm water, pour oil or lotion onto it, and use that to wipe my body. Though I started with a body lotion (too clogging), I soon moved on to body oil and developed a full-blown obsession. The oils provided a barrier that held in moisture without being goopy. Not only did they keep me from developing scales — they gave me that elusive “dewy glow.” I became a woman on a mission.

After trying more than 40 bottles (discovered through consulting fashion and beauty friends; raiding the shelves of Whole Foods, Space NK, and my local apothecary; plus buying everything the blogs recommended), I found my favorite body oils for all situations — hopefully, they’ll help you, too.

Best everyday oil

Soothing Touch Lavender Bath and Body Oil

Even though I randomly found this in the Whole Foods beauty aisle, it’s become my go-to on most nights after showering. I like that the lavender scent is light, and (very crucially) it doesn’t leave any stains on my whiter-than-white Frette towels. It leaves me feeling sufficiently hydrated most nights, and since it’s on the affordable side, I feel okay about giving it a generous pour (this one you actually need more than a few drops). It’s never goopy — just moisturized enough. A really solid everyday oil when the radiator’s blasting and you need just a lift of moisture.

Best oil for face and body

This Works Skin Deep Dry Leg Oil

Okay, I know the name says “dry leg oil,” but don’t pay attention to that — this is the only oil I would use on my body and face. I apply it immediately after the shower on a DRY face, and it absorbs almost instantly. I’ll even put some on before bed — it’s not greasy at all — and wake up feeling fresh and hydrated (not oily). If you like the smell of rose (I do), it’s just divine.

Best body oil for stretch marks

Bio-Oil

I could not talk about body oils and leave out Bio-Oil. Anyone who’s used it knows it’s all about the PurCellin — it’s a synthetic ingredient in Bio-Oil that replicates the oil that ducks produce to keep feathers waterproof. It works so well at creating that barrier that I find it to be some of the most long-lasting oils at a reasonable price. I like putting it on damp skin (it can go on a bit dry), especially on areas with stretch marks, which I find does help. For any woman, this is gold dust.

Best body oil for sore muscles

EiR NYC Sunset Oil
Photo: Photographer: Garland Lyn/Copyright: (C) 2009 Garland Lyn
EiR NYC Sunset Oil

My friend Poppy told me about this oil — she discovered it after a stint working on a flower farm, and apparently this was all the farmworkers used after a day in the sun. But she and I both agree that it’s perfect for winter, when the jojoba, almond, and coconut oil create the scent memory of sunny rays. It has a touch of arnica, which makes it especially soothing for any muscle soreness you may have. I put it directly on my dry skin, and it’s an instant mood lifter.

Best extra-moisturizing body oil

African Botanics Firming Botanical Body Oil

With ingredients sourced from fair-trade communities in South Africa, the stuff is rich. Just a few drops straight after your bath or shower (on damp skin) goes a long way. The smell is sensational, too — it’s subtle, but the addition of green-rooibos tea and marula oil smells expensive. My skin lapped it up, and it leaves a nice glow, too. This is the bottle you put on your birthday list and use when you’re needing that extra motivation to face the day.

Best bath body oil

Susanne Kaufmann Oil Bath for the Senses

You know the effect a face mask has — leaving your skin nourished and plump and ever so slightly covered in alien slime? This oil is like a face mask for your entire body. Pour a generous glug into a bath, soak for about 20 minutes, then use a loofah to scrub off the dead skin. Heaven. Because the consistency is more watery than the other oils, this oil from Austrian skin-care line Susanne Kaufmann doesn’t lock in as much moisture when directly applied, but in a bath scenario, it’s perfect. It’s all I used in London over the holidays.

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I Can’t Stop Buying Body Oils for My Reptilian Winter Skin