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Power Swaps: The most important healthy beauty swap you can make

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Healthy changes often come as a result of major dedication and discipline—like pre-dawn workouts and ordering kale salad instead of moules frites and red wine (darn you, Olivia Pope). But small, yet powerful changes can boost your wellness as much as big sacrifices can. In this new Well+Good series, we share some seriously smart yet simple swaps. Introducing Power Swaps.

When it comes to staying beautiful, you can do all the right things: Use a great cleanser, exfoliate, moisturize. But the beauty cognoscenti say many of us get at least one of those “right” things, well, wrong. And as a result, we’re contributing to our own lack of that healthy glow.

“Even though most people are using a moisturizer, I still see a lot of dry skin,” says Spirit Demerson, founder of the curated natural beauty destination, Spirit Beauty Lounge.

Her top tweak? Swap your moisturizers and lotions for a facial oil (think argan, coconut, pumpkin seed, or blends with jojoba, chamomile, rosehip seed, sea buckthorn, and marula, just to name a few).

Oils provide direct nourishment, make skin more luminous, and help protect skin from a range of freakouts. And they do it sans additives like water, preservatives, and emulsifiers.

If you apply them correctly, of course.

The time to apply oils is as soon as you wash your face or jump out of the shower—you’re not necessarily dripping, but definitely still damp. (You can always mist your face first, too.)

“Applying to damp skin is something a lot of us have heard, but we’re still not doing,” says Demerson, who swears it makes a huge difference in boosting your radiance. “When there are some beads of water on your skin, apply the oil directly.” Done right, it’ll soak into the skin in a minute or two, not sit on top of it.

Spirit Demerson
(Photo: Spirit Demerson)

If your skin is on the oily or acne-prone side, and you’re skeptical about putting oils anywhere near your face, take note: Plant oils can actually help bring your skin into balance. “Use an oil blend higher in linoleic acid, such as rosehip or evening primrose,” she advises anyone with this skin type. “For dry skin, use oils higher in oleic acid, such as sea buckthorn or avocado oil.”

You might find you don’t need a moisturizer, except in the more brutal months. During winter, consider the layer method: Apply a few drops of oil first, then a moisturizer, cream, or balm, which can help keep cold (read: harsh) fall and winter air at bay, Demerson says. Of course, if you love your moisturizer—face or body—it’s totally fine to keep using it. It just might not be the beauty workhorse you think it is.

“Oils are great, because you’re skipping all the waxy emulsifiers and preservatives that are needed to make an oil into a water-based cream, and really getting the essential skin-care ingredients in their core form,” says Demerson. Power Swap, indeed.

(Photo: Peter McConnochie / CC BY 2.0)