Though body oils and body lotions have the same end goal—to moisturize your skin—they get the job done in different ways. "A hydrating body lotion applied to dry skin is a more lightweight product whereas a body oil is thicker and more occlusive," says Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, MD a Miami-based board-certified dermatologist and the founder Dr. Loretta Skincare. "A body oil will provide a protective barrier to the dry skin and keep your skin texture smooth, while lotion tends to evaporate and not give the same tactile textural improvement you’d get from an oil." Dr. Loretta suggests layering your body oil on top of your lotion, effectively sandwiching it with your skin. "When you layer an occlusive oil on top of a lotion you get better penetration of the active ingredients in the lotion producing faster and more noticeable hydrating benefits," she says.
Using the two products together will allow for their hydrating ingredients to reach deeper layers of your skin, giving you a more moisturized effect overall. "A body oil contains only oil, while a body lotion is an emulsion, which means that it's made up of tiny droplets of one liquid suspended in another liquid it wouldn't normally mix with, like oil and water," says Anne-Claire Walch, PhD, a pharmacology expert and the founder of Náu Skincare, explaining that only the oil elements of either product can dissolve and pass through the lipophilic outer layer of your skin. "Body oil is a quick, short term solution to get a moisturizing feel, but only on a superficial level, but when you use it with body lotion, the deeper layers of the skin also receive moisture, so you'll be able to see a long term nourishing effect," she adds.
When you sandwich your lotion with a top layer of oil, you're increasing the percentage of oil that's being applied to your skin, which allows the entire concoction to penetrate more deeply than either product would on its own. "If you have really dry skin, adding a body oil to a body lotion makes total sense—especially when winter comes and the skin starts to crack," says Dr. Walch.
After you get out of the shower, start by applying a barrier-protecting lotion lotion, like Náu Extra-Care Body Lotion ($25), then follow it up with a nourishing oil, like Grown Alchemist Body Treatment Oil ($41). The result? A complexion-nourishing snack your dry, dehydrated skin will gobble right up.
Now that you know how to deal with dry skin on your body, check out the video below for tips on how to handle it on your face, too.
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