So you’ve brushed, you’ve scrubbed, you’ve huffed and you’ve puffed. You are now the proud owner of glowy, well-exfoliated and probably slightly pink skin. It’s time for the icing on the cake. The final step to make sure that all that physical effort isn’t wasted.
Adding a layer of moisturiser to your skin will primarily help to hold onto the moisture within it. There’s a limit to how much moisture it can realistically add back though, so a couple of things are worth remembering. [Adopts annoying lecturer-type voice] Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet rich in a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables [Lecturey voice ends], and TIMING is key.
When you are fresh out of the shower, your skin will be slightly warm and slightly damp after towel drying. This is the perfect time to lather on your moisturiser of choice. The longer you wait, the more the moisture in your skin will have begun to evaporate. If you can apply a protective layer within 2-3 minutes of drying off, you’ll reap maximum benefit from the product you use.
So what to use? There are three main choices – lotions, creams and oils. Lotions are lighter and usually water based. They’re wonderfully cooling in the summer, absorb quickly and are a good option if you have normal skin that needs just a hint of extra moisture. However, if you have dry skin they might not be enough to see you through the whole day. Creams (and/or body butters) are thicker, richer and usually oil based, providing a heftier, longer lasting moisturising effect. Natural oils – my personal favourite – are the most in tune with the composition of our own skin and can provide long-lasting hydration without heaviness or greasiness if you find the right one for you.
A quick note here about mineral oils (paraffinum liquidum in the ingredients list). Many moisturisers contain MOs – petrochemically-derived oils which don’t have the same benefits as natural oils. They are barrier oils, meaning they sit on the surface of the skin and ‘trap’ the moisture within. This works, in crude terms, but they don’t have the breathability of natural oils, nor do they work in harmony with the skin. They can be comodogenic, causing spots, blocked pores and congestion, and may also feel ‘tacky’ or sticky to the touch. My advice would be to avoid them if possible and to stick to natural formulations based on natural oils such as jojoba, grapeseed, sweet almond or apricot kernel and natural fats like cocoa or shea butter.
Here are some of my favourite body moisturisers:
For a lightweight, virtually fragrance-free option, I love Dead Sea Spa Magik’s Silky Smooth Body Lotion. I say fragrance-free; it’s actually got a light, fresh, sea-spray sort of smell but very inoffensive and unlikely to compete with any fragrance you might want to wear over the top. This is a very easily absorbed lotion which I worried might not be quite robust enough but it has a long-lasting hydrating effect, even in more extreme weather. Retails at around £6 and available at Boots, John Lewis and Waitrose.
Ingredients: Harmonised Water(TM)* (Aqua, Maris Sal), Isopropyl Myristate, Glyceryl Stearate(1), Glycerin(2), Cetanol(1), Cetearyl Alcohol(1), Sodium Cocoyl Sulfate(1), Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate(1), 1,2-Hexanediol, 1,2-Octanediol, Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium EDTA, Parfum (Fragrance)**, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract***, Tilia Vulgaris (Linden Blossom) Flower Extract***, Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm) Leaf Extract***, Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos) Leaf Extract***, Lactic Acid. Source: (1)Coconut Oil, (2)Vegetable.
*Special de-ionised water with pure Dead Sea Minerals: Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Sodium as Bromides, Chlorides and Sulphates.
**Allergen-free blend with essential oils.
*** Certified as organic according to the EEC council regulation No. 2029/91.
Another option for a lighter formulation is Dr Organic’s range of Skin Lotions. I’ve been using the Organic Manuka Honey Skin Lotion (£7.19) for its skin repairing properties but I also rate the Aloe Vera and Vitamin E Skin Lotions (£6.29), particularly if you want something with less of a fragrance. There’s also an Aloe Vera Body Butter (£9.29) if you want something a bit richer. All available at Holland & Barrett, online and in stores.
Ingredients: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, aqua, caprylic/capric triglyceride, polyglyceryl-3, methyglucose distearate, glycerin, isocetyl palmitate, cetearyl alcohol, myristyl myristate, olea europea (olive) oil, unsaponifiables, honey extract (manuka extract), theobroma cacao seed butter, butyrospermum parkii butter, glyceryl caprylate, tocopherol, helianthus annus seed oil, glycyrrhetinic acid, retinyl palmitate, chondrus crispus extract, xanthan gum, aroma, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, sodium phytate, citric acid.
One I’m including for the smell (as well as because it’s easily absorbed, moisturising and soothing) is Australian Organic’s Moisturising Body Lotion. It includes patchouli, sweet orange and ylang ylang essential oils in an evening primrose oil base. Really lovely and excellent value at just £4.29 for 200ml from Holland & Barrett. Also available at John Lewis and Big Green Smile.
Ingredients: Aqueous Extracts of Matricaria Recutita (Chamomile), Tillia Cordata (Lime Blosson) and Betula Alba (Birch) (Certified Organic), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Triethanolamine, Stearic Acid, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Wheat Amino Acids, Cetyl Alcohol, Tocopherol, Carbomer, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol, Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Oil, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Oil, Cananga Odorate (Ylang Ylang) Oil.
A richer lotion, with a really pampering feel, is Liz Earle’s Nourishing Botanical Body Cream which contains shea butter, avocado oil as well as orange, lavender and rose-scented geranium essential oils. It retails at £15.85 for a 200ml tube and is available from John Lewis and the Liz Earle website. If you want an even richer treat, with additional anti-ageing benefits, try the Superskin Body Cream. It’s formulated with shea butter, scented with neroli and boasts the antioxidant properties of rosehip, cranberry seed and pomegranate oils. It’s quite a bit pricer at £28.10 for 200ml but it’s nice to have at least one luxury item for the occasional pampering session, even if you, like me, can’t quite stretch to everyday use! Again, available at John Lewis or on the Liz Earle website.
Ingredients (Nourishing Botanical Body Cream): Aqua (water), PEG-20 stearate, Coco-caprylate/caprate, Persea gratissima (avocado) oil, Glycerin, Caprylic/capric triglyceride, Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), Talc, Cetearyl alcohol, Echinacea purpurea (echinacea) extract, Sodium lactate, Panthenol, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Humulus lupulus (hops) extract, Parfum (fragrance), Beta-carotene, Lactic acid, Citral, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool, Tree moss absolute, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Benzoic acid, Dehydroacetic acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Polyaminopropyl biguanide.
Ingredients (Superskin Body Cream): Aqua (water), Vitellaria paradoxa nilotica (shea butter), Rosa canina (rosehip) seed oil, Vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry) seed oil, Glycerin, Borago officinalis (borage) seed oil, Vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, Dicaprylyl carbonate, Glyceryl stearate, Persea gratissima (avocado) oil, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Cetearyl alcohol, Pentaerythrityl distearate, Citrus aurantium amara (neroli) flower oil, Anthemis nobilis (chamomile) flower oil, Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, Punica granatum (pomegranate) fruit extract, Xanthan gum, Sodium stearoyl glutamate, Glyceryl caprylate, Sodium polyacrylate, Phenoxyethanol, Benzoic acid, Dehydroacetic acid, Citric acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citral, Geraniol, Citronellol, Farnesol, Limonene, Linalool.
Finally, a quick summary of other faves that I’ve already spoken about on the blog.
For Jason Cocoa Body Butter, see here.
For Holland & Barrett’s Wonder Oil, see here.
And for The Lavender Lady’s Lavender Bath and Body Oil, see here.
Finally, finally if you missed part 1 and 2 of the ‘skin prep for summer’ series, see below.
Part 1 – Dry skin brushing
Part 2 – Body scrubs