Are you team oil or team lotion? Do you have to choose, or can you be a fair-weather fan? Do you know the difference between using an oil and a lotion, or maybe I should say do you know the difference in how to use them? Let's unpack this topic because having formulated two oil products I like my oils.
Let's get the obvious out of the way, body lotions contain water where oils do not.
Body oils are made of oils alone, they do not need preservatives, emulsifiers, or any other ingredients to make them shelf-stable. They can moisturize on their own. When it comes to hydration, however, you need to use them properly. Body oils should be applied to damp skin straight out of the shower to reap all its benefits—the warm steam of a shower opens the pores in the skin, and, of course, the water acts as a humectant that hydrates the skin. When you apply an oil to damp skin after the shower, the oil traps the moisture and forces it deep into the skin for a smooth and glowing texture. When you massage the oil and water into your skin you are essentially creating emulsification...your own body lotion right at your fingertips.
Lotions are made with water or aloe, a carrier oil, and an emulsifier. The use of water means that the product requires a preservative to not be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Lotions however provide hydration directly to the skin because the water component is already present in the formula.
So which one is better? It comes down to personal preference, but oils provide an amazing amount of moisture to the skin after a shower or bath. If you are looking for a little midday hydration boost, reach for a bottle of lotion.
And if you want to up your hydration game, use both! Apply your lotion and then lock it in with an oil. This method can be used for the body and face.