The best body oils serve two purposes: Sure, they lock in moisture like nothing else, but they also add a touch of luxury to the coldest days of winter. Using a body oil takes moisturizing from a chore to a full-blown experience. When I rub myself down with a body oil after a shower (always moisturize your body when it’s damp!), I’m not in my subpar Brooklyn bathroom; I’m in a gorgeous spa somewhere in the Italian countryside preparing for my date with Timothèe Chalamet.
Fantasy aside, they really work—they make my skin smell amazing and feel softer than any lotion can (I especially love to use one on my legs after shaving).
Ellen Marmur, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City and founder of Marmur Metamorphosis Skincare, says this extreme softness is because oils mimic the natural lipids found in our bodies and, “like serums, they sink in between the cells and create a better, smoother skin surface.” Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., also adds that oils have natural emollient ingredients that help soften rough skin. Because of these qualities, they can be especially helpful if you suffer from super-dry skin or eczema (heavier oils like avocado are particularly good for this).
A quick word of warning: If you tend to break out on your shoulders or back, lotion might be the better option for you, as oils can exacerbate body acne. But if you do reach for an oil, Zeichner recommends looking for ingredients like tea tree, coconut, or lavender oils, which are light enough to keep you breakout-free.
If you want to get in on the fantasy, I’ve rounded up some of my favorites, as well as derms’ suggestions. Read on for the best body oils.
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