An Ode to Oils

An Ode to Oils

There are a million lotions and moisturizers out there, but I got tired of the fake fragrances and questionable ingredients and gradually switched to natural oils. 

My everyday moisturizing favorite is coconut oil. I was turned on to it via my kitchen (I’d ordered a huge jar of organic coconut oil and frankly didn’t know what to do with it all) and love how it solidifies in the winter and melts to a clear liquid in the summer. My kids love it, too, probably because it smells so delicious and they know they can lick it if they want. Makes post-bathtime a little more Willy Wonka-esque.

My favorite all-purpose skin tonic is shea butter…the wonder moisturizer of the shea nut. My pediatrician recommends shea butter for my son’s sensitive and rash-prone skin, and I love it for moisturizing my cuticles and treating cuts. It’s very firm at room temperature but softens quickly on the heat of your hands, so it’s good to use in small quantities (and to remember to be patient). Another benefit to using shea butter is that you’re likely supporting women-run co-ops in West Africa.

I’ve gotten many a new mom a gift of jojoba oil to rub on her baby.  It absorbs quickly, has a lovely, delicate fragrance and is non-comedogenic. It’s fairly expensive  but a little goes a long way and it can be used for all sorts of things: skin and lip moisture, makeup removal, massage oil, shave prep or hair conditioning.

Nearly 8 years ago, my midwives used a compress of warm olive oil on my perineum when I gave birth to my son, to prevent tearing (it mostly worked — I only needed one stitch).  Olive oil is technically a very effective moisturizer, but I’m not interested in smelling like bruschetta. But from time to time, after I’ve oiled a bunch of vegetables for roasting or grilling, I’m happy to rub the excess on my legs!

I recently used up the last of my tube of fermented papaya ointment that I got in Australia. This is quite common down under but hard to find in the U.S…you can use it for all sorts of skin challenges from simple dryness to cuts to burns.  Speaking of Aussies, why is it that hundreds of natural and homeopathic remedies are available in every traditional Australian pharmacy, right next to the chemical-laden, over-the-counter preparations that dominate store shelves here in the U.S.?

Finally, in researching hemp oil for my post on Omega 3s (link), I discovered that it’s excellent in treating outbreaks of eczema. Since we just treated my son’s latest outbreak with a steroid cream, I can’t wait to try hemp oil next time!

My transition to natural oils was spurred by my seven years with Environmental Working Group and exposure to tens of thousands of hazard-ranked personal care products in Skin Deep. If you aren’t sure why you should be concerned about parabens and other common moisturizer ingredients, take a gander at this amazing research tool the good scientists at EWG keep updating year after year.

What are YOUR favorite moisturizers … or have you, too, had a Skin Deep conversion experience?


Susan Comfort

Susan Comfort spent two decades working for environmental groups like EWG and 1% for the Planet, trying not to let all the bad news get her down. She now promotes the cause of play as the VP for Philanthropy with KaBOOM!, for which she has personal trainers in-house: her 7-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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