If you have dry skin, body oil can be a huge help!
In Ayurveda, there is a term called dinacharya, which means your daily habits or wellness routines. One common dinacharya activity is Abhyanga, aka body massage. Unless you have very oily skin, Abhyanga is typically done with oil. Since the opposite of dry is oily, this is the perfect practice for anyone with dry skin.
You can learn more about Abhyanga in a previous blog post HERE.
Personalize Your Body Oil
Just like so many food recipes that I love, you can customize your body oil for what you have or like. In the blog post that I linked above, I talk about a few different oil choices. But you can also use herbs or essential oils to customize your oil even more.
Common Oil Choices
Look for food-grade oil. Organic is best, but simply not having fragrance added is the basic need here.
Some oils are a little more warming, like sesame oil. Some are cooling, like coconut oil. Then there are several more neutral oils - olive, avocado, sunflower, grapeseed, and almond.
If you are a very cold person, consider sesame oil. If you run really hot, consider coconut oil. Or, use whatever you have. I tend to be cold, but if all I have on hand is coconut oil, I'm still going to use it! Having a slightly warming oil is not as important as abhyanga in general.
I also like to blend oils, as I feel like they all have unique qualities and sometimes more IS better, right?
The best way to add herbal goodness to your body oil is to infuse them with dried herbs. I simply put the oil and herbs in a pan on my stove over very low heat until it just becomes warm. Or, you can put the pan in the oven on WARM. Or, you can use a crockpot with a WARM function. Let the warm oil infuse with the herbs for several hours.
WARNING - you only want the oil to get warm! You do not want to deep fry your herbs.
If you have fresh herbs, I suggest you allow them to dry a little bit first to avoid adding too much moisture to your oil. You can just let them sit on a paper towel on the counter for a few days, or place on a baking sheet in a warm oven for a couple of hours before you add the herbs to the oil.
What herbs? Well, I'm glad you asked. There are so many options here. Some you can easily get from an herbal store, a tea store, growing in your garden, or even out in your yard. Pick just one, two or three...don't go overboard.
WARNING - if you have very sensitive skin, allergies, or skin disorders, be cautious about what herbs you use. I am not an expert on every ailment you could possibly have. You are responsible for yourself and your use of herbal remedies. Please do your research and make good choices.
Here are my herbs favorites for skincare:
Calendula - this beautiful flower is a garden favorite. The petals are used in most commercial herbal body products because it is hydrating, anti-inflammatory, calming, and healing. This makes it great for sensitive, dry, or chapped skin.
Chamomile - soothing for irritated or red skin.
Lavender - soothing for irritated skin. It also helps clear pores and it just smells great.
Dandelion Root and Leaves - known for its detoxing properties, it is great for dermatitis, acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Basil - its antiseptic properties make it great for acne-prone skin.
Peppermint - its icy hot properties make it great for aching muscles, hot flashes, and overheated feet. It is also a good addition if your skin runs a little bit on the oily side.
Self-Heal - this cute little purple flower grows in many yards. As its name suggests, it helps skin heal, so it is great if you often have irritated, scratched skin.
Lemon Balm - it grows like a weed in my garden. It is soothing but it's actually best known as a mood lifter. Who can't use that?
You don't have to add herbs to your body oil, but if you have the option, why not add a little herbal goodness?
Watch Me Make It
While I prefer to create an infusion with oil and dried herbs, sometimes I do want a bigger herbal impact (think lavender bedtime abhyanga) or I don't have an infusion prepped and I want to use herbal body oil now. Then, I might just pour oil into my hand, add a drop of essential oil like chamomile or lavender, and rub it into my skin.
Common oils to use - chamomile, lavender, peppermint, cedarwood, lemon balm, rose
Uses For Body Oil
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my number one use of body oil is for self-massage. However, there are a couple of other uses that I will mention now, but we won't really get into them until future posts. So if you haven't already, be sure to enter your email to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss them!!
2) As a base for herbal body lotion
3) As a base for herbal salves
4) Herbal hair oil
5) You can also use this method to create herbal culinary oils as well