What's in a Lotion, Anyway?

If you've ever wondered what exactly makes a small vial of something for your skin worth $10, $20, or even $100 dollars, you may be further confused by reading the ingredients on a container of lotion. Water is often the first ingredient, which can lead to frustration at the pretty penny you're paying. And the ingredients that follow? They can be pretty hard to pronounce!

What you put on your skin is as important as the food you put in your body, because skin is absorbent. We recognize that the simpler the food we eat, the more likely our bodies will use it well, and this concept holds equally true when it comes to what we put on our bodies, too.

Thankfully, it's a lot easier than you think to go simple with lotions. Not only will you save your skin from having to absorb a lot of lab-made chemicals, but you'll also save a ton of money. What's the trick?

Go Oils or Go Home

An array of oils work well instead of lotion; some you're probably familiar with, and others less so. Coconut oil is the wellness world's panacea, so it's no surprise that coconut oil for face lotion—and coconut oil for skin health at large—is common. Because it can get gritty when temperatures fluctuate, fractionated coconut oil is a top choice for skincare. Additionally, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and olive oil all have their merits as lotion. Let's look in depth at the pros and cons of each.

Fractionated Coconut Oil

This oil is the product of steam distillation to remove the long chain fatty acids, which results in an oil that is more shelf-stable than virgin coconut oil. It absorbs quickly into the skin and is light to the touch. It's also anti-microbial, and may help to heal cuts more quickly. On the downside, it's not suitable for food consumption like regular coconut oil is, so whatever amount you buy will need to be relegated for body care.

Cocoa Butter

This fat from the cacao plant is my favorite oil for skin use for two reasons: on the fun side, it smells like chocolate! And on the serious side, it's very convenient for travel. That's because cocoa butter is solid at room temperature, with a melting point of 95 to 100 degrees, i.e., the temp of your skin. I love it as an under-eye moisturizer before applying makeup, and use it in the winter on my arms and legs. Drawback: this is a heavy fat that's best suited for dry skin. If your skin is on the oily side, choose a different moisturizer.

Sweet Almond Oil

Outside of smelling lovely, sweet almond oil is very high in vitamin E. Useful for reducing itching, healing wounds and minimizing the appearance of scars, the vitamin E content of sweet almond oil makes it a lotion superstar. The only flaw in its game? It can be pricey when bought in small quantities. Mitigate this by buying in larger volume.

Jojoba Oil

If you don't remember jojoba shampoo, you didn't grow up in the 1980s with hippie parents— in fact, the smell of this oil still makes me think of childhood. Jojoba has returned to popularity in recent years because it may help with everything from acne to balding. It's been a main ingredient in commercial brands of both skincare and makeup for a long time, so using it as lotion is no leap. People do have allergic reactions to it, although this is rare.  

Olive Oil

This humble cooking oil has been used in skincare since ancient times, with a fan base that some claim included Cleopatra. Olive oil protects against signs of aging, and when used atop the skin provides a beautiful sheen. Beware your furniture, though! The oil is heavy and can take a good while to penetrate fully into your skin; that means it could leave traces on your car seat or your couch.

The Right Oil for You

Fractionated coconut, cocoa butter, sweet almond, jojoba or olive—choose whichever oil best suits your skin type and your #beautygoals. You're guaranteed to save money and unwanted additives!