If youre like most women, you have a cabinet full of squeeze bottles and pump-tops whose contents attempt to mimic an ocean breeze or a vast field of lavender. Are all those different kinds of lotions really necessary, or will one type fit all your needs?
If you’re like most women, you have a cabinet full of squeeze bottles and pump-tops whose contents attempt to mimic an ocean breeze or a vast field of lavender. Are all those different kinds of lotions really necessary, or will one type fit all your needs?
Contrary to many advertisements, lotions do not sink down through to the deepest layers of your skin. They are merely absorbed by the epidermis, the top layer that acts as a protective barrier on your body.
Thin as a sheet of paper, your epidermis is mostly made up of dead skin cells that slough off in a cycle of every 16 days to a month, depending on your age. Lotions work by plumping the top layer of your skin (mostly with water) and increasing the flexibility, making it look smoother and feel softer.
What to look for
Most drug store-brand lotions are a simple mix of water, fragrance, and an oily barrier such as petroleum or lanolin. Added humectants such as lactic acid and urea are absorbed into the skin’s cells to give it that smooth, plumped-up appearance.
The effect is only temporary, though, making constant application necessary. A lotion with natural or organic ingredients such as lavender or aloe can provide added healing and moisturizing properties for dry or irritated skin. See below for natural ingredients and their specific uses.
One lotion for all your needs?
In most cases, one lotion is safe enough to use on your entire body; just make sure it says so on the label, and test it on a small area first. However, if you have sensitive skin or problem areas such as dry elbows or cracked skin on your heels, more than one type of lotion is necessary.
One area that would be better served with a moisturizing creme rather than a body lotion is your face. The effects of fatigue, stress, and sun damage are more apparent on facial skin, and a more complex formulation contained in a richer base may be necessary. Facial moisturizers also treat combination skin better than a body lotion can.
Go ahead and dream of that field of lavender—as you smooth your skin with lotions derived from the real thing.
Best ingredients and their effects
- Lavender: acts as a cleanser; antiseptic; soothes dry skin and heals
- Sunflower oil: contains vitamin E for softening and healing
- Coconut oil: rich in essential fatty acids; nourishes, moisturizes, and acts as an antimicrobial
- Aloe: full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids; has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties
- Peppermint: has cleansing properties and refreshes skin; is best for feet tea tree oil good for irritated skin with antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties
- Papaya: natural humectant; cleanses; exfoliates; is a rich emollient
- Oatmeal: soothes and softens dry, irritated skin silica water repellent and lubricant; good for keeping skin hydrated