The first signs of any change in weather can always be seen on our skin. And no matter how well one moisturises it, by the end of a few hours, one’s skin is back to feeling dry, chipped and rough. “The soaps and detergents we use while bathing wash away natural oils from our body. A dry climate aggravates the problem further,” explains Dr Mukesh Girdhar, senior consultant dermatologist, Max Balaji, Delhi.
Even warm water, say experts, causes skin to dry out. Experts feel it is necessary for the body to have a protective layer on the skin that will save its natural suppleness.
“Body oils massaged properly on the skin as a pre-bath ritual solve the problem,” says Girdhar, adding, “They nourish the outer layer of the skin and work as great emollients and smootheners. Applying a good moisturiser after a bath is also important.”
So what are the essential pre-bath oils? And how do they help?
Coconut oil: “Being rich in mineral content, coconut oil can help in delaying wrinkles and sagging skin. It suits all skin types,” says dermatologist Dr Ruchir Mehta. He adds, “It also helps in treating various skin problems and skin infections.”
Olive oil: Being very rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E, experts recommend olive oil for skin nourishment. “This oil guards your body and your skin both inside and outside,” says Dr Mukesh Girdhar. “It promotes a smooth, radiant complexion, helps maintain elasticity of skin, heals dry, brittle nails and softens cuticles.”
Almond oil: “An excellent emollient, almond oil also helps the skin to balance water loss and absorption of moisture,” says Dr Girdhar. Suitable for all skin types, it relieves irritation, inflammation and itching, is very lubricating and helps to soothe muscular aches and pains.
Jojoba oil: “This oil has anti-microbial properties. Also, the chemical composition of jojoba closely resembles that of the skin’s natural sebum, so it is easily absorbed and rarely causes allergic reactions, even in the most sensitive individuals,” says Dr Mehta. It helps treat acne, cold sores, athlete’s foot and warts.
Sesame oil: Rich in Vitamins E and B, sesame oil is considered extremely beneficial for health, even in Ayurveda. It also has a high content of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. “Sesame oil works wonders in relieving tiredness of the body. It also works as a sun block, thereby preventing the skin from getting tanned or being destroyed by harmful ultraviolet rays,” says Dr Mehta.
Other massage oils
Deep green in colour, avocado oil is a heavier oil and is usually mixed with lighter massage oils such as sweet almond oil.
Cocoa butter is very rich and has a heavy texture, so it needs to be blended with other oils or used only for very small areas.
Aloe Vera oil
A great skin rejuvenator. It ensures speedy recovery of wounds and is also quite effective in treating sunburn. Aloe vera is known to possess anti-inflammatory properties. It works wonders on body scars and stretch marks.
Extracted from the seeds of a tree native to Africa, shea butter, like cocoa butter, is heavy. It may be blended or used for very small areas.