I’ve always had a bit of a thing for the nourishing touch of a body oil. The ritual of applying, massaging and savouring the feel of oil on your skin is one of those most sacred of beauty treats that you don’t often grant yourself. But when you do? Heaven is a place in on earth. Lately, though, I’ve started using body oils not as a luxury but as a necessity… because I’m expecting a baby!
My body is going through some monumental changes as I rapidly approach the final stretch of my pregnancy (pun intended), which has made me a prime candidate for putting some of our bestselling oils through their paces. You could say I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur – there isn’t a day that’s gone by in the last 8 months when I haven’t applied an oil in some shape or form! So whether you’re looking for pregnancy skincare, something to reduce the appearance of problem areas, or just a little something to prepare your body for the summer, you’re in the right place.
But before we take a look at some of my favourites, we need to tackle a question that you’re probably asking yourself – why an oil rather than a cream or lotion?
Why should I use an oil?
We all know that oils feel absolutely wonderful to use and score big points in the pampering department, but why exactly are they so recommended when it comes to pregnancy, stretch marks, weight loss and other major skin changes?
Firstly, oils are pretty well known for their ability to repair, moisturise and protect the skin – when it comes to skin under stress, they just can’t be beaten. This is because they’re rich in essential fatty acids close to the ones naturally present in our skin, and contain a wealth of vitamins and antioxidants that help to improve skin’s overall health. As they’re emollient, oils are particularly brilliant at keeping the uppermost layers of the skin well lubricated, which can be a godsend as it stretches and retracts. They’re also lipophilic, which helps them to pass through the lipid layer of the skin rapidly to efficiently plump and moisturise skin.
The downside of oils? In the past they have tended to be a bit richer than they are now, and some people don’t like the shiny after-feel. Our friends in France, however, have a real knack of getting body oil formulas just right (it’s no coincidence that French brands make up the majority of the list below!). Dry touch finishes and quick-absorbing formulas are the norm now, so there’s no need to worry about them feeling greasy.
Ready to find a new favourite? Here are the ones I’ve been using and absolutely loving…
#1 The Firming One
I can’t mention a body oil round-up without giving a name check to this delicious bottle of nectar. L’Occitane’s cult Almond Supple Skin Oil is the oil I reach for most as it’s such a joy to apply and wear, and it does an incredible job of keeping my skin moisturised. It really helps when my skin is feeling tight and stretched. The base of this oil is made up of 50% almond oil, which is ultra-rich in vitamin E and fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, while added silicium better supports tissues and promotes firmness, and I can truly see the difference after use.
The main reason it’s my absolute favourite, though? The incredible scent. I’ve honestly yet to find a person who doesn’t adore its delicious combination of tart apples and sweet almond. In fact, I’ve been wearing the oil in lieu of perfume as my nose has become a bit more sensitive throughout pregnancy.
• 100ml spray
• Medium weight
• Silky finish
• Oils: Almond, Camelina, Muscat Rose, Sunflower, Bergamot, Carrot Seed
#2 The Glamorous One
Another one with an absolutely mouthwatering scent! Huile Sublime from Roger & Gallet is the sort of oil that you hoard especially for the summer; with its sun-dappled orange flower and jasmine fragrance, dry-touch finish and beautiful sheen, it instantly makes you feel ready to bare your skin. The spray-on oil can be used both on your body and in your hair as it’s so light; it’ll work to nourish without feeling weighty in the slightest.
If you’re looking for a pre-summer boost, this is the oil for you – it’ll get your limbs glowing in no time. Its moisturising properties are plentiful, but those with more pressing skin issues might want to look for a slightly weightier oil, and then switch back to this to maintain their skin once it’s out of the danger zone.
• 100ml spray
• Dry finish
• Oils: Olive, Apricot, Passionfruit, Macadamia, Argan, Evening Primrose
• 96% ingredients of natural origin
#3 The All-Rounder
The iconic Huile Prodigieuse Dry Oil is celebrating its 25th birthday this year. Originally created with working mums in mind whose time is stretched to the limit, it was the very first product dreamt up by Nuxe’s founder, Aliza Jabes – and it’s still a bestseller to this day (it’s also the #1 oil in French pharmacies). The beauty of Huile Prodigieuse lies in its simplicity, with a beautiful blend of 30% plant oils that nourish skin with a dry and comfortable finish. Like Roger & Gallet’s Huile Sublime, it’s also lightweight enough to be used in your hair. I even mix a small amount of this in with my foundation in the winter!
The most fully-formed oil collection on the list, Huile Prodigieuse comes in a Splash-On format, a Spray format, and Huile Prodigieuse Or, a version shot through with mother-of-pearl glimmer for an extra glamorous touch. Can’t get enough of the solar, sun tan lotion-esque scent? Nuxe has you covered – there’s even a matching fragrance!
• 50ml splash on or 100ml spray
• Dry finish
• Oils: Macadamia, Sweet Almond, Hazelnut, Camellia, Argan, Borage, Sunflower
• 98.1% ingredients of natural origin
#4 The One for Mamas-To-Be
For those times when your skin is feeling tighter than usual and you need a big whack of moisture, this is the oil I’d recommend. The Mustela Maternite Stretch Marks Prevention Oil is less about glamour than some of the other oils on this list; it’s a little richer, and is more preoccupied with intensely moisturising your skin and aiding skin massage than providing a barely-there finish. That’s not to say that it feels greasy, though – it’s just a bit more ‘substantial’ than the others.
I really love this one on my bump now that I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy. It feels instantly soothing, and it really helps with the itchiness as my skin stretches tighter and tighter. This one isn’t ideal all-over use because of its richer texture, but for your belly, hips and thighs? It’s a dream.
• 100ml spray bottle
• Medium weight
• Silky finish
• Oils: Sunflower, Avocado, Pomegranate, Muscat Rose, Baobab, White Lupin
• 99% ingredients of natural origin
Interested in aromatherapy? This brilliant Tisserand base oil made from 100% jojoba oil will allow you to cocktail your own special blend. You’ll have noticed that elsewhere in this round-up the ingredients lists contain a medley of different oils; this is because they all have different functions, from nourishing the skin to providing antioxidant protection. Not all oils are born equal!
Lauded for its softening and conditioning benefits, particularly for dry and delicate skin, jojoba oil is perfect for use on the face, body and in the hair. Add in a few drops of oil from Tisserand’s incredible collection of concentrated Essential Oils, and you can enjoy your very own bespoke formula. It’s important to pay attention to which essential oil concentrates that you use during pregnancy, though, as there are many that aren’t recommended for use including jasmine, clary sage and cinnamon. I’ve just been using the Jojoba Organic Pure Blending Oil as it is, and it works a treat when I’m craving some rich moisture – it’s particularly brilliant for massage!
• 100ml pour bottle
• Medium weight
• Shiny finish
• Oils: Jojoba
• 100% ingredients of natural origin