Natural Oils vs. Lotions

Skin can be sensitive to chemicals or too much oil.

Photo: Pinnacle Pictures/Photodisc/Getty Images

Next time you face an aisle filled with lotions and oils, don't let the overwhelming number of choices confuse you. The trick to finding a moisturizer that works is knowing your skin's needs and vulnerabilities. Some pores prefer oils that come from nature, while others can't take the grease. Once you've pinpointed what your skin craves -- whether it's a post-shower dose of moisture or a gentle lotion that won't exacerbate the sensitive skin blues -- you can tackle those aisles in search of your skin's special thirst-quencher.

For Sensitive Types

Sometimes chemicals and preservatives in lotions can leave skin upset -- and it shows. Red patches, pimples and flaking may indicate that your skin products are coming on too strong. Switching from chemical-heavy lotions to natural lotions can help relieve your skin's stress, especially if the natural ingredients are soothing, such as chamomile, which can reduce inflammation. For skin that hates all chemicals, a pure oil is soothing. For instance, jojoba oil is an organic moisturizer that's hypoallergenic and keeps your pores clear, while avocado oil adds a dose of cool moisture to dry, irritated skin.

For Acne Breakouts

If your skin is prone to acne, you need a moisturizer that's gentle on inflammation but tough on zits. In the world of chemical lotions, an oil-free formula that includes salicylic acid is a smart choice, as this cleans out your pores and keeps them clear of oil build-up. If oily skin is the culprit behind your breakouts, you'd best steer clear of natural oils that only add fuel to the fire, but gentle lotions with natural ingredients -- such as calming aloe, chamomile or soy extract -- can soothe angry skin.

For the Flakes

You may not be a flake, but your skin is. Lotions with exfoliating ingredients -- namely alpha hydroxy acids -- zap dead skin cells, leaving your skin fresh and flake-free. Shea butter, cocoa butter and humectants such as glycerin that attract water to your skin boost hydration. But oils are also a smart choice, since they're extra moisturizing. Grape seed oil is packed with antioxidants that minimize sun damage, while olive oil and jojoba oil keep skin soft and satisfied.

Hybrid Lotions

Whether they're chemical or all-natural, some lotions include oils. If you choose a lotion with oils in it, the creamy consistency is already there. Since oils tend to come in liquid form, you can easily add a few drops of your favorite oil to your lotion, if you're a do-it-yourself type. This is also a smart way to test oils on your skin; if you notice a breakout or allergic reaction, you'll know not to use that oil in the future, but you still have your lotion intact. Whether you decide on a lotion, an oil or a homemade combo, your skin will thank you for finding the right remedy with a healthy, glowing complexion.

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