Thursday, February 21, 2013

dry air in a sea of frozen water

It is so incredibly cold here, which is fine by me, but it's playing havoc with my skin. This is something new to me; since losing over 80 pounds, I now seem to have dry skin issues and comparatively little fat to cushion the blow of subzero windchill and low relative humidity. So what's an itchy girl to do? Hydrate from within, and use some kind of skin oil. And because it's me, I'm here with way TMI on the latter, because maybe you care, or have a similar issue?

Here beginneth the chronicle of this quest. 

Almond oil: great. Smells vaguely like cherries, which makes sense, since the two are from the same family. Absorbs with minimal effort. Not as cheap as some, but way less expensive than others, and applied right out of the shower, it's dandy.

Amla oil: also known as Indian gooseberry oil, which to my mind is not necessarily more explanatory. Smells good. Feels light. Absorbs well. Does nothing for my hands to speak of. Works great on dry hair. Not too heavy, not too light.

Avocado oil: smells strange, looks pretty, sits on top of the skin and feels, um, oily. Which it feels rather petty to gripe about. It's expensive, as salad oil goes. You can skip it.

Babassu oil: smells okay. A bit on the heavy side. Hard to find. You feel like a goof, asking for it.

Castor oil: terrible idea. Don't go there.

Coconut oil: smells like Hawaiian Tropic. A little goes a long way. Solidified at room temperature, but turns liquid right in your hands, like magic. Absorbs fairly quickly. Induces an overwhelming urge to eat popcorn. Perks your hair right up, if you have dry hair, but extremely difficult to wash out. Hint: rub shampoo into hair and scrunge it around in there before getting your hair wet. Then it will come out. Otherwise, you're kind of hosed.

Crisco oil: forget it. Useless. Attempted this in the name of completism.

Huile de Corps from Clarins: pretty good. Has an almost indescribable scent...a little like soybean oil, a little like lotus oil, has an undertone of vanilla, but not the vanilla of a gourmand perfume like Pink Sugar...more that almost burnt-rubber scent you get in the basenotes of Shalimar. Excellent on thin skin, like the neck and the tops of your legs.

Jojoba oil: not bad. Allegedly as close as you can come to your own natural skin oils. Smells a little hinky.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse: it's fine. More expensive than it needs to be. Smells like Neutrogena soap. Absorbs after 30 or 40 seconds of massage.

Rodin Olio Lusso: good. Spendy. Best in class w/r/t absorbency. Smells like jasmine, as in JASMINE, as in "like you repeatedly got hit in the side of the head with a bunch of jasmine." Those of you who are perfumery geeks like me may recall that this is not necessarily a good thing, since it's a massively indolic scent...which is to say, to those of you who are not, that it bears more than a passing resemblance to mothballs, a little like putrefaction, and is detectable in the odor of feces. Which is not to say that it smells like's more complicated than that. But it is a deep, vaguely rotting, almost beefy scent. Kind of like the scent you sometimes get in a kitchen in a dodgy French apartment: like something's gone off, but you can't quite tell what it is. So. That being said, if you like JASMINE being shouted at you and you have the cash, this is one outstanding oil.

Rosehip oil: a little bit more viscous than I'm happy with. Smells neutral. Doesn't have a lot of slip to it.

Safflower oil: okay. Cheap. Good slip. Takes a while to absorb. No discernable scent.

Santal oil from Clarins: terrific. Smells good, if you like sandalwood. Absorbs immediately, feels good, keeps things from cracking. Findable at TJMaxx if the bargain gods are with you.

Shea butter (liquified): not bad at all. Requires a lot of kneading and working into the skin. Lasts through multiple washes.

Vitamin E: terrible. Sticky. Never absorbs. Creepy, actually...tugs at your skin.

Wintergreen oil: horrible idea. Never do this. You will want to cut your hands off and run screaming into the night because they will burn like mad. Also, you will smell like Pepto-Bismol for a week.

So...there you go. Saved you a little time and a lot of heartache. Go with the almond for cheaps and the Olio Lusso for extravagance, and the Clarins Santal to split the difference. I wish you all smooth, undisastrously cracked sides of fingers, and a good night.

Creative Commons License
A Microscopic Cog in a Catastrophic Plan by Laura Lorson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at

Creative Commons License
A Microscopic Cog in a Catastrophic Plan by Laura Lorson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at