Oils are a great way to restore moisture to dry skin. Certain plant oils have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which can help improve the health of your skin barrier.

The skin barrier, also known as the stratum corneum, is the outermost part of the epidermis, the top layer of the skin. This is especially important for people with dry skin because the skin barrier can protect the skin against moisture loss.

Verywell / Daniel Drinkwater

Types of oils

Almond oil

Almond oil is extracted from ripe almonds in an extraction process that uses very little heat. This process is what creates unrefined almond oil. Almond oil contains oleic acid, B-sitosterol and a-tocopherol.

Oleic acid makes it easier for oils to penetrate deeper into the skin. Skin is naturally low permeable (to things that pass through), which helps flush out harmful toxins. The problem is that it can also prevent moisturizers from reaching deeper into the skin.

Tocopherols have been shown to provide antioxidant benefits, while B-sitosterol has been shown to be an active skin-soothing and moisturizing agent. Research has shown that B-sitosterol is potent enough to help treat atopic dermatitis (eczema).

Marula Oil

Marula oil is extracted from the marula fruit. It can also be made from the outer shell of the marula fruit. Marula oil contains amino acids, which make up protein, antioxidants, and fatty acids.

Marula oil has been shown to help restore moisture to the skin. The light nature of the oil makes it easy to penetrate the skin and effectively moisturizes. Due to its high fatty acid content, the oil can also prevent water loss in the skin and retain moisture for longer.

Research has also shown that marula oil has anti-aging properties because it contains organic compounds with antioxidant properties called catechins.

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is derived from sunflower seeds. There are different types of sunflower oil, including:

  • High linoleic: This is made up of 68% linoleic acid.
  • Between oleic: Also known as NuSun, this is made up of 65% oleic acid.
  • High Oleic: This grade is 82% oleic acid.
  • High Stearic or High Oleic: Also known as NutriSun, this is made up of 18% stearic acid and 72% oleic acid.

Research has shown that sunflower can be an effective oil to use for dry skin. This is because it can help protect the health of the outer skin layer and improve overall moisture levels.

Sunflower oil has also been shown to boost the production of skin cells called keratinocytes, the main cell type found in the epidermis. Sunflower oil also encourages the production of natural fats in the skin, leading to a healthier skin barrier.

Olive oil

Research has shown that olive oil can help dry out the skin. It is made by pressing olives and then extracting the oil. Because the oil is made up mainly of oleic acid, it is an effective humectant.

Olive oil also contains:

  • Linoleic acid: Linoleic acid is a fatty acid that has been shown to help improve the skin barrier in people with dry skin and atopic dermatitis.
  • Palmitic Acid: A long-chain fatty acid, palmitic acid has been shown to soothe, soften, and moisturize the skin.
  • SterolsSterols: Sterols are substances similar to cholesterol and are thought to help lower cholesterol levels in the body.
  • CarotenoidsCarotenoids: Carotenoids are pigments in certain plants, algae, and bacteria that provide antioxidant benefits.
  • triterpene alcohol: This chemical compound has been shown to help heal wounds and burns as well as inflammation of the skin.
  • Phenolic compounds: These organic compounds can help the body because they can act as antioxidants. They have been shown to help protect against or aid in the treatment of various skin conditions.

Olive oil may not work for everyone

Research has found that olive oil can lead to worse dry skin and should be avoided in some people.

Coconut oil

In recent years, coconut oil has been marketed as an all-purpose oil. It is thought to be good for skin, hair, cooking, oral and brain health. The oil is extracted from the kernel of the coconut and is made up of fatty acids.

Research surrounding coconut oil for dry skin often revolves around skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, and it has been shown to be an effective form of treatment for skin conditions that cause dryness. It may help improve moisture retention and skin barrier function.

argan oil

Argan oil is extracted from the kernel of the argan tree. It is made up of 80% monounsaturated and 20% saturated fatty acids. The fatty acid that makes up most of the oil is oleic acid.

Research has shown that argan oil is an effective moisturizer for people with dry skin because of its ability to help restore the skin barrier and improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture. It can also be used to increase the effectiveness of topical medications that can be applied to dry skin by encouraging absorption.

Soybean Oil

Soybean oil is extracted from the seeds of the soybean plant. It is made up of five fatty acids, all of which have been shown to improve the skin’s barrier and help retain moisture.

Soybean oil can also help protect the skin from damage because it contains high amounts of vitamin E. Vitamin E has been shown to protect against different types of skin damage and treat certain conditions. Skin conditions that can cause dry skin, such as atopic dermatitis.

Avocado oil

Avocado oil is derived from the pulp of the avocado. It is made up of several fatty acids and contains skin-beneficial compounds such as B-sitosterol, B-carotene, and vitamins A, D and E.

Research has shown that mixing avocado oil with vitamin B12 lotion and applying it to dry skin can help treat and restore moisture, especially for people with skin conditions like psoriasis.

Studies have also shown that the use of avocado oil can protect the skin against damage that can lead to the development or worsening of dry skin. It can also be used to help prevent dry skin after skin damage.

Borage oil

Borage oil is extracted from the seeds of the rosemary plant. It has a high amount of important fatty acids needed for skin health. The most abundant is linoleic acid, which can help the skin retain moisture better. It has also been used in the treatment of skin conditions that cause dryness, such as atopic dermatitis.

Studies have also found that borage oil may be safe to use in children with atopic or seborrheic dermatitis, making it a safe and effective choice for children with dry skin. or dry skin conditions.

Oat oil

Oat oil is extracted from the straw of the oat plant. It helps soothe your skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for centuries to treat skin conditions like rashes, burns, itching, and eczema. It is made up of linoleic and oleic acids.

It is thought that linoleic acid is what gives oat oil its ability to repair the skin barrier. Phenolic compounds called avenanthramides are also found in oats. They also help reduce inflammation in the body.

The use of oat oil has been shown to increase levels of ceramides in the skin, which are skin lipids that live in the upper layers of the skin. Since ceramides help lock moisture in the skin, oat oil can help prevent and treat dry skin.

How to choose oil

Before choosing an oil for dry skin, there are a few things you can consider. Although many compounds found in oils are similar, some possess more or less of each compound. Some may also have additional benefits.

To choose the best oil, you’ll first want to see how dry your skin is. If you are suffering from a skin condition such as dermatitis, you may want an oil that has been shown to help treat your condition.

Some oils can cause irritation if you are allergic to the compounds found in them. When choosing an oil, make sure you know all the ingredients and do a patch test to make sure they won’t cause an adverse reaction to the skin.

Some body oils may be too heavy to apply on the face, while some facial oils will not penetrate the body skin. If you are choosing an oil, be sure to choose that oil based on the area of ​​your body of interest.

You’ll also want to buy your oil from trusted suppliers. Choosing an oil that contains the highest quality ingredients will ensure that you are getting exactly what you pay for. Avoid using oils that don’t have all of the ingredients clearly listed.

How to use oil

You can apply the oil directly to wet skin after washing your face or showering. Only a small layer is needed. Avoid dressing until the oil has absorbed into the skin.

You can mix several oils together for added benefits, or use the oil alongside your favorite moisturizer. If irritation occurs, stop mixing your oils.

Possible side effects

Oils for dry skin are generally safe and effective, but an allergic reaction is still possible. This is why it is important to do a patch test before applying the oil to your face or body.

To perform the patch test, dab a small amount of oil on the inside of your arm or leg and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction within that time, you can safely use it.

Do not eat oils as they are toxic.

Signs of a medical emergency

Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheeze
  • Decreased blood pressure with weak pulse
  • Increase heart rate
  • Sudden weakness

frequently asked Questions

Why is my skin so dry?

Your skin can get dry for a variety of reasons. It’s usually not serious and can be caused by things like changes in temperature and the amount of moisture in the air (humidity). Other reasons for dry skin can include dehydration, skin conditions, and health problems like allergies, diabetes, or hormone fluctuations.

Is body oil better than body lotion?

Both body oils and body lotions are great options for moisturizing your skin and not always better than the other. For example, lotion can penetrate deeper into the skin because it is water, but body oils, when applied correctly, can help heal the skin barrier, helping to retain moisture better.

Can I use body oil on my face?

Body oil should only be applied under the neck unless otherwise directed. Some body oils have been shown to be safe to use on the face, such as coconut oil and argan oil. You’re better off using an oil designed specifically for the skin on your face.


The right oils can help improve your skin’s barrier, protecting it from toxins and germs in the environment. Research has shown that almond oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, argan oil, and others are best for dry skin and conditions that cause dryness like eczema.

A very good word

Oils can be a good product to use to help with dry skin, but not all body oils are right for everyone.

It is important to purchase high-quality oil from reliable suppliers. You won’t get much benefit if you choose a low-quality oil. Also, be sure to do a patch test to make sure you’re not allergic to the ingredients in the oil you choose.

If you have a skin condition or any questions regarding oils and their use, contact your physician for advice and recommendations.


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