How I Use Oils to Moisturize

Thanks to the now well known Oil Cleansing Method and the ever constant paleo love affair with coconut oil, lots of people have heard about what amazing things oils can do for your skin.  And I couldn’t agree more!  I’ve gotten significantly smoother, glow-ier, and more supple skin since I’ve switched over to using oils instead of store-bought moisturizers…and I definitely won’t be going back!

My favorite oils? I prefer to mix mine to get all the benefits of several oils at once.  Examples include my Super Smooth Skin Serum and my DIY Skin Brightening Serum.  I don’t go a day without using one or the other.

How I Use Oils to Moisturize.jpg


The problem is that it can be a bit of a tricky process to get switched over to using oils and finding one (or several!) that are a perfect fit for your needs.  The good news?  There are so many amazing oils out there and so many ways to use them!

Disclaimer: With oils, some experimentation will always be required.  This is because two people with seemingly similar skin can still have different reactions to various oils…realizing this early on will save you frustration later. It’s also good to understand that because oils can be so individualized, a little experimentation will mean that you’re going to be able to find oils that are perfect for your skin type and needs.

How Oils Work

Here’s the deal with oils:  Oils don’t impart moisture, per say, to the skin.

But I just said I use oils to moisturize! What’s the deal with that??

Oils function to seal in the moisture in your skin (or your hair, for that matter).  This is a common stumbling block for people because they attempt to replace their store-bought creams with an oil without making some minor tweaks to their routine, thinking that the oil itself is actually moisturizing their skin.

It is true, however, that oils do provide nutrients to the skin.

That’s certainly a part of the benefits that come from using them…and the amount of fatty acids and micronutrients that absorb onto the skin ranges with all the different oils out there, an effect that can be used to your advantage.  However, it’s important to realize that this is a slightly different topic than using the oils as a moisturizer.

THMO Skin Care Routine

Moisture Content of Skin

Based on the statement above, for oils to work as a moisturizer, you need to consider the moisture content of your skin.

Luckily, one of the best skin moisturizers is just plain ol’ water.  Because of this, I will often leave my skin moist before putting any oils on it.  This is pretty easy to do since I mostly use oils after washing my face or getting out of the shower; I simply just towel off lightly before slathering on my oil of choice.  This makes sense because the oil is functioning to seal in the moisture already present in your skin.

When my skin gets really dry and I find that the water and oil combo isn’t moisturizing enough, I’ll use either a store-bought preservative free aloe vera gel/or juice or remove the pulp from an actual aloe vera plant (more time intensive but you’re guaranteed to have it be exactly what you want).  I lightly apply the aloe vera before following it up with my oils of choice and find that it gives my skin mega-moisture, smoothness, and helps keep it supple.

The Takeaway

Either way, the main takeaway to this point is that you have to make sure to provide a baseline of moisture from either water (easiest to do and perfectly effective the majority of the time) or aloe vera gel (if your skin is extra dry) before putting on any oil.  This notion is true for all types of skin and for all parts of your body.

I recommend experimenting with your skin’s water content before playing around with the aloe vera; it’s important not to try too many things at once when it comes to skin because you really can do more damage than good that way.





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7 replies

  1. This is gold! I have switched to all natural organic oils, raw honey, and DIY makeup (like your’s!) for my skin. I struggle with acne and it has been a bit better since switching products I use, but it is still there so I am dealing with it internally. Besides that, when I first started with oil 5 months ago, I found that oil would just sit on my skin and look greasy, even using very little. So I then started applying after washing face or taking a shower. Better, but my skin was still oily from it (I have very normal skin apart from internal acne). So then I started experimenting myself and found that applying oil after my aloe gel (same brand you use!) or my vitamin C serum (distilled water, ascorbic acid powder, DMAE powder, and glycerin) it soaked in beautifully! I recently started using oat too, yes oat meal. I grind it up in a coffee grinder, soak in distilled water, and strain it into a glass bottle and store in the fridge. I add some aloe gel to it and apply this now before my oil (rosehip seed, tamanu, or argan) and it makes my skin as soft as my baby’s bottom, literally, as well as tones down redness and inflammation (which has been greatly reduced with diet changes!) It soaks in quickly, even the heavier oils like tamanu or avocado (clogs my pores). THEN I found your site today (literally within the last hour) and saw this article! My question is, do you use distilled water or just your shower tap water? Thank you!

    • That’s so cool that you’ve had such good luck with these changes! I love hearing stories like this 🙂 I’ll have to try out that oatmeal trick…I just can’t resist experimenting when I hear things I haven’t tried before! And welcome to the site. So glad to have you!

      I rent an apartment so I only have a shower filter connected and no where else. So mostly just tap water and even the filtered water from the shower probably isn’t that great. How about you? Have you tried switching to only distilled water ever?

  2. Thank you Alex for this post! I am at a complete loss for trying to moisturize my skin. I am in a really dry climate (Colorado), and I am constantly complaining about my itchy/dry skin. I have been living a paleo life style for 4 years and about a year ago slowly am moving to all natural moisturizers (and slowly removing all toxins in my life period). Right when I made the transition from store bought lotions, I tried coconut oil and that didn’t work. Currently I am using Tropical Traditions body moisturizer and that is not working either. I also am not loving some of the face moisturizers from some great companies (all real ingredients) for my face. They are not working either. I am having trouble with body and face moisturizing. It seems as though I may have some investing in products to do in order to get this under control. Do you have a good starting point you recommend? I’m a bit frustrated right now just trying to figure out what to do, so your post came at a perfect time! I still feel like I need some guidance though.

    • Hi Mara, sorry to hear you’re struggling win this! Very frustrating! I have a couple questions for you first (sorry! That’s the doctor way 🙂 )…how is your water and fat intake? Also, are you up for DIY-ing or are you looking for things to buy? In addition to make sure fat and possibly fish oil (or real fatty fish) intake is good, I’m a big fan of layering skin care products. For example, you might not have to get rid of the moisturizers you bought (so you don’t waste all that money!) and can layer things like shea/cocoa/mango butter over them to seal in moisture. In general, it’s either than issue of supplying moisture or keeping it in so this combo of things can address both. Let me know those answers and I can help troubleshoot more. Maybe a Periscope on this would help?

  3. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for your quick reply, and I REALLY appreciate the help! My water and fat intake I believe is sufficient for my body (and for my activity for the H20). I try to cook in grass fed ghee, grass fed lard, and eat plenty of salads with olive oil, eat grass fed butter, eat plenty of avocado, and just try to get healthy fats when I can. So, I think I am doing alright in those areas. I am totally up for DIY-ing, yes! For the time being, I don’t feel that buying any of these non-toxic moisturizers is doing a single thing for me. I am definitely lacking on a good source of fatty fish. We lack that in our small mountain town community, so I am going to have to source that online, and get more in. We eat wild caught fish once in a blue moon, but definitely not enough. That I know. I am willing to buy some supplies if you think that is what is needed next. I will DIY the heck out of things to help this. Ha! 🙂 It would help to know exactly what to buy and where to get it. I saw the couple of items you recommended for DIY moisturizers and links to the products too in your post. When you get a chance, I would love to know what you think next, or what other questions I can help answer. Oh, and a scope would be awesome too, sure! Thank you so much Alex!!

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