Though French oils are fashionable today, they are not the first culture to know and appreciate the benefit of vegetable, nut and seed oils for the skin-both face and body. You'll find historical and present day usage of Coconut, Olive, Argan and many other oils, throughout the world, from Asia to Africa to Polynesia. All the rage today, 'dry oil', incorporates various nutrient rich base oils, and are usually parfumed for scent. Here's an excerpt from an article on perfumed oils in France:
"From reading French magazines, I’ve noticed that in most beauty stories, the purpose of the product appears secondary to the sensory pleasure it provides. The face cream may remove wrinkles, but the caressing touch of your fingers is often mentioned first. In the same vein, Marie Claire reminded me of the sensual nature of the oils and their application process. This may sound trivial, but there is something very seductive about the silky touch of the dry oils and the way they melt into your skin." (Source: Bois de Jasmin)
Dry oil? Yes. Dry. How can oil be dry? Specific oils, such as Sesame, Grapeseed, Almond and Sunflower, are more astringent and absorbent than others, leaving no heavy, greasy feeling, and drying quickly. Even oily skin (and some would say especially oily skin!) benefits from this approach; the skin's oil production becomes more balanced. Rather than stripping away with harsh products, or attempting to hydrate dry skin with globs of creams or lotions that do not penetrate beyond the surface layers of skin, dry oil moisturizes, promotes collagen production, hydrates deeply, aids circulation and provides protection from the elements (wind, environmental pollutants, harsh sun-it's not sunscreen, but certain oils such as Sesame-featured in our Herbal Body Oils, actually provide mild UV protection!).
Earlier this week, I visited a fragrance boutique here in San Diego, filled with many French creams, lotions and soaps. Lo and behold, on the counter was a basket full of dry oil sprays. The woman behind the counter said she loves using oil after her shower. I suggested, coincidentally, some of the same tips mentioned in the above article (pre-shower hair conditioning (even with her oily hair!), use as a light, elegant body-perfume, etc), all of which were happily considered for future use. I then decided to write about the topic, to bring more insight into the use of dry oils and their potential for both graceful beauty care and personal transformation.
It is not surprising to learn that a sensual and sensory rich experience is considered primary, when using this method of self-care. This has always been part of the Lady of the Lotus message: Whether you are a spiritual seeker, pragmatist or die-hard hedonist, the self-care lifestyle is for you. For transformation, for pleasure or for practical daily care of the body and health, self-care with high quality, therapeutically rich botanicals is the gift that keeps on giving, providing you with benefits today AND tomorrow.
While boutique brands are lovely to look at, Lady of the Lotus prefers pure essential oils and non-petroleum based oils, rather than the heavily synthetic and chemical rich concoctions of most French parfumed oils, however. (Master Chemists with adroit skills notwithstanding, of course). Fake fragrance gives only superficial, temporary enjoyment. Real Essential Oils give you this immediate pleasure, along with so many more benefits! And many of these chemicals, as well as cetyl alcohol, will contribute to creating a synthetic 'dry' aspect to these oils, while cutting costs for the manufacturer, but not for you, the purchaser!
Aside from avoiding the detrimental chemical components absorbed by the skin and getting what you pay for instead of chemical fillers, using pure oils will also gain you the ultra rich benefits of pure essential oils, flower essences and herbal infusions, found in wonderfully potent blends such as our Herbal Body Oils. The real deal! You'll often pay less for Lady of the Lotus Herbal Oils, than for parfumed body oils found in department stores and boutiques. And what you gain is a powerful investment in your health, plus tactile and sensory rich body and beauty care.
Within the Ayurvedic tradition, abhyanga or massage is performed daily or weekly, using nutrient rich, herb and aromatherapy infused oils. The benefits include beauty and healthy skin, though go well beyond this. Promoting circulation, detoxification/lymphatic health, sounder sleep, equilibrium of mind/body, emotional and sensory balance and grounding, clarity of thought & much more. Translated: This practice benefits the endocrine system, hormone balance, nervous system/brain health, lubricates muscles/joints (thus lessening chronic pain, creaking bones and promoting healing from injury, trauma, sports activity, childbirth, etc), stress relief, digestive health and a host of other positive attributes. As said in Ayurveda, 'What love is to the soul, oil is to the body.'
Two sensual cultures-India and France-two different approaches. Similar results: Effortless looking beauty, decadence of self care, luxurious displays of elegance, floral riches everywhere..... Are they onto something? It's not new, but it's a tradition certainly worth imbibing in (or continuing!) for your own sensual self-care, as a mighty health maintenance strategy and for graceful, pleasure-filled longevity.
Mais Oui et Namaste, from Lady of the Lotus!