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Can you replace your lotion with a body oil? Here's what experts have to say

Forget moisturizers! These body oils will replenish dry skin in a snap.
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

No matter the season, moisturizing the skin is an important part of any daily routine. Like skin care and hair care routines, you'll probably need to switch your mode of moisturizer as the seasons change to accurately pair with the weather.

Shop TODAY sought the expertise of several skin care experts to dive into what makes this skin care product an essential for your beauty routine. They also shared some of their favorite body oils on the market so you can stock up ASAP.

Benefits | Expert picks | Shopper favorites | FAQs | Meet the experts

What is body oil used for?

If you've never tried a body oil before, you're likely wondering what sets it apart from your typical lotion or moisturizer. It turns out the product category actually has its own unique set of benefits.

"Body oils are great for an instant moisturizing effect since they immediately get absorbed into [the] upper layer of dermis (skin cells)," Dr. Liia Ramachandra, a former pharma executive and founder of beauty brand Epilynx, tells Shop TODAY. "When various oils are mixed together, body oils are also very nourishing for the skin. They make the skin softer and offer instant hydration."

Los Angeles-based medical aesthetician Candace Marino loves how body oils help lock in moisture. "Most body oils contain fatty acids and ceramides, which are very protective of the skin barrier and prevent water loss, acting almost like a seal on the body. Body oils can also contain antioxidants and vitamins that have repairing and protective benefits for the skin."

Board-certified facial plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Somenek adds that oil's ability to penetrate the skin barrier "helps you maintain a radiant glow all day."

One of the other perks of body oils? They can help minimize the appearance of pesky stretch marks.

"They can limit transepidermal water loss. Most oils also contain anti-inflammatory botanical oils, antioxidants and vitamins to promote smooth-looking, healthy skin," Somenek says.

Best body oils, according to skin care experts

Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Body Gel Oil

Size: 6.8 fl oz | Key ingredients: Cocoa seed butter, shea butter

If this is your first time trying a body oil, dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick recommends this affordable option from Vaseline.

"It's great for those with dry or dull skin, as it not only works to hydrate the skin but also to lock in moisture without leaving the skin feeling greasy," she says. "While in an oil formulation, it also offers the benefits of both shea butter and cocoa butter, leaving the skin looking and feeling healthy and refreshed."

Jason Organic Smoothing Coconut Unrefined Oil

Size: 15 fl oz | Key ingredients: Coconut oil, vitamin E

Coconut oil is basically a wonder child and can be used for everything from cooking to your skin care routine.

"Studies show that coconut oil is an excellent emollient to prevent transdermal water loss and increase skin moisture," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anar Mikailov.

The board-certified dermatologist tells us he particularly enjoys this budget-friendly body oil from Jason Organic.

"It has unique properties that decrease the itch response, which makes it an ideal oil for individuals with eczema. It also has natural anti-fungal and antibacterial properties," he says. "This oil should be used by those with very dry skin. In other skin types, coconut oil can induce acne breakouts in its unrefined, raw oil when used as a facial oil."

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Dry Body Oil Mist

Size: 6.7 fl oz | Key ingredients: Oat oil, jojoba oil

Ramachandra names this Aveeno body oil mist as one of her go-tos and says its jojoba and oat oils are great hydrators.

"Plus, it's paraben- and phthalate-free," she says. The spray is ideal for rough, dry, sensitive skin and is formulated with 98 percent naturally derived ingredients.

Bio-Oil Body Oil

Size: 0.85 fl oz-6.7 fl oz | Key ingredients: Rosemary leaf oil, lavender oil, sunflower seed oil

Ramachandra recommends this popular Bio-Oil Body Oil that's often used during pregnancy or to help repair skin damage from scars after surgery.

"The vitamin E in it is great to smooth out and hydrate your skin," she explains. The oil is also formulated with chamomile and lavender oil to help calm and cleanse damaged skin.

Cliganic 100% Organic Jojoba Oil

Size: 2 fl oz-128 fl oz | Key ingredients: Jojoba oil

Mikailov enjoys this body oil because it shares many properties with our body's natural oil (sebum).

"This characteristic allows the oil to absorb much more quickly to restore and improve the natural skin barrier," he explains.

At first, the oil sits on top of the skin and forms a thin layer, then it absorbs within 15 minutes and leaves skin feeling nice and silky. It's made with only one ingredient — organic jojoba oil — and can be used on body skin, scalps and beards.

Jojoba Oil by Leven Rose

Size: 16 fl oz | Key ingredients: Jojoba oil

Board-certified Miami dermatologist Dr. Annie Gonzalez from Riverchase Dermatology is happy to explain why she's such a huge fan of jojoba oil in general. "It mimics the natural oil in the skin so it won’t clog pores," she says.

The derm raves about this hydrating oil, adding that it's rich in antioxidants. "They help heal dry skin, stretch marks and sun damage. The product is also fragrance-free and can be used on nails, skin and hair," she tells us, adding that the oil is ideal for those dealing with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Biossance 100% Squalane Oil

Size: 3.3 fl oz | Key ingredients: Squalane

Dry, brittle hair and nails can be a drag, but Mikailov has a secret weapon for combatting these two pesky beauty woes: squalane oil.

"It's ideal to use for hair and nail moisture restoration," he explains. "This oil will absorb the fastest, even faster than jojoba oil." You can also use it on your face to combat dryness, redness and uneven texture.

Mikailov says this particular oil from Biossance is well-suited for those with acne-prone skin. "Squalane tends to be much less comedogenic (less prone to clog pores)," he adds.

Ren Clean Skincare Atlantic Kelp and Microalgae Anti-Fatigue Toning Body Oil

Size: 3.3 fl oz | Key ingredients: Grape seed oil, sunflower seed oil, rosemary leaf oil

New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Nava Greenfield recommends this toning body oil from Ren Clean Skincare. "It not only deeply hydrates, but is good for your skin in other ways too. Red algae extract provides phytosterols... Multiple naturally sourced extracts and seed oils on skin gives it a nice shine while locking in the moisture for a long-lasting hydration," she shares in an email.

It's also a favorite among shoppers with a near-perfect average rating on the brand's site.

Editor's Note: Greenfield is a third-party expert for REN Clean Skincare.

Elemis Frangipani Monoi Body Oil

Size: 3.3 fl oz | Key ingredients: Monoi and coconut oils

Garshick says she digs this splurge-worthy oil from Elemis and says it's ultra hydrating.

"It contains a blend of Frangipani, Monoi and coconut oils to help replenish moisture and nourish the skin. It will leave the skin feeling rejuvenated without leaving behind a greasy finish," she says.

Kora Organics Noni Glow Body Oil

Size: 3.38 fl oz | Key ingredients: Rosehip oil, noni fruit extract, sunflower seed oil, vitamin E

Marino recommends this luxurious oil that's made of organic ingredients.

"It feeds the skin with vitamins and super fruits that provide protective benefits thanks to their antioxidant-rich makeup," she says. "This formula features rosehip seed oil, which is rich in omega fatty acids and is known for its ability to brighten the skin tone; noni, a super fruit known for its high antioxidant content; and sunflower seed oil, which is rich in vitamin E and provides a lightweight yet nourishing oil to replenish dry skin."

Best body oils, according to shoppers

Korres Instant Smoothing Serum-In-Shower Oil

Size: 8.45 fl oz | Key ingredients: Sweet almond oil, jojoba seed oil, shea butter, sunflower seed oil

Senior SEO editor Jess Bender likes to use this right after she gets out of the shower. "It locks in all the moisture and makes me feel ethereally glowy," she raves. It's paraben- and sulfate-free, while being chock-full of the things you actually do want like jojoba oil and sweet almond oil. It comes in four scents but Bender is partial to the golden passionfruit option.

Bali Body Shimmering Body Oil

Size: 3.4 fl oz | Key ingredients: Coconut oil, grapeseed oil, olive seed oil, jojoba seed oil, vitamin E

If you're looking to enhance your tan with an extra glow or just showing off some skin, Shop TODAY assistant partnerships editor Lauren Witonsky says this shimmering body oil is perfect for the job. With hints of bronze and gold shimmer, this shopper-favorite boasts a "natural-looking bronzed sheen."

Eminence Organic Skin Care Apricot Body Oil

Size: 8.2 fl oz | Key ingredients: Apricot kernel oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, pomegranate seed oil

Restore your skin to its supple, elastic, former self with this shopper-loved body oil from Eminence. Loaded with nourishing — and deliciously scented — key ingredients like apricot kernel oil (loaded with vitamins A, C and E), biodynamic jojoba oil and antioxidant-rich pomegranate seed oil, shoppers love how "soft and silky" it leaves their skin without the sticky residue that's typically associated with body-oriented skin care products.

Sol de Janeiro Glowmotions Glow Oil

Size: 2.5 fl oz | Key ingredients: Cupuaçu butter, açai oil, coconut oil

If you want soft, supple skin with a little bit of shine, Glowmotions is exactly what you're looking for. While usually offered in three colors, this bestseller is currently available in two at Sephora and is made with nourishing ingredients like coconut oil and açai oil.

Aveda Beautifying Composition Oil

Size: 1.7 fl oz | Key ingredients: Soybean oil, olive oil, safflower oil

With an average rating near perfect, it's safe to assume shoppers love this body oil from Aveda. Not only do they love how it feels on their skin, but several reviews on the brand's site raved about how good it smells. One reviewer even said they've seen a difference in their acne after using this oil on their face.

Esker Firming Oil

SIze: 2 fl oz-4 fl oz | Key ingredients: Juniper, palmarosa, lavender, rose geranium, grapefruit

Commerce editor Vivien Moon calls this her "holy grail body oil." Made with a fragrant blend of oils that include juniper, lavender and rose geranium (that Moon describes as "lovely"), it's formulated with the intention of softening, firming and tightening the skin.

"I have gone through two bottles and will continue to repurchase because I am that committed to it," Moon raves.

Necessaire The Body Serum

Size: 5.1 fl oz | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramides

Bender has also recently started using this serum from Necessaire and says, "It works its smoothing, soothing magic almost instantly on dry patches that need extra TLC without leaving a greasy residue in its place. For people who don't prefer aromatics in their skin care, this one is fortunately fragrance-free."

Ole Henriksen Firmly Yours Toning Dry Body Oil

Size: 3.4 fl oz | Key ingredients: Peptides, vitamin E, black currant, cloudberry oil

This body oil is new to the Ole Henriksen family of products but is already receiving rave reviews from shoppers who say it's lightweight and leaves their skin not feeling greasy but healthy and hydrated. A few of its highlighted ingredients include peptides, elderberry, black currant and cloudberry oil.

Alo Head-to-Toe Glow Oil

Size: 3.2 fl oz | Key ingredients: Aloe vera, amla, turmeric, argan oil

NBC News senior photo editor Becca Delman loves this glow oil from Alo. According to the brand, it can be used on the body, face and hair, and it's made with soothing ingredients like aloe vera, amla, turmeric and argan oil.

It's also a favorite of commerce partnerships coordinator Sydney Weber.

Osea Undaria Algae Body Oil

Size: 1 fl oz-9.6 fl oz | Key ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, passionfruit oil, grapefruit oil, sesame seed oil

Incorporating aged undaria seaweed into its formulation, Osea's lightweight oil practically feels like a tropical escape upon application. Besides its wanderlusty scent, the brand claims that it'll give your dermis a boost of hydration while firming sagging skin.

It's also a favorite of deals editor Rebecca Brown. "A little goes a long way. One pump and I can usually cover like half my body. It's my go-to when I come out of the shower," she says.

L'Occitane Almond Supple Skin Oil

Size: 3.3 fl oz | Key ingredients: Sweet almond oil, sunflower seed oil

Aside from its decadent scent, shoppers across retailers are raving about how effective this skin oil is at delivering long-term hydration and suppleness. It doesn't hurt that the award-winning formula is 50 percent almond oil, which is rich in essential omegas that naturally nourish and soften your skin.

Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Body Oil

Size: 4.2 fl oz | Key ingredients: French plum seed oil, avocado oil, sunflower seed oil, vitamin E

Body oils don't just moisturize skin; they travel deep down to regulate oil and sebum protection, which ultimately helps hydrate and heal your dermis over time. Fortunately, Dermalogica's body oil is formulated with a range of multitasking and nourishing ingredients that do just that. French plum seed oil and avocado oil hydrate and protect skin, for starters, then fermented red ginseng chips in to calm inflammation.

Oui the People Featherweight Hydrating Body Gloss

Size: 3.3 fl oz | Key ingredients: Rose hip, squalane, avocado oil

Made with olive-derived squalane, rosehip seed oil and organic avocado oil, Shop TODAY deputy editorial director Ali Deabler says this body gloss helps make her keratosis pilaris less obvious when she uses it consistently.

Molton Brown Mesmerising Oudh Accord & Gold Precious Body Oil

Size: 3.3 fl oz | Key ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, rosemary leaf extract

NBC News senior vice president of commerce Ashley Parrish loves this luxurious-feeling oil from Molton Brown that's made with 23.5-carat gold flakes. It's perfect for those who prefer a woody fragrance and, according to the brand, is suitable for all skin types.

Frequently asked questions

Is it better to use body oil or lotion?

"Oils are used to help lock in moisture, providing occlusive benefits while also delivering emollient and skin-soothing properties to the skin. They are often highly concentrated, unlike body lotions, which also incorporate water and other ingredients that can be utilized to help with dry skin," Garshick explains.

Despite this difference, Greenfield says what you should be using depends on your age, skin conditions and personal preferences.

"If your skin is not very dry, lotions may work well for you. Younger patients sometimes prefer lotions over oils," she tells us in an email. "For very dry skin, I sometimes recommend moisturizing twice a day — once with an oil and once with a cream or lotion so that you get the benefit of both."

When should you use body oil?

Garshick says the best time to use a body oil is immediately after showering. Greenfield agrees, adding that you want to apply it when the skin is just slightly damp.

Meet the experts

Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology, a dermatological practice with locations in New York and New Jersey.

Dr. Michael Somenek, MD, is a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon based in Washington D.C.

Dr. Anar Mikailov, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Barrington-Park Dermatological Associates in Rochester, New York.

Dr. Liia Ramachandra, Pharm.D., Ph.D, is a former pharma executive and skin care expert based in Canoga Park, California. She is the CEO and founder of skin care brand Epilynx.

Dr. Annie Gonzalez, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami.

Candace Marino, also known as The LA Facialist, is a medical aesthetician based in Beverly Hills.

Dr. Nava Greenfield, MD, is a board-certified New York City-based dermatologist practicing at Schweiger Dermatology Group.