#FrenchFriday - My favorite shower oils + 5 tips to fight dry, itchy skin in the winter

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L'Occitane Almond shower oil review cinq monde Phyto-aromatic shower bath oil

Winter is really harsh on the skin, not just on the face but also on the body. With cold temperatures, overheated homes, steamy hot showers, multiple layers of heavy and often scratchy clothes, many of us get very dry, irritated and even itchy skin. When I lived in my hometown of Lyon, France, where winters get pretty cold (not Minnesota cold, but freezing temperatures are frequent), I used to get crazy itchy legs in the evening, it was so bad that I couldn't sleep!

Since I moved to Southern California I've never had such a bad case of dry skin, but I do need to pamper my body a little more during the cool season to keep my skin healthy. One of the best ways to do that without having to add an extra step to your body care routine is to replace your usual shower gel or wash with a cleansing oil. Let's take a look at my two favorite shower oils, a very popular one and another you've probably never heard of!

Why use a shower oil?

The idea of washing with an oil might sound weird, I know... But they're actually fantastic for dry skin.

The problem with classic shower gels or washes is that the cleansing agents they contain tend to dry out the skin, by destroying the protective barrier on the surface called the hydrolipidic film, made of natural oils and moisture. Shower oils, on the other hand, dissolve dirt and sweat but do not damage this protective film because they don't strip your skin off of its natural oils.

Even better, with the plant oils they contain (mineral oils for the cheaper ones), they can even nourish the skin, acting as a moisturizer and cleanser at once, and soothing skin that's already irritated by winter weather.

You do have to get used to the feeling: real shower oils don't lather and they leave a residue on the skin, so you won't get the "squeaky clean" sensation. But your skin is not dinnerware, it's a living organ that must be treated gently, especially if it's already inflamed by the environmental conditions.

One thing to note: some cheaper products are sometimes named "shower oil" on the packaging although they're basic shower gels that contain a little bit of plant oils, such as coconut. A true shower oil should have the consistency of, well, an oil, not a gel or cream, it shouldn't lather and it should not contain harsh cleansing agents such as SLS or SLA.

L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil

This is one of French beauty brand L'Occitane's best-sellers, so you might have heard of it before. This shower oil smells amazing: its bitter almond scent reminds me of macaroon, without the excessive sweetness. It does not only contain almond oil, but also a whole list of natural extracts with great benefits to the skin: shea, grape, apricot, honey.

The Almond Shower Oil feels really soothing on my dry skin, and it leaves it feeling supple and comfortable. It's not too heavy nor does it feel too "oily" during use, so it's a good choice for people who are new to shower oils.

Cinq Mondes Phyto-Aromatic Bath & Shower Oil

I've mentioned Cinq Mondes before, it's a beautiful French spa brand that makes high-end skincare as well as bath and body products. Their products are organized in "rituals" inspired by ancient beauty recipes from all over the world.

The Phyto-Aromatic shower oil comes in 5 scents, linked to a different ritual: Atlas (orange blossom and leaves), Bengalore (vanilla and cardamom), Java (eucalyptus and cinnamon), Kyoto (ginger and rose), and the one I have, Siam (bergamot and spicy wood).

The fragrances are really what sets this shower oil apart: they're rich, complex, evocative, they smell like a high-end perfume rather than a body wash. These amazing scents contribute to making the Phyto-Aromatic shower oil a full sensory experience. The Siam rituals has a very uplifting scent that is both woody, slightly spicy, warm and citrusy. I absolutely love to use it in the morning to help me wake up my foggy brain in the shower.

The Cinq Mondes shower oil does not contain as many plant extracts as the L'Occitane one, but it includes a rather large amount of castor oil (which is a plant oil, not made of castors, as you probably know!). Castor oil is very nourishing, and also a little thicker than most other plant oils, so this product is a little heavier than some other shower oils I've tried. However it does leave the skin very soft and supple. And those scents!!

Where to buy

Tips to heal dry, itchy winter skin

Here are the tips that helped me keep my sanity when I had super dry, itchy skin:

- Take showers, not baths, keep them short and use warm rather than steamy hot water. The hotter the water and the longer your shower, the more your skin gets stripped off of the natural oils forming a protective barrier, and the dryer, more irritated it gets.

- Don't exfoliate too often. There is an enduring myth that people with dry skin should scrub away their dryness, but the truth is that exfoliating only treats one symptom of dryness and can make the condition worse in the long run. Yes, it removes the flaky bits from your peeling skin, but it also causes extra damage to that protective barrier we've been talking about, causing more dehydration and irritation. If you suffer from dry, itchy skin this winter, don't use a scrub more than once a week.

- Use a nourishing body oil on damp skin. That's an added step to your routine, but it's well worth the time. When you step out of the shower, immediately use a body oil while your skin is still slightly damp, massage it in, and follow with a rich moisturizing butter or lotion. Some of my favorite body oils include Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, Josie Maran argan oil, and for a full almond experience you can also use L'Occitane Almond Body Oil after the shower oil from the same range!

- Use a body lotion that contains lactic acid. Unlike a physical exfoliant (a scrub), lactic acid, which is an AHA, will gently exfoliate the upper layers of your skin to get rid of roughness and encourage cell renewal for healthier skin. I've used products by Eucerin and Amlactin and both worked well.

- Eat healthy fats. Fat in general got a very bad reputation since the 80s, but some types of healthy fatty acids are essential for our bodies to function. Without a balanced diet and a consistent supply of good quality fats, the membranes of our cells cannot play their optimal role, which can cause chronic inflammation, and, for the skin, a rough texture and dull appearance. So keep eating those avocados, nuts, fatty fish and olive oil throughout the winter!

Do yo suffer from dry, itchy skin in the winter? What are your favorite tips for quick relief?

itchy irritated skin solution relief

Shopping: shower oils for all budgets!

The products featured in this review were purchased by me. I received no compensation to write this post, which only reflects my personal opinion. This post contains affiliate links. I receive a very small commission when you click on those links, and the money generated covers a small portion of my expenses to purchase products for review. Clicking on those links helps ensure that Beaumiroir continues to publish reviews of new and exciting high end French products - at no cost to you!

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