The summer came to Brussels overnight. I went to bed on a cold, rainy day and woke up to dazzling sunshine. As the mercury levels starting rising, my colorful summer dresses came out of their hiding spots in the closet as did my strappy sandals and kitten heels. I also resumed my passionate love affair with big white floral perfumes that bloom particularly well in hot, balmy weather. But a couple of weeks later autumn flew into my room on a small golden leaf that landed right on my desk, a reminder that the summer extravagance will soon come to an end.
I felt a pang of sadness as I always do when I realize that the summer vacation is drawing to its end. Wondering how I could retain my summery mood, I remembered an article from the August issue of French Marie Claire, Un huile à tout faire pour satiner. It described the all-purpose dry oils, from voluptuous Caudalie Divine Oil to elegant L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier Dry Oil, that make summer beauty rituals so alluring. So, I’ve decided to transition into the fall with some summer inspired pampering.
I’m a big fan of dry oils, and Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse has been a part of my beauty arsenal for the past ten years. Its scent of coconut and tiare reminds me so poignantly of summer that I only need to get a whiff of it on a cold, snowy day to feel better. 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.
Moreover, dry body oils make summer grooming effortless–they can be used in the morning after the shower for moisturizing the skin or mixed into the evening bath. You might make a quick oil mask for your hair before shampooing. Or, if your hair is dry, a tiny spritz on your comb is all you need for extra shine and moisture. Refined oils also retain scents really well, and if your goal is to don a light veil of perfume, dry body oils are a great choice.
My beloved Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse celebrated its 20 year anniversary this year, but while it’s still an excellent product, today you can find a wide selection of dry body oils that have different scents and are appropriate for various skin types. Since I’m familiar with all nine oils recommended by Marie Claire, I’ve decided to share them with you. Most of these products are a great example why European pharmacy shopping is such a delight–affordable prices, excellent quality and interesting selection. The article charmingly categorized the dry oils from voluptuous to couture, but the commentary is my own.
Caudalie Divine Oil (Huile Divine), 21 €/100 ml
Marie Claire calls this oil from Caudalie voluptuous, but I would also add elegant. The scent for Divine Oil was created by none other than the great perfumer Jacques Cavallier (he of Alexander McQueen Kingdom, Yves Saint Laurent Nu and Stella McCartney Stella fame). No wonder then that Caudalie has such a sophisticated perfume: The green grape inflected top note leads to the luscious heart of honey, rose, tuberose and vanilla; the musk and soft woods anchor the delicate petals in place. Its long-lasting perfume means that you need not scent yourself with anything else when you use this oil. The product is based on four different vegetable oils and shea butter. It absorbs quickly without leaving any greasy traces on the skin.
A special thank you to my reader Andrea for bringing this great product to my attention!
Klorane Monoi Beauty Oil For Body and Hair (Huile de beauté corps & Cheveux au Monoï Morinda Les Polysianes), 11.50 €/125 ml
Klorane is well-known for its excellent and affordable Tahitian monoi oil, which is certified and validated by an Appellation of Origin. The tiare blossoms are handpicked and soaked in pure coconut oil, resulting in the sumptuous, golden liquid. The particular Klorane product Marie Claire recommended is a limited edition for 2012, but anything from the Klorane Monoi oil collection is excellent. The rich coconut base makes for an extra-nourishing moisturizer, and it’s excellent for skin that requires special care. A scent of summer in the bottle.
For Dry and Sensitive Skin
Vichy Nutriextra Extraordinary Oil (Huile Extraordinaire Nutriextra), 18.30 €
Can be used on face, body and hair. Vichy’s base is a mix of nine oils, and it feels silky and suave. Vichy claims that the effect lasts for 24 hours, and I can attest that this is a great oil for dry skin. The white floral scent is very light but pleasant.
Roger & Gallet Fleur d’Osmanthus Beauty Oil (Huile Embellissante), 23.50 €/100 ml
Based on the oil apricot kernel, sesame and sweet almond oil, Fleur d’Osmanthus Beauty Oil is another great choice for daily pampering. The scent of jasmine, citrus and apricot is crisp and fresh at first, but it dries down to warmer roasted almond and sandalwood finish.
L’Oréal Paris Extraordinary Sublime Body Oil (Huile Extraordinaire Sublime Body), 9.90 €/150 ml
Marie Claire: “Sweet almond oil and vitamin E in the dry base which soothes and nourishes without leaving a sticky finish.” One of the best budget beauty care products I’ve tried recently. It moisturizes the skin really well and leaves it radiant and soft.
Payot Élixir, 35 €/100 ml
Marie Claire: “A cocktail of rice, hazelnut and almond oils, enriched with myrrh and amyris.” I’ve sampled it at the store only, so I can’t comment on the long-term benefits, but the delicate woody scent and the suave texture of this elixir are tempting.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier Dry Body Oil (Huile Sèche Pour le Corps Premier Figuier), 45 €
True to the green fig and almond perfume of Premier Figuier, this light and fast absorbing oil is my preferred version of this classical L’Artisan fragrance. The scent lingers well on skin–a delicate courtship between the fig leaves and creamy sandalwood.
Les Fermes de Marie Pure Altitude Beauty Oil for Body and Hair (Huile de beauté corps & cheveux Pure Altitude), 48 €
Marie Claire: “Edelweiss, wheat germ and sesame oils.” Les Fermes de Marie beauty treatments developed at their Pure Altitude Spa are highly rated in French press. This oil is likewise excellent–it feels like a light veil on skin and has a delicate green floral scent. Since it’s on the more expensive side, I couldn’t justify selecting it over the aforementioned products.
Yves Saint Laurent Saharienne Dry Body Oil (Huile Sèche pour le Corps), 42.50 €/75 ml
Marie Claire describes the fragrance as “sublime and intoxicating: lemon-ginger, a pinch of salt and pine needles warmed by the sun.” I think that it’s a great quality product, that absorbs instantly into the skin, but the scent was too sharp. Then again, I’m not a fan of Saharienne to begin with.
In Europe most of these oils are sold at pharmacies, with the exception of L’Artisan Parfumeur and Yves Saint Laurent. In the US, look for these oils at New London Pharmacy, Amazon.com, Aedes (L’Artisan Premier Figuer Body Oil), Sephora (Caudalie), drugstores (Vichy and L’Oreal), and department stores (Yves Saint Laurent).
Do you like to use dry body oils? Do you have any favorite scented body products?
Image: Sonja Kinski in the ad for Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Or.