We've been fed a lot of lousy advice about fats and oils. We were told they made you gain weight, clogged your arteries, gave you heart attacks, and turned you in to a newt (ok, the newt line was sarcasm, but you catch my meaning). We now know that all fats are not bad, and most of what we were told was load of hooey. Not only do fats satisfy your appetite and provide your body with essential fatty acids, healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil and more aid vitamin absorption, weight loss, and blood sugar stabilization. On top of that, natural, unrefined oils can help on the OUTSIDE of your body as well.
If you have ever had a cold, you know how tender and raw your nose can get after you blow it a few million times. Your skin gets chapped, it hurts, so you put lotion on it. Then the screaming starts. Commercial lotions contain chemicals that cause a nasty burning feeling. They also have emulsifiers so your lotion often contains more water than oils anyway. When you use a lotion comprised of mostly water, all you end up doing is providing very temporary relief to your skin (once you stop screaming) while chapping it more...ensuring you will need more lotion. While this makes for hefty profits if you are a lotion manufacture, it is just annoying and counterproductive if you are a consumer. Skip the chemicals, additives and PAIN. Simply use those same healthy oils you eat to actually get some relief and healing.
NOTE: Natural oils will feel and absorb differently than commercial moisturizers so you apply them a little differently. Use a small amount at first and rub gently while the oil absorbs. Afterwards, take a soft towel and gently buff off any excess.
SWEET ALMOND OIL: This is the same stuff you buy at the grocery store, but it is also used by therapists as a massage oil. The chemical composition of sweet almond oil is quite close to the natural oils in human skin. This makes it a fantastic moisturizer for kids as well as adults*. It is an excellent alternative to chemical ladened baby oil and wont clog your pores. Use on chapped skin (like your sore nose) or as an all over after-shower moisturizer. It WILL NOT sting! If you don't like how it feels on your skin, you can still use it for cooking.
VIRGIN COCONUT OIL: My favorite for chapped lips! When you take it out of the jar, it will most likely be solid (unless it is Summer or your house is really warm). Just break off a tiny piece and smooth over your sore lips. I put some in a little screw top container I picked up at the dollar store. Reapply as often as necessary...no nasty chemical taste to worry about.
OLIVE OIL: It's not just for salads! Olive oil is also a great moisturizer. It is also gentle and was used as the original base for castile soap. I have noticed it can clog facial pores slightly, but it is an excellent option for hands, rough elbows, knees and feet.
AVOCADO OIL: Very similar to olive oil, but tends to absorb better. It is, however, harder to find an usually more expensive.
PALM OIL: Even more than coconut oil, it is solid at room temperature. Works great on rough feet and elbows...when you aren't using it as shortening anyway. This is well suited for overnight foot treatment. Apply to rough, cracked feet and then put on a pair of old socks you don't mind getting oily. Your feet will love you in the morning.
When I am using oils on my skin, I try to use the same guidelines for the outside as the inside...as unrefined as possible and with little or no added chemicals. The double duty aspect of being able to use it for cooking also appeals to my practical side. Also, think about the typical price you pay for fancy lotions and creams. They are mostly water anyway! Using real oils can end up saving you money.
This is just a small sampling of what is available. There are plenty of fats and oils you can use to nourish the outside of your body as much as the inside. What you end up using is most likely going to depend on what you can find in your area for the best price. If you are ordering over the internet, be sure to educate yourself about the different types of oils available...some work great on skin, but are NOT edible, like jojoba oil. Or, in the case of shea butter, it IS edible, but is most often sold in a cosmetics grade, not a food grade.
Here are some interesting sources of information if you want to learn more.
* Beware if you have nut allergies