If you don't know a penta-peptide from an antioxidant and frankly don't care -- you just want your gator-dry legs to be soft and silky-smooth -- look no farther than your kitchen.
The answer lies in that bottle of safflower oil sitting on the shelf. This polyunsaturated oil, beloved by cardiologists for being good for your heart, is just as good for your skin, but from the outside in.
The oil, which is pressed from the seeds of spiky yellow safflowers, is a super moisturizer
. "That's because it's very high in linoleic acid, a fatty acid that skin normally makes to keep its moisture level up and barrier function intact," says New York City dermatologist Amy Wechsler, MD, RealAge
's skin expert. Since our body's linoleic acid production gets sluggish as we age, it helps to replace it from the outside.
"In theory, you could use olive oil too, which is also high in linoleic acid, but you'd smell like a salad!" Wechsler says. Along with being odorless, safflower oil has the advantages of being colorless and cheap. And that's not all. Safe enough for sensitive skin, it's so gentle
that it's massaged into newborn babies' skin at some hospitals.
Although this natural oil is one of Wechsler's favorite treatments for dry lower legs, where flakiness can be especially persistent, you can use it body-wide
-- though not when you're in a mad rush, as it takes time to soak in. "Smooth it on immediately after a bath or shower to seal in the moisture your skin has just absorbed. You can even apply it on your face, as long you don't get it into your eyes; stop a bit below the lower lid."
If you're not sure about moisturizing with pure
cooking oil (and the beauty industry sincerely hopes you aren't), you can find safflower oil in moisturizers, lip balms, and scrubs. "Look for a product that lists it among the first three ingredients, which means it contains a high concentration of the oil," says Dr. Wechsler.
Otherwise, just pour some safflower oil into a pretty little squeeze bottle and add it to your toiletries. No one will ever guess you cook with it too. And your legs will look amazing.