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oils of life: affordable luxury at the body shop

Last month I caught up with my friend Stephen, who happens to be a Regional Trainer for The Body Shop Canada. It had been years since I'd used much by The Body Shop but a few of their new releases had caught my eye with their impressive formulas, ethically sourced ingredients, and beautiful pacakaging (I'm a sucker for good branding or a pretty jar). Stephen and I met up for lunch and he surprised me with oodles of goodies, including the new Oils of Life skincare line. I've been test-driving the range for the past 30 days or so and I'm ready to share a full review with you.

Here's a peek at the line, from left to right:

I lean toward the drier side of things so I skipped the lighter gel cream (though I bet it's great for daytime) and tried the facial oil, the essence lotion, and the richer face cream.

Stephen tells me the star ingredients in the Oils of Life line-up are three seed oils known around the world for their revitalising and repairing effects on the skin: Black Cumin seed oil from Egypt, Camellia seed oil from China, and Rosehip seed oil from Chile. All three are responsibly sourced, and because of these key ingredients you'll find the entire line has a light signature scent (slightly herbal with a touch of earthiness or spiciness, perhaps from the cumin oil).

As you can probably guess from the name of the range, it's meant to be hydrating (though not greasy), revitalizing (to liven up the skin), and antiaging (who doesn't want help with that?). Given that winter is on it's way (how about that snow yesterday?), this line is just the thing to get you through the colder, dryer weather ahead. So here we go. First up: the Essence Lotion.


Don't be thrown off by the name, this clear fluid is a toner/tonic not a lotion. I'm not sure why so many companies insist on calling toners 'lotions' given that the term makes most of us think of a moisturizer, but I digress. I find that lot of folks either aren't sure what a toner is meant to do/why it's good for their skin OR have had bad experiences with super astringent so-called toners (especially if they've been acne sufferers), and skip this step completely. The former skincare trainer in me loves to educate, so let's tackle this together.

A good toner should either be alcohol-free or contain very little, and should feel refreshing on the skin. On contact It should never feel like it's burning, irritating, or causing/aggrivating any redness. A toner is meant to be used after your cleanser to remove any last traces of dirt and makeup, and it preps the skin to receive moisture. Think of trying to wipe up a spill on your countertop using a bone-dry sponge. Doesn't work very well, right? But if you slightly dampen the sponge, it soaks everything up in a jiffy. The same goes for your skin. By slightly dampening your skin it becomes better able to drink up the moisturizer you'll apply next, and transports it more effectively to the deeper layers of the skin. Moral of the story: if you use a toner your moisturizer will work better and you'll need less of it, so your little jar, pump, or tube of moisturizer will actually last longer.

Now that I've told you why it's beneficial to use a good quality toner, I can tell you a little about this one. The Oils of Life Intensely Revitalizing Essence Lotion (that's a mouthful!) is a quality biphase toner, which means it feels light like water but also contains several seed and plant oils to nourish your skin. It's very low in alcohol and contains just enough to keep the oils from separating from the water-based ingredients. My skin leans dry and a bit sensitive and had no trouble at all with this formula. After washing my face with my usual cleanser, I tapped a few drops on to a cotton pad and applied it all over my skin. It removed the last traces of makeup I didn't realize were there and made my skin feel fresh and clean. I generally prefer toners in spray bottles but this comes in a simple screw-top plastic bottle that does the job just fine. It has a stopper in the mouth of the bottle so that only a few drops come out at a time -- you don't have to worry about spilling it everywhere.


It's no secret that I've become OBSESSED with facial oils. I try as many as I can get my hands on. Since my skin is a bit drier I'm always on the look out for products that deliver moisture without being greasy, but the secret about oils (and I think the reason why they've absolutely exploded lately) is that they're beneficial to ALL skin types. In drier or sensitive skins like mine they help to ease discomfort and treat redness and flaky patches, and in oilier complexions they mimic the skin's natural sebum (that's the oil all our skins secrete) and signal to your body that the skin doesn't need to produce so much oil. And for combination skin they do both! Oils are essentially hard working regulators that can help just about anyone have happier, healthier skin.

So how about this one? The Oils of Life Intensely Revitalizing Facial Oil comes in a weighty glass bottle that gives it a high-end feel even though it's still accessibly priced. I hadn't seen anything this luxurious from The Body Shop in quite some time and I was impressed. The glass bottle has an eye dropper, which in my mind is the best (and only) way to package facial oils: anything else would either dispense too much product or spill too easily. After cleansing and toning I used the eye dropper to apply about three drops to my finger tips, then I lightly patted and massaged the oil into my skin in a gentle, upward motion. The oil felt hydrating but not slick or greasy, and it instantly gave my skin a healthy sheen.

I use face oils morning and night (like I said, OBSESSED) but if you have oily skin you may want to keep oils for night time. And if you're combination, you may want to play around with the frequency and amount of product to find what works for you. But to all of you: please don't be afraid of oils at night time: they can do so much good work while you're sleeping and don't worry about looking dewy since you're headed to bed anyway.

Stephen also very kindly gave me this nifty looking facial massager to try with the facial oil:

Whacky, eh? I'll admit it looked a bit gimmicky but I'm always game to try new skincare tools so I thought what the heck. The Oils of Life Twin-Ball Facial Massager ($20) has a comfortable plastic handle and two stainless steel balls meant to massage the face. If you've ever had a facial you already know facial massage is an effective way to stimulate circulation and give the skin an instant glow, and that's exactly what this is meant to do minus the hefty price tag of a facial. It even came with handy diagrams showing me how to use it and in which directions:

After applying the facial oil I used the massager exactly as above with light but firm pressure. The stainless steel felt cooling on my skin (similar to roller ball eye creams if you've tried those) and I could see a bit of a glow right away. It might be funny looking but it felt great and I'll probably use it once a week as part of my DIY facial routine. The more you know, right? And last but certainly not least: the face cream.


This little cream impressed the pants off me: it was like a tall drink of water for my skin. The Oils of Life Intensely Revitalizing Cream (another mouthful!) was smooth as buttah and just like the facial oil, it wasn't slick or greasy. It felt comforting, nourishing, and hydrating on my dry skin. It had a luxurious whipped texture that wasn't at all thick, it spread easily, and melted right into my skin. I've been using this cream morning and night and if you have normal or combo skin I'll bet this would be a great night cream. For oilier or acne-prone types, you might prefer to stick with the lighter gel cream for both morning and night.

Get a load of this pretty little pot:


Over all, I have to admit I was terribly impressed by The Body Shop's efforts on the Oils of Life range: the formulas are well thought out, they're packed with hardworking ingredients, and they look pretty sitting on my counter (which is handy since my skincare drawer is overflowing). And even though I skipped the gel cream this time, I was so impressed with the whole line that I'd happily pick it up and give it a whirl.

The two absolute standouts for me were the facial oil and the face cream, and once I finish what I have I'd buy them in a heartbeat. These two products normally cost a total of $78 plus tax but I just noticed there's a limited edition value set: it's normally $65 but is marked down to $58.50 for The Body Shop's Black Friday sale. So if that interests you, I'd grab it this week and pocket the nearly $20 in savings.

So that was my experience, now I want to hear from you. Have you tried the Oils of Life collection? Which products did you try? Do you use other products by The Body Shop? Do they work for you? Any must-haves in your skincare routine? Share your thoughts below in the comments section!

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