Suffering from a constant itch or even flaky skin, individuals with dry skin can suffer the most in the winter months when the air becomes drier. Fortunately, there are several treatments for dry skin, such as moisturizers and creams. Many individuals also turn to bath oils to moisturize the skin. However, because bath oils are seldom studied clinically, a group of researchers examined how bath oils impact dry skin in a recent study.
In the study, the researchers selected volunteers, spanning from infants to individuals above the age of 80, with dry skin. The volunteers were split into two groups: one group would bathe as normal using their regular bath cleansers, while the other group would take one bath every other day with an 85% refined soybean oil (1 mL of bath oil for every 5 L of bath water). After four weeks, the researchers analyzed the volunteers’ skin for how well the skin was hydrated. Those who bathed in the soybean oil did not lose as much water through their skin, meaning that their skin had a better functioning skin barrier that locked in moisture better than the group who bathed normally.
However, the bath oils had no impact on the skin’s roughness or appearance even though the skin barrier function was improved. For the volunteers with soybean oil, there were no harmful side effects.
Based on the study’s findings, bath oils may be effective for individuals with mildly dry skin. Though further research is being conducted to explore the impact of bath oils on severely dry skin, the addition of bath oils in your routine may be a welcome supplement to achieve softer skin. Of note, this particular study used 85% refined soybean oil but other studies have suggested that virgin and extra virgin oils may be better for the skin than refined oils.
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White-Chu EF, Reddy M. Dry skin in the elderly: complexities of a common problem. Clin Dermatol.2011;29(1):37-42; PMID: 21146730 Link to research.
Kottner J, Kanti V, Dobos G, Hahnel E, et al. The effectiveness of using a bath oil to reduce signs of dry skin: A randomized controlled pragmatic study. Int J Nursing Studies. 2017; 65:17-24; Link to research.
Vaughn AR, Clark AK, Sivamani RK, et al. Natural Oils for Skin-Barrier Repair: Ancient Compounds Now Backed by Modern Science. Am J Clin Dermatol.2017;10.1007/s40257-017-0301-1; PMID: 28707186 Link to research.