Massaging the body with a delicious-smelling oil is a soothing and reassuring experience. I suffered eczema as a child, and have dry skin as a result, but after six months of using an organic cold-pressed sesame oil from Pukka Herbs I've noticed that my skin looks a lot plumper and more nourished. The most powerful reason to use oils is that they are far more likely to be totally organic than creams. "I believe absolute purity can only be found in an oil," says the founder of ISUN organic skincare, Bunnie Gulick.
Amanda Barlow, the co-owner of the UK-based Spiezia Organics says that the skin is "the largest living, breathing organ of the body. It filters toxins and waste and absorbs up to 60 per cent of the lotions we put onto it into the blood stream". The companies that make the best oil-based balms and liquids carefully choose base oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, jojoba, coconut, rosehip and avocado, and hand blend them with essential oils, flowers and herbs. Each ingredient has been organically produced - or as some companies beautifully put it, "wildcrafted".
Base oils are chosen with extreme care, for their health benefits as well as their consistency. The founder of Ila, Denise Leicester, for example, uses argan oil sourced from the lower Atlas Mountains in Morocco in a cleanser, night cream, body balm and face oil. "I am a great fan because it's rich in essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid, a precursor of vitamin E with moisturising, antioxidant and anti-ageing properties."
Some people avoid oils in the belief that they clog the pores, but in reality their active nutrients are very easily absorbed because they are recognised by the skin at a chemical level. This is especially true of what are called "dry" oils, such as argan, rosehip seed and pomegranate oils, which soak into the skin easily, and do not leave a greasy residue. "Oils mimic the skin's own system of moisturisation - sebum - and so are fantastic at rebalancing dry patches and severe dehydration," says Emma Thomson, the head of natural health and aromatherapies at Neal's Yard. Oils also make great cleansers, as Margaret Hema, the founder of New Zealand's Hema company, explains: "Oils bond with oils, so the products work with the skin's natural oils rather than stripping them."
Smell is important, too, as each time you use your oil you can enjoy a welcome dose of aromatherapy. So, which should you choose? I have been blown away by Isun's Ruby, a herby facial oil for dry skin which smells and feels exquisite. Isun is stocked exclusively at www.glowgetter.co.uk, which ships to the UAE. I also love Ila's Face Oil for Glowing Radiance and Body Oil for Vital Energy (www.ila-spa.com). Both make me feel like I'm at a spa wherever I am because of their transporting aroma and indulgent feel.
Spiezia's whole range is highly impressive - my favourite is its uplifting rose and vanilla face oil, which will satisfy anyone with a penchant for sweetness (www.spieziaorganics.com). For something lush and green, try Hema Millennium Face and Body Oil (also from glowgetter.co.uk). Neal's Yard Remedies range can't be beaten for affordability - visit the Dubai store and try the Orange Flower Facial Oil (www.nealsyardremedies.com).
Caroline Sylger Jones is the author of Body & Soul Escapes and Body & Soul Escapes: Britain and Ireland, compendiums of places to retreat and replenish around the world. See www.carolinesylgerjones.co.uk.