I know there's a word for "the washing or cleaning of oneself, for personal hygiene, or the ritual washing or cleaning associated with religious observance" which is "ablution", and there's also "lavation" which has a similar meaning. These words got me wondering whether there's a word for the act that usually follows: to apply ointments, creams, etc. to oneself.

  • Sources on skincare use verbs like tone, condition, moisturise, care. It probably makes more sense for words to refer to the purpose or effect of the cream/lotion/makeup/product rather than the simple action of putting it on the skin (which might refer to a wide variety of preparations such as lotion, cream, gel, oil, etc, for various purposes). If you're wanting a noun, you should be able to find something. "Skincare" might be the most general. – Stuart F Feb 20 '20 at 14:54
  • You've got a lot on your mind... considered a holiday? – Seamus Feb 20 '20 at 18:02

In the religious/ritualistic sense, the verb is "to anoint [oneself] [+ with]" (Anoint can be transitive or intransitive.)


  1. To smear with an unguent.
    1. To smear or rub over (medicinally or cosmetically) with oil or unguent; to oil, grease, apply ointment to. 1611 Bible (A.V.) Rev. iii. 18 Anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

Note that the entry has not been updated since 1884, and is a little out of date as it indicates the word is archaic. I don't think that it is in the religious use.

More recently:

"Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology edited by Ian Michael Plant https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=rJpGIrUUPPMC&pg=PA137&dq=%22anoint%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjv5aXwi-DnAhURoVwKHStgCFEQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=%22anoint%22&f=false

  1. To curl and dye the hair (1) First shave the head, then anoint the hair with cow-parsnip root in undiluted wine.

And OED again:

  1. spec. To apply or pour on oil, etc., as a religious ceremony: a. at baptism, or on consecration to an office, as those of priest or sovereign. 1867 M. E. Herbert Cradle Lands 168 Here David was anointed king over the house of Judah.

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