Face Oils: Everything You Should Know About It

Incorporating a face oil in your beauty routine can be one of the best things you do for your skin. Specially now, at a time where clean beauty is spearheading the organic trend, and the demand for safer alternatives are on the rise. Given the demand, today, almost every big name beauty brand boasts a ‘specially formulated’ oil blend. I know, by now, you’re probably asking yourselves: should I use it? Well, read on to discover why we think you should use face oils, specific ones though, and how you can incorporate it into your current routine.

 face oils

So what are face oils?

So here’s a quick recap. Previously, when we were discussing moisturizers, we mentioned that their ingredients fall into several groups or categories. And that includes: humectants, emollients, occlusives and protein rejuvenators. Emollients help to soften and strengthen the outer layer of skin by filling in all the spaces between the skin cells. Whereas occlusives on the other hand, work by sealing in the moisture. In general, face oils fall into both the occlusive as well as the emollient categories.

In simpler words, applying oils to the skin not only fortifies its natural barrier, but also minimizes water loss. Therefore, using it in your routine, consequently, will promote healthy skin regeneration, relieve any existing dryness, and in certain cases, provide therapeutic benefits.

Are face oils different from essential oils?

Face oils are typically formulated from plants’ seeds, nuts, or kernels. These are obtained through extraction — either via physical, or solvent-based methods. The oils contain essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, polyphenols and antioxidants. Examples are rose hip seed oil, argan, jojoba and almond oil.

But here’s the tricky part: some times face oils may also contain a mixture of essential oils in them to help balance the skin and provide additional therapeutic benefits.

Essential oils on the other hand, are concentrated essences. You should avoid applying undiluted essential oils to your skin directly. However, when brands formulate an oil blend, they often use the plant oil, such as argan or almond oil, as a ‘carrier’ to dilute the essential oil down to a skin tolerable concentration.

face oils essential oils

Essential oils, or plant essences are highly concentrated, often aromatic (scented), volatile (evaporates at room temperature) and must always be diluted with a carrier oil before using on the skin. Think eucalyptus, tea tree, frankincense and ylang ylang oil. They are usually packaged in smaller, 5 ml or 10ml bottles.

Neals Yard Remedies’ Frankincense is an example of an essential oil. Once again, you should never apply undiluted essential oils as such to your skin directly

Types of face oils

Basically, there are two formulation choices: you have the single-ingredient oils, or the oil blends. The latter however, is more likely to include essential oils, which also explains why some face oils are scented, and others are not. Think Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, or Darphin Rose Aromatic Care.


Can a face oil replace my moisturizer?

Despite the fact that face oils have become a beauty cabinet staple, they work best only when used in conjunction with a moisturizer. Here’s why using oils alone might not be enough:

  1. Oils alone do not hydrate the skin. Remember, oils are emollient and occlusive in nature. Which means you can use it over the serum or moisturizer, to help the skin retain the moisture it needs. This way, your skin gets the maximum benefit from both the products.
  2. The second reason could be related to its molecular weight. This has been controversially discussed in scientific literature. But from what we can gather, carrier oils can only penetrate the top most layer of skin (the stratum corneum).

Essential oils, as we know, are volatile compounds with low molecular weight, well below 300. This means it can more easily penetrate past the stratum corneum, into the dermis and eventually reach your bloodstream.

However, not to confuse you with all science talk, but size alone does not always determine if the molecule can penetrate past the skin. Even with essential oils, there are other factors that can play in, and can affect its absorption.

The viscosity of the oil for instance, i.e, the more viscous the oil, the slower the penetration and also the room temperature. Some essential oils might even evaporate immediately after application (as seen with aromatherapy), so it actually depends on the oil blend itself.

I prefer using face oils as an add on, to support the role of a moisturizer.

Face oil

When to use it? Before, or after the moisturizer?

Oils form a barrier and act more like a sealant. This explains why you might want to apply it on top of your moisturizer. However, if you’re concerned about breakouts, and your skin is already well hydrated, then you could replace your moisturizer with a face oil.

What if I want to use the face oil alone, on its own?

Say in case you want to use it without a moisturizer, you have to make sure your skin is damp (not wet, just damp). Here’s when your facial mists and hydrosol sprays can come handy. You can use it before applying your face oil to maximize benefits.

How to include face oils in your morning routine?

Massage in your favorite face oil, then follow it up with a mineral sunscreen. Aside from all the UV benefits, the sunscreen helps to seals in the oil and mattify midday shine on your face.

What is the best face oil to use on my skin type?

What is the best face oil to use on my skin type?

While each oil has its own set of healing properties, to maximize benefits, you need to choose the right one for your skin type. Here, are some of the recommended oils for different skin types and concerns. While I acknowledge that this list is not conclusive, there might be even some overlap. Meaning, some oils might benefit more than just one skin type. However, you can still use this as a general outline to narrow down your choices.

For dry or dehydrated skin:

With the skin’s natural barrier function compromised; using a heavier oil that is rich in both omegas, as well as the essential fatty acids (EFAs), would be the best option.

Best oils for dry skin: jojoba, argan, squalene, sweet almond, vitamin E, marula and rosehip seed oil.

For oily skin:

For persons with combination to oily skin type; you’re looking for something that’s light, absorbent and non-comedogenic. At the same time, oils that have natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties could be something of interest for you and worth exploring. However, if you’re experiencing acne, it would be worthwhile to discuss with your dermatologist before adding a face oil to your skincare routine.

Best oils for oily skin: rosehip, grape seed, tea tree, jojoba, chia seed oil and squalene.

For sensitive skin:

Be wary of adding just any oil to your routine. In fact, there are some ingredients that you should look out for and at best, even avoid, such as coconut oil, which has a higher comedogenic rating. This means, comparably, it has a higher chance of clogging your pores. In the end, irrespective of what oil you decide to use, make sure you do a patch test before applying it on your face.

Best oils for sensitive skin: it is recommended that you stick to using a high-quality, single ingredient oil. At the same time, avoid essential oil blends that are known to cause skin irritation, such as tea tree oil.

For mature skin:

Ideally, what you’re looking for is an oil with a high fatty acid (EFA) and omega content to help regenerate your skin’s protective barrier. The presence of other ingredients such as vitamins and antioxidants would be an added bonus. Among them, my favorite one would be the rosehip seed oil, or alternatively, argan oil.

Best oils for mature skin: Rosehip seed oil — because it is power packed with skin loving antioxidants and fatty acids such as omega-3, 6, and 9. In particular, it is well known for its high levels of vitamin K, E, C, B1, B2, B3 and B carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A. You can read all its skin benefits here.

While there’s no restriction on the frequency, or the amount of oil that you can use on your skin, it all depends on your skin type. For instance, if you have dry skin, or are post-menopausal, you can even use half or a full dropper. For sensitive or normal to combination skin, dispense just 4-5 drops at most. Again, let your skin decide how much it needs.

Are you using any facial oils? Let me know in the comments below. Also, you could check out some of the most common skincare mistakes we all make in our routines, and how you can avoid them.

Sahar x

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