Applying oils to the face can sound a bit questionable. Surely, the greasy formula will sit on the surface of the skin and clog pores, right? Not quite. Face oils can be a worthwhile addition to your skincare routine, especially if you're suffering from dry, irritated and flaky skin. From rosehip to argan, these oils are rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, says Dr Shubhangi Perkar, specialist dermatologist, MD, at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital, Dubai.
What does a face oil do?
When we're in the market for facial oils, our options pretty much boil down to plant-based (vegetable) and treatment oils. Others include cleansing, synthetic and highly concentrated essential oils. In general, all oils are emollients, and, therefore, work differently than our moisturisers. Even if your bottle comes enhanced with vitamin C or retinol, it still carries a base of vegetable oil.
Dr Perkar explained: "The biggest takeaway is that facial oils are not a replacement for your moisturiser. Moisturisers have occlusives, which prevent water loss; humectants, which draw moisture from the air or from deep within the skin; and emollients, which fill in the gap between skin cells to replace missing lipids. Face oil is just one of the three components."
This is why they're excellent hydration boosters, but can't sufficiently hydrate on their own. Their true benefits lie in the different kinds of plant-based oils and their individual properties. People with dry skin types can naturally go for thicker consistencies.
What face oils are ideal for dry skin?
Our expert lists borage seed oil, argan oil, coconut oil, squalane and jojoba oil as products worth looking into. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and feature linoleic acid (vitamin F), which is great for soothing irritated skin.
"If you have a compromised skin barrier, whether from retinol use or after a chemical peel, squalane, argan oil and jojoba oil are very good for repairing dry, sensitive skin," added Dr Perkar. Do note that thicker oils are not ideal for oily, acne-prone skin types, though pure jojoba and coconut oils do not clog pores.
Another miracle oil is the rosehip oil, for those who suffer from eczema, rosacea and psoriasis. "It has multiple benefits: it's soothing, anti-ageing, rich in vitamins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and has beta-carotene, a retinol-like ingredient that helps with skin cell turnover," she explained.
How do I use facial oil?
The best way to incorporate facial oil into your skincare, is by mixing a small amount in your moisturiser. Dr Perkar recommends only two to three drops for the face. You could also apply the oil after your moisturiser, to lock in the hydration, or before to make the most of a treatment oil. "I don't advise face oils in the morning, as it might compromise your sunscreen protection," she added.
To keep achieving that healthy, dewy look, make sure your oils are being stored the right way. Dr Perkar says plant-derived oils are prone to rancidity. They should be either stored in the fridge or kept out of the sun. If the oil has changed colours or smells off, that's your sign to discontinue it.
We've used our expert's advice to handpick the best-rated face oils on Amazon. Dr Perkar suggests looking for unrefined, organic and cold-pressed oils, which would then have antioxidants well-preserved. Before use, she adds, always conduct a patch test on your forearm for 24 hours to check for potential allergies.
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1. Best Overall: Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow Vitamin C and Turmeric Face Oil
The subtle glow-from-within skin is now possible, with Sunday Riley's C.E.O. Glow oil. It contains cold-pressed goodness that's fragrance-, gluten-, paraben- and sulfate-free. Think of an uplifting mixture of jojoba, pomegranate, evening primrose, tumeric and vitamin C. These key ingredients alleviate dehydration, even out the skin tone and add a protective layer to keep the skin supple, all day long. Fans of the product who report having dry and dull skin say their makeup application is far better with the oil on. They also add that it helps with moisturising dry patches on the skin.
2. Best for Breathable Pores: Farmacy Honey Grail Ultra-Hydrating Face Oil
For intense hydration, go for Farmacy's luxurious Honey Grail facial oil. This multi-purpose skin and hair oil is non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn't clog pores, and is free from parabens, synthetic scents and mineral oil. The secret lies in the five-flower oil blend, including rosehip, sunflower and evening primrose, which delivers omega fatty acids to the skin. Then, there's buckwheat honey, a moisture-attracting humectant, to soothe and hydrate the face. You can also add a few drops to your foundation. Several users say they've also worn this in the AM in winters for dry skin relief, and it doesn't pill their base makeup. It absorbs well, without a greasy finish.
3. Best Budget: Dr Organic Moroccan Argan Facial Oil
The perfect complex for mature, dry skin, Dr Organic's Moroccan Argan facial oil is naturally rich in ceramides, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and phospholipids. Besides argan oil and argan extract, there are a variety of beneficial organic oils in this rejuvenating bottle. You'll enjoy the natural properties of jojoba oil, moringa seed oil, sunflower seed oil, rosehip oil and so many more. It's formulated to go on before your moisturiser, during the day and at night. Reviewers attest to the anti-ageing effects, noting the disappearance of fine lines, and comment on the non-greasy hydration of the skin.
4. Best for Soothing Skin: Clarins Huile Santal
Designed to soothe extra dry skin, this Clarins Huile Santal is made from 100 per cent pure plant extracts. Naturally, its key ingredient is an essential oil derived from sandalwood, but also hazelnut oil, to reduce redness and deliver a satin-like finish. All ingredients are meant to prevent any loss of moisture, so that your skin has sufficient time to repair itself. According to Clarins, it's best to warm up the oil between your hands, before applying. Reviewers say this oil has worked better than their tried-and-tested moisturisers for dry skin. Those with rosacea leave five stars, too.
5. Best for Mature Skin: The Body Shop Oils Of Life Intensely Revitalising Facial Oil
Another option for mature skin, The Body Shop's Oils Of Life works to improve skin elasticity and reduce signs of ageing, all while adding back moisture. It achieves this through three cold-pressed seed oils: rosehip, black cumin and camellia. Their collective repairing properties are a hit with reviewers who suffer from dry, flaky skin. They love how they don't have to prime their skin with multiple moisturisers to get a smooth base makeup. As a bonus, it has smoothed out fine lines for several repeat buyers. The formula is fast-absorbing, too, they add.
6. Best Multi-Purpose Oil: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
If you're a fan of Drunk Elephant's clean skincare philosophy, then you might be tempted to try their Virgin Marula Luxury facial oil. The cold-pressed marula seed oil is a powerhouse of antioxidants, so your skin will thrive under the protection against the day's pollution. It's also rich in omegas 6 and 9 fatty acids to restore the glow back into your face. The single-ingredient formula is free of essential oils and fragrance. This versatile oil can even go on your dry elbows, rough cuticles, hands and anywhere else that needs a hydration boost. Reviewers use marula oil to seal in their serums or add it to their moisturisers. Some with eczema report great results.
7. Best with Squalane: Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil
The Biossance facial oil is probably your best bet, when it comes to finding a product with squalane. Formulated to brighten, hydrate and firm, the Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil works wonders on dull-looking skin. Squalane, listed as the oil's first ingredient, is derived from sugarcane and is similar to our skin's natural oils. It seals in moisture to prevent overdrying. You can target discolouration with the oil form of vitamin C, too. Biossance recommends application after your serum and moisturiser. Reviewers love the soft, hydrated look they get after use, but do note that it carries a strong scent. Remember to conduct a patch test to avoid a reaction.
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