Facial oils in skincare
My tryst with facial oils started in 2016 when I came across research on the benefits of rosehip oil (a non-fragrant plant oil) for dry and acne prone skin. The research was compelling enough to give it a shot and honestly, I had nothing to lose. Me and my skin were both exhausted after years of abuse through trial and error of countless products, dermatologist and aesthetician visits, and wonder drugs (i.e., Accutane).
Flash forward to today and this oil has been a staple in my cabinet — it’s helped control my acne, alleviated dryness, strengthened my sensitive skin barrier, and improved overall tone and texture. Case in point — facial oils can benefit all skin types.
How do facial oils work and what are their benefits?
Facial oils can include any non-fragrant plant oils (good for your skin), fragrant plant oils (called ‘essential oils’ that are bad for your skin — more to come on that), or synthetic oils (such as mineral oils that are best left in stores).
These oils act as emollients — meaning they soften and smoothen the skin by filling in the cracks, thus preventing water loss and making the skin barrier resilient and healthy. Also, they are naturally rich in antioxidants making them useful in fighting daily UV and pollution induced damage in the skin. So, let’s take a look at the research backed benefits of facial oils -
- Hydrate the skin by trapping moisture making the skin barrier healthy
- Even skin tone and texture
- Reduce acne and blemishes (anti-inflammatory properties)
- Regulate skin’s natural oil (sebum) production
- Neutralize free radicals that damage the skin, providing anti-aging benefits
- Soothe and calm rosacea, eczema, and other sensitive skin conditions
- Cleanse the skin of makeup, sunscreen, and other oil-based dirt
What facial oils can’t do for your skin?
Even though facial oils are good emollients and antioxidants, they are not a replacement for skin restoring ingredients (such as retinol, exfoliating acids, niacinamide, and Vitamin C) or hydration boosting ingredients (such as ceramides, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid). Think of them as supplements to your skincare regimen.
When should you use facial oil?
Go for a facial oil if your moisturizer alone isn’t enough. My skin gets extremely dry during the harsh New York winter months, which is when I like to bring out my facial oil. I use the oil after my moisturizer as a last step to seal in the moisture — works like magic. Some people like to replace their moisturizer with facial oil, that’s fine too.
How to choose one based on your skin type?
Skin type: dry, aging skin
Facial oils are ideal for dry skin since they trap moisture preventing water loss. They can permeate through the layers of the skin to hydrate and lock in moisture. Coconut, argan, sunflower, sweet almond, marula, and squalane oils work well for this skin type. For dry and acne prone skin use rosehip oil.
Skin type: Normal or combination
Avoid using oils that are too heavy or have a high molecular size (meaning they won’t be able to penetrate skin easily and will clog pores). Marula, jojoba, and squalane oils work well for this skin type.
Skin type: Acne prone
Oils that have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, and are lightweight and fast-absorbing work well to control acne. They also control sebum production and help get rid of the acne causing bacteria. Rosehip and jojoba oils work well for this skin type.
Skin type: Oily
This may sound counterintuitive, but oils can do wonders for oily skin. Facial oils balance the skin’s oil production by complementing our skin’s natural oils. Which is why it’s important to use oils that are closer to or mimic the natural oils in our skin. Jojoba oil works well for this skin type.
Tips to add facial oils into your skincare routine
- Start with washing your face and apply your treatment serums.
- Mix a few drops (2–3) of the oil with your moisturizer and apply over the face and neck, massage in upwards motion. Or apply it after your moisturizer, both techniques work.
- If moisturizers are too heavy for your skin, you can skip them altogether. Instead use a skin hydrator such as hyaluronic acid and follow it with the facial oil. Do not apply the oil without using a hydrator or moisturizer, this will lead to even more dryness and inflammation (and breakouts).
- Facial oils can be used both during the day (under your makeup) and night.
The bottom line…
Facial oils are a great addition to a skincare routine, especially if you have dry or flaky skin. They can help nurse the most damaged skin barriers back to health.