Facial oils are everywhere in the skincare game right now. Are they worth they hype? The claims are big: tight, glowing, hydrated, clear skin. That is enough for anybody to jump on the oil train. All of these benefits of using a facial oil, but it can still be scary to oil up!
Discovering facial oils was an exciting part of my skincare journey. The only problem was, I had no idea how to use them. Once I discovered the goodness that is facial oil, I could not shut up about them. My friends and family would tell me, “oh I don’t have dry skin, so I can’t use those”.
My response: you SHOULD (must) use oils, you just need to find the right facial oil for your skin type.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through the link I may make a small commission. I am not a medical pro, just someone who loves skincare and has done the research. Everyone’s skin is different and any serious skin issues should be consulted with a dermatologist or your esthetician.
History suggests that the Egyptians and Greeks have been using facial oils for centuries to cleanse, moisturize, and heal their skin. Women have been reaping the benefits of facial oil in skincare for years! That caught my attention.
Your face already produces oil, some even more than others. So it can be scary to lather an oil on top of your skincare products and feel like you are going to shine for miles, and not in a good way. This is why knowledge is power! Read on to learn all you need to know on oil for your skin and how to pick one that your skin type will drink up!
What are facial oils?
Facial oils are usually plant-based oils that lock in hydration and complement our naturally produced oil. They are protectors of the skin that work hard to prevent water loss and strengthen your skin barrier.
Let’s talk about the science behind facial oils. Oils are fatty acids, which are part of the building blocks of our skin and our skin’s natural oils. The fatty acids we use on our face through facial oils are categorized as linoleic or oleic acid. So what is the difference?
Linoleic acid is an omega-6 essential fatty acid. Our bodies do not create linoleic acid, but it is considered to be essential to our health and works special wonders for our skin. Linoleic acid is derived from oils, but not found in the oils produced by our skin. Linoleic acids are typically a light oil that does not feel thick on the skin.
Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid. Unlike linoleic acid, our bodies produce oleic acid and it can be found right in our natural sebum. Oleic Acid in our skincare works to replenish moisture and plump up that skin.
Those with dry skin are often lacking oleic acid given that skin is not producing an abundance of natural sebum. Oleic acids will usually be a bit thicker, making them a great buddy to dry skin.
Benefits of facial oil for all skin types
Facial oils work wonders for helping your skin retain moisture by preventing water loss. Oils are not just the great moisture protectors in your life, they are also packed with benefits that keep you youthful and glowing!
5 key benefits of facial oil in skincare
- Wrinkle reducers. Many oils are plant based meaning they are packed with antioxidants to fight free radicals and bring your skin back to life. They also give your skin a plump and supple appearance, reducing the look of fine lines on your face.
- Enhances skin tone. Dull skin can be a fact of life sometimes. As we age, our skin loses some of its luster, but there are several ingredients we can add to our skincare routines to enhance glow. Facial oils restore moisture levels in your skin and enhance that glow from within. Bonus: studies show that oleic acids reduce hyperpigmentation from skin damage and acne marks.
- Keeps skin balanced. I get it, it can be scary to think that applying oil to your face will actually help balance oil levels in our skin. But, it is true! Oily skin produces excess oil, but this does not necessarily mean your skin is moisturized. Depending on what other products you use in a routine, oily skin is often left stripped down in an effort to remove all oil. This results in stripped skin that actually produces more oil to compensate. Incorporating the right oil will leave even the oiliest skin protected.
- Calming. Many facial oils contain antiinflammatory properties that calm and soothe irritated skin. They will also act as a barrier to your skin to keep irritation at bay as you go through your day.
- Makeup primer. Facial oils help your foundation glide on smoothly and add a natural dewy finish to your look. If you are more into a matte makeup look, then skip the oil in your morning routine.
How to use facial oil in your skincare routine
Apply facial oils as the final step in your skincare routine, but not as a replacement for your moisturizer.
To see the benefits of facial oil, it is important that you apply an oil after your moisturizer – your skin needs humectants that you cannot get from an oil. Facial oils function as both an emollient and an occlusive. If you are new here, those are two of the three moisturizers we find in our products.
A quick refresher –
Your skin needs humectants for hydration as this is how moisture is actually pulled into it. Oils cannot penetrate the skin’s surface, but they do sit nicely on top and prevent water loss to keep your skin protected. Using an oil in the middle of your skincare routine will inhibit the ability of all products applied after an oil to penetrate and do what they do best.
Essential tip: if using a facial oil in your morning routine, be sure to apply your oil before sunscreen. SPF should always be the final step.
Best Facial Oils for your skin type
While using a facial oil will benefit any and all skin types, not all oils are created equally. It is important to know what oils will do the trick when it comes to curating a routine for your skin type.
Dry skin is usually lacking oleic acids that you can find in your naturally produced sebum. It will benefit from both oleic and linoleic acids, but look for oils that are heavier in oleic and you will be feelin’ the glow and keepin’ that moisture locked in tight.
Oily skin loves Linoleic Acid. Linoleic has a lighter consistency and will not clog pores, making it a great gift for acne prone skin. Key thing: do not be afraid of using facial oils on your oily skin! The right oils will actually balance out your skin’s natural sebum levels and keep your skin smooth and clear.
Oh the fun in fighting two battles at once. Look for oils have well balanced ratios of oleic and linoleic acids so you can keep skin hydrated without applying too much oleic acid to your already oily areas. Alternatively, if you are combination and acne prone, it may be a good idea to focus on linoleic acids.
Sensitive skin – she can be tricky. Facial oils work wonders on your skin, even if she is a bit sensitive. This goes for all skin types, but especially if sensitive, be sure to pick a product with your chosen oil as the only ingredient. Steer clear of essential oils if you have sensitive skin as these can cause unwanted irritation.
Facial Oils to know to get the most benefits
There are so many facial oils for skincare out there these days, so let’s breakdown a few of the most popular oils and what skin they are best suited for.
Basically a mega oil for our skin, marula oil is derived from the nuts, seeds, or the fruit of the marula tree found in tropical Africa. High levels of both linoleic and oleic acids, making this an oil almost everyone loves to grab off the shelf.
skin types: all skin types, even the driest and most oily
key benefits: antioxidant, moisture sealing, anti-agin (a collagen queen), anti-inflammatory, and non-comedogenic (will not clog your pores).
TFE favorite: Drunk Elephant Virgin Luxury Marula Oil. I use this oil every other night and my skin has loved every second of it. My oily and acne prone friends also credit this product for smoothing and transforming their skin!
Rosehip oil is beloved by supermodels, royals, and us skincare lovers alike – there must be something to this, right? Oh yeah. Rosehip oil is derived from the seeds of the fruit of the rose bush. This oil has high levels of both linoleic and oleic acids, making it a friendly gift to all skin.
skin types: all, even oily and sensitive
key benefits: heals skin, anti-aging wrinkle reducer (collagen and elasticity boosting), vitamin C packed to brighten and reduce hyperpigmentation, major hydration, acne fighting, and anti-inflammatory.
Essential tip: Rosehip oil plays nice with almost all ingredients. However, it is high in Vitamin A, so skip the rosehip oil on your retinol nights.
TFE favorite: I have been using The Ordinary Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil for two years. I am a firm believer in the power behind this budget friendly pick. This oil is also used by big sis, who has oily skin.
If you are still new to the oils game, there are probably few oils you have actually heard of before, and I will bet that jojoba is one of them. Extracted from the jojoba plant, this oil is actually a wax with oil like properties. This is an oleic acid and is rich with several fatty acids vitamins. You can find jojoba in every self care category including hair, skin, and nails.
skin types: dry, sensitive, and acne-prone
key benefits: mega hydration for dry skin, anti-inflammatory and redness reducing – great for eczema or rosacea. Protection from environmental damage (thanks to its high antioxidants). Said to have antibacterial properties making it a helpful contributor to the fight against acne.
TFE favorite: Solved Skincare 100% Organic Golden Jojoba Oil has that smooth as butter feel that is so soothing on your skin.
Mediterranean women have used Argan Oil for years and years in to keep skin youthful and glowing. Derived from kernels of the Argan tree, this oil is chock full of antioxidants and vitamins. Argan Oil is high in linoleic acid and vitamin E with a low level of oleic acid.
skin types: normal, sensitive, and oily
key benefits: deep hydration and barrier protection, fine line smoothing, antioxidants for damage protection, and non-comedogenic (won’t clog those pores).
TFE favorite: For me, there is no other Argan Oil than that made from the queen of Argan herself – Josie Maran. You can’t go wrong with the 100% Pure Argan Oil. If you prefer an even lighter feel to your oil, Josie also created this light Argan Oil to satisfy those cravings.
Squalane is a variant of a lipid that our bodies actually produce, but our body produces it as squalene. Squalene in our bodies depletes over time which is a bummer because it’s a key contributor to skin’s hydration levels. Using squalane in your routine will keep skin hydrated AND protected from irritation from other actives used in your routine.
skin types: all skin types
key benefits: smoothing skin, moisture locking, oil balancing and non-comedogenic (no clogged pores here), anti-inflammatory and redness reducing, and skin tightening.
TFE favorite: my go to is the Biossance Squalane and Vitamin C Rose Oil. This oil truly changed my skin after going through a rough patch and now she is bright and tight! This is one product that is worth the price tag.
When I hear sea buckthorn I can’t help put think of seahorses. Just me? Nothing to do with a seahorse, sea buckthorn oil is exracted from a berry grown on bushes found in the coastal regions of Europe and Asia. It is high in Linoleic Acid with a nice balance of Oleic Acid and majorly packed with vitamins and nutrients making this oil a helpful part of almost any skincare routine.
skin types: oily, acne-prone, and sensitive
key benefits: reducing acne and breakouts, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and brightening (thank you major levels of vitamin C), and evens skin tone.
TFE Favorite: the gorgeous Herbivore Botanicals Phoenix facial oil is a true gift. This bottle also contains rosehip oil, making it a killer combo for your skin. If you prefer a more budget friendly option, you can’t go wrong with The Ordinary 100% Organic Virgin sea-buckthorn fruit oil.
I love a good grape, I’ll take it in many forms (vino, anyone?). Before it hits your face, grapeseed oil is extracted from grape seeds (shocking) after being used for juice or wine. It’s high in Linoleic Acid, vitamin E, and antioxidants to protect your skin and promote glow.
Skin types: all skin type, even the most sensitive, oily, or acne prone
Key benefits: non-comedogenic (won’t clog your pores), reduces redness and inflammation, fades dark spots and hyperpigmentation, anti-aging (firm and tighten baby), and promotes collagen repair.
TFE Favorite: Caudalie VineActiv Organic Overnight Detox Oil. Caudalie rules the world of grapes in skincare. Bonus rec – I use the Caudalie Grape Water Soothing Mist as my morning cleanse most mornings or when I need a refresh throughout the day.
You didn’t think we would forget about coconut oil, did you? The claims on this bad boy are BIG, but the studies have some mixed feelings. Not that I need to tell you, but coconut oil is extracted from the mighty coconut. It’s high in linoleic acid and meant to seal in moisture on the driest of skin.
Coconut oil is powerful when it comes to making your skin soft as a cloud and trapping in moisture to prevent water loss. However, the oil itself does not actually hydrate your skin, but rather it keeps existing moisture trapped beneath the surface. This makes it tricky for oily or acne-prone skin.
skin types: dry and sensitive, but not if acne-prone
key benefits: locks in moisture to prevent water loss, anti-bacterial, fights fine lines by retaining suppleness to skin, and anti-inflammatory. Also serves as a wonderful makeup remover.
TFE favorite: no TFE favorite as I truly believe all coconut oils are made the same, as long as the brand has a trusted source. Be sure to look for purified, cold pressed coconut oil when purchasing.
Now that you are armed with the knowledge to oil up for your skin type, get to it! Drop your fears of oil, because it is not a dirty word anymore. I know you will LOVE the benefits you see from adding facial oil to your routine.
Let me know what oils work best for your skin in the comments and what products have become your fave.