guide to facial oils

Remember the good old days when you’d be running in the opposite direction when someone dared suggest you use an oil on your face?

Now you’re rushing to Sephora to buy the latest (and super expensive) bottle of facial oil.

What the heck happened?

Well, marketers got better at making oils sound awesome, that’s for sure. I guess the popularity of all things natural helped, too.

But facial oils are good for the skin. They may be hyped out of all proportions now, but their old bad rep wasn’t deserved either.

So, what’s the deal with facial oils and should you use one? Let’s investigate:

What Are Facial Oils?

Any oil that you use on the face.

And most oils can be used on the face. You’ve been doing that for years. Just take a look at the labels of your skincare staples. They’re laden with oils.

It’s just that now brands have started packaging these oils in their own pretty bottles. And charging a lot of money for them.

Don’t get me wrong. These oils are good for the skin (most of the time). But you can get the same thing at your local health food store, and for a fraction of the cost, too (no, do NOT use your cooking oils. They’re not safe for skin).

Apart from the price, there really is no other difference between a bottle of argan oil sold at Sephora and a bottle of argan oil sold at Whole Foods.

By the way, don’t believe those who say facials oils are all natural. Some of them are. But synthetic stuff still sneaks its way inside others. Check the labels carefully!

Facial Oils Benefits: What Do They Do For Skin?

Facial oils are multi-taskers:

  • They’re super moisturizing: They create a barrier on the skin that locks moisture in so that your skin stays soft and supple all year round (yep, even in winter).
  • They have antioxidant properties: They help prevent wrinkles by fighting free radicals.
  • They cleanse skin: Oils are great at removing makeup. They work thanks to the “like attracts like” principle. These oils attach to the oils in your makeup and sebum, taking them on a trip down the drain.

P.S. In this post, we won’t focus on their cleansing properties. Yes, you can use that pricey $45.00 bottle of argan oil you just bought at Sephora to remove your makeup, but you probably won’t want to “waste” it like that, will you?

Related: Why You Should Try The Oil Cleansing Method

a'kin rosehip oil with vitamin C 01

What Can’t Facial Oils Do For Skin?

Facial oils are said to do everything, from fighting wrinkles to soothing rosacea and vanishing dark spots.

It’s true that some facial oils have antioxidant and soothing properties that can help with these issues. But, no facial oil contains everything skin needs to fight them properly.

For wrinkles, you also need glycolic acid, retinol, niacinamide, vitamin C…. Even if your facial oil contains vitamin C, for example, is it high enough on the ingredient list to do the job? And what about all the other stuff you need to tackle them? No ingredient alone can do miracles.

And I still have to come across a facial oil that can single-handedly reduce dark spots. For that, you still need hydroquinone, kojic acid, glycolic peels… There are more effective ways to deal with those than a facial oil.

Related: The Battle Of The Skin Lighteners: What Are The Best Alternatives To Hydroquinone?

mad hippie cleansing oil

When Should You Use A Facial Oil?

When your moisturiser alone isn’t doing the job.

Most of the year, my skin is perfectly fine without a facial oil. A moisturizer is more than enough to keep it healthy.

But come the freezing London winter and my skin gets as dry as the desert. The harsh winds and low temperatures break up its protective barrier and suck all the moisture out of it.

That’s when I bring in a facial oil.

First, I apply a hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid to replenish the moisture that’s vanished into thin air. Then, I put on moisturizer and seal in everything with a facial oil.

Works like a charm. Bye bye, Sahara!

I know some people use a facial oil as moisturizer. That’s good too.

Oh, if your skin’s oily, I think it’s best you use facial oils only to remove makeup. Chances are, your oil-free moisturizer is enough to do the moisturizing job anyway.

Related: What Are The Best Facial Oils For Oily Skin?

drunk elephant virgin marula luxury facial oil

Won’t Facial Oils Clog Your Pores And Cause Acne?

That depends on the oil, your skin type, and how much you’re using. 

Let me explain.

Coconut oil is very comedogenic. If you have oily skin, I wouldn’t go near it. Unless there’s so little coconut oil in the cream (1% or less). That little won’t probably bother your skin at all.

If your have dry skin, chances are you can use a higher dose and get no pimples at all. Not even a tiny little one.

Related: Do Comedogenic Ingredients Give You Pimples?

inlight beauty face oil

How Do You Use A Facial Oil?

There are a couple of ways.

  • After you’ve put on moisturizer, you can just pour a few drops on your hands and pat them onto your face. Easy peasy.
  • Or, you can mix it with your fave moisturizer or serum to give them a boost.

Whatever you do, never mix it with your sunscreen. Don’t even mix it with any other skincare product with SPF. It’ll just dilute the effectiveness of your SPF.

boots ingredients hemp seed oil

What’s The Best Facial Oil?

Argain oil? Emu oil? Olive oil?

None. Every company will tell you they make the most amazing and miraculous oil out there, but the truth is, no oil is better than another.

Each oil has its own unique composition, so it’s more about finding out what works best for your skin. And that one is unique for you too. So, how do you find your perfect match?

Just experiment to find out what works best for you.

I’ll give you a tip. Usually, the more saturated fat the oil contains, the heavier it feels on the skin. So, if you want something lightweight, skip coconut and go with jojoba.

If you need more help, check out the guides below:

What Facial Oils Should You Avoid?

There are a few oils that I personally prefer NOT to use. That’s because some of their fragrant components (those things that make them smell so good) can be irritating.

Of course, that also depends on the concentration. If there’s only a tiny drop of them in my moisturizer, it’s not a problem. But I’d rather not use the pure, concentrated type on my skin, just in case.

The oils I avoid are:

  • Citrus oils (this is so hard for me, they smell heavenly!)
  • Essential oils
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Rose

Not sure which ingredients you should avoid in your skincare products? Download your FREE “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid” cheat sheet to find out (hint: they’re NOT what you think):

What Facials Oils Are Worth Investing In?

You can totally buy your facial oils at your local health food store. It’ll save you  a ton of money.

But, if you prefer to do your shopping at Sephora, there are a few facial oils that are worth the splurge. They all have one thing in common: they contain lots of different oils so you can get the best of different worlds. That works much better than using one single oil alone.

The Bottom Line

Facial oils are amazing for dry and flaky skin. They give their skincare routine that boosts it needs to nurse your skin back to health. But don’t go looking for that magical facial oil that’ll solve all your skin woes. A combination of oils always works best.