The 11 Best Face Oils for Every Skin Type and Concern - The Dermatology Review

The 11 Best Face Oils for Every Skin Type and Concern

SKIN CARE REVIEWS

03.02.21DISCLAIMER

The word “oil” is a turnoff for many people, even more so when associated with the face. This theory is especially true for those who already have oily or acne-prone skin. Or, perhaps your concern is that you just got used to using a toner or serum and can’t justify more skincare routine steps. But what if we were to tell you that face oils have the power to treat skin concerns while giving you a vibrant, glowing complexion regardless of your skin type. Considering statistics indicate that the global cosmetic oil market size was valued at USD 50.58 billion in 2018 and is expected to register a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 5.2% from 2019 to 2025, it’s clear consumers are warming up to the idea of face oils. 

A face oil is not necessarily a replacement for your moisturizer, though it could be worn independently. Regardless, both products are equally important to fight dryness and dehydration. Dry skin is when you lack oil, whereas dehydrated skin means you lack water. As we get older, the skin begins to lack both oil and hydration — even if you’re meeting your daily eight glasses of water quota. With that said, you’ll need to replenish hydration with a water-binding humectant such as hyaluronic acid while restoring oil levels with a moisturizer. A face oil seals everything in while providing additional benefits depending upon your skin type. Ahead, the best face oils everyone can get on board with.

Best for All Skin Types: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil, $72

Best for Dry Skin: Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil, $72

Best for Combination Skin: Herbivore Botanicals Lapis Facial Oil, $72

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Dermalogica Retinol Clearing Oil, $80

Best for Dry Skin: True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil, $110

Best for Anti-Aging: Tata Harper Skincare Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil, $132

Best for Mature Skin: Darphin Jasmine Aromatic Care, $75

Best for Dull Skin: Eve Lom Radiance Face Oil, $80

Best for Sensitive Skin: Malin + Goetz Recovery Treatment Oil, $82

Best for Brightening:  Volition Hibiscus Unspottable Correcting Oil, $49

Best for Whitening and Lightening: Skin Chemists London Whitening and Lightening Facial Oil, $44

Benefits of Using a Face Oil 

  • Extra Nourishment: Every skin type can profit from a face oil, but it can be especially beneficial for those with dry or mature skin — especially when it feels like other products such as a serum or moisturizer aren’t working like they used to. A facial oil seals in all of the hydrating ingredients from the different parts of your skincare routine while providing additional nourishment of their own depending upon the formulation. 
  • Protection Against Environmental Stressors: Oils are lipophilic, which means they can penetrate deep into the skin to trap water and moisture while protecting against pollutants, toxins, and other environmental stressors by strengthening our natural skin barrier — good news for urban residents. Free radical damage from unprotected ultraviolet light can lead to sunspots, fine lines, and wrinkles. Some face oils are chock-full of antioxidants, which help prevent further damage while providing the skin with much-needed nourishment. 
  • Perfect Makeup Primer: Forget about using a pore-clogging primer. A facial oil leaves behind a smooth, glowing canvas that’s perfect for seamlessly applying your concealer and foundation. It’s particularly beneficial for those with dry, flaky patches or blemishes that are traditionally difficult to cover up with makeup.  
  • Smaller Pores and Fewer Breakouts: To clarify, face oils can reduce pore size and banish breakouts providing you’re using the right oils (think tea tree, jojoba, camellia, etc.) This is why it’s so vital to purchase a formula based on your skin type. If you’re ever not clear about what your skin can or cannot tolerate, speak to a skincare professional first. “Hands down, my favorite oil ingredient is sea buckthorn oil,” says Dr. Jessica Wright, Owner and Medical Director of Rejuvenate Austin. “This wonder ingredient is harvested at high altitude in the Himalayan Mountains and is chock full of antioxidants, nutrients, and flavonoids. The flavonoid content of sea buckthorn oil is thought to be beneficial to the cardiovascular and immune systems.”
  • Anti-inflammatory Action: Certain oils such as geranium, yagu, and argan are fantastic for reducing redness and calming irritation due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Even those with conditions like eczema and rosacea can experience relief. 
  • Multi-Purpose: “Face oils are the workhorse of the skincare industry,” explains Dr. Wright. “I recommend oil cleansers to remove makeup and debris before a more lathering cleanser. I find this deep cleans the pores and prevents breakouts. It also prevents over-drying the dermis in my aging patients. I also like oil moisturizers to combat dryness because the oils work like your natural oils. I avoid oil moisturizers that contain a lot of vitamin E if my patient is acne-prone. A small amount of vitamin E is typically fine.”

How to Apply a Face Oil 

Oil is an impermeable substance, meaning it is not easily penetrated, and water is repelled by it — much like a duck’s feathers. Since moisturizers are a mix of oil and water, it’s best to apply a face oil after the moisturizer or mix in a few drops of oil with it. If you put the oil first, forgo your moisturizer as it won’t be able to penetrate — except if you have oily or acneic skin. You’ll always want a skin-type-appropriate moisturizer first so that the oil is not in direct contact with the pores. 

As a general rule of thumb, start with water-based products and work your way up to the face oil. So, serum, moisturizer, face oil in that order. You only need a few drops of face oil, so don’t overdo it. Gently pat the oil into your skin versus using a rubbing motion. 

Best Face Oils for Every Skin Type

Best for All Skin Types: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil, $72
Marula oil works beautifully on all skin types, and this particular one is void of fragrances, additives, and silicones. Pure virgin marula oil has antimicrobial properties and antioxidants to protect from skin-damaging free radicals such as sun exposure (though it’s not a replacement for an SPF), pollution, and other environmental factors. It absorbs quickly and leaves skin silky smooth without any noticeable residue. 

Best for Dry Skin: Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil, $72
While most face oils are beneficial for those with dry skin, some, more than others, provide an extra boost for a complexion that’s parched beyond the norm. This nutrient-rich face oil is formulated with a blend of organic, cold-pressed superfood seed oils such as blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, wild carrot, black cumin, grape, and broccoli. These key ingredients are packed with antioxidants, essential amino acids, vitamins, and omegas 3, 6, and 9 to deeply hydrate and nourish. 

Best for Combination Skin: Herbivore Botanicals Lapis Facial Oil, $72
Yes, you can fight oil with oil. Lackthereof only causes the skin to produce more sebum as a defense mechanism. The key is choosing low-comedogenic oils such as squalene, jojoba, kukui nut, jasmine sambac, and blue tansy, which gives this face oil blend its beautiful blue hue. With the right face oils, your skin will stop producing excess oil and become perfectly balanced.

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Dermalogica Retinol Clearing Oil, $80
As the name suggests, this face oil fights breakouts with the addition of salicylic acid, while retinol targets hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. Argan, rosehip seed, and golden jojoba oils provide moisture while balancing oil production at the same time, making this one of the best face oils for acne. 

Best for Dry Skin: True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil, $110
The best selling moisturizer by True Botanicals is the Pure Radiance Oil, which is said to address dryness/dehydration, rough texture, fine lines and wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. A few of the key ingredients in this oil include chia seed oil, kiwi seed oil, passion fruit oil, papaya seed oil, algae extract, and astaxanthin. True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil is ideal for those with dry or combination skin. However, those with sensitive skin should be cautious because this oil does contain fragrant essential oils, which may lead to sensitivity.

Best Face Oils for Every Skin Concern

Tata Harper Skincare Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil, $132
This face oil pretty much does it all. For starters, rosehip seed oil delivers a type of natural retinoic acid via a high concentration of vitamin A to target fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin texture without any irritation. There are 17 other oils and extracts to smooth and soften the skin while targeting visible signs of aging. 

Best for Mature Skin: Darphin Jasmine Aromatic Care, $75
Mature skin needs a little extra TLC, which is what this face oil provides. Aromatic jasmine, apple and date extracts, ylang-ylang, rosewood essential oil, and raspberry oils (99% of the ingredients are from a natural origin) revitalize, restore natural radiance, and soften the appearance of wrinkles. As you might guess, the fragrance is like taking a trip to the spa, so this formula works on a sensory level too. 

Best for Dull Skin: Eve Lom Radiance Face Oil, $80
While most face oils bring life back to the skin, the best face oil for glowing skin has the addition of a stable form of vitamin C to promote natural radiance. Rose otto oil from Bulgaria (which smells heavenly, by the way), hemp seed, Abyssinian, and avocado oils work together to fight free radicals, nourish, hydrate, calm, and smooth the skin. It’s also clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Best for Sensitive Skin: Malin + Goetz Recovery Treatment Oil, $82
The rosehip oil in this gentle nine oil blend calms redness and irritation while borage and geranium oils balance sebum levels. This face oil also targets fine lines and wrinkles, thanks to the addition of evening primrose and jojoba oils. Vitamins C and E protect sensitive skin against free radical damage. 

Best for Brightening: Volition Hibiscus Unspottable Correcting Oil, $49
Licorice root extract is the key ingredient in this face oil that targets dark spots, bringing forth a brighter and more even complexion. The addition of resurfacing acids — naturally derived from hibiscus — also helps fade discoloration — even pesky red acne scars. But this formula also softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and soothes irritation, thanks to sea buckthorn oil and spikenard flower extract. 

Best for Whitening and Lightening: Skin Chemists London Whitening and Lightening Facial Oil, $44
Illumiscin, the active ingredient in this face oil, targets age spots and encourages illuminated and more even-tone skin. Suppose you’re not familiar with this ingredient. In that case, it is a balanced composition of Oleuropein, stabilized vitamin C, and zinc PCA, which work together synergistically to combat the two pigments responsible for the occurrence of age spots. A proprietary blend of oils and vitamin E hydrate, nourish, and protect the skin while providing essential vitamins and minerals responsible for a glowing complexion.

The Final Word

As we get older, the skin begins to lack both oil and hydration — even if you’re meeting your daily eight glasses of water quota. With that said, you’ll need to replenish hydration with a water-binding humectant such as hyaluronic acid while restoring oil levels with a moisturizer. A face oil seals everything in while providing additional benefits depending upon your skin type. Face oils have copious benefits, including but not limited to softening fine lines and wrinkles, minimizing pore size, regulating oil production, and protecting against environmental stressors. Oil is an impermeable substance, meaning it is not easily penetrated, and water is repelled by it — much like a duck’s feathers. Since moisturizers are a mix of oil and water, it’s best to apply a face oil after the moisturizer or mix in a few drops of oil with it.

Sources:
Cosmetic Oil Market Size,” Grand View Research, May 2019.
Oleuropein, unexpected benefits!,” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, February 2017. 

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