The best face oils can help you achieve your skin’s goals of increased hydration, healthy skin barrier, and a radiant glow. Not only does facial oil feel super soothing and luxurious on the skin, but it also serves as a protective barrier for all the products that come before it, sealing in the benefits of your serum and moisturizer while also preventing outside bacteria and dirt from entering your pores.
Facial oils that provide extra protection and hydration are the best. However, not all facial oils work equally well. You should choose a facial oil that is specifically tailored to your skin type and goals for the best results. Whether you have dry skin in need of moisture or oily, acne-prone skin that could benefit from the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties of certain face oils, we spoke with a dermatologist to determine the best face oils for every skin type.
What is the working principle of facial oils?
Let’s get one thing straight: Facial oils and face moisturizers are not the same thing. Water-based moisturizers tend to be the best for skin hydration. Facial oils, which are oil-based, are used to condition and soften the skin. Facial oils and moisturizers have one main difference: oils can only retain water, not add it. This makes them moisturizing but non-hydrating. This subtle but important distinction is why you should have both.
Facial oil is a product that sits on the skin’s surface. You should apply it as the final step of your skincare routine. Facial oils seal the benefits of any products that you have applied. Facial oils are essential to prevent water-based products from evaporating from the skin’s surface. This can be detrimental to expensive skin-care products.
What are the benefits of using facial oil?
According to dermatologist Diane C. Madfes, MD, FAAD, facial oils are great products for barrier repair. “The top layer of the skin is made up of lipids, ceramides, and fatty acids, and facial oils can help replenish that,” Dr. Madfes explains. “These oils are lost due to normal aging, environmental dryness, and sometimes overuse of products.”
Facial oils are crucial for supporting the delicate skin barrier. This is the main indicator of how healthy and even your skin looks across all skin types. The signs of a damaged skin barrier include dryness, redness, sensitivity, and blemishes.
Dr. Madfes recommends that you apply facial oil to your skin at night, before going to sleep. This will help strengthen your skin’s barrier. Dr. Madfes advises waiting 20 minutes before you go to bed. “You don’t want your pillow to be dirty or oily.”
How to Choose Facial Oils
While all face oils may not be the same, there are face oils for every skin type. Even those with oily skin may benefit from the barrier-repairing qualities of a lightweight face oil such as jojoba oil or rosehip oil. Jojoba oil’s consistency is similar to human skin’s natural oils, which may help regulate sebum production. Dr. Madfes recommends using facial oils with rosehip oil. This contains antioxidants that can help improve skin texture and even skin tone. Grapeseed oil is rich in moisturizing vitamin E, linoleic acids, and omega-6 fatty acids, which act as anti-inflammatory agents that soothe blemishes while retaining moisture.
Always apply oil last in your skincare routine. It seals in moisture from the hydrating serums or moisturizers that come before it. SPF is the only exception to this rule. Dr. Madfes suggests using facial oil at night. However, if you use oil in the morning, be sure to apply sunscreen.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best face oils for just about everyone – from sensitive skin to acne-prone skin types – that will seal in your skincare while giving your skin a healthy-looking glow. Our top picks for luxurious, expert-approved facial oils will help you protect and strengthen your skin’s barrier.
Elemis Superfood Facial Oil
Elemis Superfood Facial Oil contains nine antioxidants, including flaxseed and broccoli. This all-in-one facial oil is like a vitamin-enriched green juice. It conditions, smoothes, and plumps the skin’s surface.
Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil
Dr. Madfes claims that this oil is great for sensitive skin as it is soothing and not irritating. This face oil is cold-pressed to be a powerhouse combination of vitamins, antioxidants, essential amino acids, and omegas 3, 6, and 9. Sunday Riley’s Juno Antioxidant+ Superfood Face Oil is a game-changer for dull, dry skin.
Kinskin Oat Ceramide Relief Oil
Kinship’s Oat Ceramide Oil is a soothing combination of ceramides, vitamin E ester, and essential omega fatty acid. It moisturizes not only the top layer but also the deeper layers of the skin. It is also extremely lightweight, sinking into the skin almost immediately after being applied.
Wildling Empress Oil
Facial oils are a common product for those who love gua sha facial massage. These oils provide enough slip to allow the tool to glide easily across your face. Wildling’s Wildling product line is made with fresh and wild ingredients, including plump buds from Balm of Gilead Tree. Dr. Madfes also recommends a resin nutrient compound containing frankincense that is said to be great for dry skin.
BeautyStat Universal Moisture Essence
Squalane oil, a pure oil made from olive seeds, provides long-lasting moisture and lightweight protection for sensitive skin. Squalane oil is noncomedogenic so it can be used on all skin types. However, it’s best at improving moisture retention and relieving dryness for dry, irritated, or sensitive skin. This oil is not greasy like some other oils and can be worn daytime without appearing oily.
Versed Sunday Morning Antioxidant Oil – Serum
We recommend this face oil to anyone with oily or acne-prone skin. The bi-phase contains camellia oil, sea buckthorn extract, and sea buckthorn extract. The water phase includes soothing chamomile extract and sodium hyaluronate (a salt form) of hyaluronic acids. This product does double duty as both a serum and an oil. It’s also very affordable. All wins.
Osea Undaria Argan Oil
Dr. Madfes explained that argan oil contains a high amount of linoleic acids, which is a fat found in the skin’s lipid layer. Moroccan argan oil with Undaria alga provides skin-healing benefits and nourishing benefits that help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. For a boost in hydration, add a few drops to your regular moisturizer. You can purchase a one-ounce bottle for $72 or a three-quarter bottle for $38 at Amazon.
Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glowing Dream Oil
We keep returning to this face oil over and over again. This is a classic favorite that has stood the test of the years, and Dr. Madfes says it’s a recommendation everyone should use. It contains antioxidants and is great for acne.
Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Oil Herbal Concentrate
Dr. Madfes recommends cannabis oil for inflammation. This could be due to breakouts or a weaker skin barrier that is prone to sensitivity. This Kiehl’s oil helps reduce inflammation and calm the skin. This oil is great for blemish-prone and problem skin.
Venn Advanced Multi-Perfecting Oil Serum
This powerful oil-serum combination unlocks the potential of active root extracts and botanicals. For brighter, healthier skin that retains hydration for up 24 hours, the key active ingredients are lithospermum and angelica gigas (Korean angelica).