In the chilly fall and winter months, it’s natural to bundle up in layers to keep yourself protected and warm. The same approach works for skin care, and face oil is one of the most helpful layers in preserving the skin’s hydration and glow. “[Face oil] will help to soften and moisturize the skin while providing additional benefits such as preventing free radical damage, nourishing and healing,” says Apto Skin Care esthetician Despina Freimanis.
Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, a Miami-based board certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta skin care, recommends face oil for all skin types, year-round, although it can be especially beneficial during the colder months. “Face oils are very good for skin that is dry, autumn and winter skin, mature skin, lackluster skin, and in some cases acne-prone skin,” she says. “There are seasonal changes in our skin when autumn gives way to winter and our skin undergoes a slowdown in its own natural healthy oil production.”
Even oily and acne-prone skin types can benefit from using face oil — it just depends on what type of oil you use. New York-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick explains that oilier and acne-prone skin types will want to look for non-comedogenic oils and ingredients, as these won’t clog the pores and contribute to breakouts. “Lightweight, non-comedogenic oils including marula, hemp seed, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, argan, sweet almond, tea tree and jojoba may be good options for those with oily or acne-prone skin,” she explains.
In addition to checking the ingredients label, you’ll also be able to feel a difference with how different face oils feel on the skin. “The size of the oil determines how much it can penetrate, as oils with a larger molecular size won’t be able to penetrate as well and will be more likely to sit on the surface as a protective barrier,” Garshick says. “Lighter oils will sink into skin quickly without clogging the pores which is what makes them a good option for those with oily or acne-prone skin.” Those with dry skin, on the other hand, may benefit from heavier face oils that can hold hydrating ingredients from your other skin care products close to your skin. It’s the same principle that the skin “slugging” trend is based on.
Whether you’re using face oil to help combat seasonal dry skin or making it a permanent part of your skin care routine, it’s easy to add to your regimen. A few drops usually do the trick, and what step you apply it in your routine depends on your preference. Garshick recommends using it as the “last step in a skin care routine to help lock in moisture,” but Ciraldo advises “applying skin care products from thinnest to thickest in consistency,” and thus applying it after cleansing and toner, but before moisturizer.
Here, the experts share the 15 best face oils, with options for each skin type from dry to oily, combination and acne-prone.
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“Marula oil, rich in fatty acids, helps to moisturize the skin without leaving the skin feeling too greasy,” Garshick explains. “It can also help reduce redness and inflammation that can often go along with dry skin.” Freimanis also recommends this face oil, saying, “It’s like rehab for your skin. A good face oil is all in the quality of the ingredients, rather than the complexity of the blend. Drunk Elephant's no-filler formula contains nothing more than high-grade, cold-pressed oil from the pip of the African marula fruit: an extract high in antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that can decrease oiliness a bit.”
I’ve been using this silky serum for years as part of my daytime skin care (it helps prep the skin for makeup
, too), and especially love it for the drier fall and winter months. It’s also one of Ciraldo’s favorites for dry skin, sharing that the “oil-based serum traps in moisture and gives skin an immediate glow and smooth texture,” adding that it’s “loaded with healthy skin oils including glycolipids, vitamin E, linoleic and linolenic acids.” (Linoleic and linolenic acids are essential fatty acids. Examples of the former include sunflower and safflower oils, while the latter includes chia seeds and rapeseed oil.)
Great for anti-aging
, “this oil helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while leaving the skin looking more radiant and hydrated,” says Garshick. Thanks to its blend of “avocado, olive, babassu, raspberry seed, blueberry seed and evening primrose oils, this works to nourish the skin, while also incorporating a collagen matrix to help firm the skin,” the dermatologist explains.
A great multitasking beauty product
, this dry oil has a delicate feel that immediately sinks into the skin. It was created based on an ancestral formula from Chad that founder Salwa Peterson received from her mother, and it contains antioxidant-rich vegetable oils and Chébé seed, which has been used in the country’s beauty rituals for generations.
Ciraldo says this superfood-packed face oil is a great option for those with oily skin. The dermatologist says it’s “a lighter-weight oil rich in omega-3's and natural oils derived from plant sources [including broccoli, rosehip, flaxseed and daikon radish].”
“This lightweight oil is a great option for those with oily skin as it absorbs quickly and leaves behind a semi-matte finish,” Garshick says. “Argan oil is great for oily skin as in general, these oils are lighter-weight and won't leave the skin feeling greasy, but will help to balance out the skin’s natural oil production.”
Non-comedogenic marula oil isn’t greasy or heavy — the versatile ingredient helps hydrate the skin and can also be used to smooth and nourish the hair.
All sixteen skin-loving oils — including meadowfoam, hemp, sunflower, olive and grapeseed — in this face oil are non-comedogenic, so it’s safe for all skin types without the worry of clogging pores or breaking out.
Ciraldo says this serum oil “combines high concentrations of skin-healthy glycolipids, phospholipids and soybean oil to hydrate.” It also has 0.5% retinol
to help control unhealthy skin oils and improve uneven skin tone, smooth texture and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
When picking a face oil, Freimanis says squalane is a great ingredient to look out for. “Squalane is a favorite, as it's similar to our own skin's oil, so it's great for all skin, including oilier skin types, because it hydrates without clogging pores or making skin feel greasy.” This emollient blend features squalane, along with jojoba seed, sunflower, olive, rosehip seed and other naturally-derived oils.
This face oil contains derm-approved ingredients like jojoba seed oil, squalane and rosehip seed oil, among other antioxidant-rich oils that can benefit combination skin. I like using this one for gua sha
since it helps the tool glide, but sinks into the skin when massaged in. As Freimanis notes, using a face oil (with or without a tool) “will help you incorporate some light facial massage into your routine to gently lift and tone your skin because it will give your fingertips enough slip to move over the skin without pulling at it. We want to avoid any tugging or pulling at the skin because this can damage the underlying structure of the skin, including collagen and elastin, and cause unwanted wrinkles.”
Freimanis says this turmeric and rosemary face oil is great for acne-prone skin. “The face oil is deeply nourishing, improving the appearance and radiance of the skin,” she says. “The all-natural formula of omega-rich oils and vitamins are combined with turmeric which is anti-inflammatory and has antiseptic and antibacterial properties to fight pimples and breakouts.”
Garshick recommends this salicylic acid-containing oil that nourishes the skin while helping to reduce the appearance of breakouts and blemishes. “It contains tea tree oil to help clarify the skin as well as chamomile oil to soothe the skin,” Garshick notes.
Another expert-approved pick that I’ve personally tried, the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate hydrates the skin with friendly oils that won’t cause breakouts. “With lavender essential oil to calm redness and evening primrose oil to heal, this is a favorite nighttime product for some of my acne patients,” Ciraldo shares. I personally use it as the last step in my nighttime routine — the subtle lavender scent is so relaxing right before bedtime, too — and always wake up with ultra-soft skin.
Full of non-comedogenic oils like jojoba seed, marula seed and evening primrose, plus the anti-inflammatory properties of broad spectrum CBD, this face oil was developed with crowdsourcing from estheticians, dermatologists and people of all skin types to ensure that it would be a great option for anyone to try — even those who don’t typically like face oils.