It happened overnight. Over the past year, it seems like every beauty brand under the sun launched a face oil. Really? We’re putting oil on our faces now? The very existence of face oils defies everything we’ve been trained to believe about skincare (raise your hand if you won’t even go near a moisturizer or cleanser unless it’s oil-free). The conventional wisdom is that oil clogs pores, causing zits, whiteheads, blackheads and gross greasiness. And shiny-slick skin has never been sexy. So why the sudden obsession with using oils instead of traditional moisturizer? Simply put, face oils are like complexion perfection in a bottle.
Face Oils: What?
Facial oils are made up of a variety of different botanical oils, or based around a single plant-based extract (like argan, lavender or chamomile). “They provide skin with powerful antioxidants and nourishing vitamins inherent in nature,” says Queenie Lee, Director of Education at Clarins. “Plus the essential oils are highly aromatic, without containing any artificial fragrances or colorants—providing instant aromatherapy.” And contrary to popular opinion, these treatment oils penetrate quickly and deeply, leaving a velvety-smooth (decidedly ungreasy!) finish. “The oils have light molecular weight and non-comedogenic properties, so they’re able to easily absorb into the epidermal layers,” says Pevonia Botanicals Educator, Melissa Morris, who recommends looking for oils with ultra-lightweight squalane, hazelnut or safflower extracts if you’re still concerned about oily buildup.
Face Oils: Why?
The aromatherapeutic healing properties of facial oils are a kindler, gentler alternative to traditional moisturizers. There’s an essential oil to help balance every skin type—from breakout-prone to dryness—which leads to a calmer, less-stressed complexion. “Essentials oils have been used to conquer skin conditions for thousands of years,” says Morris. Check out our goofproof guide to skin-perfecting extracts found in face oils:
- Sensitive skin: lavender, rose, lotus
- Aging skin: frankincense, rosemary
- Rashes, irritations: tea tree, vetiver
- Acne: citrus
- Dry: sandalwood, almond
- Large pores: sage, geranium
Face Oils: How?
The way you apply facial oils is almost as important as formula, itself! First begin with thoroughly cleansed, damp skin. Pump five to seven drops of facial oil into your palm, rub hands together and gently press oil into face and neck, avoiding under-eye area. According to Morris, the application of your face oil must be followed by a gentle massage. This slightly warms the skin, allowing the oils to penetrate more quickly. If you’re using an anti-aging oil, also do a target massage over troubled areas.
Face Oils: We Tried It
Here, YouBeauty staffers test drove the top 10 new face oils on the market.