These Face Oils Take Skin Hydration to The Next Level

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

If you want to unlock a luminous complexion and simultaneously seal in essential moisture, finding the best face oil is key. The multi-tasking beauty staple truly does it all, but deciding on one that addresses your skin concerns while being suitable for your skin type can be tricky. We spoke with dermatologists to walk through the dos and donts when searching for the best face oil, so you're well equipped to pick your perfect match.

The benefits

Face oils can deliver uncharted glow, but it's worth addressing a question that frequently arises: do you actually need them? The main benefit of a face oil is its ability to form an occlusive barrier over the skin, allowing active ingredients to penetrate through the skins epidermis and reducing transepidermal water loss (TEWL), says L.A.-based dermatologist Christine Choi Kim, MD. They can be used before makeup is applied to reduce dry, flaky patches or at bedtime as the last step in your routine to seal in the active skin care ingredients underneath. And face oils are not just for the facethey can be used to smooth your hair, brows, and nail cuticles as well!

Face oils can play a key role in determining how effective your entire skin- care routine will be. And in addition to helping your skin reap the benefits of all the hydrating serums and lotions used prior, face oils can soothe upset skin. For those seeking alternative methods of moisturizing their faces, face oil not only moisturizes the skin, but also helps to soothe irritation, says dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, MD, FAAD. It can also also have antioxidant effects depending upon the active ingredients, and help to control bacteria and calm inflammation.

The categories

You might be inclined to think that all face oils function the same, but just like your assortment of serums, each one has distinct properties. Many face oils have multi- beneficial properties but they can be categorized into the following three broad functions: calming, protective, anti-aging, says Kim.

Rich oils packed with fatty acids are great for moisturizing dehydrated skin when moisturizer alone doesn't seem to cut it. Kim explains that some of the more common face oilscoconut, marula, jojoba, rosehip, avocado oilfall into the calming category, popular for dry skin types looking for hydration as well anti-inflammatory benefits.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil

From reducing UV-damage to getting a head start on wrinkle reduction, our skin craves antioxidants for a reason. Favorites include niancinamide, which is quickly becoming the base of most products on the market thanks to its anti-inflammatory and skin-brightening benefits, and vitamin C, the reigning champ against the effects of the sun. Protective face oils tend to be rich in antioxidants like Vitamins A, C and E which all help to protect against environmental pollutants, says Kim.

Aesop Fabulous Face Oil

For those who want to take further preventative measures against premature wrinkles while also addressing uneven skin tones, an anti-aging face oil is worth considering. These oils tend to contain a retinol or bakuchiol, both of which help to improve fine lines and boost collagen production.

How to apply

When it comes to getting the most out of your face oil, Kim suggests prepping your skin with moisture before you layer on top. Unlike a humectant (hyaluronic acid and glycerin are examples), oils do not attract moisture to the skins surface. Therefore, I recommend applying your face oil on damp, hydrated skin or layering it over a humectant- containing product.

Can everyone use it?

A primary concern for those hesitant to try a face oil is the belief that instead of surfacing an eye-catching glow, the result will be extremely oily or breakout-prone skin. While everyone can use a face oil, Hartman does caution those who are acne prone to triple check they are selecting an oil that has been cleared as non-comedogenic before they apply. Some of the more popular oils that dont clog pores are rosehip oil, jojoba oil and argan oil. They can be safely used by just about any skin type without fear of causing breakouts. To be extra cautious, you should always start off with a patch test.

If your skin is particularly sensitive, Kim says to explore only applying the oil to dry patches or skipping it entirely for an alternative with a similar effect. For a similar glow and smoothing effect, I would recommend a lightweight water-based serum that is oil-free and non-comedogenic. Ones formulated with humectants like hyaluronic acid or glycerin will be particularly plumping, and the addition of ingredients like Vitamin C or green tea polyphenols offer additional antioxidant benefits.

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