The Best Facial Oils For Your Skin Type

Take skin hydration to the next level with the best face oils for every skin type (plus expert tips on how to use them)


The Facialist founder Ashleigh Scott says that while oils are excellent for all skin types, there a few specific oils to look out for if you have a particular skin concern to treat. Photo / The Facialist

A multi-tasking beauty staple in any beauty routine, face oils are said to deliver unchartered glow to skin. But selecting the one that addresses your primary skin concerns while being tailored to your particular skin type can be niggly.

Contrary to popular opinion, face oils are not solely reserved for those with drier skin types, nor will they make oily complexions oilier. Rather, many claim to unlock a luminous complexion while simultaneously sealing in hydration.

Below, Ashleigh Cometti tapped three skin experts for their do’s and don’ts when seeking out the best face oil, so you know exactly what to look for when shopping the shelves.

What are face oils?

“Face oils are plant oils used to nourish the skin and help lock in hydration,” says The Facialist founder Ashleigh Scott, adding that oils can be especially beneficial at balancing and supporting the skin’s moisture levels.

Unlike lotions or creams, oils have emollient properties — meaning they tend to work best on the uppermost layers of skin, offering skin barrier protection and superficial hydration.

Many are formulated from a single plant oil, or a blend of oils that are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, says Mecca skincare education lead Lucy Connell.

“They are incredible at increasing the moisture levels in skin and reducing sensitivity, making them a must-have for dry, sensitive skin. That being said, because they have so many skin-loving benefits and because our skin naturally produces oil, a face oil can be used by anyone,” she says.

Can essential oils be harmful to skin?

Essential oils are a hot topic in beauty land right now, and our experts agree to take caution when adding pure essential oils to your routine.

“Many people prefer to use essential oils as it’s considered a more ‘natural’ way to help with specific conditions. But unfortunately, not all oils are okay to use on skin,” explains Lindi Botes, L’Oreal Luxe New Zealand skincare education manager.

“Essential oils can cause skin irritation, worsen a skin condition, cause allergic reactions and photosensitivity. If you want to use a specific essential oil to treat a skin condition, I suggest you always check with your physician first for advice.”

However, when essential oils are used in skincare (diluted and blended with other skin-safe ingredients), they not only provide sensorial benefits, but can offer anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, too.

Just remember to patch test a product first if you’re unsure how your skin will react, Lindi advises.

Not only can facial oils offer instant softness to skin, but they're loaded with essential fatty acids and nutrients to nourish skin at the same time. Photo / The Facialist

What do face oils do?

If you enjoy the instant gratification that comes with slathering on skincare, then you’ll love the instant softness that face oils can provide.

More than that, face oils are packed with essential nutrients, fatty acids and antioxidants that form a protective layer on skin, helping to repair and protect your skin barrier.

Depending on the composition, some face oils can repair and nourish skin, while others can target dryness and dullness, Lindi says.

“Face oils can help the skin to retain moisture, promote a healthy-looking glow or have antioxidant properties to reduce the damaging effects of free radicals.”

How do you use them? Where in your beauty routine should you use a face oil and why?

Face oils work best when applied to damp skin, explains Ashleigh, and can be used as a serum, moisturiser or in combination with your regular moisturiser.

“An oily skin may favour face oil on its own; this can act as a ‘second skin’ and is great if you don’t like the feeling of a cream,” Ashleigh says.

But before you do away with your moisturiser altogether, remember that while moisturisers and face oils serve a similar purpose by boosting moisture content, the way in which they nourish the skin is different, Lucy says.

READ: 8 Moisturisers Dry, Dehydrated Or Sensitised Skin Is Sure To Drink Up

Put simply, moisturisers help to hydrate skin and address additional skin concerns, while face oils strengthen the moisture barrier and lock in the powerful benefits of a serum, Lindi explains.

If a face oil is something you’re adding to your routine rather than subbing in for something else, Lucy says to press a few drops of the oil into skin over your moisturiser as the final step in your skincare routine, or to blend a few drops into your moisturiser.

“That being said, there are some oils that are designed to be used under your moisturiser, like a serum, because they contain active ingredients like salicylic acid or retinol. When in doubt, check the usage instructions to understand how your specific oil is to be used,” she says.

The best face oils for: all skin types

While we’re big believers in selecting an oil that’s specific to your skin type, if you’re after something with universal appeal, consider an oil that’s lightweight and loaded with antioxidants, like rosehip oil, camellia oil or squalene.

Try: Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+, $45, or Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil, $144.

Photo / Supplied

The best face oil for: dry or dehydrated skin

If your skin is dry or dehydrated, focus on oils thicker in texture and higher in oleic acid — think avocado, shea and moringa — to repair the skin barrier and offer your epidermis some much-needed TLC.

Try: Mara Algae + Moringa Universal Face Oil, $139, or Cosmetics 27 Huile 27 Bio-Nourishing Cell Regenerating Oil, $125.

Photo / Supplied

The best face oil for: combination/oily skin

Combination/oily skin types need not fear oils, Ashleigh explains, adding that often the reason skin is over-producing oil is because it is lacking in oil to start with.

“A facial oil is great for combination skin as it will nourish the drier areas of the complexion while balancing the oil production in the areas prone to oiliness,” Lucy says.

Look to jojoba, argan or grapeseed oils alongside squalene to balance your complexion and regulate sebum production long-term.

Try: Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, $95, or Josie Maran Cosmetics 100% Pure Argan Oil, $79.

Photo / Supplied

The best face oil for: acne-prone skin

Those with acne-prone skin should steer clear of pore-clogging coconut or mineral oils, instead look for ingredients that rebalance the skin, slow down sebum production and soothe inflammation. “Oils are very healing for acne-prone skin,” Ashleigh says.

Pomegranate, rosehip and hemp seed oils are excellent for their healing and anti-inflammatory properties, and often come cocktailed in facial oils alongside acne-fighting ingredients like retinol, tea tree and salicylic acid.

Try: Emma Lewisham Supernatural Vitamin A Face Oil, $140, or Swisse Hemp Seed Enriching Face Oil, $30.

Photo / Supplied

STOCKISTS: Cosmetics 27 and Josie Maran from Mecca or online at Meccabeauty.co.nz; Dermalogica from Dermalogica skin centres, department stores, Life pharmacies or online at Dermalogica.co.nz; Emma Lewisham from selected day spas and skin clinics, or online at Emmalewisham.com; Kiehl’s from selected department stores or online from Themarket.com; Mara from Inesstore.com; Swisse from selected pharmacies or online at Swisse.co.nz; Trilogy from selected department stores and pharmacies, or online at Trilogyproducts.com.

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