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Adding Face Oils to Your Skin Care Routine Is a Real Game Changer

Three bottles of facial oils
Biossance/Drunk Elephant/Farmacy

You’ve probably spent most of your life assuming that putting oils on your face was something to be avoided at all costs. Well, surprise! That’s not always the case.

Adding well-formulated face oils to your skin care routine can be a real game changer, but it can sometimes take a little time to find the right products to address your specific concerns.

Here’s everything you need to know about incorporating face oils into your skin care routine to get the maximum benefits.

Why Use Face Oils?

At first glance, the idea of adding oils to your face might seem counterintuitive. After all, years of skin care marketing focused on “drying out” blemishes and reducing oil production on your face.

That being said, adding oils to your face isn’t always a bad idea. In fact, sometimes, a well-formulated oil can add precisely the vital nutrients and hydration you need.

The idea isn’t to just slather on a bunch of greasy products and let them sit on your face. Face oils are typically lightweight blends, and it usually only takes a couple of drops for them to work their magic.

Face oils often combine high-potency ingredients with lightweight hydration (squalane oil is a common ingredient in many of these products). The specific oil you should use depends on your skin type and what you need. It’s best to sample one at a time so you can properly gauge its effect.

It might take a little experimentation to figure out which ingredients work best for your skin and with your existing products, so be patient and take your time. These tips should help you find the right face oil:

  • Do a patch test first: You should always do this with any new product you add to your routine. Put a small amount of the oil on a small area to make sure it doesn’t negatively react with your skin or other products.
  • Avoid using other products that contain oils: Layering a pure face oil with other products that include oils is a bad idea unless you know for sure they won’t cause irritation or a negative reaction.
  • Note how a face oil interacts with other products: For example, an oil that contains vitamin C probably shouldn’t be layered with an AHA or BHA serum, as this can irritate the skin.

When adding a face oil to your routine, it should be the very last step, after you’ve cleansed, toned, added serum, and so on. Oil can penetrate the layers of other products to reach the skin, but nothing can penetrate oil. This means anything applied on top of an oil won’t do you much good.

You only need to use a few drops of a face oil. Also, just gently pat it into your skin, rather than rubbing vigorously.

Ready to try a face oil? Check this list of some of our faves and choose one that sounds like it would be best suit your particular skin needs.

Best Multipurpose: Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil

A pink bottle of facial oil sitting among orange slices; the bottle on its side with oil flowing out

With the Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, you get all three of the most sought-after effects (brightening, hydrating, firming) in one simple, great-smelling oil.

Chios crystal oil helps to firm the skin, along with vitamin C for brightening and improved elasticity. Pair that with hydrating squalane and soothing, gentle rose petal extract for an all-purpose oil.

Most Soothing: Farmacy Honey Grail Ultra-Hydrating Face Oil

Bottles of gold-colored facial oil, both open and closed bottles

The Farmacy Honey Grail Ultra-Hydrating Face Oil is a botanical face oil packed with several ingredients to soothe and hydrate the skin. Buckwheat honey is the surprising secret ingredient, with antioxidant and moisture-retaining properties.

It’s supplemented with other nutrient-packed oils, including sea buckthorn (with amino acids, vitamins, omegas, and more), and five blends of flower oils. It also contains omega fatty acids to protect and hydrate the skin barrier.

Most Hydrating: Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Oil

Bottles of pale yellow face oil next to their brown boxes
Youth to the People

It’s a beloved hydrating botanical mask, but in oil form. In the Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Oil, maqui, acai, prickly pear, and goji (aka, “superberries”) work together to provide serious hydration and skin repair.

Maqui has loads of antioxidants. Prickly pear hydrates and reduces irritation, while acai’s omega fatty acids support collagen and perk up dull skin. It’s a berry burst full of antioxidants and hydration for visibly brighter, healthier skin.

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Herbivore Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil

A woman holding up a clear bottle of blue facial oil; a bottle of the same oil

The Herbivore Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil is definitely a splurge product, thanks to the presence of high-end blue tansy oil. However, there are few ingredients as helpful to oily and acne-prone skin, and you only need a couple of drops at a time.

Blue tansy is a botanical ingredient that can soothe redness and help to calm and clarify the skin without drying; it’s helped along by hydrating squalane and balancing kukui nut oil.

Most Affordable: The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil

A bottle of facial oil with its dropper out; a bottle with rosehips on a stem coming out the top of the bottle
The Ordinary

For a lightweight oil for daily use to help combat signs of drying, dullness, and other damage, try the affordable and straightforward The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil.

With a high omega fatty acid content, the pure oil helps to hydrate and soothe, while reducing the damage done by aging and environmental factors.

Best Balancing: Biossance Squalane + Tea Tree Balancing Oil

A green bottle of facial oil with a few ingredients around it; two bottles of oil with a few drops of oil next to them

The Biossance Squalane + Tea Tree Balancing Oil is another popular option for oily, acne-prone skin. Tea tree oil provides tons of clarifying and purifying benefits, all through the power of botanical.

It also reduces irritation and fights enlarged pores and blemishes, while balancing the skin and hydrating with squalane for long-term effects.

Best Splurge: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil

A white bottle against a green background; an open bottle of face oil with the dropper sitting next to it
Drunk Elephant

Feel like splurging on a luxurious face oil? The Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil is a “luxury” product, for sure, but it comes with plenty of benefits!

Marula seed oil is easily absorbed into the skin, so you won’t have a heavy oil sitting on your face for too long. Full of antioxidants and omega fatty acids, this is ideal for moisturizing and rejuvenating the skin, as well as providing an overall glow.

Gentlest: Wishful Get Even Rose Face Oil

A pink bottle with a dropper of golden oil; a woman holding the bottle and the dropper to her face

In the Wishful Get Even, two types of rose oil (Damascus and rosehip) work together to soothe and hydrate the skin. Damascus rose oil helps clarify the complexion and lock in moisture, while rosehip evens skin tone, and reduces dark spots and fine lines.

Plus, there’s carrot seed oil in the botanical blend, which visibly tightens skin and helps even out the tone and texture.

The same as any skin care product, it can take some experimentation to find the right face oil for you. Once you do, though, you’ll love what it does for your complexion. Oil-based products aren’t just for your post-cleansing routine, either—double cleansing incorporates oils for clearer, healthier skin.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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