This Is What Each Facial Oil Does For Your Skin

Face oils have been used by beauticians and dermatologists for more years than we can count but it might be time to look beyond your classic rosehip and coconut. Despite increasing coverage in the beauty press, the majority of people still don't know which oil – if any – is suitable for their skin type or issue. Others are too afraid of breakouts or sebum overload to touch them. And with smart and hydration-boosting ingredients like hyaluronic acid on the market, just why would we need to turn to oils?
"The skin’s natural oil production decreases as we age, causing the moisture barrier to break down. Water is lost and the skin dries out or the barrier becomes prone to imbalance, causing oiliness," Elemis cofounder Noella Gabriel explains. "By maintaining and strengthening the moisture barrier (built of lipids) with facial oils, moisture is locked in and skin is left feeling more hydrated and resilient. Once the skin’s moisture barrier is restored, this also facilitates the absorption of active plant extracts to aid in replenishment and protection, reducing the signs of premature ageing."
Contrary to popular belief, oil can be used on oily skin, Gabriel tells R29. Using products with stripping ingredients can actually exacerbate the problem. "It can be a very difficult concept to relate to a client with an oily skin type, but oil-on-oil results in stabilising the oil flow, calming the skin." Now that we've been given the all-clear, what's the best way to use your chosen oils?
"Preheating the face before application is beneficial. Simply dip a flannel in warm water and place over the face for 30 seconds. This speeds up absorption and gets rid of the greasy after-feel. Then, closing your eyes, apply a light oil to the tips of the fingers, and in a raindrop motion: pitter-patter all over the face. This brings micro-circulation to the top layers of skin to warm, cleanse, soften and renew." Oil's benefits don't stop at plump and hydrated skin. "In addition to this, lip oil is your best friend and it is a great way to moisturise and use under lipstick."
Click through to find the properties and benefits of each oil out there, plus our favourite products that use them.
1 of 25
"Argan oil's main fatty acid content is made up of oleic acid and linoleic acid," Deciem's cofounder Nicola Kilner tells R29. "It can be worked through damp clean hair or pressed into skin across the face and body. The oil supports healthy skin and reduces the appearance of skin flaking. When used through the lengths of hair it will add a soft sheen while promoting hair strength."
2 of 25
We're huge fans of anything from Tata Harper, but this luxurious number contains softening argan oil alongside jojoba and calendula.

Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil, £68, available at Cult Beauty
3 of 25
A multipurpose oil, we pour Caudalie's formula into baths for added luxury, apply to the ends of hair to revive flat and dull locks, and massage onto skin when winter weather hits.

Caudalie Divine Oil, £18, available at Cult Beauty
4 of 25
"Pomegranate oil is the ultimate skin cell protector," Sarah Brown, founder of Pai Skincare explains. "It's rich in a rare form of Omega 5 and the only organic source of the most powerful known antioxidant, punicic acid. Thought to support the skin's collagen and elastin layers, combined with its antioxidant effects it makes a great choice for skin that's under stress or showing signs of ageing."

So how much should we be using? "It has a slightly heavier texture than some oils, making it a great choice for the body. Use it as part of a massage oil blend for best results."
5 of 25
This cult facial oil hydrates while balancing sebum. Pomegranate oil, along with blueberry and chardonnay grape seed oils, deliver antioxidants and protect from free radicals.

Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil, £35, available at Cult Beauty
6 of 25
Made up of cold-pressed oils, this powerful little vial can be layered under moisturiser or used alone.

Odacite Hydration Serum Concentrate (Pomegranate + Rose Geranium), £39, available at Cult Beauty
7 of 25
"Rose oil is a concentrated extract [from fresh rose petals] which delivers a lot of phospholipids to the skin, which contain nourishing properties," Noella notes. "Rose is suitable for all skin types as all skin needs to be nourished, hydrated and desensitised – particularly dry/sensitive and combination skins. One of the golden rules is never strip or alter the pH balance of the skin, and rose doesn't do that."
8 of 25
This nifty little bottle from Neal's Yard smells divine and contains damask rose, ideal for applying before your daily moisturiser.

Neal's Yard Remedies Rehydrating Rose Facial Oil, £14.80, available at John Lewis
9 of 25
Sisley's entire Black Rose range is indulgence with results. We love the night cream and mask, but this oil is combined with Bulgarian rose and magnolia, giving you a radiant visage.

Sisley Black Rose Precious Face Oil, £143, available at Space.NK
10 of 25
"Not just great on toast, the oil from avocado is rich in Vitamins A, D & E. It softens and conditions lacklustre skin, helping to maintain its moisture barrier and trap water in the skin. It's also a great source of palmitoleic acid, which naturally depletes as we age," Sarah explains. "Avocado oil is fantastic for softening the skin and trapping in moisture, making it ideal for skin prone to dehydration and dryness. It's also a useful ingredient for homemade hair masks!"
11 of 25
This divine face treatment from Antipodes boosts collagen (giving you plump skin) and treats dry skin with nutrients galore.

Antipodes Divine Face Oil Organic Avocado Oil & Rosehip, £19, available at Beauty Bay
12 of 25
This lightweight oil formulated with a combination of four plant oils; Avocado, Safflower, Rosehip and Macadamia Seed, absorbs quickly and delivers a velvety-smooth finish.

Jurlique Skin Rebalancing Face Oil, £38, available at Feel Unique
13 of 25
Pai uses avocado oil in its Avocado & Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream, helping to boost the skin's natural moisture barrier, trapping water for plumper, softer skin.

Pai Skincare Avocado & Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream, £32, available at Beauty Bay
14 of 25
"Marula oil is mostly composed of oleic acid and linoleic acid but also contains procyanidin, catechins and flavonoids," Nicole explains. "It is extremely rich in antioxidants. It also restores a radiant tone to the skin and offers hydration."
15 of 25
This cold pressed oil from Marula is suitable for all skin types, and leaves the skin soft, plump and firm.

Marula Pure Facial Oil, 37.50, available at Holland and Barrett.
16 of 25
This antioxidant-rich oil from The Ordinary works just as well alone (press a few drops into skin) or combined with your night cream.

The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil, £8.10, available at Victoria Health
17 of 25
Formulated by dermatologist Dr Gary Goldfaden, this fast absorbing cell oil contains Marula, Rosehip, Baobab, Mongongo and Kalahari seed oils, to name a few. It works to restore the skin's plumpness and improve elasticity.

Goldfaden MD Fleuressence Native Botanical Cell Oil, £129, available at Look Fantastic
18 of 25
Odacite's oil minimises moisture evaporation from the skin, keeping cells plump and youthful.

Odacite Elasticity Serum Concentrate (Marula + Neroli), £39, available at Cult Beauty
19 of 25
Sarah breaks down jojoba's molecular structure, "which is similar to sebum – the protective oil our skin naturally produces. This means it absorbs easily and feels light and non-greasy. It's also resistant to high temperatures, so stays fresher for longer." This one is great for those with oily skin, too, as "it often feels lighter and less greasy than other plant oils and helps to naturally balance oil production."
20 of 25
Hyperpigmentation, acne scarring, or dark spots? Massage over skin nightly or pour a few drops into a cream face mask weekly, and you'll soon see results.

The Jojoba Company Natural Pigmentation Oil, £19.99, available at Look Fantastic
21 of 25
How is rosehip different from rose oil? While rose oil is extracted from the petals of rose plants, rosehip oil comes from a plant commonly found in Chile. "Rosehip oil is renowned for its skin-healing properties," Sarah tells R29. "It contains high concentrations of Omegas 3, 6, 7 & 9, plus antioxidant carotenoids help soothe and protect the skin against environmental stresses and visible damage."

"Rosehip oil is known to reduce the signs of photo-ageing. The skin is also able to pick up pigment from the oil, leaving you with a natural glow," Nicola explains. "The oil can also be mixed into foundations to provide a dewy effect."
22 of 25
Rosehip oil is packed with vitamin C, and this wonder cleanser not only frees your skin of the day's dirt but ensures moisture is retained. It's particularly good for those with rosacea.

Indie Lee Rosehip Cleanser, £30, available at Cult Beauty
23 of 25
The prettiest bottle our bathroom shelf ever did see, Kypris has cult status for a reason. Steam-distilled from 1,000 Bulgarian rose petals, this skin soother is pure luxury.

Kypris Beauty Elixir I: 1,000 Roses, £86, available at Cult Beauty
24 of 25
Blending together nine natural oils, including Rosehip, Jojoba, Avocado and Camellia, this lightweight treatment strengthens the moisture barrier of the skin and diminishes the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

Malin + Goetz Recovery Treatment Oil, £62, available at Space NK
25 of 25
We trust Ouai to repair our hair (try their supplements for GHD-destroyed locks), but this two-in-one oil doubles up as a skin soother, too.

Ouai Haircare Rose Hair & Body Oil, £25, available at Cult Beauty

More from Skin Care


R29 Original Series