The Surprising Secret About Your Facial Oil

Oils and the sun seem like they really shouldn't mix. Our mothers (and, let's be real, some of us) used to slick baby oil over our bods to get deep, dark tans — only to be left with some pretty gnarly burns, and the pigmentation and wrinkles that follow. So, it comes as no surprise that heads were a-scratching when one Julianne Moore spilled her secret to gorgeous skin to Andy Cohen on a recent visit to Bravo'sWatch What Happens: Live.

"Sunscreen every day, whatever I can get at the drugstore," she says on the show. "I use a face oil, doesn't matter what kind. First, I put the face oil on, then I put the sunscreen on, and I don't go into the sun. And, honestly, that's really it."


Now, when Moore says she doesn't go out in the sun, that's not to say she's a total vampire. Yes, she has a life, and therefore, she goes outside on a regular basis. But, her statements made us think about combining face oil with sunscreen when we do, in fact, go to the beach (but also, when we're just walking down the street). Aren't we told to avoid oils when we're outside?

We chatted with Dennis Gross, MD, creator of an eponymous skin-care line and founder of 900 5th Dermatology in NYC, to get the full scoop. It turns out, oils have developed far beyond that clear bottle o' baby oil under your sink. "Now, oils can be antioxidants, soothing agents, and more," says Dr. Gross. "They penetrate beautifully — directly into the skin. This is one major reason you are seeing this trend [of face oils used as moisturizers]." 

The new face oils aren't greasy, like traditional ones. That's why you'll see them billed as "dry oils" — they don't have that slick feeling. The main reason they're safe to use in the sun is because they penetrate. "Baby oil sits on your skin," Dr. Gross says. "Today's oils fully absorb. But, if you are worried, you can apply your oil 20 minutes before leaving your house." Which makes sense, since you're (hopefully) following up with sunscreen — which you should also apply before leaving the house.

Before you head off to pick up your new favorite product, Dr. Gross says there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a facial oil. "I suggest looking for bona fide anti-aging ingredients with scientific data behind [them]," he says. Some of his favorites include evening-primrose, jojoba-seed, sweet-almond, and lavender oils.


Dr. Gross warns to be careful if you have allergies to any ingredients an oil could contain, like nuts or lavender. He adds that people with acne-prone skin are better off using oil-free moisturizers. But, normal to dry skin in need of extreme moisture can still cozy up to the slick stuff. And, just FYI, Dr. Gross' new Triple C Peptide Firming Oil works on all skin types, and is launching this April at Sephora. 

"Have faith that these are not the oils from your grandmother's time," Dr. Gross says. "The science of using oils on your face has seen a whole new day." Looks like oils and the sun maybe have learned to get along, after all. 

Boots Botanics Facial Oil, $8.99, available at Target.

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