How Every Skin Type Should Be Using Face Oils

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Oils aren't going anywhere, it seems. In fact, every time we scan the Sephora shelves, new, innovative versions have popped up. We're all for 'em, but sifting through the many little jars holding essences of rosehip, safflower seed, jojoba, lavender, argan, coconut, and more can be confusing.
First, it’s important to understand your skin type and your concerns in order to find the oils that will be most beneficial for you specifically, then it's best to use them at night, says skin-care professional Reneé Rouleau, so the ingredients can work while you sleep to repair any damage.
Ahead, the oils you should be using to wake up to your brightest, softest skin.
1 of 8
For Dry Skin

Rouleau tells us that when treating dry skin, it's important not to skip moisturizer, or put oil on before it. Our skin needs both oil and water, and the moisturizer provides the latter. Further, it's important to note that when using a moisturizer directly over the oil, the active, beneficial ingredients in the moisturizer are unable to penetrate through the oil barrier.

Rouleau suggests cleansing and toning the skin before applying an evening oil. "Mix 4-6 drops of the oil directly in with your nighttime moisturizer and apply to both the face and neck," Rouleau recommends. "You can also use 4-5 drops applied over your moisturizer, which will provide a protective barrier to prevent dry air from pulling moisture out from the skin."

Caudalie Vinosource Overnight Recovery Oil, $52, available at Caudalie.
2 of 8
For Normal Skin

Those with normal skin should follow the same protocol as with dry skin, avoiding oil application directly on the skin or in place of moisturizer. Because normal skin needs a like less oil than dry skin, Rouleau advises mixing in only 2-3 drops of treatment oil.

"Although many normal skin types experience the occasional breakout, if you start to notice frequency in breakouts occurring after you've begun using a treatment oil, you might consider dialing down the frequency and only applying the skin oil on days when your face is exposed to harsh winds and cold temperatures," Rouleau recommends.

Reneé Rouleau Pro Remedy Oil, $68.50, available at Reneé Rouleau.
3 of 8
For Oily/Combination & Blemish-Prone Skin

There's often fear in applying oil to already-oily skin — but, when used sparingly, oils can actually benefit acne-prone skin. "People with oily skin types can safely use treatment oils, especially if you are located in an extremely dry climate; however, it's important to use them sparingly and only when skin is feeling particularly tight and dry," Rouleau says. "You don't want to overuse a treatment oil because it will create a layer over the top of the surface, which then creates more heat to be trapped within the skin. Heat will cause more oil production and allow for bacteria to grow more quickly, ultimately resulting in a potential for increased acne."

To do it right, Rouleau recommends applying a lightweight oil-free moisturizer first. "You want your moisturizer's ingredients to absorb into the skin first to avoid any potential blocking or clogging of the pores," she says. "After you've moisturized as you normally would, you can add a protective layer of oil (sparingly, 1-2 drops) over your moisturizer to prevent water loss."

Sunday Riley U.F.O Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil, $80, available at Sephora.
4 of 8
For Airplane Travel (All Skin Types)

We know that sitting on an airplane for even just a few hours can suck moisture out of the skin. Rouleau cautions that pre-flight, oil should be applied only once, or not at all. But once in-flight, to protect your skin from the drying cabin air, Rouleau recommends applying 1-2 drops of oil over moisturizer every hour of your trip. This rich, indulgent version is one of our favorites — and at that price, it'll get you all the way to Australia and back guilt-free.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil, $9.80, available at The Ordinary.
5 of 8
For Daytime Use

"Apply oil over daytime sunscreen and before makeup," Rouleau advises. "In the morning after cleansing, toning with an alcohol-free toner (left damp on the skin for extra hydration), and using a vitamin C antioxidant serum followed by a moisturizer with sunscreen, massage a few drops of oil onto the skin." Layering a treatment oil over your sunscreen will add a protective skin barrier, and prevent any moisture evaporation. The skin expert cautions against mixing oil and moisturizer, as it alters the sunscreen's original formula, which may result in less effective SPF skin protection.

Clinique Smart Treatment Oil, $44, available at Clinique.
6 of 8
For Nighttime Use

It's smart to smooth on a hydrating oil before bed to allow plenty of time for the ingredients to be absorbed. This nighttime oil hydrates and brightens — so you'll wake up to a glowing complexion by morning.

Om Aroma & Co. Pumpkin Seed Renew Serum, $58, available at Om Aroma & Co.
7 of 8
Kiehl's fans know that this overnight recovery oil is like magic in a bottle. Pro tip: Since the texture leans on the liquid-y side, mix two to three drops in your moisturizer before bed for best results. You'll wake up looking glowy as ever.

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, $46, available at Bergdorf Goodman.
8 of 8
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!

More from Skin Care