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Face oils have been a little maligned in the skincare community so today I'm speaking out in their defence and walking you through a few of my favourite formulas!
- THE ARGUMENT AGAINST FACIAL OILS -
I think there are 3 main reasons why some within the skincare community aren't huge fans of face oils:
Whilst there are a lot of beneficial oils that can be formulated in serums, moisturisers and as standalone facial oils, there are a lot of facial oils that are just blends of fragrant essential oils with a bit of filler. Most of these types of oils don't actually have concrete benefits for the skin (or if they do, they're nothing life-changing) but increase the risk of skin sensitivity and allergies. Plus there are plenty of luxury brands who have bottled these fragrance cocktails and sell them as anti-ageing products because one of the plant ingredients included has a bit of unrefined Vitamin A in it!
2. People use them incorrectly
Moisturisers are made up of 3 components that help keep the skin balanced, hydrated and moisturised all day: humectants (that draw water into the skin), emollients (which soften and smooth the skin) and occlusives (these lock moisture into the skin). Most oils are emollient and / or occlusive but not hydrating, meaning they don't bring water into the skin. This is a fundamental pillar of skin health and hydration, so when you see celebrities apply a face oil on its own with no serum and no moisturiser on Harper's Bazaar's Go to Bed With Me, it's not really a great tip to take away for your own routine. You aren't giving your skin everything it needs by slapping on a facial oil only, even if it did cost you £150...
3. They aren't 'necessary'
This is totally true: they're not you cleanser, sunscreen or retinoid (though you can get oil-based retinols) so they're not essential maintenance or the most bang for your buck in terms of results. If you have oily skin, for 90% of the year I'm sure your moisturiser will be enough.
- WHY I LOVE THEM ANYWAY -
For me, I like that extra occlusive layer and nourishment, particularly in the winter. I also use some great oils that help to sooth and calm my skin too, when it's a little unhappy. I enjoy them, I like using them and I like what they do for my skin! It's totally a personal choice; I'm not trying to convert anyone, more just saying it's ok to enjoy face oils or to feel they do something for your skin. I tend to use nourishing oils as the last step of my evening routine, but if it's an active oil, I will use just a couple of drops pressed into my skin before my moisturiser (and after any water-based serums I might be using).
- MY PERSONAL FAVOURITES -
Starting with an active oil: I love the Sunday Riley UFO Ultra-Clarifying Facial Oil* | £68. Salicylic acid is oil-soluble, and that's why it's the chemical exfoliant with the power to get into your pores and clear out spot-causing debris. It's really quite unique too, as salicylic acid products are usually geared towards people with oily skin, who often aren't the biggest fans of facial oils. This oil is also formulated with tea tree (it has a bad reputation - whilst the pure essential oil isn't something you need to be putting on your face, formulated like this it does have antibacterial benefits), chamomile (to soothe inflammation), licorice extract (for its dark spot fading abilities) and other moisturising plant oils. This isn't an overly oily oil but still has a moisturising quality alongside its congestion-clearing benefits.
Another active in oil form I really enjoyed using was the Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil* | £61. This is a pretty simple formula with Biossance's signature squalane (a skin-similar plant-derived oil), rose extract and an oil-soluble derivative of Vitamin C called Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate. Whilst these derivatives don't have the same evidence behind them in terms of boosting up collagen production and providing antioxidant benefits, they can give your skin an amazing glow and help treat uneven skin tone whilst being gentler and more stable. You can use this in the daytime with a couple of drops under your moisturiser or in the evening (it's lightweight enough), it's really down to personal preference. This is a gentle and effective moisturising oil that gives my skin a gorgeous glow and harmonises its appearance.
One that's just an amazing nourisher for me is the Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Facial Oil* | £54. This is formulated with lots of non-fragrant plant oils from raspberry to cumin seed to cranberry to meadowfoam seed, that are rich in omega fatty acids and amino acids that nourish and replenish the skin, locking in all the hydration from the rest of my routine. If I'm feeling dry, dull or lacklustre: this is what I reach for to get soft, plump, nourished, glowing skin overnight. It's such a great quick fix!
Let's talk about my beloved Zelens Power D* | £95. This is what you reach for when you're skin barrier is messed up! This is a light, fragrance-free oil (so again, a couple of drops under your moisturiser during the day works fine if you're that way inclined) formulated with skin barrier boosting Vitamin D, squalane, Vitamin F and avocado oil (rich in fatty acids), hyaluronic acid (to act as a water magnet), Vitamin E (to moisturise and replenish) and so much more. If my skin is feeling irritated or tender, or even if I'm upping the strength of my retinoid and want to slap on something soothing afterwards: this saves my face.
The next product I absolutely love is the Monday Muse the Nectar Vitamin Facial Oil* | £48. This is quite a unique (and fragrance-free) formula because it's amazing for calming inflammation, and I see so many people with acne say that this oil helped to soothe their skin, which is so interesting given I know pore-clogging is a concern with acne and this often leads oily people to steer clear of oils. Melon seed oil helps retain moisture in the skin, cumin seed oil has that soothing quality, hemp seed oil is rich in fatty acids and can be anti-inflammatory, there's Vitamin E, rosehip oil can help with skin healing and all of the plant oils in here can be sources of antioxidant goodness. This is one of the least 'oily' oils I've used so will be pretty widely-suitable. I often use it in the evening, you can use it as the last step in your routine and even for gua sha or you can wear it in the day (again, a couple of drops with a of moisturiser between it and my sunscreen so that goes on well over the top).
Lastly, is a new discovery I've been enjoying over the past couple of weeks: the Summer Fridays Heavenly Sixteen All-in-One Face Oil | £50. This is a really good blend of non-fragrant oils: we have my beloved squalane, cranberry seed oil, meadowfoam seed oil, watermelon seed oil, grape seed oil, Vitamin E and soothing oat oil. You're also getting lots of antioxidant goodness in this formula. It's light so it's also not one of those oils that feels like a slick on the top of your skin, so you can layer it conservatively under moisturiser if that's your jam. I find it calming, moisturising but not at all heavy. My skin is left nourished, soft, healthy and glowing.
- IN CONCLUSION -
Honestly, just live and let live: no one NEEEEEEDSSSS a facial oil. Hell, you don't have to use any skincare beyond sunscreen if you don't feel the need and your skin is happy. However, they spark joy for me and when used for my skin in the way I've described; it really appreciates the extra nourishment. When it comes to active oils, they're a great gentle way of testing the waters with powerful ingredients. There just seems to be a real trend at the moment of shouting down anyone who has different preferences to you; it's not necessary, I think the community needs to just let people enjoy what they like if it's not affecting anyone else. I just happen to like facial oils, and I'm not sorry!
Do you use facial oils in your skincare routine?
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