Years ago, when face oils were first becoming a thing, I got a bottle of face oil from Sunday Riley and erroneously assumed that it was a replacement for moisturizer. Spoiler: I was mistaken. To ensure you don’t make the same mistake, here’s a straightforward explanation on the benefits of face oils — if they are actually hydrating or not, and how to best use these little gems.
The Benefits of Face Oils
Let’s get straight to it: “They are extremely beneficial for the skin,” says esthetician Darya Rzaca, adding that different oils are used to achieve a desired result, but that all of them “help retain water, leaving the skin soft and glowy.” Other benefits include: “They can even out the complexion, have antibacterial properties, can be used for cleansing the skin, and for regulating sebum production, which reduces acne breakouts and blemishes. And they are great defenders against extreme cold or dry weather conditions.”
Meet the Experts
Darya Rzaca is a master esthetician and co-owner of Brooklyn’s Atelier Beauté.
Aneta Zuraw is a master esthetician and co-owner of Brooklyn’s Atelier Beauté.
Look for plant-based facial oils designed to target your skin goals, like those in Sunday Riley’s suite of oils, including Luna, which has avocado seed and chia seed oils; Juno, which is chock full of vitamin- and antioxidant-rich seed oils from blackberries, blueberries, cranberries and broccoli, to name a few; C.E.O. Glow, with its jojoba oil; and U.F.O., also full of beneficial seed oils, including sunflower and milk thistle.
Hydrate vs. Moisturize
So oils are hydrating? No, says esthetician Aneta Zuraw. “They don’t hydrate the skin. Oils are moisturizing but not hydrating. Oils only retain the water that’s in your skin already and do not add any extra.” And this goes for all types of oil, be it sunflower seed, jojoba, or olive — they all moisturize but don’t hydrate. To put it simply, you add moisture to the skin with a water-based moisturizer, and then the fatty acids in the oil help seal in that moisture and prevent it from evaporating.
How to Use Face Oils
Okay, so what step in the skincare process should oils be? And when do you use them? “Applying facial oil should be the last step in your skincare routine,” says Rzaca. “It’s because oils are so-called natural sealers that create a moisture barrier, so that any cream can do its hydrating job.” Facial oil can be used in both your morning and nighttime routine and should be used daily, especially in dry conditions.
Is a hydrating serum plus an oil enough? Or do you need moisturizer? Rzaca says the vast majority of us need moisturizer. “Skipping it may lead to excess oil production, which then leads to more breakouts. Using an oil instead of a moisturizer may leave one’s skin oily and greasy, without proper hydration. If we skip moisturizer, our skin isn’t as well protected and may be prone to environmental damage.”
If you want to speed up your skincare steps, you can add a few drops of oil into your moisturizer. Otherwise, the best way to apply is by putting two to three drops on your fingers and “then tap the oil onto your skin with your fingertips,” says Zuraw. Don’t overdo it, a little goes a long way. And you may want to target where you apply oil. For instance, if you’re using U.F.O. for a breakout, you might tap it onto acne-prone areas instead of all over the face.
The Best Face Oil for Every Skin Type
Not sure which oil is right for you? Try the Sunday Riley All About Oils Discovery Kit and see which one suits you — and it may be all four, as they address different needs since skin is not the same day after day, or at night. As Rzaca explains, “Different oils are used for different skin concerns — detoxifying, draining, revitalizing, soothing, dehydration, toning…” You get the lesson: Oils can do your skin a world of good, especially when used properly.
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