I’ve been a fan of a facial oil for a long time now. I find personally that they work really well for my skin – my complexion feels more nourished when I use one, and using one facilitates a lovely massage which in turn makes my skin fresher.
I love to use them for my make-up work – a facial oil is an essential skin prep beforehand but also I sometimes mix a drop into a foundation to change the texture as well as boost the skin.
I like to use face oils that are made from plant oils which can be amazing for all skin types – even oily! They can rebalance the skin, add nourishment and strengthen the lipid barrier. While not actually hydrators, they help to lock hydration in the skin by forming a protective layer over the top.
Top Tip – apply oils to damp skin to help this hydration process.
Which facial oil should you use?
Different skins will benefit from different oils – it is a case of trying and finding what suits you but there are some general guidelines to start you off.
Plant oils are full of fatty acids and can be split into two groups when talking about skincare.
Those high in Oleic acid (this is omega 9 which our bodies can produce themselves) tend to be more richer and thicker so therefore more nourishing and great for drier and older skin types.
Those high in Linoleic Acid (this is omega 6 and an essential fatty acid that are bodies cannot produce on their own) are lighter in texture so therefore more suitable for oilier and acne prone. It has been found that acne prone skins are low in linoleic acid so adding an oil rich in it can help to balance skin. Oils can also help to decongest skin by unclogging pores – they dissolve the excess sebum.
That’s not to say that a dry skin can’t use a linoleic acid rich oil and vice versa – using a blend of oils is a wonderful way to benefit from all the different properties. Think about the main base oil and take it from there.
Another thing to look at is whether an oil is classed as comedogenic – does it clog pores? Again all skins are different – some will absolutely love coconut oil for example while for others it causes congestion.
I know I’m writing this during a really hot week in June, but I still use them through the summer – I perhaps might choose a more lightweight blend than in the colder months. I also love a really lightweight oil cleanser as a first step in a double cleanse to remove sun cream and generally summer stickiness!!
There are of course so many wonderful blended facial oils on the market, we are spoilt for choice. When choosing, think about how your skin is, what it actually needs and what you’d like the oil to do. Facial oils from skincare brands will often have speciality ingredients within the blends, however sometimes it is nice to have a play around with some very simple blends, even single oils to see how your skin reacts to them. This can help you understand your skin more, and help with future purchases.
Here is a post you might enjoy if you’re struggling to get your skincare right.
Some typical oils
Jojoba – one of my absolute favourites but an interesting fact – it isn’t actually an oil but a liquid wax. Jojoba oil is a balance of oleic and linoleic, its molecular structure is very similar to our natural sebum which makes it extremely tolerable for most skins – I think I’m yet to meet a skin that doesn’t like it (although I’m sure that can change!). It can help balance oilier skins, but also wonderfully anti-inflammatory and full of Vit E so great for eczema and psoriasis too. It is used in so many formulations but also amazing on its own. If I or a client has had a reaction, I’ll often use just this to help calm and balance skin – jojoba oil is lovely for cleansing too; it can help to unclog pores by dissolving sebum. It is also a very stable oil so has a great shelf life.
Argan Oil – this is rich in both oleic and linoleic acids, it is anti-inflammatory and full of antioxidants too. It is often touted for its anti-aging benefits. It penetrates the skin quite quickly so doesn’t feel greasy. This is quite an expensive oil as it is very labour intensive with limited sources – also known as Morrocan oil.
Rosehip Oil – this is known for its regenerating properties and is often used for scarring and brightening skin. It is very rich in Vitamins C and A so will help with skin cell turnover. Vit A is where we get retinol from but this natural Vit A will be a lot slower than a synthetic retinol. Used over time though it can bring great results along with its anti-inflammatory and calming properties too. Rosehip is actually high in linoleic acid so can be great for some acne-prone too, it is a drier oil and penetrates the skin quickly. Great in blends.
Sweet Almond Oil – soothing and anti-inflammatory, this oil is great for calming reactions. It is used a lot in massage as it is so versatile and also a lightweight oil. It is high in oleic acid so great for nourishing but also can contain a good amount of linoleic (different crops will have different profiles, season to season, area to area etc).
Kitchen cupboard oils
You may even have something suitable in your kitchen cupboard. It would need to be the best quality though – cold pressed and organic if you can.
Olive Oil – Olive oil is rich in oleic acid and is quite a heavy oil. I wouldn’t recommend it for acne prone skins as it could cause congestion. Cold pressed organic olive oil is really high in antioxidants, it is vitamin rich and anti-inflammatory so drier, mature skins could benefit from its properties – perhaps as part of a blend rather than on its own. It can however be nice as a simple oil cleanser to break down make-up (again not oilier skins) but be sure to remove properly.
Interestingly squalane can come from olive oil and is very popular for many skins. It is lightweight and non-comedogenic making it a great option for oilier skins.
Coconut Oil – this oil gets really mixed views. Coconut oil in its natural state is solid at room temperature (unless its high summer or you live in a hot country!) so therefore couldn’t be blended into an oil. It can however be processed and many oils will contain fractionated coconut oil which is a liquid version. Coconut oil has many great properties including antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. Some people absolutely swear by coconut oil for everything – I personally have to have it blended with something else, otherwise it doesn’t do much for me.
Hemp Oil – I love hemp oil, it’s packed full of skin friendly ingredients such as vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fatty acids. Taken internally hemp oil has the optimum ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 which is 3:1. The omega 6 is linoleic acid making it great for more acne skins, it is a drier oil so doesn’t linger on the skin. Mix it in a blend though and all skins can benefit from its regenerating and rejuvenating properties.
Sunflower Oil – this is high in linoleic acid (we definitely don’t want the high oleic cooking oil here – look for cold pressed and organic to get any benefits) and can be used as a very simple oil for more oily or acne prone – however it tends to be used in a blend so therefore get benefits from other oils too. It is rich in fatty acids, Vit E and can help support the skin’s natural barrier.
Top Tip – buy the best oil you can afford. I choose organic and cold pressed when I can – the more processed an oil is, the less nutrients it will contain.
Do you use a facial oil? What are your favourites?