How Face Oils Help Skin
This page was updated on Thu, Nov 07, 2019
Face oils are used to restore dry, dehydrated and flakey skin. Depending on the blend of oils, Face Oils can also soothe redness, resist microbial skin overgrowth and provide added antioxidants and vitamins to boost skin vitality.
How do you Use Face Oils?
You can apply them directly to your skin or you can mix a few drops into your favorite moisturizer to boost the hydrating effect. A man can use a face oil as a beard oil to condition the hair and skin of his beard and mustache.
What are Face Oils?
Face oils can be made from a single oil or a mixture of oils. The nicest oils are usually a combination of carrier oils that lack significant fragrance and are fairly inert relative to skin allergenicity. These are mixed with fragrant plant oils (essential oils, which are concentrated extracts derived from plants). Both may impart benefits to the skin based on their content of fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and emollient (moisturizing) characteristics.
There is actually no strict definition for products labeled as Facial Oils. They are also called Booster Oils and Beard Oils. This means that products marketed with these names can vary widely.
Are Face Oils Right for You?
If your skin suffers from dryness, flaking or a tight feel then face oils may help hydrate, soften and soothe the dryness. You can use the oil alone on your dry skin or you can enrich your favorite moisturizer to make it more effective by placing a few drops of oil into a dollop of your moisturizer before applying it to your skin.
Men can use Face Oils as Beard Oils to condition beard hair and fight beardruff (redness, scale, itch and irritation of the skin in the beard and mustache area). I provide more information on Beard Oils here.
Which Facial Oils are Best?
This depends on your skin and its needs. Some of the component oils feel better on your unique complexion than others. For example, rosehip oil is considered a “dry oil” meaning it absorbs readily into skin without leaving much residual oily feel. In contrast, oils such as coconut oil or olive oil, will sit with a rich and somewhat heavy oil feel on skin. If your skin is extremely dry these may feel better.
Some oils are also potent allergens and, as a dermatologist, I think these should be avoided. These are often the highly concentrated fragrant essential oils found in many Facial Oils. My prefered Face Oils combine carrier oils into specific formulations with low concentrations of essential oils for anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-oxidant benefits. I also find that most people prefer oils that absorb readily into the skin instead of sitting on the skin and leaving a heavy and oily residue.
I formulated my Face Booster Oil for Sensitive Skin with jojoba oil (which mimics skin’s natural sebum to condition skin and hair), kakui oil (used in Hawaii for hundreds of years), castor seed oil (with unique fatty acid content used as a healing oil in Greece since ancient times), sunflower oil (rich in oleic acid and vitamins, and proven to heal skin barrier). These are blended with argan oil (which has been used for centuries in Morocco and shown to have many benefits including helping resolve skin hyperpigmentation problems), rosehip oil and pomegranate seed oil (both with numerous antioxidant, vitamin and anti-inflammatory benefits).
My Omega Enriched Face Booster Oil has a similar formulation that is additionally enriched with borage oil (one of the best sources of the essential fatty acid gamma-linoleic acid, which is proven to have strong anti-inflammatory and barrier repair benefits for skin health), cypress oil (with anti-microbial benefits) and sea buckthorn oil that helps enhance skin water-binding capacity to deeply hydrate.
All the oils in my Face Oils are organic. The formulations are designed by me to help heal skin without taunting allergic or irritant reactions. They have a light weight yet deeply hydrating feel on the skin and can be used directly applied to skin or you can add a few drops to your moisturizer to boost its hydration benefits.
My Face Oils are blended from the best blend of science and nature!
Face Oils to Avoid
As a dermatologist, I recommend avoiding face oils made with the most common essential oil allergens. For example, many face oil products contain citrus, which is a potent allergen and can cause a UV light reaction (phototoxic reaction) that can burn and damage skin. Other oils with high allergen or irritant potential include tea tree oil, peppermint oil, Ylang-ylang, lemongrass, rosemary oil and sandalwood oil. At low concentrations, some of these oils (such as peppermint, rosemary and tea tree) may be well tolerated. In higher concentrations, they become riskier to expose skin to directly. Full concentration use is called ‘neat’, and in my dermatologic opinion, essential oils should not be applied to skin neat.
Should you Use Face Oils?
Yes, I think all but the most oily and acne prone facial complexions benefit from them. They are especially useful to resist seasonal dryness. I use a Face Oil almost every night.
Many people feel that Face Oils deeply hydrate their skin, soothe dryness and inflammation and help keep their skin radiant and soft. The important point is to choose an oil made with carrier oils that have low potential for allergenicity, that absorb well into the skin and are mixed with botanical essential oils in safe amounts that resist allergenicity or irritancy.
I’m a huge fan of Face Oils, and that’s why I made my own! As a dermatologist who has seen the full gambit of dry skin, facial eczema, facial inflammatory conditions AND allergic reactions and phototoxic reactions to allergens – I’ve blended what I think are the perfect face oil formulations into my two Facial Booster Oils. I use one of them every night on top of my night treatment products such as my Green Tea Cream, Retinol Night Cream, prescription tretinoin or blended with my Glycolic Acid Face Cream. I either apply the oil directly on top of my night treatment products or blend it with one of my moisturizers at night or even during the day under my sunscreen if my skin feels dry.
Khan BA, Akhtar N, Hippophae rhamnoides oil-in-water (O/W) emulsion improves barrier function in healthy human subjects, Pak J Pharm Sci. 2014 Nov;27(6):1919-22.
Vinay R. Patel, et. al., Castor Oil: Properties, Uses, and Optimization of Processing Parameters in Commercial Production, Lipid Insights. 2016; 9: 1–12.
Maria G. Miguel, et. al., Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.): A medicinal plant with myriad biological properties - A short review, Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 4(25), pp. 2836-2847, 29 December Special Review, 2010
Myra O. Villareal, et. al., Activation of MITF by Argan Oil Leads to the Inhibition of the Tyrosinase and Dopachrome Tautomerase Expressions in B16 Murine Melanoma Cells, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 340107. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3723062/
Final report on the safety assessment of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glyceryl Ricinoleate, Glyceryl Ricinoleate SE, Ricinoleic Acid, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Zinc Ricinoleate, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Ethyl Ricinoleate, Glycol Ricinoleate, Isopropyl Ricinoleate, Methyl Ricinoleate, and Octyldodecyl Ricinoleate, Int J Toxicol. 2007;26 Suppl 3:31-77, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18080873
Samy A Selim, Chemical composition, antimicrobial and antibiofilm activity of the essential oil and methanol extract of the Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens L.), BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014; 14: 179.
Aicha Ben Nouri, Chemical Composition, Antioxidant Potential, and Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oil Cones of Tunisian Cupressus sempervirens, Journal of Chemistry, Volume 2015
Angelo, G, Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Helath, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids
Gama-linolenic acid, University of Maryland Medical Center http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/gammalinolenic-acid
Mortimer Sarah, BS and Reeder Margo MD, Botanicals in Dermatology: Essential Oils, Botanical Allergens and Current Regulatory Practices, Dermatitis, 27(6) Nov/Dec 2016
Alexander R. Jack, MD, et al, Allergic Contact Dermatitis to Plant Extracts in Cosmetics, Semin Cutan Med Surg 32:140-146, 2013 Frontline Medical Communications