It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been using face oils regularly, and my skin has been loving the extra pampering they provide. I also frequently get asked questions from readers & family members alike on how to use face oils and while I’m no expert, I figured a quick breakdown might help — or at the very least, help demystify this product.
So what are face oils? In a nutshell, face oils are substances that help compliment our natural oils (our skin naturally makes oils and lipids, which helps prevent water loss & keeps it hydrated). Apart from their many potential benefits, their overall purpose is to serve as an extra level of protection for your skin. Fine thus far, but where do they fit into one’s skincare routine? The basic rule of thumb when applying your products, is to go from thinnest to thickest, but face oils can be a bit tricky; not as dense as moisturizer but definitely more emollient than a serum, there are several options for application:
- after your serum and before your moisturizer
- a few drops added to your moisturizer
- patted onto the skin as a last step in your routine
You can also pat on a few drops during the day to add an instant shot of hydration to skin, add a couple of drops to your foundation for more slip and to get the trendy “glazed donut” skin effect, and depending on the oil you choose, it can even be applied both day & evening. I’ve also been known to use any excess from application on my cuticles — waste not, want not. The one thing you shouldn’t do, is replace your moisturizer with a face oil, as this won’t be enough to provide your skin with the total hydration and nourishment it needs. Finally, face oils have come a long way and there are varieties to suit all skin tones & conditions, from helping to heal acne and dark spots, helping to brighten the complexion, as well as those that provide excellent skin-aging benefits. Note that all these oils come housed in glass bottles which helps preserve and maintain the integrity of the ingredients. A caution here: when choosing an oil (or any face product) that’s dispensed via a dropper/pipette, do NOT let it touch your skin, in order to avoid contamination. It’s best to always add a few drops to your fingers that you warm up by massaging the oil before application.
Kiel’s Daily Reviving Concentrate (CAN $68.00/30 ml) | Non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic (won’t clog pores and therefore also great for acne-prone skin), this is infused with botanical oils to help revitalize skin and “correct visible signs of fatigue”. Dispensed via a dropper that you pump out from the top, this oil takes only seconds to fully absorb, leaving behind the faintest glow and can even be reapplied during the day as needed. Also includes antioxidant protection to defend against free radicals. Fragrance: a delicate citrusy herbal.
Ingredients list: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dicaprylyl Ether, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Squalane, Canola Oil, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil Unsaponifiables/Sunflower Seed Oil Unsaponifiables, Tocopherol, Limonene, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil/Orange Peel Oil, Coriandrum Sativum Seed Oil/Coriander Seed Oil, Calophyllum Inophyllum Seed Oil, Rosa Rubiginosa Seed Oil, Citrus Grandis Peel Oil/Grapefruit Peel Oil, Zingiber Officinale Root Oil/Ginger Root Oil, Linalool, Citral, Geraniol, Malpighia Punicifolia/Acerola Fruit Extract
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Oil (CAN $68.00/30 ml) | A longtime #1 bestseller for the brand (and the first facial oil I ever tried, in fact), this is meant to be used in the evening for optimum benefit. Infused with a blend of botanical oils from seeds, plants, and flowers, it’s also rich in Omega-6 Fatty Acids to help skin’s regenerative function while you sleep. Dispensed via the same pump-dropper system as the daytime version, this clear oil does take a bit to absorb and even longer to fully melt into the skin, making it ideal as the last step in your nighttime routine. Fragrance: a soft citrus, very delicate and easy to wear
Ingredients list: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Squalane, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Oenothera Biennis Oil/Evening Primrose Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis Oil/Jojoba Seed Oil, Coriandrum Sativum Oil/Coriander Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Lavandula Angustifolia Oil/Lavender Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Linalool, Rosmarinus Officina-lis Leaf Oil/Rosemary Leaf Oil, Citronellol, Geraniol, Lavandula Hybrida Oil, Cucumis Sativus Extract/Cucumber Fruit Extract, Curcuma Longa Extract/Turmeric Root Extract, Limonene, Citral, Sclareolide, Rosa Spp/Rose Flower Oil, Jasminum Officinale Extract/Jasmine Extract, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil/Sunflower Seed Oil
Both oils are transparent and bear a similar runny texture
Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil (CAN $95.00/30 ml) | Originally reviewed in detail here, this is a rich yet totally lightweight face oil that combines sugarcane-derived squalane with Vitamin C to help brighten & plump skin. Ideal for dry, very dry, or mature skin, I’m super impressed with how well this oil plays with the rest of my skincare products, although it does need a good 15 minutes to absorb into the skin. I personally prefer using this both day and night because I really love the way it makes my skin both feel & look. Fragrance: the absolutely softest hint of rose
Ingredients list: Squalane, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride , Pistacia Lentiscus (Mastic) Gum, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Geraniol, Citronellol
Pixi +Rose Essence Oil (CAN $38.00/30 ml) | As shown in the above shot, this is a tri-phase oil that needs to be shaken/mixed before application (see result below). Incredibly lightweight — quite watery, actually — this oil is almost instantly absorbed into the skin making it great for makeup prep as well. Another excellent way to use this oil is by patting a few drops onto the skin during the day to add a quick dose of hydration; just make sure to massage the oil between your fingers prior to application (which also happens to be true for all the oils shown here). Fragrance: very delicate whisper of rose
Ingredients list: Aqua/Water/Eau, Dimethicone, Octyldodecanol, Squalane, Glycerin, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, 1,2-Hexanediol, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Eclipta Prostrata Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Ceramide NP, Sodium Chloride, Betaine, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Dipropylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Octocrylene, Phenoxyethanol, Citral, Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool
Interesting how one of the phases of the Pixi oil stayed in bubble form (right)
Guerlain Abeille Royale Advanced Youth Watery Oil (CAN $194/50 ml) | This is my holy grail of face oils and I’ve gone through so many bottles already. Originally reviewed here, Guerlain revamped this oil last year and came out with the Advanced version (reviewed here), which I’ve fallen for even more. This dual phase oil needs to be shaken prior to application and is dispensed via a long pipette. Infused with honey from 4 parts of the world, this super lightweight oil has camphor beads suspended in the liquid that burst upon application and become quickly absorbed into the skin. You can apply this oil as part of your skincare routine (I use it both morning and evening), mix in a few drops into foundation for a gorgeous dewy finish, or just tap into the skin throughout the day to help ‘revive’ skin. Fragrance: a honey skin scent that’s absolutely divine
Ingredients list: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Polyglycerin-3, 1,2-Hexanediol, Alcohol, Polysorbate 20, Pentylene Glycol, Miel (Honey), Royal Jelly, Msnnitol, Cellulose, Chlorphenisin, Parfum (Fragrance), Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Propanediol, Trisodium Ethelenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Biosaccharide Gum-2, Tocopheryl Acetate, Maltodextrin, Adenosine, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Acrylates/Ammonium Methacrylate Copolymer, Synthetic Fluorophlogopite, Commiphora Mukul Resin Extract, Triethyl Citrate, CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Sodium Benzoate, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Sodium Metabisulfite, CI 77492 (Iron Oxides), Potassium Sorbate, CI 77491 (Iron Oxides), Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Tin Oxide
Herbivore Phoenix Facial Oil (CAN $75.00/30 ml) | Full review coming on this oil plus another new Herbivore product. This is the newest face oil I’ve tried and I love everything about it. Housed in a square bottle with a crisp & clean aesthetic, the ingredient list is relatively small (see below), but packs quite the punch. Suitable for all skin types, this oil is particularly amazing for those with dry and/or mature skin — especially since it’s high in Omega-6 fatty acids. The texture is the most viscous of the bunch (however not thick) and while it takes the longest to absorb, this feature also makes it absolutely perfect for using with your favourite face massager or gua sha tool — which, by the way, if you haven’t incorporated these types of hand-held face tools into your skincare regimen, I highly recommend you do because they not only up the relaxation factor, but really get your circulation going. Fragrance: an addictive fresh/green/citrus scent that I totally love
Ingredients list: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Seed Extract, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Salvia Hispanica Seed Oil, Ubiquinone, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Tocopherol, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Oil
Caudalie Vinosource Overnight Recovery Oil (CAN $62.00/30 ml) | Created to be used in your evening skincare routine, this has a non-greasy dry oil texture. Suitable for all skin types, this oil is particularly effective on sensitive skin to help soothe, deeply nourish and regenerate your skin’s hydration barrier while you sleep. This oil also works extremely well when paired with other Caudalie products, and I find adding a few drops to my evening moisturizer an easy way of incorporating it into my routine. Fragrance: a very delicate herbal-rose scent
*Note that this version/packaging has changed to a taller brown bottle and is now called Vinosource-Hydra, although the version here is still showing as available through a few other retailers
Ingredients list: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Cymbopogon Martini Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Geraniol, Citronellol, Linalool, Citral, Farnesol, Eugenol, Limonene
Korres Pure Greek Olive Early Harvest Vitality Shield Booster Oil (CAN $85.00/30 ml) | Made with early harvested organic olive oil from the island of Crete, Greece, this oil is literally the elixir of the Gods and the crown jewel of the Korres Olive Collection. What makes it truly unique and incredibly special, is that the olives used for this oil are harvested only once a year in early October within a one-week window and the fruit itself must be unripened — but they have 5x the potency of traditional olives. Once picked, they then need to be extracted, cold-pressed, and bottled within 6 hours of harvesting, turning them into liquid ‘green gold’ to provide a super boost of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits. By the way, one of these bottles = 3 lbs of these delicately pressed olives. An incredible product suitable for everyone, the high levels of polyphenols and Omega 6 Fatty Acids in the formula give this oil super powers where skin aging is concerned, and helps with fine lines, loss of firmness, and helping to increase skin’s elasticity. Finally, the radiance it provides skin is absolutely gorgeous — I literally cannot say enough good things about this little treasure. Fragrance: a skin-soft soapy/honey scent that’s absolutely beautiful.
PS: My Greek pride in this range is obviously showing, but it’s all so true!
Ingredients list: C13-15 alkane, cocoglycerides, octyldodecanol, isoamyl laurate, coco-caprylate, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, hydrogenated ethylhexyl olivate, alcohol, denat., crambe abyssinica seed oil, aqua/water/eau, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, ethyl palmitate, ethyl stearate, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, hydrogenated olive oil unsaponifiables, lecithin, tocopherol, tocopheryl acetate, alpha-isomethyl ionone, coumarin, geraniol, hydroxycitronellal, limonene, parfum/fragrance
Bushbalm Bermuda Dark Spot Oil (CAN $36.00/30 ml) | Interestingly, this is the only one out of the bunch that’s dispensed via a pump, as opposed to a dropper, but it’s still easy to control the amount that comes out. Not just for the face, this oil can actually be used anywhere on the body as it is incredibly effective at combatting discolouration (ie: hyper pigmentation, acne scars, age spots). Can be applied daily, and if using on the body it’s recommended to apply it when skin is still warm & damp from showering for the best result. When used on the face to help eliminate dark spots/discolourations, consistency is key; don’t expect instant results, but if you stick with it regularly, you will notice improvement. Fragrance: a light & fresh citrus
Ingredients list: Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Copaifera Reticulata Resin Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil
Hopefully this little primer gave you some insight on the wonderful benefits of using face oils. As I’ve gotten older and noticed that my skin started requiring more intense hydration, I’ve found that using a face oil not only helps to lock in moisture and thus makes my entire skincare routine more effective, but that my skin stays soft, supple, and just generally has a nice glow to it. And with so many varieties and price points available, there’s literally a face oil for everyone. Just remember that as with all skincare, consistency is key for optimum benefit.