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Face Oils: Everything you need to know

Do I need a face oil? Will it make me oilier than I already am? Which one is the right one for me?

With this blog post, I want to give you an introduction and overview of everything you need to know about face oils.


Our skin naturally produces oils, one of them is called 'sebum' which causes your skin to look a bit shiny and oily. But there are other lipids (oils and fats) that your skin cells produce to lubricate, hydrate and protect your skin from external factors.

So it's not unusual to use a face oil for your skin as it always needs a certain amount to stay balanced.


Humectant, emollient and occlusive

Before we deep dive into this whole post, I wanted to quickly talk about our three friends: humectant, emollient and occlusive. Let me explain the simple difference between these ingredients.


Humectants love water and hold onto it. They attract water from the air or your product and help your skin maintain a healthy level of hydration. Ingredients for humectants are glycerin, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, etc.

Emollients fill in the gaps between your skin cells and provide a smooth skin feel. Ingredients for emollients are lipids, oils, shea butter, etc.

And finally, occlusives trap water under the skin and act as a barrier to protect from water loss, as well as external aggressors. Ingredients for occlusives are waxes, butters and certain oils.


What's the difference between a moisturizer and a face oil?

A moisturizer can have humectant, emollient and occlusive properties, it can also just have emollient properties. A face oil, on the other hand, can have emollient and/or occlusive properties.


There are many different face oils out there, from cold-pressed one ingredient oils to antioxidant-rich blends. Oils contain fatty acids and we distinguish between linoleic and oleic acid. Some oils can have a combination of both. Below you find a list of some common oils, there are many more out there that are being used in skincare.


Face oils that are high in linoleic acid:

  • Hemp Seed Oil (strengthens skin barrier, helps to heal damaged skin tissue faster)

  • Rosehip Oil (restores skin elasticity, reduces acne and dryness, reduces hyperpigmentation)

  • Sunflower Oil (anti-inflammatory properties, high in antioxidants)

  • Raspberry Seed Oil (high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties)

  • Evening Primrose Oil (anti-inflammatory properties, helpful against eczema and acne)

  • Grape Seed Oil (high in antioxidants, reduces acne, moisturizing)

  • Prickly Pear Seed Oil (anti-inflammatory properties, restores skin elasticity, reduces hyperpigmentation)

  • Pumpkin Seed Oil (treats acne, moisturizes, increases firmness)

  • Cranberry Seed Oil (almost balanced amounts oleic/linoleic, high in antioxidants, increases firmness)

  • Chia Seed Oil (soothing, moisturizing, anti-inflammatory properties)

Oils that are high in linoleic acid are particularly good for people with combination/oily/acne-prone skin, as it's shown that these skin types have lower levels of linoleic acid in their skin so restoring these fatty acids makes sense. The myth that someone with combination/oily/acne-prone skin cannot use face oils is false. You can use a face oil, you just have to find one that is suitable for your concerns and use the correct amount.


Face oils that are high in oleic acid:

  • Argan Oil (increases skin elasticity, restores and moisturizes)

  • Marula Oil (lightweight, anti-inflammatory properties, reduces fine lines and wrinkles)

  • Tamanu Oil (facilitates wound healing, soothes, anti-inflammatory properties)

  • Olive Oil (moisturizing, antibacterial)

  • Camellia Oil (deeply nourishing, restores skin elasticity, smoothes skin)

  • Apricot Kernel Oil (moisturizes dry, sensitive skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles)

  • Avocado Oil (moisturizing, helpful against eczema and psoriasis, accelerates wound healing)

These types of oils are great for people with dry skin as they have more occlusive properties.

All face oils are nourishing to the skin but I wanted to highlight the properties of the different oils.



A face oil is not a moisturizer and doesn't provide moisture by itself!

You might be confused by this statement now. The reason behind it is moisture = water but oils don't contain any water. That's why they cannot provide any moisture, only water can. BUT as we learned earlier, we want to use oils to feed and protect our skin. The important part lies in the application of a face oil because our skin needs water and oil.


How to apply a face oil properly

Never ever apply a face oil on dry skin. You won't get the full benefit of a face oil if you apply it on dry skin. Always apply it on damp skin and massage it in. You will notice that it absorbs much better, seals in the moisture and leaves you with a dewy finish instead of a greasy look. To dampen your skin you can either use a hydrosol or a toner that doesn't contain any drying alcohol. It's not that ideal to use tap water, especially when it's 'hard' water as the pH is basic and we aim for a slightly acid pH, just like our natural skin barrier. I find that applying a face oil as the last step in my routine works best for me, as I want to seal everything in and trap all the moisture that I applied in my previous steps.


You might wonder if you really need a face oil now. I do love the luxurious feel of face oils, the aroma and even though I personally own many different ones, I don't think you have to own one. If you like the feeling of an oil, you want to pamper yourself and maybe give yourself a nice facial massage every now and then, I'd say give it a go.


I would love to hear your thoughts on face oils!

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