Facial oils might feel like a relatively new skin care phenomenon, and depending on who you ask, they’re either the greatest thing since sliced bread or just another skin care trend for companies to cash in on. In truth, face oil has a LOT of benefits - if you’re using it right. So what’s so great about them? Face oil is sourced from plants, and full of naturally occurring antioxidants, fatty acids and plant sterols to rejuvenate your skin cells.
In fact, they’ve been used since ancient times to keep skin happy, healthy and glowing - long before laser therapy and vampire facials. Geishas used camellia oil to remove their theatrical makeup, while ancient Egyptians prized castor oil and olive oil for keeping skin nourished. But do you know which face oils are best for your skin type?
We’re going to do a deep dive on how to use different facial oils to get the most benefits for your skin concerns. We’ll also fact check some common skin care questions, like whether essential oils good or bad and are facial oils better than moisturisers?
Knowing your oils
Oleic vs linoleic
Plant oils are full of omega fatty acids, and the consistency of an oil depends on which fatty acids are most dominant.
The linoleic fatty acid is more compatible for people with oily skin. Linoleic acid is a fatty acid that has a thinner consistency and is easily absorbed into the skin. This stops acne bacteria being trapped under the skin, causing blemishes and congestion.
Some studies also show that people with acne tend to have less linoleic acid naturally occurring in their skin and more oleic acid. Without enough linoleic acid, your skin’s natural oil can become overly thick and sticky and cause congestion. Supplementing your routine with a linoleic acid oil helps to balance your skin’s natural oils and prevent thick sebum causing blocked pores.
Oleic acid is a fatty acid with a much thicker consistency and is most suited for skin that's dry that doesn’t produce enough of its own oil. Oleic acid sits on top of the skin to seal in hydration and prevent moisture loss.
Essential oils are a common cosmetic ingredient found in many facial oils, cleansers and creams. However, they can be a pretty divisive ingredient. Some people say essential oils have excellent skin healing properties, while others say they can irritate the skin and cause more damage. Ironically enough, both are true!
High-quality essential oils can provide the skin with a multitude of benefits. For example, rose oil and tea tree oil are natural antiseptics and can help fight acne.
However, essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier oil, as they are too irritating to use on their own. When undiluted, essential oils can also increase the risk of sunburn, which is why you should never use them on their own.
Best face oils for dry skin
Facial oils that are high in oleic acid have the most benefits for skin that's dry. Oleic acid is the most abundant fatty acid in moringa oil, making up almost 75% of its fatty acid content. Other oleic acid-rich oils include crambe seed oil and baobab oil, which also contains high levels of vitamin E.
The Poko Luxury Facial Oil combines crambe seed oil, moringa oil and baobab oil to nourish dry, flaky skin and help repair the skin’s moisture barrier. These oils also work to dilute essential oils like rose oil and geranium oil, to nourish the skin without causing irritation. Baobab oil is also full of omega fatty acids to help fight free radicals and the signs of ageing and thanks to its rich and silky finish, this oil is particularly beneficial for dry skin conditions to provide hydration without clogging pores. This face oil is perfect for dry, normal and sensitive skin types.
Best face oils for oily skin
Safflower oil, hemp seed oil, and evening primrose oil are all high in linoleic acid. These facial oils have great benefits for oily skin, to hydrate skin without clogging pores.
Tea tree oil is great for oily and acne-prone skin. Although it is an essential oil, when diluted it has powerful antiseptic qualities to fight spot-causing bacteria. Just be careful never to use pure tea tree oil, as undiluted essential oils can irritate sensitize your skin. Make sure it’s diluted in a gentler, nourishing carrier oil rich in linoleic acid, such as apricot seed oil or grapeseed oil.
How to use facial oil
Facial cleansing oil: Facial cleansing oil has benefits for all skin types. Facial cleansing oils are particularly effective at dissolving makeup, so they’re great as the first step in your double cleanse. Take some oil in the palm of your hand, and massage into dry skin to loosen makeup. Then, wet your hands slightly and massage your skin until the oil emulsifies into a light lather. Rinse your face, and follow up with a water-based cleanser to cleanse your skin.
Oil serum hybrids: Oil serums are skincare serums made with an oil-water emulsion. These tend to be thinner than natural oils and absorb more quickly into the skin. They will often also have targeted ingredients like retinol or vitamin C. Oil-serum hybrids should be applied before your moisturiser, for maximum absorption.
Facial oil: There’s some dispute whether face oil has more benefits when applied before or after moisturiser. Many people prefer face oils first, so it absorbs right into your skin without sitting on top. This approach may be better for oily skin. Others say face oils after moisturiser is best, to utilize oil’s occlusive properties - which may be better for your skin cells and acne-prone skin. Ultimately, you should do whatever your skin likes best.
One thing that is certain, is that face oils work better as part of your PM routine. This is because your skin’s natural sebum production is at its highest at midday, and lowest at night. Applying face oil at nighttime prevents your skin becoming dehydrated, and locks in all your nighttime skin care products.
TIP: Use the Luxury Facial Oil and the Regenerating Collagen Moisturiser together. Add 2-3 drops of the oil to the moisturiser and apply it to your skin. If you have dry or dehydrated skin this cocktail will work wonders, giving you an extra layer of protection.
How to apply facial oil
Step 1: Cleanse your skin.
Step 2: Layer on your moisturiser.
Step 3: Apply your oil in gentle patting motions.
Are facial oils better than creams?
The idea of using face oil in place of moisturiser has gained a lot of traction, especially among oily skin types who say that facial oil is better than a face cream. However, these are two different products that do different things.
One of the main benefits of facial oil is that they are emollients, which soften the surface of your skin. Face oil can also be better at getting certain ingredients into your skin (like fat-soluble vitamins). However, they can’t penetrate deeply enough to provide you with the same hydration and moisture that creams will. But since they stay on the surface layers of your skin, facial oil is beneficial for repairing your skin’s lipid barrier.
Moisturiser, on the other hand, contains ingredients to draw moisture out of the air and into your skin to keep it hydrated - which facial oil can’t do. Your best bet is to use a lightweight moisturiser to draw moisture into the skin, and a face oil on top to help your skin retain said moisture.