Finally: How To Choose The Right Facial Oil For Your Skin

An esthetician breaks it all down.

by Bianca Lambert
honey_and_milk/RooM/Getty Images

Facial oils are nothing new: They’re a perennial shelfie star and a coveted product found across indie and legacy brand collections. But if you’re still unsure about how to select the best facial oil for your skin, know you’re not alone. Those with oily or acne-prone skin may be especially wary of facial oils since they’re typically, well, oily. But, according to Sarah Akram, celebrity master esthetician and owner of Sarah Akram Skincare, there’s a facial oil out there for everyone. It all comes down to the type of oil in the formula and the complexion-perfecting nutrients it contains.

"Facial oils are emollients, meaning they soothe the skin. Their main benefit is obviously hydration, which is very important especially in cooler seasons,” Akram explains. “The key is choosing the right oil that compliments the natural oils you already produce. Squalane, jojoba, and rosehip are among the most popular because they mimic the natural oils in our skin.”

But which to choose to add to your product collection? Akram simply says to let your skin be your guide! Below, the master skincare pro reveals the best facial oil for any skin type.

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Best Facial Oils For Normal Skin Or Combination Skin

For normal skin types, applying a facial oil with natural brightener vitamin C during the day is highly recommended to combat free radicals and illuminate your complexion. Akram also touts facial oils rich in vitamins A and D as being suitable for combination and normal skin types.

For an oil-based vitamin C option (and a residual glow), give Sunday Riley’s award-winning, highly-reviewed vitamin C, turmeric, and evening primrose oil blend a try. The lightweight formula quickly absorbs into the skin and hydrates, brightens, and soothes sensitized skin.

No matter your skin type, Grown Alchemist’s certified organic facial serum can improve elasticity, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and hydrate your complexion. Formulated with borago, rosehip, cranberry seed, and buckthorn oils, this antioxidant-rich oil will leave you with healthy, firmer-looking skin.

Best Facial Oil For Oily Skin

While richer oils may work well for dry skin, they’ll likely be too heavy for oily or acne-prone skin types, leading to clogged pores and blemishes. Vitamin-E rich jojoba oil is a great alternative according to Akram. “[Jojoba oil] is similar to the skin's own sebum and non-clogging."

Lightweight and fast absorbing, Three Ships’ powerhouse product features jojoba oil as its starring ingredient. As it helps balance oil production, it’s a great choice for acne-prone skin. Plus, it’s anti-inflammatory (thanks to that vitamin E), reduces the appearance of pores, and leaves skin glowing and hydrated.

Vegan, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic, this facial oil by Skin Champagne contains both jojoba seed oil and squalene to help repair and replenish damaged skin caused by breakouts and acne scarring. It’s also formulated with salicylic acid to prevent future acne flare-ups.

Best Facial Oil For Dry Skin

For drier skin types, maracuja oil is at the top of Akram's list, thanks to its lightweight-yet-hydrating formulation and because it’s packed with glow-getting vitamin C.

DERMAdoctor’s clean and cruelty-free facial oil is loaded with marula and maracuja oils to deeply hydrate skin and restore its natural moisture barrier, as well as Vitamin C to boost radiance and support natural collagen production. Plump, moisturized skin, here you come.

Akram notes that this 22 botanical, nutrient-rich formula from Vintner’s Daughter is one of her favorites for dry skin. Each of the ingredients (including grape seed and rosehip oils) work together to stimulate cellular turnover, promote elasticity, and enrich the skin.

Best Facial Oil For Aging Skin

Vitamin A — better known in he skincare world as retinol — is a nighttime anti-aging essential, so look for facial oils that list either of these common ingredients on the label. If you're new to using retinol, Akram especially recommends vitamin A in an oil form, as it is generally non-irritating.

For dry and mature skin, three to seven drops of Sisley Paris’s omega 3 and 6-rich, plant-based blend nightly will help smooth fine lines and deeply hydrate the skin. It features both plum oil (which contains skin-smoothing vitamin A) and expert-recommended jojoba oil, making this silky-smooth product a moisturizing must-have.

Containing 95 percent organic rosehip oil, this blend from INIKA Organic is loaded with vitamin A and fatty acids that’ll nourish dry skin, while also smoothing away fine lines and aiding in cell renewal.

How To Apply Facial Oil The Right Way

Serum before oil? Or oil before serum? Getting a product-layering routine down pat isn't always easy breezy. Thankfully, Akram breaks it down: "The general rule of thumb when applying facial products is to start from the lightest in texture and work your way up to the thickest texture," she shares.

"For example, oils are typically thicker than most serums, so you would apply your desired oil after your serum but before you moisturize.”

If you’re short on time and not looking to add an extra step to your skin-care routine, or just aren’t crazy about the texture of oil on your skin, Akram says, “You may mix a few drops of oil into your moisturizer or press a few drops of oil on top of your moisturizer." However, the product will be better absorbed through layering.

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