HOW TO USE A FACIAL OIL IN YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE
WHAT ARE FACIAL OILS?
As the name suggests, facial oils are skincare products with an oil-based formula that work with your skin's natural oils to moisturise, nourish and balance your skin barrier keeping it healthy and resilient. Natural oils, such as Kalahari Melon seed oil and argan oil are naturally derived from plants, whereas synthetic oils, such as mineral oil are made in a lab and derived from petroleum. Oils used in both hair care and skin care products can either be pure or a formulated blend of multiple oils.
Don’t get confused with fragranced “essential oils” which, despite the name, are anything but essential for your skin. While they do have some beneficial properties, they also possess potentially sensitising fragrance compounds, which can cause irritation and inflammation to your body, especially if you have sensitive skin. One example of a popular fragranced essential oil is rose facial oil, not to be confused with rose hip oil, which unlike its counterpart is free from fragrance so doesn’t have a rose scent. Tea tree oil, with its powerful aroma, is another example of an essential oil.
The short answer is yes, facial oils benefit every skin type. Oils, including your skin’s natural oil (sebum), are made up of lipids and fatty acids. Each has a unique composition of these fatty acids, and often include oleic acid and linoleic acid, which exist in a particular ratio and gifts each oil its individual properties. These fatty acids play a crucial role at the cellular level, improving skin barrier functions. For example, facial oils rich in linoleic acid help to regulate sebum production in acne prone and oily skin types, whilst also nourishing dry skin types. Therefore, using face oils are essential for every skin type to replenish and balance your skin’s moisture levels.
WHEN TO USE OIL IN YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE
One of the best things about facial oils is their versatility. This can throw some people off who don't know how to apply facial oils, but there really isn’t a right or a wrong way to include them in your current skin care routine steps - we’ll talk you through any caveats and tips later. It’s recommended to introduce facial oil as the last step in your nightly skin care routine, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t use it in your morning routine too.
Over time, experiment with using facial oils to discover what’s best for your personal skin goals and lifestyle. For example, if you live in New York you may use facial oil in your morning routine to protect your skin from the city’s environmental pollution and minimise fine lines. Alternatively, you may have recently over-exfoliated and are consequently experiencing dehydrated skin, so you might prefer using facial oil liberally in your evening routine to repair your skin barrier overnight.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FACE OIL AND SERUMS?
You may be wondering if you need a facial oil or serum, since they’re often viewed as similar products. In fact they’re actually quite different. Face serums can be water or oil based and are usually formulated to treat specific skin concerns. Face oils are always oil based and are mostly used to treat your skin type, although they also treat some skin conditions, such as repairing a damaged skin barrier associated with sensitised skin. Viewed another way, plant-derived facial oils should be seen as a long-term companion in your skincare routine, according to your skin type, whereas serums are for tackling flare-ups. So should you use a face oil or serum first? Whilst both contain active ingredients and work at the cellular level, it depends. If you're using a water-based serum then that should go on first, but if it's oil-based it's up to you.
FACE OIL BEFORE OR AFTER MOISTURISER?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer, it depends on your personal preference and what your skin feels most comfortable with. Both sides are logical. Some like to use facial oil after moisturiser or a hyaluronic acid serum to function as an occlusive layer which “seals” in moisture and prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL) - evaporation of water from your skin. Others prefer to use facial oil before moisturiser, because it is lighter and serves as another layer of nourishment - particularly if the oil is lightweight and fast absorbing. And some even like mixing facial oils with moisturiser, for additional barrier repair and extra hydrated skin. It’s also common to use facial oils straight after showering as a cleansing step.
CAN FACE OIL REPLACE MOISTURISER?
Yes, using facial oil instead of moisturiser isn’t unusual, especially in the warmer seasons for those with oily or acne prone skin. This is because you may only need a light product to help balance moisture levels and adequately hydrate your skin. Certain facial oils enrich your skin with high levels of essential fatty acids and lipids that can moisturise your skin just as well as a moisturiser.
FACIAL OIL BEFORE OR AFTER SUNSCREEN?
In the morning always apply facial oil before your sunscreen. The logic behind this is that sunscreen is a protecting layer that shields your skin from damaging UV rays and therefore performs its function most efficiently when on top of everything else. Facial oil also helps to protect your skin but it does this at the cellular level, so needs to dive into your deeper skin layers to work effectively. Anything applied after sunscreen is likely to not be absorbed very well, so as a rule always apply face oil before to achieve your desired skin results.
HOW TO USE FACIAL OIL WITH MAKEUP
Some people are concerned that facial oils don’t play well with makeup but this is not necessarily true. Rich creams and heavier facial oils (ones with higher oleic acid) can sit on top of your skin’s surface and cause your makeup to slide around, giving uneven coverage. However, applying a facial oil before makeup can be the perfect addition to your beauty routine, especially if the oil is fast absorbing and lightweight - usually oils higher in linoleic acid. Applying this type of facial oil before foundation works beautifully as a primer, giving your skin a natural dewy base. Alternatively, some makeup artists love to mix foundation with moisturizer or facial oil for a natural glowing finish.