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The Fashionista is in: All you need to know about face oils

Oil-free is the enemy.
Senior advertising major Kara Harms tries out a lavender scented facial oil.
Image by Cole Feagler
Senior advertising major Kara Harms tries out a lavender scented facial oil.

We’ve been bombarded with anti-oil messages since birth. Though the idea of slathering oil all over your face sounds terrifying, I’m here to tell you that face oils can be your skin’s best friend.

When it comes to face oils, you have to see it to believe it. Over winter break, I tested a number of products and can now safely call myself an oil enthusiast. Are you ready to take the risk?

Let’s start with the basics. Face oils are formulas containing a mixture of natural oils, rather than pore-clogging synthetic and mineral oils. There are two basic types of face oils: cleansing oils and leave-on oils.

Although cleaning your skin with oil seems counterintuitive, it actually makes sense. Oil attracts oil and repels water, thus oil produced by your skin will bond with the cleansing oil. Because the cleansing oil has emulsifiers, it can be washed away with water, taking the oil from your pores with it.


Choosing your product

Cleansing oils are especially relevant for the acne-prone, because they eliminate the oil that might otherwise clog pores without over-drying or irritating skin. It’s also easier to remove makeup and other impurities with oil than with water.

Leave-on oils are meant to be absorbed by the skin rather than rinsed away. They’re primarily used for moisturizing, anti-aging and treating discoloration.

When it comes to moisturizing dry skin, the leave-on face oil will create a barrier that retains moisture. If you have extra-dry skin, you can apply face oil over your regular lotion. Alternatively, when you apply face oil to oily skin, it’ll be fooled into thinking it has enough oil and produce less while still keeping your skin hydrated.

When choosing face oils, ingredients are crucial. Look for ones made from only natural ingredients.

Olive oil (first cold press contains the most antioxidants), jojoba oil and almond oil are all great for moisturizing dry skin. In fact, almond oil was used in ancient China, Greece and India to treat dry skin, while also improving complexion and skin tone.

If you have oily skin, look for face oils that contain grapeseed oil or peppermint oil, which will help your skin regulate oil production. Avoid placing grapeseed oil directly on blemishes, though.

Those with acne-prone skin should look for face oils containing evening primrose or tea tree oil, which is an antiseptic; both ingredients are known for clearing up acne.

Most face oils will cost more than $35, but due to their growing popularity, many brands are starting to create options that are more affordable for poor college students.


In practice

Because I have acne-prone skin that dries out quickly, I decided to test a cleansing oil and two leave-on oils.

I found that using cleansing oil regularly helped clear my skin of blemishes. However, if I was lazy and skipped washing my face one day, my skin would almost immediately break out. Moral of the story? Consistency is the key to using face oils.

For the cleansing oil, I opted for Garnier’s Clean Nourishing Cleansing Oil, which contains jojoba and macadamia oils. This cleanser smells nice, makes your skin feel super clean afterward and only costs about $6.

For acne, I applied The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil directly on blemishes, and although it has a unique smell, it’s very soothing and helped keep my skin clear. It costs less than $10.

For moisture and anti-aging — I know I’m only 21, but I think my future husband will be very happy that I started an anti-aging regimen early — I used L’Oreal Paris’ Age Perfect Glow Renewal Facial Oil, which contains eight essential oils.

It’s so lightweight and non-greasy; it’s almost hard to believe. My skin looked brighter and felt smoother instantly. I noticed that my skin was almost never dry and flaky, which it tends to be in the winter when I use regular moisturizers. This one is a little pricier at $20, but the results are worth it.

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