Oily products and skin don’t mix: That’s the beauty message many women have heard throughout their lives. For most of us, our fear of oil began in adolescence, when shifting hormones created an overproduction of surface skin sebum, leading to our first battles with blemishes. From then on, we stuck with “oil-free” products, hoping to put an end to the plague of pimples.
Unfortunately, that fear of all things oil is mostly unfounded. While products that contain mineral oil (a petroleum-derived ingredient) have been known to exacerbate acne, botanical-based oils offer a boon of benefits for the skin—especially as we age and our skin becomes drier. Many plant oils—from jojoba and olive to grape seed and argan—have a similar structure to skin’s natural oils, which means our body easily absorbs them. “If you are using a natural plant-based oil or essential oil that is 100 percent natural, your skin recognizes it, which allows it to do a number of different tasks,” says Shannon Gallogly, U.S. educator and trainer for the Decleor line of skincare. “Oils can hydrate, purify, decongest and balance skin.”
Skincare experts do have some advice for women adding to their regimen. “When using oils to moisturize, I feel it’s best to use them at night,” says Dr. Jennifer Peterson, a dermatologist in Houston. “Then you don’t need to worry about the texture during the daytime and how it may affect your makeup application.” You should also try out several different types of oils and textures of oily products to find one that’s most suited to your skin type and textural preferences. And because straight skincare oils are typically concentrated products, a little goes a long way.
Want to give oil a chance? Whether you plan to test its powers on your complexion or below the neck, here are a few options to explore.
Josie Maran Organic Argan Oil ($15, www.sephora.com): Rich in essential fatty acids and quickly absorbed into the skin, this pure, 100% argan oil is the perfect multipurpose moisturizer. Smooth it over skin anywhere on the body to soften and hydrate; rub a few drops into dry cuticles; or use it to tame flyaway hair and mend split ends.
Myrtle Leaf Marula Facial Nectar ($25, www.myrtleleaf.com): Abyssinian seed oil, cranberry seed oil and marula oil are the main ingredients in this moisturizing serum, which also has the added anti-aging benefit of CoQ10.
Decleor Brightening Cleansing Oil ($36, www.decleorusa.com): Sweet almond oil, vegetable squalene and red palm oil, along with plant and flower extracts, are the only ingredients in this creamy cleanser, which removes makeup while it hydrates and softens skin.
Aura Cacia Natural Skin Care Oil, Sweet Almond ($6, www.auracacia.com): Pure sweet almond oil blended with vitamin E will soften and protect skin below the neck. Smooth over your body after a shower or use it as a massage oil for some added pampering.
Weleda Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream ($11, usa.weleda.com): This oil-based cream contains sesame seed oil in addition to sea buckthorn oil, which is loaded with essential fatty acids that provide plenty of hydration to dry, cracked hands.