What is Face Oil and Why Do You Need It?
If you haven’t heard of face oil before, it may be just what your skin needs to look and feel healthier!
Depending on the blend of oils, they can soothe redness, resist microbial skin-overgrowth and provide added antioxidants and vitamins to boost skin vitality.
Made from a single oil or a mixture of oils, the best are usually a combination of carrier oils that lack significant fragrance and the tendency to cause allergic reactions. These oils are mixed with fragrant plant oils such as essential oils, which are concentrated extracts derived from plants. Both may impart benefits to the skin based on their content of fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and emollient (moisturizing) characteristics.
There is actually no strict definition for products labeled as “Facial Oils” and products marketed with this name can vary widely. In fact, they are often called “Booster Oils” or “Beard Oils,” and can be used by both men and women.
How do you Use Face Oils?
You can use face oils alone, or you can enrich your favorite moisturizer to make it more effective. Simply mix a few drops with your favorite moisturizer to boost the hydrating effect at any time of day.
Men can use a face oil as a beard oil to condition the hair and skin of their beard and mustache. Plus, if you have really fair skin, face oils can add just a touch of healthy color.
Are Face Oils Right for You?
If you have dry, flaking or tight skin, face oils may help hydrate, soften and soothe the dryness. Men can use face oils as beard oils to condition beard hair and fight beardruff (redness, scale, itch and irritation of the skin in the beard and mustache area). I provide more information on Beard Oils here.
Which Facial Oils are Best?
This depends on your skin’s particular needs. Some of the component oils feel better on your unique complexion than others. For example, rose hip oil is considered a “dry oil,” meaning it absorbs readily into skin without leaving much of a residual, oily feel. In contrast, oils such as coconut oil or olive oil, will sit with a rich, and somewhat heavy, oil-feel on skin. If your skin is extremely dry, these may feel better.
Some oils are also potent allergens, and as a dermatologist, I think they should be avoided. These are often the highly-concentrated, fragrant essential-oils found in many facial oil products available.
My preference are face oils that combine carrier oils into specific formulations of low-concentration, essential oils for anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-oxidant benefits. I also find that most people prefer oils that absorb readily instead of sitting on the skin and leaving a heavy and oily residue.
Dermatologist’s Face Oil
I formulated my Face Booster Oil for Sensitive Skin with jojoba oil (which mimics the skin’s natural sebum to condition skin and hair), kakui oil (used in Hawaii for hundreds of years), castor-seed oil (with unique, fatty-acid content used as a healing oil in Greece since ancient times), and sunflower oil (rich in oleic acid and vitamins, and proven to heal skin barrier).
These are blended with argan oil (which has been used for centuries in Morocco and shown to have many benefits including helping resolve skin hyperpigmentation problems), rosehip oil and pomegranate seed oil (both with numerous antioxidant, vitamin and anti-inflammatory benefits).
My Omega Enriched Face Booster Oil has a similar formulation.
It is additionally enriched with borage oil (one of the best sources of essential, fatty acid, gamma-linoleic acid proven to have strong anti-inflammatory and barrier-repair benefits for skin health), cypress oil (with anti-microbial benefits) and sea buckthorn oil that helps enhance skin water-binding-capacity to deeply hydrate.
All of my face oils are organic.
I designed the formulations to help heal skin without taunting allergic or irritant reactions. They have a lightweight, yet deeply-hydrating, feel on the skin and can be directly applied to skin, or you can add a few drops to your moisturizer to boost its hydration benefits.
Face Oils to Avoid
As a dermatologist, I recommend avoiding face oils made with the most common, essential-oil allergens. For example, many face oil products contain citrus, which is a potent allergen and can cause a UV-light reaction (phototoxic reaction) that can burn and damage skin.
Other oils with high-allergen or irritant potential include tea tree oil, peppermint oil, Ylang-ylang, lemongrass, rosemary oil, and sandalwood oil. At low concentrations, some of these oils (such as peppermint, rosemary and tea tree) may be well-tolerated. In higher concentrations, they become riskier to expose skin to directly. Full concentration use is called “neat,” and in my dermatologic opinion, essential oils should not be applied to skin neat.
Should you Use a Face Oils?
Yes! I think all but the most oily and acne-prone facial complexions benefit from them. They are especially useful to resist seasonal dryness. I use one almost every night.
Many people feel that face oils deeply hydrate their skin, soothe dryness and inflammation and help keep their skin radiant and soft. The important point is to choose an oil made with carrier oils that have low potential for allergenicity, that absorb well into skin and are mixed with botanical essential oils in safe amounts that resist allergenicity or irritancy.
I’m a huge fan of face oils, and that’s why I made my own!
As a dermatologist who has seen the full gambit of dry skin, facial eczema, facial inflammatory conditions, AND allergic reactions and phototoxic reactions to allergens, I’ve blended what I think are the perfect, face oil formulations into my two, Facial Booster Oils.
Khan BA, Akhtar N, Hippophae rhamnoides oil-in-water (O/W) emulsion improves barrier function in healthy human subjects, Pak J Pharm Sci. 2014 Nov;27(6):1919-22.
Vinay R. Patel, et. al., Castor Oil: Properties, Uses, and Optimization of Processing Parameters in Commercial Production, Lipid Insights. 2016; 9: 1–12.
Maria G. Miguel, et. al., Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.): A medicinal plant with myriad biological properties – A short review, Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 4(25), pp. 2836-2847, 29 December Special Review, 2010
Myra O. Villareal, et. al., Activation of MITF by Argan Oil Leads to the Inhibition of the Tyrosinase and Dopachrome Tautomerase Expressions in B16 Murine Melanoma Cells, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 340107. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3723062/
Final report on the safety assessment of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glyceryl Ricinoleate, Glyceryl Ricinoleate SE, Ricinoleic Acid, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Zinc Ricinoleate, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Ethyl Ricinoleate, Glycol Ricinoleate, Isopropyl Ricinoleate, Methyl Ricinoleate, and Octyldodecyl Ricinoleate, Int J Toxicol. 2007;26 Suppl 3:31-77, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18080873
Samy A Selim, Chemical composition, antimicrobial and antibiofilm activity of the essential oil and methanol extract of the Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens L.), BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014; 14: 179.
Aicha Ben Nouri, Chemical Composition, Antioxidant Potential, and Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oil Cones of Tunisian Cupressus sempervirens, Journal of Chemistry, Volume 2015
Angelo, G, Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Helath, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids
Gama-linolenic acid, University of Maryland Medical Center http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/gammalinolenic-acid
Mortimer Sarah, BS and Reeder Margo MD, Botanicals in Dermatology: Essential Oils, Botanical Allergens and Current Regulatory Practices, Dermatitis, 27(6) Nov/Dec 2016
Alexander R. Jack, MD, et al, Allergic Contact Dermatitis to Plant Extracts in Cosmetics, Semin Cutan Med Surg 32:140-146, 2013 Frontline Medical Communications