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 • Skincare  • Skincare Guides  • Facial Oils Are a Beauty Editor Favourite But Do You Really Need One?

Facial Oils Are a Beauty Editor Favourite But Do You Really Need One?

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Main image – Liliyarodnikova/Stocksy

A facial oil is the sort of product that some people feel they should run a mile from. And who can blame them? 

Oil? Voluntarily applied to my skin? To add to the natural oil already causing havoc with it? No thanks. 

But wait. A facial oil can actually help to improve the skin, it works well with certain other products and feels super luxurious on application too. 

I know, I know. Adding yet another product to your routine feels a bit tedious. (That’ll be an extra £6,000 a month please!)

But I recommend you read about how a facial oil works first before deciding whether you need one or not. (Plus, I was exaggerating about the £6,000, obviously.)

Keep reading for facial oil advice from celebrity aesthetician Jenette Serrins and founder of MZ Skin, Dr Maryam Zamani. The debate of whether a facial oil is really necessary starts here.


Image – Sutulastock/Adobe


Face oil: the basics

Just to clarify, a face oil isn’t just a bottle of any old oil that you’d use for cooking (imagine!). It contains some serious goodness for the skin. 

“Facial oils are typically formulated with non-comedogenic botanical oils, essential oils, plant extracts, oil soluble ingredients or antioxidants to act as a protective barrier, resulting in less transepidermal water loss [when water passively evaporates through the skin and into the air],” explains Dr Zamani.

“Facial oils help keep skin balanced and add another level of hydration to the skin and skin repair.”

You can use one on its own, or in line with your moisturiser or serum. “When used in combination with a hyaluronic acid serum or lighter moisturiser, it will increase skin hydration and reduce transepidermal water loss,” she explains. 

Sounds just what the doctor ordered. But according to a 2022 Cleveland Clinic study, those with acne-prone skin, experiencing rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis [dandruff] should opt out. 

“Having oily skin also contributes to seborrheic dermatitis so it’s best to avoid using face oils,” it says. “Seborrheic dermatitis stems from a complex interplay or your immune system with the natural oils and microbes on your skin. Altering the balance of any one of those elements could make you skin condition better – or worse.”


Image – Anastasiapokliatska/Adobe


Do you really need a facial oil?

Dr Zamani says almost everyone can benefit from one. “Skin oils can be beneficial to all skin types, even in oily skin, depending on the ingredients within the formulation,” she says. 

If you’re a first timer, go for a lightweight formula to test the waters. Choose one with rosehip oil for dry skin like Facetheory Balancing Rosehip Oil O3 (£20 from Facetheory UK /$28 from Facetheory US) which smells divine.

And look for non-comedogenic oils containing things like jojoba oil and sweet almond for oily skin. I like Beauty Pie Plantastic Overnight Miracle Face Oil (from £16 for members from Beauty Pie UK /$18 from Beauty Pie US) for how supple it makes my skin feel the next morning.

And as we’ve discovered from the study, rosacea sufferers and those with very oily and acne-prone skin should steer clear. Dr Zamani agrees. “Heavy facial oils used on blemish prone skin or used in conjunction with other skin products can cause inflammation in the skin and may cause a breakout,” she says. 

If you’re on the fence, consider your skin’s hydration level and use it as a guide. If it is very dry, then a facial oil will work wonders to quench its thirst, working in conjunction with your serum and moisturiser. If your skin is oily, you could swap out your serum in favour of a facial oil, or not use one at all. 

Also, think about what you would use it for aside from hydration as it could benefit your skin in other ways. “Facial oils are now intelligently formulated to have anti-inflammatory ingredients to help promote cell regeneration and improve wound healing,” Dr Zamani says. 


How to use a face oil

First of all, let’s establish where in your routine a facial oil should go. Within your nighttime regime is best as a facial oil can be a little greasy for daytime, especially when combined with SPF.   

“I would apply your serum first, let that sit for a minute and then apply oil,” advises Serrins. “Oils should be used in the last stage of skincare because anything placed on top will not penetrate through the oil into the skin,” adds Dr Zamani

To apply, you only need about two or three drops. Use the palm of your hands to press it slowly into your skin or use your fingertips to massage it from your neck upwards. 

For extra self-care and pure enjoyment, take a deep breath as you’re applying it so that you experience the aroma of your facial oil too. They almost always smell like a spa day in a bottle.


Image – IKvyatkovskaya/Adobe


The takeaway

Whether or not you should invest in a facial oil primarily depends on how your skin behaves. If it’s dry and needs an extra boost of radiance, nourishment and all-round va-va-voom then go for it. 

If it’s acne-prone and very sensitive, you have dandruff, or if your skin has regular rosacea flare ups, then it’s a no no.

If you can’t decide, then think about whether there is something missing from your routine. Could your skin do with an extra shot of hydration? Would your mood benefit from applying a facial oil every night before bed? Can your budget even stretch to it?

Despite providing an overall boost to the skin, the evidence suggests that facial oils aren’t a necessity, but they edge towards a luxury. An ‘if-you-want-to’ sort of situation. 

If your skin type allows you to add one into your regime, enjoy it and reap the benefits. If not, then you might not notice you’re missing out.


Meet the experts

Jenette Serrins is a skincare expert and celebrity aesthetician, and the owner, founder, developer and alchemist of Jenette Skin Care Inc and Being in LA wellness spa.


Dr Maryam Zamani is an oculoplastic surgeon, facial aesthetics doctor and founder of MZ Skin


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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