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Ask Jean: Do Face Oils Really Work?

We want to answer your most pressing questions—or, you know, just the things that you’re curious about. Please keep them coming to: feedback [at] goop [dot] com, or tweet us @goop. Below, a q for our beauty director, Jean Godfrey-June.

Dear Jean, Do face oils really work? -E.M.

It depends on what you mean by “work,” and it depends which face oil. Most face oils are amazing moisturizers—as moisturizers, they really, really work, leaving your skin temporarily more supple, plumped, smooth, and elastic. If by “work” you mean “has the effect of a facelift or Botox,” no cream or oil or anything topical is going to have that effect, no matter what they promise.

What many people mean by “work” is “make my skin peel.” Even I succumb to this very American, no-pain-no-gain definition of “work” when it comes to skincare; I am devoted to rip-your-face-off/acne-and-wrinkle-fighting prescription Tazorac, which makes my skin dry, so I need a flood of face oil to compensate. Another way to accomplish a similar exfoliating thing is with alpha and beta hydroxy acids, as in the famous Green Apple Peel from Juice Beauty ($45, goop.com), which gently but extremely thoroughly gets rid of every last dead skin cell and bit of grime, revealing the fresher skin beneath; there’s no doubt as to its “working.”

The one oil I’ve tried that I do feel goes beyond moisturizing and into full-on “it’s working!” territory is Vintner’s Daughter. The makeup artist Alice Lane turned me on to it: It’s made in the Napa Valley, utterly organic, full of every sort of appealing essential oil you can think of… it made a glamorous-yet-still-standard face-oil impression on me when I initially read about it.

But try it and you, like me, will join the Vintner’s Daughter stampede. Smooth the rich, antioxidant-packed, wildly luxuriant organic oil on at night and your skin will look as if you’ve had a peel or even microdermabrasion in the morning. It might even peel a bit, satisfying the skincare obsessives among us. I don’t use it within 24 hours of Tazorac—it’s too much “working”/anti-aging/skin-perfecting going on all at once.

All face oils work; Vintner’s Daughter works overtime and then some ($185, goop.com).

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