The 10 Best Clean Face Oils
But will it make me break out?! And: But do I really need another product?! These are the face oil questions. The truth in all but the most extreme cases is, not only will face oil not make you break out, it will absolutely change your life, not to mention your skin. Your skin will look and feel better. You will probably need less makeup. And you will probably need fewer skincare items altogether.
Perhaps the ultimate skin secret, face oil has been used by indigenous people all over the world in various forms for millennia; nothing lasts that long unless it works. Makeup artists, who love only what makes their clients look (quickly) fantastic, have been slathering it on clients for years; slowly, word spread. (Sophia Loren credits a lifetime of olive-oil baths as one of the reasons her skin remains so beautiful at 80.) One of the best-looking older women we’ve ever met, stylist/former model Linda Rodin, has made her fortune late in life mixing oils in her kitchen to create the runaway success Olio Lusso that launched her entire beauty company.
1. You See Instant Results
No matter your skin type, try face oil for the first time and you’ll see serious benefits right away. Conventional moisturizers, which combine waxes with water and oils, seal moisture in the skin with the wax. But they can also seal out some of the oil and water, not to mention treatment benefits included in the formula. With oil, it all sinks right in. And most oils are already naturally packed with ingredients like antioxidants, polyphenols, and omega fatty acids.
2. They’re Beyond Multipurpose
You can use face oil for basic (and really effective) moisturization, but it’s also amazing for makeup touchups—instead of adding more makeup, pat some oil on to revive the makeup you’ve already got on. In either case, avoid the T-zone unless you’re the driest person on earth. In a pinch, it’s makeup remover, frizz fighter, cuticle and under eye cream, lip balm…
You really need an oil if you use retinols or other drying anti-aging or anti-acne treatments. Treatments like Retin-A, AHA peels or creams, or breakout fighters from astringent toners all the way to prescription Accutane can really help your skin, but they can also seriously dry it out. Face oils return moisture and elasticity to your skin, smoothing wrinkles and soothing irritation in the process.
On the flip side, even skin that’s decidedly un-dry can also benefit from oils. While synthetic and mineral oils are comedogenic and clog pores, most natural plant oils are not. Believe it or not, the right face oil can help clear pores of excess sebum, and can reduce inflammation and irritation—critical, as inflammation itself is actually one of the primary causes of acne.
For ultra-dry skin, massage in some face oil, then layer over it with rich moisturizer. Another layering trick: Pat on face oil, then smooth all-natural mineral SPF over it. The sunblock seals in the oil a bit, but it also slightly mattifies your skin, so it’s less shiny. You can also use oil just the way you would serum or moisturizer when thinning out foundation or bronzer formulas.
And to treat a potential scar, massage oil in as often as possible. A friend endured a botched Mohs surgery for skin cancer on her face; the plastic surgeon who fixed it told her there was really no way to avoid some sort of scar. She massaged the spot with oil constantly—whenever she thought of it. The result was no scar, not even a hint of one.
3. Oils feel amazing
Moisturizer formulators spend an enormous amount of time, money, and unnecessary (sometimes toxic) ingredients on texture—how it feels when you actually put the moisturizer on your skin. Texture is important: If you don’t love using a product…you tend not to use it. And definitely tend not to buy it again. Oils have a naturally gorgeous, instantly skin-comforting texture—they need no extra ingredients to make them sink in.
4. Clean face oils are actually better
While conventional beauty companies have (finally) gotten into the face-oil business, the all-natural, pure options are absolutely superior, not just from a clean perspective, but because A. there’s no improving on perfection—adding in extra ingredients often just dilutes the benefits of the base oils, and B. most clean face-oil makers have been making it much longer than the conventional newbies, and they’ve learned what really works on skin.
Find Your Perfect Oil
Which oil texture you’re going to end up loving depends on you and your skin. Creamier, heavier-feeling oils are great for people with dry and that tends-to-sting sort of sensitive skin. Lighter, instantly absorbing ones work best for people with oilier or the more breakout-prone type of sensitive skin (or those who simply would rather feel like they’ve got nothing on). Here, the nine best face oils we’ve found (and sourced for you!).
Made with ultra-pure virgin marula oil, virtually untouched by any chemical or fragrance (natural or synthetic), this oil is naturally packed with omega 6s and 9s, vitamin E, antioxidants, and flavenoids. It’s designed to reduce lines, redness, and blotchiness, no matter your skin type. It sinks right in to heal and hydrate intensively, and—who knew—even has antimicrobial properties. Plus, the bottle manages to be both chic and adorable. (Note: It’s named after the myth that elephants get drunk after eating the marula fruit!)
Chia oil (from the nutritional-miracle seeds) is the richest-known plant source of omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and minerals—it’s super-moisturizing, yet also somehow lightweight. It leaves any skin type (including sensitive, aging, and acne-prone) hydrated, nourished, protected, and radiant. Made with chia and a subtle blend of neroli, sweet-orange, and blood-orange oils using a chemical-free, patented extraction process, this oil is made by a goop devotee who discovered chia seeds when she tried Dr. Junger’s Clean Detox program; she donates 10% of all profits from the oil to the Maya people of Central America.
Rich and just deluxe, deluxe, deluxe, this is the face oil that put face oils on the map. It treats wrinkles and dry skin, seriously improves elasticity, and leaves skin luminous. It also smells amazing—it’s made with 11 flower and plant oils, from neroli (full of vitamin C for glow), arnica montana (treats puffiness, and is especially amazing under the eyes), evening primrose, rosehip, argan, calendula . . . Former model/stylist Linda Rodin created it; one look at her skin, and you’ll want to have what she’s having. It’s a favorite among other models as well.
This company makes each product to order, fresh, so the formulas are extremely active, and there are absolutely no preservatives whatsoever. In this one, lipid-soluble vitamin C mixes with acai, passionfruit, meadowfoam-seed, carrot, raspberry, rosehip, and pomegranate essential oils to boost collagen production, glow, and elasticity, while it minimizes melanin production to brighten and smooth skin tone. The brown bottle comes inside an adorable white linen drawstring bag, itself wrapped in a chic black box tied with silk ribbon.
GP’s Israeli makeup artist Angela Levin always starts with this oil from Israel before foundation—it’s her secret for glowy, red carpet skin. Made with extracts from 19 different plants including pomegranate seed, lemon myrtle, and cold-pressed mandarin oil, this plumps skin with moisture, antioxidants, active plant acids, and minerals. Clinical tests show it improves firmness, elasticity, and of course, the oil is ultra-moisturizing. The texture is gorgeous and the scent is subtle and beautiful.
Essential oil from the anti-inflammatory Hoya flower, sourced in Thailand, obliterates dehydration and irritation from acne, rosacea, eczema—and the treatments for those conditions. Fortified with omega 3s and 6s, plus fig, passionfruit, lemongrass, lime, orange and lavender oils, it protects, calms, soothes, and detoxifies skin, decreasing inflammation in the bargain—so it helps break the chain in the formation of breakouts and balances the skin.
From amazing facialist Georgia Louise, this elixir sinks right in, smells fantastic, and seriously plumps skin, treating lines and wrinkles overnight with argan, apricot kernel, pumpkin, rosehip, and carrot seed oils. Wake up, look in the mirror—and exalt in your amazing skin! Georgia Louise’s treatments are so effective because they incorporate lifting and facial massage—this butterfly-shaped, rose quartz stone helps replicate the process at home when used in conjunction with this miracle-working oil.
Ila’s all-time cult bestseller, this argan, rosehip seed, rose otto, and sandalwood oils blend is full of essential fatty acids and antioxidants to protect skin, treat lines, and boost radiance. It’s ultra-nourishing, yet sinks in enough to work beautifully under makeup. Along with super-soft, glowy skin, it leaves a barely-there but nonetheless gorgeous scent.
Seven glow-inducing oils—argan, grapeseed, marula, meadowfoam seed, rosehip, rose otto, sea buckthorn and jasmine—drench dry or aging skin with moisture, making it firmer and more elastic. The concentrated, antioxidant-packed blend feels lightweight, but the moisture really lasts (so it’s a great primer under makeup). And the soft hint of jasmine scent is just—deluxe.
This nourishing, potent miracle oil sinks instantly into skin and starts to work. Made with a pure blend of organic oils, it leaves skin remarkably supple, soft, and glowing. It turbo-charges any moisturizer, but also hydrates beautifully on its own. It can even be patted on over makeup for a mid-day pick-me-up. The Enriching Face Oil is formulated with USDA certified organic ingredients and contains approximately 99% total organic content.