Ask Jean: Do Face Oils Really Work?

Ask Jean

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

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

Dear E.M., It depends on what you mean by “work,” and it depends on the face oil. Most face oils are amazing moisturizers—as moisturizers, they really, really work, leaving your skin temporarily more supple, plumped, and smooth. If by “work” you mean “has the effect of a face-lift 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 skin care; I was devoted to rip-your-face-off/acne-and-wrinkle-fighting prescription Tazorac, which made my skin dry, so I needed a flood of face oil to compensate. Another way to accomplish a similar exfoliating thing is with the skin-polishing minerals like quartz, garnet, alumina, and silica in the new GOOPGLOW Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator, which gently but extremely thoroughly gets rid of every 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 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, wildly luxurious 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 skin-care obsessives among us. I don’t use the oil within twenty-four hours of anything major like a peel—it’s too much “working”/skin-perfecting going on all at once.

All face oils work; Vintner’s Daughter works overtime and then some.