Clean Face Oils

The Best Clean Face Oils (Plus a Brilliant No-Makeup Makeup Tip)

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 that 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 skin-care 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 the person sitting in their chair 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 in her eighties.) One of the best-looking older women we’ve ever met, stylist and former model Linda Rodin, has made her fortune late in life by mixing oils in her kitchen to create the runaway success Olio Lusso, which launched her entire beauty company.

The Benefits of Face Oil

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 the treatment benefits included in the formula. With oil, it all sinks right in. And most oils are already naturally infused with ingredients like antioxidants, polyphenols, and omega fatty acids.

  1. Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum
    Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum goop, $185
  2. de Mamiel Summer Facial Oil
    de Mamiel Summer Facial Oil goop, $130
  3. Chantecaille Rose de Mai Face Oil
    Chantecaille Rose de Mai Face Oil goop, $186

2. They’re Beyond Multipurpose

You can use face oil for basic (and really effective) moisturization, but it’s also amazing for makeup touch-ups—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 undereye cream, lip balm…

You really need an oil if you use retinols or other drying or antiblemish products. Treatments like Retin-A, AHA peels or creams, and 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 life to your skin, smoothing lines and soothing it in the process.

On the flip side, even skin that’s decidedly not dry can 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 actually help balance skin.

    KORA Organics NONI GLOW FACE OIL goop, $68
  2. Balmyard Beauty Moonlight Lover Facial Oil
    Balmyard Beauty Moonlight Lover Facial Oil goop, $95
  3. True Botanicals Clear Pure Radiance Oil
    True Botanicals Clear Pure Radiance Oil goop, $110

For super dry skin, massage in some face oil, then layer a rich moisturizer over it. Another layering trick: Pat on face oil, then smooth all-natural mineral SPF over it. The sunscreen 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.

  1. Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream Women
    Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream Women goop, $215
    The Organic Pharmacy CELLULAR PROTECTION SUN CREAM SPF 50 goop, $69

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 you 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.

  1. Lavido Replenishing Facial Serum
    Lavido Replenishing Facial Serum goop, $59

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.

  1. True Botanicals True Botanicals Renew Pure Radiance Oil
    True Botanicals Renew Pure Radiance Oil goop, $110


Say you’re getting ready to go out after work. Or it’s just 4 p.m. and you’re looking tired and lackluster. Before you add concealer, foundation, liner, etc., smooth a tiny bit of face oil between your fingers and pat it on over cheeks, under eyes, over lips, and at the temples and forehead. Use as little as possible; you can always add more. You can also use a little bit under the eyes to smooth away any smudged mascara or liner—though it’s important to note that it can make eye makeup run, so don’t put the oil on your actual eye makeup.

Let the oil settle in for a minute. Apply a little lip color, look at your face, and consider what else you might need—it might be nothing, or it might be just a touch of concealer, or it could be big-night-out full-on eye, cheek, etc. Either way, you’ll need less than you normally use—and your skin will look especially glowy and fantastic.

One makeup artist we know makes mini (as in, smaller-than-a-thimble size) bottles of face oil for her clients to carry in their evening bags for mid-event touch-ups. That and lip color are generally all you need!

    Kosas WEIGHTLESS LIP COLOR goop, $28
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