The Mistakes You’re Making When Using a Face Oil, According to an Esthetician

Photo: Getty/Anna Efetova
I'm an esthetician, and I know how popular face oils have become in the last few years—and rightfully so. They can be excellent for many skin types, and they provide a beautiful glow. But in my experience, I've noticed that many people are using them incorrectly. Here's my advice on avoiding face oil mistakes and instead, learning what you need to know about using face oils.

1) Oils retain moisture; they don't add moisture

Clients often ask me, "Are face oils great for hydrating the skin?" In short, the answer is no. Oils moisturize skin, but they can't hydrate it. Oils are occlusive ingredients that create a physical barrier, and that helps to trap moisture in the skin. But oils can't carry hydration the way that humectant ingredients (such as water, hyaluronic acid, vegetable glycerin, honey, and aloe) can. Those work by attracting water from the air and product itself to draw moisture into the skin, which will hydrate skin cells. That's why the order in which you apply skin care matters. More on this in a minute.

2) Oils can clog pores if used incorrectly

Some oils are more comedogenic, or pore-clogging, and that can cause congestion and breakouts. I advise staying away from oils such as mineral oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and palm oil. So what oils can you use? Look for non-comedogenic lightweight oils such as marula, hemp, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, argan, avocado, sweet almond, and jojoba oil. One of the best lightweight face oils is  Taïla Skincare Prana Face Oil, $102.

face oil mistakes
Photo: Verishop

Shop now: Taïla Skincare Prana Face Oil, $102

3) Here's when to apply face oil

Apply oil at the very end of your skin-care regimen. Use some kind of humectant product (such as a water-based moisturizer or hyaluronic acid serum) before applying oil. This ensures you are providing skin with hydration, while oil locks in that moisture. If you apply oil first, any product that follows won’t be able to properly penetrate the oil barrier. It's just like applying body lotion over your clothing—it just doesn’t make sense.

4) What about oil/serum hybrids?

This is a wonderful choice if you prefer oils but still need hydration. Oil/serum hybrids contain both humectants and occlusives to ensure skin is obtaining hydration and moisture. These products are particularly beneficial during winter, as they provide much-needed nutrients, deliver essential fatty acids to the outer layers of the skin, and then lock in the moisture. Two great hybrid products are the fast-absorbing Youth To The People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Oil and Versed Sunday Morning Antioxidant Oil Serum (with camellia oil and sea buckthorn extract to help reduce redness, strengthen skin’s barrier, and prevent moisture loss).

face oil mistakes
Photo: Versed

Shop now: Versed Sunday Morning Antioxidant Oil Serum, $20

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