Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

The skinny on oil-based face products

Contrary to popular belief, natural oil-based face cleansers and moisturizers can work wonders for oily, blemished-filled, acne-prone skin. We’ll explore why.

A woman’s choice of facial moisturizer usually depends on her preference and skin type. Water-based or non-comedogenic cleansers and moisturizers help keep your skin moist without adding extra oil, and are typically recommended for women with oily skin, while oil-based products are usually recommended for drier skin. However, oil-based products can be used to combat oily skin.

Dr. Cynthia Bailey, a board certified dermatologist in Northern California, explains that oil-based cleansing uses an oil to remove other oily residue, dirt and debris.

“Options for oil cleansing include cold creams or natural oils such as olive oil or jojoba oil,” advises Dr. Bailey. “My choice would be to try jojoba oil or sunflower or safflower oil as they are considered by some to be among the least comedogenic and irritating natural oil choices.”

Lynn Flanagan-Till, an award-winning herbalist in Denver with a plant-based line of skin care and teas called R.L. Linden & Co., swears by natural oil moisturizers because they absorb quickly into the skin and penetrate down deeply instead of sitting on the top layers of the skin.

“If you are constantly using harsh products to strip your skin of its natural oils, it only triggers the body to create more,” adds Flanagan-Till. Conversely, natural oils can help to calm and balance excess oil production.

The pros of using oil cleansers and moisturizers

“Many of the most potent brightening and anti-aging botanicals are in oil form or are oil soluble,” says Flanagan-Till. “[Oil moisturizers] give you a glowing complexion and anti-aging benefits without toxic and chemical ingredients.”

When converting to an oil cleansing method, you may think it’s going to be expensive but, according to Flanagan-Till, a little will go a long way. “One to three drops per application of even the most expensive facial oil makes it an affordable, daily luxury.”

Edward Powell, a makeup artist for Bobbi Brown and Chanel, adds that any skin type can benefit from a natural oil product. “A woman who has oily skin may feel a bit leery about using an oil moisturizer, but I find that oily skin needs moisture, too,” he explains. “A facial oil is also great for a woman who has dry, flaky patches on her skin, or combination skin.”

The right kinds of oil

Megan Franks, an aesthetician for Paradise Skin Products says oil moisturizers can be tricky. “The most important place to start is by finding out what kind of oil [the product] uses,” she advises. “You would be surprised by how many moisturizers use harmful, comedogenic types of oils that will do more harm than good.”

Franks suggests staying away from oils such as petroleum and mineral oil since most large cosmetic companies derive these ingredients from crude oil, which can clog pores and have been linked to cancer.

“The more natural the better in most cases,” the skin care expert says. “The body is better able to receive natural components rather than chemical or man-made ingredients.”

When using a natural facial oil, Flanagan-Till says some people may experience temporary breakouts as the skin rebalances when transitioning from an oil-free skin care regime. Although they are natural, Dr. Bailey says to avoid oils like cocoa butter and coconut butter if you have acne-prone skin.

Make your own natural facial oil

New York City makeup artist Edward Powell recommends a basic blend: 

  1. For a base, use something like argan oil, jojoba or grapeseed oil.
  2. Then use a concentrated, nourishing oil like Sea Buckthorn, borage oil or carrot seed oil.
  3. Complete the blend with a custom healing essential oil like rose, lavender or chamomile.

Facial oil picks

Facial oil product picks

More beauty tips

Beauty BB, CC and DD creams explained
The best beauty oils: More than argan oil
8 Near-instant ways to get a beauty boost

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.