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Think face oils are a passing fad? Worried about greasy skin and breakouts? Think again! The reason face oils are taking the skincare world by storm is because of their versatility. There absolutely is a face oil, or blend of oils, out there for everyone. In fact, if you have oily skin and breakouts, some face oils can regulate sebum production and bacteria levels, resulting in improvements, healing, and scar reduction.
Water-based, oil-free serums are great in their own right. Certain ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid are extremely difficult (or impossible) to use in systems that do not contain water or other solvents. However, when it comes to water-based serums, that feeling of "absorbing" into your skin is often caused by evaporation, rather than true penetration into the deeper layers.
When it comes to "absorbing" into the skin, what we actually want is for ingredients to penetrate. To go beyond the other layers into the deeper structures where cellular actions occur. While things like the size of the molecule do matter, oils and fatty acids have an easier time penetrating (and delivering their active ingredients) because the skin is naturally designed to repel water.
This is why we love face oils as a primary method for delivering active and effective Performance Botanicals to the deeper layer of your skin. The oils chosen sink in and leave behind skin that is soft, silky, smooth, and not sticky.
Our Guide to Face Oils will get you started:
The sebaceous glands in our skin produce natural oil called sebum. How much (or how little) you produce is mostly affected by genetics and hormones. Sebum moisturizes, waterproofs, and protects your skin. It is composed of about 57% fatty acids, 26% natural waxes, 12% squalene, and 4.5% cholesterol. When pores get plugged by sebum and sloughed cells, you end up with a blackhead or whitehead. If this becomes inflamed or infected, you develop a pimple. While cleansing and exfoliating the skin removes excess sebum and cell buildup, it is important to know that over-washing, over-scrubbing, or using harsh cleansers can strip and dry out your skin enough that it starts producing even more sebum. Sebum isn’t a bad thing; but keeping it regulated and in balance is important for skin health. Squalane and Jojoba Oil are two face oils known to function similarly to your own sebum and can help regulate the levels.
A face oil is an anhydrous (contains no water) mixture of oils that may also contain oil-soluble ingredients, such as herbal extracts. While being water-free limits the ingredients that can be used, it also allows the final product to remain as natural and closest to nature as possible. Why you ask? Because by not adding water or water-soluble ingredients, there is no need to add emulsifiers, solubilizers, surfactants, or preservatives. If you have a combination of organic, cold-pressed oils and oil-soluble herbal extracts, you can have a product close to its natural state, without any added chemicals. While some oils may undergo refining, bleaching, and deodorization, most oils that are used for face oils are unrefined and/or cold pressed - leaving all the beneficial components – and nothing else.
Oils are extracted from various seeds, nuts, kernels, and vegetables. Each are unique and contain different types and percentages of fatty acids, vitamins, phytochemicals, and minerals. The type, ratio, and chemical properties of each is what gives the oil its beneficial or, in some cases, non-beneficial properties.
Skin hydration is determined by how much water stays within your cells. Dehydration is due to water loss and is caused by low humidity, ageing, UV light exposure, low water intake, hot showers, air-conditioned environments, etc. Humectants, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin, work by pulling moisture from the air and bringing it to your skin. If you live in a non-humid area, the humectants will pull water from deeper tissues upwards. This may result in worsening dehydration over time if used alone. Even oily skin can become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration may include: skin sensitivity, more visible lines/wrinkles, and skin tone dullness.
Skin dryness is determined by the amount of oil and lipids present. Dry skin may feel rough and look flaky. Moisturization traps and seals moisture while building the skin’s protective barrier to prevent water loss. Skin that is damaged and irritated will lose more water, but this is not a problem that will be easily fixed by a humectant. Dry skin needs emollients to help reestablish the broken barrier. Severely dry/damaged skin also needs occlusives.
Face oils made with light, absorbable oils will function primarily as emollients. This is why they should be the final step in your skincare routine. That way, humectants will be locked underneath. Some oils like olive and soy can act as occlusives. However, most occlusives are structurally different (i.e., waxes, lanolin, petroleum jelly) and they create a barrier like a sealant that traps moisture. They can be thicker and often are more prone to clogging pores, so your best bet is to start with emollients for your face.
While the amount of information can be overwhelming and new discoveries are on the horizon, there is a great deal that is known and easy to narrow down for consumers.
Whether your daily routine is 2 steps or 10, face oils are a must-have product for everyone.
Skinimalism: If you’re trying to simplify your routine and get down to a single product or two, face oils will still give you a tremendous number of good options. The single-oil approach is as simple as you can get. Slightly more complex, oil blends work by mixing oils to create a more developed and comprehensive product. If your entire daily routine includes only cleansing and a single carrier face oil, your skin will be healthy, soft and glowing. However, if you use only carrier oils, the effects on your skin will be less noticeable than if you use treatment face oils with more active botanicals like Bakuchiol.
While we love the idea of face-oils being a single product solution for everyone, most people need to up their complexity a bit because more benefits come from taking a targeted approach to your skin. Most people need water/humectant containing products and some treatments beyond just a simple oil regimen.
If You Love Complexity: Many people have AM and PM routines that change based on their skin type, condition, and the season of the year. Hormones contribute to skin needs and people who menstruate will have cyclic changes. If you’re adding a face oil to your routine, it should be the last product on your face because it seals in all the goodness from your treatment serums and moisturizers.
A couple points of caution:
Whether you choose a single oil, an oil blend, or an elevated blend that contains active ingredients - there is a face oil for you!