My combination/acne-prone skin has been problematic ever since those tragic years of puberty and into pretty much all of my adult life. After living through the era of oil-free everything, when skin care brands vilified any type of facial oil for those who suffered from shine, bumps and pimples, it’s almost unbelievable that face oils would come to be my best friend now.
It wasn’t until recent years that I discovered that certain types of oil could actually work in my favor. Since my skin is combo—probably the curse of all skin types, if you ask me—my T-zone acts up on the daily, but I also run the risk of parching my skin if I avoid moisturizing cleansers and lotions altogether just to beat that dreaded 5 o’clock shine. I really need to strike the perfect chord, so when I discovered that oils like rosehip seed, almond and tsubaki could actually balance my oiliness, everything changed. These provide adequate moisture so that my skin doesn’t go rogue and produce more sebum to overcompensate. They also harness the power of botanicals to give skin a lot of antioxidant love—essential for maintaining a healthy, youthful glow. And since facial oils are usually plant-based and free of fillers and additives, they’ve become staples in my clean, green, vegan beauty regimen.
The smartest skincare brands know that oils are MVPs. Here are a few of our favorite facial oils that are indeed worth the hype.
I’m not the type of person who entertains any sort of celebrity worship, but I have to admit, when Gwyneth Paltrow dropped an organic skincare line with Juice Beauty, I was intrigued. After all, her famously age-defying radiance and well-documented dedication to living the most consciously curated life possible makes her a pretty strong authority on green beauty, in my opinion. So, of course I had high hopes that her $110 face oil would be a real miracle serum. Made with 99 percent USDA-certified organic ingredients, including a blend of sunflower, olive fruit, jojoba and linseed oils as well as equally exotic–sounding essential oils and plant extracts, this offering seemed right up my alley.
So, is it worth the hype? Actually, yes. This is one of the most luxuriously moisturizing oils I’ve tried, and it’s not even greasy. A part of me wished that I’d somehow get that glow-from-within skin, because I just expect that from a product at this price point. Alas, it didn’t—but it doesn’t even claim to do such a thing, so I have no complaints.
I love everything about Herbivore Botanicals, from their plant-based ethos to their luxe, clean packaging. Their magical trio of facial oils tackle just about every skin issue that ails you: Lapis for clarifying and balancing acne-prone skin; Phoenix for cell renewal; and Orchid for preserving youthfulness.
Orchid is my personal favorite. Two words: jasmine sambac. I’ve been obsessed with the scent of this species of jasmine ever since I was a little girl in the Philippines (one of the places where it’s cultivated); we used to string the tiny flowers to make necklaces that smelled like pure heaven. When I read that the jasmine oil used in this formula is made from steam distillation of thousands of jasmine petals, I was already sold. To my delight, this facial oil absolutely does smell like the jasmine from my childhood. In case it turned out to be lackluster, it could still double as the “my-skin-but-better” perfume of my dreams.
With antioxidant and humectant properties from the namesake ingredient, orchid extract, as well as fatty acids from camelia flower oil (also known as tsubaki oil) to improve elasticity and boost luminosity, this potion does seem to induce radiance overnight. I love it as a daytime moisturizer, too—it’s so light and sinks right in for a matte finish, yet leaves my skin feeling smooth and hydrated.
I discovered Provision Align Ultimate Face Oil in the middle of winter when my skin really craved an extra drink. A cocktail of sweet almond, avocado and sesame seed oils create a formula ideal for oil cleansing, which, in case you missed it, is what we do now because regular cleansers are so passé. Just kidding; I love a good face wash, but cleansing with oil can be surprisingly transformative for both dry and oily complexions. Makes sense—oil dissolves oil, so an oil-based cleanser would naturally be better at clearing clogged pores than a water-based one (oil and water don’t mix). Oil cleansers are also usually free of the drying surfactants found in typical foaming cleansers.
If you’re still apprehensive about letting oil anywhere near your face, I feel you. I’ve personally tried this practice with jojoba oil because experts say it’s good for oily skin types since it’s similar to the sebum our body produces naturally—and all I got were clogged pores and bumps! In fact, I’ve never had luck with cleansing with pure oils that weren’t specifically formulated for that purpose. But this beautiful blend, which also boasts calming rosemary extract and cumin seed oil, left my skin quenched and soft. The alluring sandalwood scent is a major bonus. My advice: for oil cleansing, paying extra for a thoughtfully crafted product is worth it. This works as a standalone day and night moisturizer as well.
This is the Rolls Royce of facial oils. There’s a reason for the high price—the serum is made of 100 percent active ingredients that are organic and wildcrafted. The base is grapeseed oil, one of the most antioxidant-rich and absorbent oils of all, plus hazelnut oil to boost skin’s elasticity, bergamot peel oil to lighten and brighten skin and cypress leaf oil to increases blood circulation, strengthen capillaries and oxygenate the skin, to name a few. True to her roots, this winemaker’s daughter is committed to sourcing the finest raw ingredients possible for her formulation. When she is unable to source the proper ingredients, production halts, hence the wait list mayhem.
“My skin has been reptile-like for the past few years since I moved to LA,” our editor-in-chief Kim Do claims. After a few weeks using the Active Botanical Serum, she noticed more supple, hydrated skin, and fewer dark spots. Even after breaking from it for a few days she says, “My skin remained moisturized and soft as a testament to the product’s ability to penetrate the epidermis.”
So, are you brave enough to experiment with facial oils? Let us know your fears, failures, and triumphs in the comments!