The therapeutic benefits of natural oils for the face and body have been documented for hundreds of years, but we’re only now starting to incorporate them as part of our morning and evening skin care regimen. As Lily Talakoub, M.D., dermatologist at McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center explains, it’s thanks to their abundance of essential fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants which work to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier, prevent free radical damage, increase skin elasticity and more.
Who Can Benefit From Using Natural Oils?
While many people, especially those with combination or oily skin, tend to shy away from products containing oil of any kind for fear that it will cause them to break out, this is not always true. In fact, natural oil-containing products might be the best thing for those with oily and even acne-prone skin. “Acne medications often strip the natural barrier of the skin, which can lead to excess sebum production and clogged pores without proper hydration,” says Dr. Talakoub. “Oils help train the skin to rebalance itself if overstripped from harsh cleansers or medications,” she explains.
How to Choose the Right Face Oil
Choosing the right oil, however, is the tricky part. That’s why it helps to understand the properties of the various oils to determine which will benefit your particular skin type. “Argan oil and sunflower oil, for example, are rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E, which hydrate the skin and have anti-aging properties, while tea tree oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities that are great for acne-prone skin,” explains Dr. Talakoub.
Still, not all facial oils are equal, especially if they are naturally derived. “Not only do the chemical constituents vary based on different plant species but the geographic location where the plant is grown, the conditions in which the plant is grown, the age of the plant, how it is extracted and then formulated; these all affect the properties of the plant oil,” explains Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., board-certified NYC dermatologist and clinical instructor at NYU Langone and Mount Sinai. “Also, just because a plant-based oil touts a large percentage of a specific fatty acid that imparts specific benefits on the skin, it doesn’t mean all of those fatty acids are directly absorbed into the skin,” she notes. The best thing you can do when it comes to natural oils for your face, much like any other skin care ingredient, is to do your research.
To help you determine which is the best natural face oil for you, we consulted with dermatologists to uncover some of the best products out there—and the skin type they’re meant for.
1. Eminence Organic Skin Care Facial Recovery OilBuy now with free delivery
Best for: Normal skin
This anti-aging complex is naturally derived, using a mixture of fine organic botanicals including olive oil, sesame oil, rosemary and vitamin E, which imparts even more hydration and also provides antioxidant benefits, according to Dr. Levin. While it targets fine lines and wrinkles, those with more youthful skin will find benefits in its soothing abilities.
2. Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face OilBuy now with free delivery
Best for: Oily or acne-prone skin
If clogged pores are a top concern of yours, this fast-absorbing dry oil will work hard to clean out blemishes and blackheads thanks to its mix of clarifying ingredients. “It contains both tea tree oil and salicylic acid—two ingredients that are beneficial for the treatment of clogged pores and blackheads,” explains Dr. Levin. “While tea tree oil and salicylic acid can dry the skin, this face oil has jojoba oil—a great hydrating and moisturizing plant-based oil that doesn’t clog pores—as well as aloe vera to soothe the skin,” she explains.
3. DHC Olive Concentrated Cleansing OilBuy now with free delivery
Best for: Dry or dehydrated skin
You probably use olive oil all the time in the kitchen, but might not think to slather it on your skin. This antioxidant-rich emollient oil helps fight free radical damage caused by pollutants in the environment. It also has the ability to seal in moisture without clogging pores—a pretty incredible feat. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, also loves that it’s rich in fatty acids so that it can even target dry, cracked skin made worse by harsh weather.
4. The Organic Pharmacy Virgin Cold Pressed Rosehip OilBuy now with free delivery
Best for: Mature or aging skin
The main ingredient in this reparative skin oil is rosehip oil, which is clinically proven to do pretty amazing things such as reduce scarring, smooth wrinkles and condition and regenerate the skin. “Rosehip oil is one of my favorite oils since it has a high ratio of linoleic acid which has not only been shown to be beneficial for those with acne, but also has been shown to reverse UV-induced hyperpigmentation,” says Dr. Levin. “It’s also rich in vitamins A, E, C and D which have been used for not only hydration but also scars, stretch marks and redness in rosacea-prone skin,” she notes.
5. Herbivore Botanicals Lapis Facial OilBuy now with free delivery
Best for: Sensitive or redness-prone skin
Those battling bouts of redness and inflammation will find relief in this balanced moisturizing facial oil. “Azulene is a chamomile extract that has been used for its skin-soothing properties, as well as its antioxidant abilities which are beneficial for easily inflamed and sensitive skin,” says Dr. Levin. “This product also combines hydrating ingredients such as jojoba oil and squalene,” she adds.
6. Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Active Brightening OilBuy now with free delivery
Best for: Dark spots or hyperpigmentation
If you’re dealing with patches of brown spots or discoloration, any dermatologist will recommend that you use ingredients with both calming and skin-lightening properties. Lucky for you, this brightening oil contains both. It features natural ingredients like wild rose oil, which boosts the skin’s vitamin C absorption while reducing the appearance of fine lines, as well as vitamin C to naturally brighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation.