Face oils get a bad rap—and they shouldn’t. I get it: The word “oil” can throw you off. Your mind goes straight to greasy, slick, suffocating, and sticky. In reality? The best face oils are anything but. They actually have the power to treat your skin issues (looking at you, acne), work for all skin types (they’re derm-approved), and are masters of hydration. You’ll have to pick the right player (read: jojoba oil, marula oil, moringa oil—the list goes on) to get results, but once that’s said and done you’re gearing up for a lifetime of healthy, hydrated, and glowy skin.
"Facial oils can provide benefits to the skin by acting as occlusives (which act like sealants in order to keep water in the skin) and emollients (which soften and strengthen the outer layer of the skin by filling in spaces between skin cells)," explains along with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin. "Skincare oils often form a protective barrier on the outer layer of the skin rather than hydrating the skin. The benefits of skincare oils is that certain oils can provide antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and skin barrier repair properties."
I know, you might still be questioning my oil-loving antics. But don’t knock it till you try it. To win you over, I, and some of the Marie Claire team, are sharing the best face oils in existence. Here, you’ll find the very top products for your oily, sensitive, dry, broken-out, and yes, even normal skin. So toss your excuses to the side and give one of the best face oils a go.
What to Look For in Face Oil
- Type of Oil
There is a wide range of oils to choose from—and the best one for you is closely related to your specific skin type and concern. "For example, for sun-damaged 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," explains Dr. Levin.
Oily skin and acne-prone skin, on the other hand, is best off with jojoba oil. "It's structure mimics your own skin's natural sebum which is appropriate for oily and acne-prone skin while providing moisturization. Tea tree oil is also a great option as a facial oil alternative to acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide." There is a rare chance of allergic contact dermatitis with tea tree oil so if you develop a rash, it’s important to see a board-certified dermatologist.
At a baseline, a facial oil is going to offer hydration. But more often than not, these products are packed with additional ingredients that provide supplementary benefits. "Since some facial oils are antioxidants and have vitamins like vitamin C and E, they neutralize free radicals to slow the aging process," says Dr. Levin. "Certain facial oils have hydration properties and can be used as a moisturizer to help restore the natural oils in the skin and hair, improve skin hydration, and restore and strengthen the skin’s natural protective barrier."
If you're not sensitive, then by all means go straight for the deliciously smelling products. If you are sensitive? Steer clear. "Fragrant plant-based oils or essential oils can cause skin irritation, photosensitivity, and even cause allergic reactions. For those with known plant-based allergies or sensitive skin in general, I recommend avoiding fragrant essential oils and to test every oil in their forearm for at least a week before applying on the face to test whether a reaction will occur," says Dr. Levin.
The Best Face Oils for Every Skin Type
- The Best Face Oil for Sensitive Skin: Drunk Elephant Marula Oil
- The Best Face Oil for Dry Skin: Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil
- The Best Face Oil for Combination Skin: True Botanicals Renew Pure Radiance Oil
- The Best Face Oil for Environmental Protection: Furtuna Skin Due Alberi Biphase Moisturizing Oil
- The Best Affordable Face Oil: The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil
The Best Face Oil for Sensitive Skin
I credit this oil with curing my out-of-whack, ultra-sensitive skin a few years back. The formula is extremely rich in fatty acids, which helps keep the moisture barrier in a healthy state. In my particular experience, it regulated my oil production so my skin looked glowy and no longer greasy. Perhaps the best part about this oil though is the unmatched glow. I like to go heavy on the oil in the evenings and use just a few drops in my foundation in the morning for an extra bit of shine.
Pros: Fragrance-free; Good for sensitive skin; Editor-approved
Cons: Some say it sits on the skin
The Best Face Oil for Dry Skin
When your skin is extra dry, having a good glow seems out of the question. Any sign of radiance has been nullified by dead skin cells and an overarching dull appearance. But trust me when I say that this face oil will reboot your skin in just a few uses. The hydrating formula, which is fortified with antioxidants and vitamins (including vitamin C!), will quench your skin and give you a sheer shine in no time. Pro tip: You can also use this on your cuticles or even as a hair oil.
Pros: Good for dry skin; Lightweight; Gives glow
The Best Face Oil for a Compromised Barrier
If you’re a fan of the brand’s Face Cream, Face Cream Rich, or even the Essence, I promise you’ll fall in love with the luxe Face Oil. It contains a specially formulated blend of amino acid-rich oils (think: argan oil, hazelnut oil, babassu oil, and more) that are designed to trap moisture in the skin. The result? Increased hydration, a healthier barrier, and stronger skin. Of course, it also includes the brand’s proprietary TFC8 complex, which is packed with vitamins and nutrients that promote renewal.
Pros: Doesn’t feel greasy or oily
Cons: Might pill with certain products
The Best Face Oil for Dry Skin
I never thought I would be able to forgo a moisturizer—my skin gets pretty dry. But this deeply hydrating face oil completely changed my outlook. It’s powered by the brand’s signature Bio Renewal Peptide, along with a complex of rosehip seed oil, sweet almond, and evening primrose, all of which have nourishing, moisturizing properties. I’m able to apply this as the final step in my routine—sans moisturizer—and remain glowy and hydrated all day. It doesn’t just focus on hydration though; the oil is also fortified with antioxidants and vitamins to protect against environmental aggressors.
Pros: Deeply hydrating; Provides environmental protection
Cons: Might be too heavy for some
The Best Non-Sticky Face Oil
Hate the feel of face oil? I get it—they can be greasy, sticky, and, well, oily. If texture is your main objection, I challenge you to try this face oil from Beekman. It absorbs at the speed of light, has a texture reminiscent of a milky serum, and won’t leave a tacky texture on your face. Instead, the formula’s great ingredients like niacinamide and vitamin C are going to sink into the skin to provide softness and an even tone. It’s also worth noting that this does not contain any mineral oils, which makes it an ideal option for sensitive or acne-prone skin types.
Pros: Great texture; No mineral oil
Cons: Has a slight smell
The Best Face Oil for Mature Skin
As your skin ages, you’ll notice that it’s A) drier, and B) more prone to sun spots, discoloration, and fine lines. Enter the Petty Grudges Face Oil. It not only has a fabulous name, but it’s also wildly effective at increasing the rate of cell turnover so you can have a more even-toned, smoother, and youthful-looking complexion. This particular product was whipped up with a trio of oils: Rosehip seed oil, evening primrose oil, and rose geranium leaf oil, all of which lighten dark spots, reduce inflammation, and brighten skin.
Pros: Good for all skin types; Highly active
Cons: Has a strong scent
The Best Affordable Face Oil
A great face oil doesn't have to break the bank. Take this option from The Ordinary for example. It costs just $11 and gets the job done thanks to its rosehip seed oil formulation. It’s simple and fuss-free, but the natural-origin oil is highly effective at hydrating the skin and reducing signs of photoaging. It does have a scent, but just take it as a sign that it’s potent and working.
Pros: Affordable; Hydrating
Cons: Takes a bit of time to dry
The Best Vegan Face Oil
Retinol and backuchiol, the natural alternative, join forces in this powerful serum. It's a two-for-one deal that will give you gorgeous, glowing skin in just four weeks' time. It has a silky texture that feels heavenly going on and, because the genius women-run lab decided to add soothing ingredients like squalene into the mix, you shouldn't experience any irritation.
Pros: Non-irritating; Powerful
Cons: Can't use while pregnant
The Best Firming Face Oil
You could say this face oil is somewhat of a cult-favorite—it has nearly 1,000 five-star reviews on Sephora. It does all the normal face oil things (think: hydration, radiance), but it also has the ability to smooth out uneven texture, firm, and soothe an irritated complexion thanks to ingredients like lavender oil and squalane. A little does go a long way, so use just three to four drops to start.
Pros: Great reviews; Firming abilities
Cons: Slightly fragrant