Many of my patients find facial oils confusing. Are they a replacement for day cream, night cream, serum? Should you apply them before your face cream or after? I’m here to answer all of these questions and more.
Oils are emollients, so they do not hydrate your skin’s deeper layers. Rather, they stay closer to the top layer of your skin and hydrate the surface of your skin while providing protection for your skin’s barrier. They act as a sealant which locks moisture in the skin and that can be very beneficial for your skin’s overall health, provided that the oils are not too heavy. So, I do not recommend swapping out your hydrating moisturizer for a face oil altogether, but they can be very effective if used several times per week at night to seal in your skin’s moisture after cleansing or for oily skin to trick your skin into producing less sebum. Many of my patients swear by facial oils, so I think the key is trying different brands and different amounts to find the formula and quantity that works best with your skin.
We are also learning so much right now about the skin microbiome – the millions of invisible bacteria that live on the surface of the skin and help the skin to function. Just like we have bacteria in our gut, we are covered with bacteria on our skin! And we need those bacteria to maintain the health of our skin. Some of those healthy bacterial strains feed off of our skin’s natural oils, called sebum. This can be a good thing—in the case of promoting the growth of bacterial strains that boost our natural collagen or ceramide production! But this can be a bad thing if we are feeding bacteria that cause breakouts. We are just learning about this area right now, but it’s possible that certain oils you might be adding to your skincare regimen might also act as food for the healthy strains of bacteria, a “prebiotic” if you will. I cover the microbiome and how it affects our skin in my new book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin.
How to use oils on your face: I recommend mixing a few drops of oils with your regular moisturizer. If you apply oils first, then you will block the anti-aging ingredients in your moisturizer from penetrating into the skin.
Oils and acne prone skin: take it slow and use only 1-2 drops of oil mixed into your moisturizer at first. If you notice that you break out more when you use the oil, then save the oil only for days when your skin feels tight or dry, or the weather is harsh and cold (like whipping winds).