Face oils — especially for those with dry, flaky, blemish-prone skin — can help to create glow, locking in moisture and smoothing skin, particularly when used alongside moisturizers and serums. Think of the glow of a toddler’s cheeks or the glow of Zendaya at golden hour. Face oils can fake the glow of money and time and good genes and eating your greens and taking your supplements — but how do you choose the right one for you?
From oils that contain probiotics to oils that are specifically formulated for use during pregnancy, there is a face oil for everyone. We asked eight cool, glowy women — including makeup artists, actors, and novelists — to recommend their top picks. Read on for the best everyday face oils, the best face oils for nighttime, and the best face oils to use if you already have oily skin.
Best face oils for daytime
Kate Hamilton, co-founder of content agency Sonder & Tell, discovered Pamoja Skincare when she saw it mentioned around Black Pound Day. Now she’s obsessed with the British brand’s face oil, which works as a stand-in for moisturiser as it’s “light enough to be used as an everyday base for makeup.” It’s a good all-rounder, too, she advises, “great for hair, nails, and dry spots on your body,” which means it’s a nifty little product to take with you when you travel and have limited space. There’s a version with or without essential oils — Hamilton uses the essential oil-free version.
Bernicia Boateng has established herself as one of the U.K.’s top makeup artists: When, for example, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie sat down with Michelle Obama at London’s Southbank Centre, she turned to Boateng. Boateng also works as an influencer and runs Bernicia Boateng Studios, which means she has a hectic diary — this oil helps keep her skin glowing throughout. “The ABH Hydrating Oil brightens my skin and gives it luminous glow, which is hard to maintain with a crazy working schedule,” she says. She also praises it for being hydrating but never greasy.
Alice Casely-Hayford, content director at Net-A-Porter, applies this face oil every morning, but on “shinier days” she wears it alone without moisturizer. “As someone with acne-prone skin, the non-greasy texture is perfect for me,” she says. Casely-Hayford takes a daily probiotic but finds that “when applied topically in skin care, they’re really good for healing,” which makes them this oil a good choice for people with acne. An added bonus is that it “smells divine, too — it’s the perfect pick-me-up first thing in the morning!”
Best face oils for nighttime
This night oil “intensively hydrates,” according to Casely-Hayford, who applies it as part of her bedtime skin-care routine. “I wake up with plump, radiant, glowing skin, even if I haven’t got as much sleep as I ought to,” she says.
Makeup artist Nam Vo is the high priestess of glow, an Instagram sensation famous for her “dewy dumpling” look. She is a big fan of highlighter, but glow, of course, begins with good skin. Vo tells us that Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil is “a classic.” Meanwhile, actor Judith Roddy calls it “a little wonder.” “I love it,” she says. “I love the smell. It feels like a treat. I generally steer clear of oils because I have oily skin, but this one works for me.”
Belgian fashion journalist Elspeth Jenkins admits that even though Aesop recommends using this product just three times a week, in the depths of winter, she uses it nightly. “My skin is dry and sensitive, so I really need moisture!” she says. Some other face oils have led to breakouts, but she’s had no such problems with this product, which contains fragrant rose petal and neroli blossom. “Wear it at bedtime for best results,” she advises. It’s also a great product to apply after exfoliation. “My face can feel sensitive after I use an exfoliator,” she says, “but this oil really softens my skin and gives a nice glow.” One bottle lasts Jenkins at least six months, even during the winter.
Specially designed to be safe for women to use during pregnancy, PR director Jordan Mitchell discovered this oil when she was pregnant with her third child. Now, more than a year after she gave birth, she’s still using it. Mitchell prefers a “weighty oil” (she swears by regularly slathering herself in olive oil, even when she’s not pregnant) and this De Mamiel product fits the bill. It also smells amazing. “The scent of rosemary is incredibly soothing, and I love wearing it just before I go to bed,” she says.
Kate Hamilton came across this “gorgeous” face oil after a friend brought it back from a trip to Cornwall (where Basho is based). “I use it at night and fall asleep with the citrusy scent of mandarin,” she says. But she doesn’t just love it for the scent: “It also makes your skin stroke-your-face soft — though I’ve retrained myself not to do that so much in 2020!”
The best face oils for blemish-prone skin
When After the Silence author Louise O’Neill developed acne for the first time in her life, age 25 and living in New York, she started using a regime from Acne.org. It worked, she says, and now almost a decade later, she remains loyal to Acne.org jojoba oil. “I’ve used, and loved, other face oils since — Sunday Riley CEO Glow and Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil are two favourites — but as I’m currently dealing with some face mask-induced breakouts around my mouth and chin, I have returned to my trusty acne.org Jojoba Oil.” The bottle is enormous so this oil works out pleasingly affordable, too.
This is the oil Casely-Hayford uses to “attack blemishes,” adding it to her regime of the Aurelia oils when her skin gets particularly bad. It also “calms irritated skin,” she notes. Over time, meanwhile, it “works to help fade stubborn scars and pigmentation.”
The best luxury face oil
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