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Facial Oils 101: What They Are, How to Use Them, and the Best Oils for Glowing Skin

Facial Oils 101: What They Are, How to Use Them, and the Best Oils for Glowing Skin

Let’s start by getting one thing straight: oil doesn’t necessarily equal blemishes and breakouts.

We know, it’s shocking to hear. We’ve all been taught that oils are a huge no-no when it comes to promoting smooth, healthy skin. But the truth is, facial oils provide tons of amazing, unique benefits you could be missing out on.

Now, we’re definitely not saying you should slather some olive oil on your face and call it a day. That would be a recipe for disaster.

Facial oils are specifically formulated with non-comedogenic—in other words, anti-pore-clogging—ingredients that can actually promote healthy, glowy skin.

So, it’s definitely time to ditch the idea that oils are “bad.” Let’s talk about why you need facial oil in your skincare routine.

What are facial oils?

Facial oils are (not to be obvious) oil-based liquid products that are applied towards the end of your skincare routine.

A lot of people use facial oils for their moisturizing benefits, but there’s more to these skincare products than you might think. Not only are they especially good at locking moisture in, but they’re also great at keeping things like bacteria and pollutants out.

From pollutants to picking, your skin faces a lot in a day—all the more reason why you should give it a little extra help! Face oils mimic the skin’s natural sebum—the oily stuff your skin naturally produces—and work with your body’s natural oils to hydrate and protect your skin. Over time, facial oils can actually help heal and strengthen the outer layers of your skin. 

Unlike serums (and some moisturizers), facial oils mostly just hang out on top of the skin. While some formulations might sneak into the first few layers of your skin, they’re not meant to be deeply absorbed—their molecular structure is actually too large to make it far past the surface.

But, just because they’re not made to be absorbed doesn’t mean they can’t be designed to target specific areas of concern. Face oils are usually a blend of botanicals and can be crafted to help with things like inflammation and fine lines for softer, smoother skin overall.

These products are usually made with oils that have smaller molecules to avoid suffocating your skin. Some of the most commonly used oils are:

  • Jojoba oil
  • Rosehip oil
  • Argan oil
  • Marula oil
  • Squalene oil

These thin oils provide your skin with a light, breathable layer which prevents potential clogging and breakouts.

Alright. Now that we know a little more about the what, it’s time to look at the why when it comes to using facial oils.

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What are the benefits of facial oil?

First things first: from dry to oily skin, oils are for all

As long as you’re using a product that works with your skin type, everyone can benefit from adding a facial oil to their routine. While they can be extra nourishing for dry skin types, oily skin needs some oil-based TLC, too. And combo skin can majorly benefit from the balancing properties oils can provide.

Depending on the formula, there are tons of other benefits facial oils can bring to the table, too, including:

  • Reducing irritation and breakouts with anti-inflammatory properties
  • Smoothing and softening skin
  • Helping skin naturally regulate sebum production
  • Strengthening the skin’s outer layers
  • Neutralizing harmful free radicals with antioxidant properties 
  • Helping your other skincare products work more effectively
  • Smoothing wrinkles and fine lines
  • Treating skin conditions like eczema and rosacea
  • Promoting healthier, glowier, more hydrated skin overall

Now you can see why we think everyone should have an oil in their routine! 

Actually implementing a facial oil can get a little complicated, but don’t worry—we’re here to clear that up for you, too. 


Facial Oil Droplets


How to use a facial oil

There’s some mixed information out there about how to actually add an oil to your routine.

Depending on what moisturizer you’re using, your oil goes on either before, after, or mixed in with your moisturizer, and always before SPF (which should be the very last step in your routine).

Like we talked about before, facial oils have a bigger molecular structure, and aren’t meant to fully penetrate your skin. They do their work on the outer layers, locking in all the good stuff from the products in the rest of your skincare routine.

The matter of when you use it all comes down to whether your moisturizer is hydrating or moisturizing (who knew there was a difference between the two??).

If your moisturizer is thin and hydrating, use your oil after your moisturizer. Hydrating products are meant to be fully absorbed by the skin so that they can do their work from the inside. If you put on your oil before, the moisturizer won’t be able to penetrate the skin, and you’ll lose those hydrating benefits!

If your moisturizer is thick and moisturizing, use your oil either after or mixed in with your moisturizer. Products that are meant to moisturize the skin actually sit on the outer layers of your skin to keep hydration in. Since these products aren’t meant to be absorbed, using your oil mixed in with or after your moisturizer is the perfect ritual.

So now that you know what facial oil is, how it works, and exactly how to use it, let’s look at a couple of oils that are amazing for all skin types.

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Kinder Beauty facial oil recs

There are so many great clean, cruelty-free, and vegan face oils out there for you to try! And we’ve made a list of a couple of sure wins.

Dirty Lamb Day Serum

A Kinder Beauty favorite, this serum harnesses the power of Japan’s best-kept skincare secret: rice bran oil. Designed to brighten your skin, it also contains naturally derived hemp seed, neem, sunflower seed, sage, and lemon oils. Plus, it hydrates your skin without leaving you greasy—so you can glow big. 

Herbivore Botanicals Emerald Deep Moisture Glow Oil

This gorgeous green facial oil specifically targets dull and dry skin for a more youthful, radiant complexion overall. It provides all skin types with deep moisturization using hemp seed oil, shiitake mushroom, and ashwagandha root.

Pacifica Beauty Vegan Ceramide Facial Oil

Get your glow on with this ultra-sensitive, fragrance-free, insanely affordable facial oil. Made with marshmallow root, calendula, sunflower oil, and chamomile, this one is specifically made to be fast-absorbing (so try this before your moisturizer!) for intense hydration, soothing, and plumping action.


Facial Oil with Dropper


Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil

This baby only has one ingredient: marula oil. Not only does it nourish, quench, and balance skin, but it also provides wrinkle-smoothing benefits and antioxidant defense. Plus it’s multi-use—give your hair, cuticles, and body some extra love!

Delia Organics Glow Naked Facial Oil

There’s a reason this oil is in our marketplace: everyone loves it! With toning, plumping, hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and softening properties, this oil does it all. Using pomegranate and sea buckthorn oil, Glow Naked helps to repair skin while also reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

This one is also specifically formulated to go on before your moisturizer, so take note!

Osea Essential Hydrating Oil

We’ve featured Osea’s products in past boxes, and they were a hit. This oil is sure to be a win, too! With jojoba and macadamia oils, this “essential” product moisturizes, plumps, and smoothes fine lines to promote and provide restoration, hydration, and anti-aging benefits for your skin. And this one goes on before your moisturizer, too!

PS—essential oils can be irritating for those with sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, try their Undaria Argan Oil instead. 

Final thoughts

See? Facial oils can actually provide awesome benefits for your skin—there’s no need to run away from them. It’s time to toss the old way of thinking about oil aside, and make room for some new products in your routine!

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Ashley Webb is a professional copywriter for the clean, vegan, and cruelty-free beauty industry. Using SEO and consumer research, she writes blogs, webpage copy, product descriptions, and emails for beauty brands that are committed to making a difference. Adopting her two kitties, Ivy and Binx, started her journey to advocacy for animal rights, and even led her to go vegan! Learn more about her and her work at

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