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Once upon a time, not so long ago, “oil” was a dirty word in the skincare world, something meant to be removed, not added to your complexion. But that was before we understood just how beneficial the right facial oil can be and the important role one can play in pretty much anyone’s skincare routine. The secret to success? Ensuring you choose the right oil for your particular skin type and goals since, breaking news, not all oils are created equal. Lightweight oils like rosehip, for instance, are almost traceless once blended in and feature anti-inflammatory properties—making them an excellent choice for pimple-prone and oily skin.
There’s a veritable cornucopia of options out there that can do everything from sealing in moisture to balancing out excess oil production and ward off breakouts (it’s true). Some single-ingredient oils are ideal for mixing into your moisturizer or applying under your makeup for a dewy glow (great for dry skin). Other bottles feature a blend of cold-pressed oils to create a luxe, almost spa-like experience that—guess what?—won't break the bank yet can leave you with a "yes, I just got a facial" glow.
Here we've rounded up some of the best face oils for every skin type.
Best Overall: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
Silicone- and fragrance-free
The Byrdie team sings this oil’s praises time and time again; it’s a staple for many of our editors, including a top pick for Senior Editor Holly Rhue. What makes it such a crowd-pleaser? Well, for starters, there’s the fact that it contains only virgin marula oil—no silicones, fragrances, or other unwanted additives. That’s a huge plus for Philadelphia board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele J. Farber, who calls this a fantastic option. Couple that with the fact that marula oil is packed with protective antioxidants to keep skin healthy and youthful, and is naturally antimicrobial, too. And Farber also notes that it has anti-inflammatory properties, too, great for skin that might be a little irritated. It absorbs quickly without leaving behind any tell-tale residue and works beautifully on all skin types (hence the crowd-pleasing part).
Active Ingredients: Unrefined marula kernel oil | Skin Type: All | Dosage: 2 to 3 drops | Size: 0.5 fluid ounces, 1 fluid ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What Our Editors Say
"This was my gateway to face oils, sinking into my oily, acne-prone skin with ease and sealing in moisture for lasting hydration. It's non-greasy, doesn't break me out, and is that perfect, neutral boost moisture when my skin is irritated or sensitive." — Kathryn Vandervalk, Editorial & Strategy Director
Best Budget: The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
Restores skin's barrier
We’ve already mentioned that rosehip seed oil is a particularly great skincare ingredient, and it boasts high levels of vitamin A for plenty of youth-boosting effects. So what could be better? Getting a pure, cold-pressed, organic version of it for less than the cost of lunch, duh. It even comes in special UV-protective packaging so that you don’t have to worry about sunlight oxidizing the oil.
Active Ingredients: Rosa canina seed oil | Skin Type: All | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Drugstore: Burt's Bees Complete Nourishment Facial Oil
Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
Bottle last a long time
There aren’t a ton of face oils to be found at the drugstore, but luckily this one great pick is all you need. According to Burt's Bees, this product is 99.9% natural and relies on jojoba, rosehip, and evening primrose oils, all loaded with essential vitamins and antioxidants, and ones known to have great anti-aging effects. Also nice: A little goes a long way, so you only need to use two to three drops to reap all of these benefits.
Active Ingredients: Jojoba, rosehip, and evening primrose oils, bakuchiol | Skin Type: All | Dosage: 2 to 6 drops | Size: 0.5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Oily Skin: Biossance Squalane + Tea Tree Balancing Oil
Locks in moisture
Helps treat breakouts
Absorbs slower than other options
Believe it: You can use oil even if you have oily skin. How, do you ask? The base here is squalane, a plant-derived compound that mimics squalene, a fat the oil glands in our skin naturally produce. In a nutshell, squalane acts very similarly to the oil already in your skin, locking in moisture but without leaving your complexion feeling greasy. There’s also purifying and naturally anti-bacterial tea tree essential oil in this formula, ideal for keeping breakouts at bay. It’s no wonder that it’s a must-have for Byrdie Editorial Project Director Lindsey Metrus.
Active Ingredients: Squalane, tea tree oil, rosemary extract | Skin Type: Oily | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Sensitive Skin: Viva Naturals Organic Jojoba Oil
Won't clog pores
Can be mixed with other products
Bottle pump is hard to use
There’s only 100% natural jojoba oil to be found in this bottle, a serious skin-saver when it comes to calming and soothing redness and sensitivity. Credit the fact that it contains fatty acids like myristic acid, which provide anti-inflammatory benefits and are great for quelling irritation. Jojoba oil also mimics our skin’s natural oil very closely, so it absorbs quickly and won’t clog pores, either.
Active Ingredients: Organic jojoba oil | Skin Type: Sensitive, acne-prone | Size: 4 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Anti-Aging: Tata Harper Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil
Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
Provides an instant glow
You already know that retinoids are one of the best anti-aging ingredients out there. Here, you’re getting all the youth-boosting effects of retinol from rosehip seed oil, which delivers a type of natural retinoic acid via a high concentration of vitamin A. Still, there’s much less likelihood of any irritating side effects, particularly given how hydrating this is (it is an oil after all). Not to mention that the formula also controls excess oil and has a lovely floral scent derived from natural ylang-ylang, too.
Active Ingredients: Rosehip seed, jojoba, and apricot kernel oils | Skin Type: All | Dosage: 1 to 2 pumps | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Anti-Aging, Runner-Up: ISDIN Isdinceutics Melatonik
For those who can’t tolerate retinoids, Farber says looking either for oil formulations or formulas with bakuchiol, a plant-based retinol alternative, is a good move. This gives you the best of both worlds: “The serum-in-oil formulation has bakuchiol to help stimulate collagen and elastin, and vitamin C and melatonin for antioxidant benefits,” she explains.
Active Ingredients: Bakuchiol, vitamin C, melatonin | Skin Type: All, mature | Dosage: 4 to 5 drops | Size: 1.01 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Glowing Skin: Ghost Democracy Softglow Facial Oil
Provides an instant glow
Absorbs slower than other options
By definition, any type of oil will impart a gorgeous radiance, but this particular pick, one that Byrdie’s Associate Social Media Editor Star Donaldson loves, really takes the cake. It boasts a trio of oils (cloudberry, cottonseed, meadowfoam seed) that are especially high in antioxidants, the ingredients responsible for warding off spots, discoloration, and dullness. So yes, you’ll get a glowy effect instantly, but it also works overtime to leave even your bare skin more radiant.
Active Ingredients: Cloudberry, meadowfoam, and cottonseed oils | Skin Type: All | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Non-Oil Lovers: Glossier Futuredew
Provides an instant glow
May be heavy for oily skin
If you simply can’t wrap your head around using a facial oil, try this formula, another one of Rhue’s favorites, and watch as your mind changes with just one use. Yes, it’s packed with oils, but they come in a water-in-oil emulsion, making this more of a serum-oil hybrid. Not in the least bit greasy, it soaks into skin lighting fast, leaving your complexion super glowy and hydrated.
Active Ingredients: Jojoba, grape seed, evening primrose, and rosehip oils | Skin Type: All | Dosage: 2 pumps | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Tinted: Kosas Cosmetics Tinted Face Oil
May cling to dry patches
We’ve often seen pro makeup artists either layer a face oil directly under foundation or mix the two together; it creates a gorgeous finish and radiance on the skin that you really can’t get from makeup alone. This skincare-makeup hybrid does the hard work for you, marrying the coverage you get from a foundation with the hydration and luminosity of an oil. While it does use six botanical oils, it has more of a serum-like feel and delivers sheer coverage in 16 different shades.
Active Ingredients: Jojoba and avocado oils, silica, kaolin | Skin Type: Oily, combination | Dosage: 2 to 6 drops | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Combination Skin: The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane
Good for all skin types
Not technically an oil
Okay, so squalane technically isn’t an oil, per se. Rather, it’s a plant-based emollient ingredient that mimics the effects of squalene, a component naturally found in our skin’s sebum. “Squalane helps both moisturize and balance out natural oil production,” explains Farber, a good choice for combination skin. It’s the only ingredient you’ll find in this bottle, which is also a nice option for those with sensitive skin, adds Farber.
Active Ingredients: Squalane | Skin Type: All | Dosage: A few drops | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Antioxidant Protection: Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil
Nice option for face oil newbies
Provides an instant glow
A combo of nine superfood-derived, plant-based oils ensures that this formula imparts plenty of antioxidant protection, thanks to vitamins A and C. Try swapping it out for your standard antioxidant serum in the morning and layer under sunscreen to reap not only those protective benefits but give skin a gorgeous glow, too. (As well as lots of moisture, thanks to the high concentration of omega fatty acids in the formula).
Active Ingredients: Plant-based oils | Skin Type: All | Size: 0.5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Dry Skin: Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil
Locks in moisture
“Rosehip oil is one of my favorite facial oils, as it is both hydrating and anti-aging,” says Farber. "It can reduce inflammation, brighten, fight free radicals, and help lock in moisture due to its high concentration of fatty acids.” She adds that it also has low comedogenicity, meaning it’s not likely to clog pores. She likes it in this formula, which combines rosehip oil with radiance-boosting and firming vitamin C plus moisturizing squalane.
Active Ingredients: Rosehip oil, squalane, vitamin C | Skin Type: All | Dosage: A few drops | Size: 1.01 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Irritated Skin: Herbivore Emerald Hemp Seed Deep Moisture Glow Oil
Safe for sensitive skin
Hemp seed oil is a fantastic hydrator and is rich in omega acids, making it great to soothe skin and reduce inflammation,” says Farber. She likes it in this formula, which helps combat both dryness and redness (common symptoms in irritated skin) and also contains adaptogens, including ashwagandha (a powerful herb) and shiitake mushrooms that help the body deal with environmental stressors.
Active Ingredients: Hemp seed oil, squalane | Skin Type: Balanced, dry | Dosage: 3 to 6 drops | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Simply put, the Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil is an absolute must for all skin types, oily included. A Byrdie-editor favorite, the formula contains nothing but virgin marula oil—no additives or fragrance—which lends a potent antioxidant boost and healthy glow sans greasy residue. Speaking of pure oils, The Ordinary’s 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil (view at Ulta) is another top choice for its high levels of vitamin A that provide plenty of youth-boosting benefits. Plus, it’s extremely affordable. And finally, the Ghost Democracy Softglow Facial Oil (view at Ghost Democracy) is a great choice for anyone seeking radiant glow. (Who isn't?) It’s formulated with a trio of antioxidant-rich oils that help ward off spots, discoloration, and dullness.
What to Look for in a Face Oil
Targets Your Skin Concern(s)
First and foremost, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick recommends shopping for face oil based on what will target your specific skin concerns. “For example, certain oils may be better for anti-aging, such as argan oil or rosehip oil, while other oils may be best for dry skin such as maracuja, olive oil, and coconut oil,” she says. First decide on which concern(s) you’d like to address, then search for formulas accordingly—many oils on the market are blends and may be able to target multiple of your concerns at once.
When it comes to oily or acne-prone skin types, Dr. Garshick stresses the importance of looking for non-comedogenic formulas. “It’s best to avoid oils that will clog the pores and potentially lead to more breakouts,” she says.
Fragrance-Free When Possible
Dr. Garshick also recommends shopping for face oils that are fragrance-free whenever possible, avoiding both added synthetic fragrance and natural fragrances such as essential oils if your skin is especially sensitive. “Many oils contain natural fragrance and extracts, and those with sensitive skin need to remember that some of these fragrances may be irritating on the skin.”
Can you use face oil on oily skin?
Believe it or not, you can use face oils on oily skin—it just depends on the type of oil. “It’s important to select an oil that won’t clog the pores or worsen breakouts,” says Dr. Garshick. “Oils with a larger molecule size can be considered comedogenic, but those with a smaller molecule size, such as squalene and argan oil, penetrate the skin a bit better.”
Do face oils cause acne?
According to Dr. Garshick, face oils don’t necessarily cause acne. “A concern around facial oils has been that, as the name states, they contain oil which traditionally is thought to clog pores and lead to breakouts—however, not all oils are created equal,” she says. “There are oils that won’t clog the pores and, as such, won’t cause acne. Additionally, oils such as tea tree oil may even have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits and may be helpful for those with acne.”
How do you apply face oil?
When it comes to applying face oil, Dr. Garshick says that less is more. “Only a few drops are needed, and then it can be patted into the skin,” she says. “Because the oils are very concentrated, a little goes a long way. For those that prefer to rub or massage it in, it’s best to do so in an upward and outward motion.”
When should you apply face oil?
Dr. Garshick says it’s best to apply face oil after a moisturizer—and more importantly, not necessarily treat it as a replacement for your traditional cream and lotion moisturizers. “It’s important to note that face oil does not necessarily replace a moisturizer, especially for those with dry skin,” she says. “Moisturizers may help to draw moisture in, while the oil helps to create a barrier for the skin to trap moisture in, creating a seal. Although oils may be a thinner consistency than a moisturizing cream or lotion, it’s generally best to apply them after moisturizer as they'll help seal in moisture. If oils are applied too early in a routine, they may even prevent subsequent products from getting absorbed. It’s also best to apply them at nighttime to help repair the skin while you’re sleeping.”
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Her skin is dry but combination in parts, so she’s judicious about oils but feels strongly that there’s a good option for every skin type, which is why she loved writing this article so much.
Meet the Expert
- Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS: Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centers and is the Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Cornell University.
- Dr. Michele J. Farber is a board-certified dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology Group in Philadelphia, PA. Her focus lies in skin cancer as well as general cosmetic and procedural dermatology. She is also an expert in the diagnosis and management of conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis.