It wasn’t long ago that skincare experts and beauty enthusiasts alike campaigned against using products with the inclusion of oils in them. It felt like everywhere we turned, we were being advised to seek out oil-free moisturizers, oil-free SPF products, and essentially, oil-free everything. So if you’re confused or hesitant about using an oil specifically created for the skin on your face, we get it—it’s contrary to the beauty advice that’s been circulating for many years.
But just like ideas and advice in the health and wellness space are constantly changing due to frequent new studies yielding surprising findings, this often holds true in the beauty space, too. Take a 2018 study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for example. It notes that face oils with a high concentration of antioxidants can benefit the skin barrier and overall skin health. As a result, we’ve come to understand that facial oils can have a myriad of benefits. From helping to support a healthy skin barrier, to producing a long-lasting radiant complexion, and more, we now know that choosing the right face oil to suit your wants and needs is the key to garnering the benefits.
So, we did hours of research to find the highest-rated and most-loved face oils on the market. We put dozens to the test in The Lab, taking into account key ingredients and which oils work best for each skin type. Ahead, we break down our findings and share the best face oil for acne-prone skin, the best drugstore option, and everything in between.
Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil
Creates radiant glow
The packaging could be more luxe to align with the pricetag
Formulated with a blend nourishing plum oils, this product maintains a lightweight consistency while moisturizing the skin and creating a natural-looking, radiance. The ultra-short ingredient list—it’s literally made from just 100% organic plum oil—makes it a great option for people who are sensitive to skincare ingredients (so long as plum oil isn’t one of them).
If you’re new to face oils, you might envision a thick or greasy texture, but the best ones—this included—aren’t that. In fact, we found it to have a bit of a runny consistency, making it best to apply just a few drops in order to avoid a mess. We loved how hydrated skin felt, but even better was the beautiful glow it gave her complexion. And considering the price tag, we really appreciate that just a tiny bit of product goes a long way.
Price at time of publish: $110
Skin Type: All skin types | Key Ingredients: Organic prunus domestica seed oil, omega fatty acids | Size: 30ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
ISDIN Isdinceutics Melatonik Restorative Night Serum
Moisturizing feel on the skin
Some people might desire more glow out of a face oil
Finding a great nighttime serum to care for your skin while you rest is our ideal version of beauty sleep. This one is formulated with a blend of melatonin, bakuchiol, and vitamin C to provide antioxidant protection and help restore skin elasticity. It also feels moisturizing on the skin.
We enjoyed the subtle vanilla scent and appreciated that the texture was light and fast-absorbing. In terms of the finish, it appeared almost matte on skin during testing. So if you have oily or combination skin, or you prefer non-greasy products, especially at night, this could be an excellent choice. However, if you have very dry skin or you’re looking for an oil to add a noticeable glow to your complexion, keep this in mind.
Price at time of publish: $165
Skin Type: All skin types | Key Ingredients: Melatonin, bakuchiol, vitamin C | Size: 30ml | Cruelty-Free: No
Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil
Lightweight texture and feeling on skin
This popular facial oil is known for its ability to help prevent stretch marks on the body, but it’s also a great option for moisturizing the face and helping to even out the complexion—all for an affordable price, which is why it's our best budget pick. Its formula—which contains vitamin A, vitamin E, chamomile, sunflower, and lavender oils—also works to repair skin damage, meaning it's a great choice if you have post-acne scarring.
When we applied this formula, we were impressed with how quickly it absorbed and that it never felt greasy. We appreciated how effectively it moisturized without creating a thick or sticky residue, too. However, be advised that this product contains synthetic fragrance and the scent from the lavender oil may be too intense for some people. Still, this product earns a place on our list for its effectiveness, lightweight feel, and excellent value.
Price at time of publish: $12
Skin Type: All skin types | Key Ingredients: Vitamin A, vitamin B, sunflower, lavender and chamomile oils | Size: 60ml | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Budget, Runner-Up
The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
Simple ingredient list
Takes some time to absorb
Rose hip oil has a variety of skin benefits, like anti-inflammatory properties, collagen stimulation, and moisturizing, just to name a few. It’s rich in vitamin A, which can help stimulate collagen and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as fatty acids, which work to keep the skin hydrated.
This affordable serum is made with 100% pure rose hip oil that is organic and sustainably sourced. It comes in UV protected packaging to protect the integrity of the formula, and it comes at an affordable price tag, which earns it extra points in our book.
During testing, we found that it takes some time to absorb into the skin, but the formula has a soft feel and it works to moisturize the skin and provide a dewy glow. It's slightly too greasy to wear underneath makeup, so if you have oily skin or you struggle with your makeup slipping and sliding around, we recommend using this face oil at bedtime.
Price at time of publish: $11
Skin Type: Oily, Dry, Combination | Key Ingredients: Rose hip seed oil | Size: 30ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Face Oil
Quickly quenches dry skin
People with oily skin might find it to be too heavy
Some of the best facial oils do more than just moisturize the skin. This one includes retinol and vitamin C to address fine lines and dark spots—and if you’re typically sensitive to retinol, it could be a great option as the oil formula helps to counteract potentially drying effects of the powerful ingredient.
In addition to the inclusion of active ingredients, we love that this oil works to deeply nourish and hydrate the skin. It quickly moisturized dry skin without feeling overly heavy, and skin feels soft to the touch after application. One thing to keep in mind is that some online reviewers with oily skin found it to be too heavy for them, so we recommend this option for dry or mature skin types.
Price at time of publish: $19
Skin Type: Mature, dry, and sensitive skin | Key Ingredients: Retinol, vitamin C | Size: 30ml | Cruelty-Free: No
Ghost Democracy Softglow Facial Oil
Adds beautiful glow to the skin
Not accessible at multiple retailers
If you’re intimidated by the idea of applying oil to your face, or you detest the feeling of heavy skincare products, this is a great choice for you. It provides moisture and glow while maintaining a lightweight feel, and it sinks into the skin quickly. The formula contains a blend of vitamins and fatty acids to provide antioxidant protection, help calm inflammation, and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier.
Aside from absorbing into the skin quickly, we noticed that skin felt moisturized and soft right after application. And in terms of a glow, it provided just the right amount of radiance without bordering on greasy.
If we could change one thing about it, it wouldn’t be about the product itself, rather where it’s sold. We would love to see it available at more retailers to make it more accessible.
Price at time of publish: $38
Skin Type: All skin types | Key Ingredients: Cloudberry, cottonseed, and meadowfoam oils | Size: 30ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Burt's Bees Facial Oil with Rosehip Seed Extract
Provides pretty glow to the skin
Not much product in the bottle
While your mind might immediately jump to lip balm when you think of Burt’s Bees, don’t sleep on their skincare (but feel free to sleep in it). This affordable formula contains rose hip oil, essential fatty acids, and vitamins to nourish the skin and provide moisture.
During testing, we appreciated how it gives skin a healthy-looking glow, although she noted that it took some time to fully absorb. Because of this, we recommend it for nighttime use. Regardless, we liked the way it looked and felt on our skin, and could see it as a winter skincare staple.
While it has a relatively affordable price tag and is accessible at several drugstores, the bottle only contains 15ml making it a bit pricey compared to other drugstore options.
Price at time of publish: $20
Skin Type: All skin types | Key Ingredients: Rose hip seed extract | Size: 15ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Oily Skin
Aesop Fabulous Face Oil
Great for layering
A little bit goes a long way
Some people might find the scent to be too strong
People with oily skin will want to look out for face oils that aren’t thick or greasy in texture in order to avoid contributing to excess oil. This one is formulated with a blend of botanicals that work to balance and soften the skin, and it has a lightweight consistency that maintains a hydrating feel.
During testing, it made our skin look and feel soft, and we appreciated that it didn’t create a greasy finish on our faces. Just a couple of drops is all you need to evenly coat the skin—honestly, just one drop would get the job done. Perhaps the best part is that it fully absorbs in under a minute, leaving behind a subtle glow that didn’t border on looking oily.
Keep in mind that because it contains a blend of botanical extracts, it has a very green scent while some people might find it to be slightly overpowering.
Price at time of publish: $66
Skin Type: Normal, combination, congested skin | Key Ingredients: Juniper berry, macadamia seed oil, sweet almond oil | Size: 27ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Dry Sking
Epara Balancing Face Oil
Could add even more glow
Those with dry skin can typically tolerate more dense skincare formulas, but there is such a thing as being too thick and heavy—even for dry skin. This face oil has what we believe to be the perfect consistency for dry skin—it’s rich without being heavy. It contains a combination of nourishing ingredients to help soften the skin, add moisture, and restore elasticity.
Despite the rich texture, this oil doesn't leave skin looking or feeling greasy. It worked to provide moisture and add a subtle glow without creating a film or pilling. While she would have liked to see even more glow from this oil, the fact that it provides just a subtle radiance makes it a great option for layering with more glow-inducing moisturizers and primers.
Price at time of publish: $147
Skin Type: All skin types | Key Ingredients: Moringa, marula, and ylang ylang oils | Size: 30ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Combination Skin
Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
Comfortable feel on skin
Some online reviewers find that the performance doesn’t justice the price
If you have combination skin, then you know how challenging it can be to care for both oiliness and dry patches. Because of this, finding formulas that are rich enough to provide adequate moisture while being lightweight enough not to contribute to greasiness can be tricky. If this sounds like you, give this luxe oil a try.
Formulated with 100% unrefined marula oil, this formula contains antioxidants and omega fatty acids that help to moisturize the skin and protect from environmental stressors. It has a lightweight texture that sinks into the skin quickly, leaving it with a silky, soft feel. It’s decadent enough to make a noticeable difference in the hydration of the skin, while not so rich that it creates any greasiness. We also love that it provides the most subtle glow that truly looks like an authentic, “glowing from within” look.
Price at time of publish: $49
Skin Type: All skin types | Key Ingredients: Marula oil | Size: 15ml, 30ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Sensitive Skin
Kora Organics Noni Glow Face Oil
Gentle on sensitive skin
Higher price tag
If you’re dealing with sensitive or irritated skin, finding a great product that can soothe it and provide hydration is key. This nourishing oil contains noni extract (noni is a fruit-bearing plant found in Southeast Asia), as well as rose hip and pomegranate oils to create a blend of antioxidants and essential fatty acids.
Miranda Kerr, KORA Organics founder, says this oil is her holy grail travel companion as it works to hydrate her skin and maintain her glowing complexion. She also shares that it’s excellent for all skin types, especially sensitive skin—and many online reviewers can attest to that. As for us, the light texture sunk into our skin within seconds, and the formula imparted a gorgeous radiance sans a greasy finish.
Price at time of publish: $26
Skin Type: All skin types | Key Ingredients: Noni extract, rose hip, pomegranate, and sea buckthorn oils | Size: 10ml, 30ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Acne-Prone Skin
Acure Radically Rejuvenating Rose Argan Oil
Rich texture that absorbs quickly
Some people might find the texture to be too rich
Gone are the days of blindly advising everyone with acne-prone skin to skip out on skincare products containing oils. While we always recommend seeking the advice of a dermatologist if you’re dealing with acne, we know that regardless of your skin type, hydration is a must. This is a great option for those with acne-prone skin because it provides adequate moisture without a thick, pore-clogging texture.
This simple, affordable oil contains a blend of rose and argan oils which are packed with antioxidants and fatty acids to nourish and protect the skin. We also appreciate that it can be used on the hair and skin on the body, making it an even better value.
Those of us with sensitive skin loved that the rich texture provided noticeable hydration and suppleness while absorbing into the skin quickly. While we appreciated the consistency, if you have very oily skin, we recommend going with another more lightweight choice.
Price at time of publish: $12
Skin Type: All skin types | Key Ingredients: Cold pressed argan and rose oils, | Size: 30ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Wrinkles
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate Moisturizing Face Oil
Comes in a variety of sizes
Someone online reviewers say it could be more moisturizing
We know that retinol is a hero skincare ingredient for addressing fine lines and wrinkles, but formulas without retinol can be helpful for this, too. This nighttime oil is formulated with evening primrose oil and a blend of replenishing oils to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and skin texture while also providing moisture and boosting radiance.
It comes in a dark bottle that is recyclable, protecting the formula and making it environmentally friendly, and we love that it comes in a variety of sizes at different price points. We found the consistency to be incredibly lightweight and comfortable on the skin; so much so that we felt like we could layer it on to reach our desired level of hydration. The silky texture, fresh scent, and soft feeling on our skin made it a luxurious experience.
Note that some online reviewers say they wish it was more moisturizing, so if you have dry skin, we recommend layering it on top of moisturizer.
Price at time of publish: $135
Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Combination, Oily | Key Ingredients: Squalane, lavender essential oil, evening primrose oil | Size: 15ml, 30ml, 50ml, 100ml | Cruelty-Free: No
Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Oil
Can feel greasy until fully absorbed
We know that some of the best anti-aging practices are staying out of the sun and keeping the skin hydrated. While this face oil won’t protect you from sun damage, it will deliver in the hydration department. Formulated with a blend of prickly pear, acai, squalane, and maqui (a plant native to Chile and Argentina), it works to combat free radicals, support collagen production and cell renewal, and moisturize the skin.
We found the consistency to be a bit thick and greasy upon initial application, but after waiting a few minutes, it absorbed into skin, leaving it feeling soft and smooth. We also appreciated that despite the rich texture, it wasn’t greasy-looking, rather it greeted a natural-looking luminosity.
Price at time of publish: $44
Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Combination, Oily | Key Ingredients: Maqui, prickly pear, acai | Size: 30ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes
The Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil takes our number one spot. It's lightweight, has a fast-absorbing texture, and it makes the skin look and feel soft and radiant. If you’re looking for an affordable option to give your skin a boost of moisture, we recommend the Bio-Oil Skincare Oil. And if you’re new to facial oils and want to try something with a light texture that works for a variety of skin types, go for the Ghost Democracy Softglow Facial Oil.
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.
What to Look For When Buying Face Oil
As you can tell from our list, not all face oils are created equal, nor do they all serve the same purpose. Board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD 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 rose hip 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. Our anti-aging pick is the Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Oil and our top choice for dry skin is the Epara Balancing Face Oil.
Just like taking ingredients and skin concerns into consideration when choosing a face oil is important, so is considering the texture. While oily skin can benefit from lightweight textures, like the Ghost Democracy Softglow Facial Oil, dry skin can handle options with more dense consistencies. But aside from just your skin type, don’t be afraid to consider your preferences. If you have dry skin and you can’t stand heavy formulas, don’t feel like you need to choose a super dense oil. You can opt for something with a lighter texture and simply layer it as part of your overall routine in order to ensure your skin is getting the appropriate amount of hydration.
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 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.” Our top picks for oily skin are the Aesop Fabulous Face Oil and the ACURE Radically Rejuvenating Rose Argan Oil.
Do face oils cause acne?
According to 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.” So the idea that oil is a no-no for the skin? It’s not always the case.
How do you apply face oil?
When it comes to applying face oil, 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?
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.”
How We Researched
Byrdie editors researched the most popular and highly rated face oils on the market, taking expert recommendations and consumer reviews into account before choosing dozens to test. Each one was then evaluated on the basis of consistency, feel, absorption, skin glow, and value, before being given a score from one to five in each category. Our testers applied a few drops of each oil to clean, dry skin and allowed the product to absorb for up to one minute before evaluating how it looked and felt on the face. All tests were performed in The Lab, our Manhattan product testing facility.
Why Trust Byrdie
Alyssa Kaplan is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She has experience working in marketing and product development at skincare companies, and has tons of first-hand experience using facial oils. She’s even tried several products on this list. Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty.
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