The novelty of face oils has since worn off, but that doesn’t mean their fervor has faded with it. Argan, marula, jojoba… The list of oils we want to slather on our skin and hair is long, and we eagerly stock up on each Sephora run, lulled in by their magical brightening, moisturizing, and wrinkle-busting powers. But, as it turns out, there’s a method to the madness—as in, not every natural oil has all of these powers. In fact, certain oils are specifically targeted toward individual concerns—and for the smart, well-informed, beauty-loving individual you are, we thought you’d like to know exactly what those are. We spoke with dermatologic surgeon Dr. Dendy Engelman and asked her to school us on the basics. Keep scrolling for the best natural oils for every skin concern!
If you have especially oily or acne-prone skin, Engelman recommends looking for skin products that contain tea-tree oil and grape-seed oil. Studies have shown that tea-tree oil can be as effective at treating acne as benzoyl peroxide is, while Engelman says grape-seed oil can help regulate your skin’s natural oil production. “Plus, it’s packed with antioxidants, including the skin-brightening vitamin C,” she says. Try Belif’s Tea Tree Oil ($10) or Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum ($185).
If wrinkles are your main concern, feel free to reach for everyone’s favorite oil: argan. “It contains a high concentration of vitamin E and fatty acids, and it’s more stable in sunlight than other antioxidants, so it’s perfect to wear during the day,” Engelman says. She suggests Moroccanoil’s Pure Argan Oil ($52), which is highly refined and “glides on like silk.”
But argan isn’t the only oil you should be counting on—there’s also sunflower oil. “The main component of sunflower oil is linoleic acid,” Engelman tells us. “In addition to these, it contains lecithin, carotenoids, tocopherols, and appreciable quantities of vitamins A, C, and D, which have great anti-aging and antioxidant properties.” She recommends Elizabeth Arden’s Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Eye Serum ($58) to help fight fine lines and crow’s feet.
Lastly, evening primrose oil is another good option for aging skin. Like sunflower and argan, it’s rich in fatty acids and contains a high level of antioxidants. “These antioxidants counteract the detrimental effects of oxidation in living tissue,” Engelman says. “It’s a worthy inclusion in skin products for smoothing roughness, reducing fine lines, and lightening dark circles around the eyes.” She swears by Weleda’s Primrose Age Revitalizing Body Oil ($20), a super-hydrating oil made with evening primrose oil, along with olive, wheat germ, sea buckthorn, and jojoba oils. For best results, apply it onto damp skin after a shower or bath to lock the moisture in.
Redness, irritation, blotchiness—sensitive skin isn’t fun. Luckily, there are natural oils that will help soothe in an instant. Engelman says to try calendula oil, which has cell-regenerative effects to treat sensitive, damaged, or sunburned skin. It’s actually been used for centuries to reduce inflammation and combat minor skin issues, like rashes or itchiness. Marula oil is another good one for sensitive skin. “It has a high concentration of oleic acid, an essential fatty acid our bodies produce naturally, so it sinks into the skin incredibly fast,” she says. “It’s also high in antioxidants, so it helps defend the skin from UV rays and pollution while moisturizing as well as—if not better than—a cream.” We recommend Drunk Elephant’s Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil ($72) and African Botanics’ Pure Marula Oil ($80).
Your skin is a desert—constantly parched, peeling, and cracked. Any of the oils mentioned above will help replenish your skin’s moisture levels, but for patients with very, very dry skin, Engelman says you can try extra-virgin olive oil—yes, the olive oil that’s sitting in your kitchen pantry. “Be sure to look for the term first cold-pressed on the bottle,” she advises. “Not only is it super moisturizing, olive oil is also rich in compounds like polyphenols, squalene, and fatty acids—all of which are nourishing and help fight aging.” Start out slow, and use it at night to see how your skin reacts—you can even use it to wash your face.
Which natural oils do you always use? Tell us below!