Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Viddhi Patel (Journalist) on 03rd Feb 2021

All About Face Oils: When, Which & How to Apply

All About Face Oils

A n oily solution for dry and even oily, acne-prone skin!

When it comes to facial oils, people have their own set of concerns. And if you are one of them, you are right to do so. Slathering oil on our faces doesn't sound exciting either. It may be the acne that you are concerned about or excessive oil. But the concept of applying oils on your face as a skincare step is not all wild. It grows more appealing the more you know about it.

You can amp your nourishment game by opting for oils over creams. If a bright, glowing and clear skin is what you dreamt of, your search ends here. Face oils will bring you a healthy, radiant glow, regardless of your skin type, and nourish your skin with nutrients, vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants.

For starters, we will dive into the very basics.  

What are facial oils? 

Facial oils are a mixture of plant oils that transform and protect the skin by penetrating it. They help to build a resilient lipid barrier that is more immune to everything bad. They lock in the moisture, soften the skin and balance it, regardless of your skin type. All skin types can benefit from a face oil. I repeat, all skin types, even oily and acne-prone ones.

Face oil essentially forms a film on top of the skin and protects it. Certain oils go beyond this; they have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Pretty hard to ignore now, huh?

Face oils will bring to the face a glow that you envied till now: a radiant glow. Face oils can replenish, soothe and soften skin. Given you use it the correct way. You don't want that over shiny, oily look or even breakouts on your skin by adding oils to your routine.

Even if you are convinced and are ready to battle skin issues with oil, you will put yourself in the middle of an overwhelming quest where the questions get trickier by the moment. When should I use it? Day or night? Before moisturizer or after moisturizer? Which oil will work for me? How many times to use it? And it goes on and on.

Yes, it doesn't seem very easy initially. But why worry when you have us! We are here to offer you a comprehensive guide to using face oils. 

When to apply facial oils?  

Know this. Every product you use on your skin has a different molecular structure, and this difference decides which will penetrate easily and deeply and which ones are likely to block others. You do apply your toners, serums, and lotions in a particular fashion to benefit the most, don't you? The order that you follow is determined by considering several factors, the thickness of the product, the ingredients, etc.

Although the general rule is to go from thinnest to thickest, the order also depends on the products you are using. Facial oils being the thickest of skincare products, go last in your routine, after all your serums, toner, and moisturizers.

Another reason being that your most outer skin layer is made of oil, and so is facial oil. While on the other hand, the serums and toners are water-based and moisturizers since they also have a significant amount of water apart from a little oil. So for these products to work, they need to penetrate more deeply, and oils, on the other hand, are active even when they are penetrating the initial layers of skin. Water-based products first, and everything else later.  

  • Cleanse
  • Tone 
  • Pat the Serum on 
  • Moisturize 
  • And… Oil it.  

To sum it up, oils go last in the routine. The exception being a sunscreen. Sunscreens are meant to be a shield against UV, so applying oils will nullify the whole process.

Coming to the day and night skincare routine of using facial oils.

You can use facial oils during the day and night like you would for a moisturizer. But if your face is on the oilier side, you can apply it just at night and let it soak into the skin and protect it throughout the day. Also, if you have oilier skin, you can choose one. Face oil or moisturizer to limit the amount of oil you put on your face at once.

AM or PM routine largely depends on your skin type and the type of facial oil you are using. Since a heavier, thicker oil might not be the best choice for morning hours.  

How to apply facial oils 

  • You can layer your facial oils with moisturizers and serums to get enhanced benefits. Facial oils go last in the routine, except for sunscreen. Apply facial oils as the last step in your night routine and before sunscreen for your morning routine.

    You can combine it with your moisturizer or slather it over the moisturizer to lock the moisture in.
  • Dab it on your skin or pat it in, don't rub the oil on your face. You need to push the oil into your face. Unlike moisturizer, you need to make the oil absorb into the skin to benefit from its immediate benefits.  
  • Facial oils, too, have concentrated actives, and you don't need to rub them on your skin for them to work. Just a dabbing on a couple of drops or few drops will do the trick. It slides easily, so a small amount is enough to cover your entire face.
  • You can also relax your skin by massaging the oil in upward and outward motions. It will relieve tension and bring calm. 

When you are in the mood for a little makeup:

You can add facial oils to your make up routine to give your look an extra oomph and radiance.  

  • You can mix it with your primer; it will keep your skin hydrated and moisturized.  
  • You can apply facial oil 2-3 minutes before foundation; the facial oil will get absorbed and give you a bright, healthy glow, especially if you have dry skin.  
  • Or mix it with foundation. If you are into the dewy glow, then this one's for you; adding a facial oil to your foundation will help you get that extra moisture along with a healthy-looking finish. 

A quest to find the perfect face oil for your skin type: 

A few drops of the chosen one will work amazing wonders on your skin, so find the formula that works for you and see it through. Your skin type matters, and so does the molecular weight of the oil, meaning its heaviness.

The drier the skin, the heavier oil you'll need to hydrate and lock the moisture in. For combination and oily skin types, lighter oils work well. However, several other factors come in too, like the oil's anti-inflammatory properties can make it helpful for sensitive skin

Dry skin 

The skin that benefits the most from face oils is dry. The quick-absorbing oils penetrate and deeply moisturize with their ample nutrients and smoothen your skin. But not all oils will match dry skin. Dry skin needs oils high in oleic acid.  

Almond oil 

The oil will hydrate your skin, and it is simple and gentle for people suffering from eczema, dermatitis, or hopelessly dry skin. The oil is also abundant with vitamin A, which gives it an edge as the vitamin helps stimulate cellular turnover, reducing the appearance of fine lines.  

Marula oil 

The oil is full of omega fatty acids, and it absorbs into the skin in a couple of minutes, conditioning, moisturizing, and calming dry skin. The oil calms down the redness that dryness brings to the skin.

Avocado oil 

The oil is full of nutrients from vitamin E to potassium and lecithin. All of these nutrients absorb quickly into the skin, nourishing and moisturizing it. The absorption also sets the stage for new skin formation.

Other oils rich in nutrients that are beneficial for dry skin are apricot kernel oil, argan oil, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.

You can mix the chosen oil with your nighttime moisturizer and apply it to the face and neck. Or you can dab it over your moisturizer to create a protective barrier on the skin and lock in the moisture. Do not skip moisturizer as dry skin will need oil and water. 

Oily skin 

Oil on oily skin? Pretty insane, I know. But the right oil will get rid of all that extra grease and regulate your skin's natural sebum production.

Use it after your lightweight moisturizer; this will help your skin benefit from the oil-regulating moisturizer and prevent it from drying.  

Jojoba oil 

The oil is lightweight and breaks down to dissolve sebum. Moreover, it asks your body to stop sebum production. 

Squalene 

The oil is much like the one your body naturally produces. It locks in the moisture, and that too without that extra grease and unwanted shine. Squalene is quite effective because of its high absorption, lightweight, and non-comedogenic qualities, meaning it does not clog pores.

Squalene 100% by minimalist is formulated to restore suppleness and elasticity of the skin.  

Squalane 100%
Squalane 100%

Squalane 100%

₹ 695
Superior, lightweight moisturisation
View details

Grapeseed oil 

The oil effectively controls oil and sebum production; it is a natural astringent. If you have an excessively oily face, grapeseed oil might be the one for you. It is one notch higher than jojoba.  

Acne-prone skin  

Okay, this may sound trickier than oil on oily skin but hear me out, okay? So, oils can be a way to reduce breakouts. Your acne treatment like benzoyl peroxide and retinol tend to strip your skin of the natural oils that keep it healthy. Then starts a vicious cycle: dry, irritated skin- more sebum production- more pimples and blackheads. So, I am here to tell you that acne-safe oils nourish your skin and help with healing zits.

Apply the chosen oil as the last step in your routine after going through with a patch test on your most oily and acne-prone area without further breakouts than you already have. 

Granactive Retinoid 2% (Emulsion)
Granactive Retinoid 2% (Emulsion)

Granactive Retinoid 2% (Emulsion)

₹ 695
Turn back the clock on aging and give your skin a youthful vibrancy with this gentle, safe & effective 2% Retinoid serum.
View details

Tea tree oil 

The oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties that make it ideal for acne and oilier skin. Tea tree oil goes deep into the skin and unclogs pores. The antimicrobial & anti-inflammatory properties of the oil kill bacteria and reduce the size of zits. But the oil may irritate the skin, so do not skip the patch test. 

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc

₹ 595
A nourishing, daily serum packed with pure Vitamin B3 and antibacterial mineral zinc that boosts dermal immunity, keeping your skin resilient and healthy.
View details

Pomegranate oil 

The oil, like tea tree, has antibacterial properties that fight acne-causing bacteria. Moreover, pomegranate oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that calm the inflamed broken-out skin. Since the oil is lightweight doesn't create a film of grease on your face. 

Rosehip oil 

The oil has nourishing vitamins and fatty acids that hydrate your skin and treat inflamed and acne-prone skin. Rosehip oil also helps fade acne scars, and the redness of acne comes along with it.

Formerly used as a healer, rosehip oil will calm down your sore, red, broken out skin. The phenols present are also antifungal and antibacterial, giving rosehip oil that extra edge. 

Wrapping it up  

Oils are your best bet if you are all about going natural. They target your different skincare concerns and are a good choice if you are done with chemical-based products.

Apply oils at the end of your routine to lock in the moisture and let it nourish your skin.

Despite popular opinion, face oils are as much an option for oily skin as for dry skin. 

Advice by Minimalist 

Choose oils rich in omegas 3, 6, and 9, and vitamin E to deeply moisturize your skin. The vitamin E will soothe the inflammation associated with extremely dry skin like eczema and psoriasis.

Look for products with antioxidants to protect your skin against free radicals and environmental aggressors; this will help evade early aging.

Avoid products that have added fragrances.