Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Viddhi Patel (Journalist)  on 09th Nov 2020

Face Oils or Moisturizer? Which works best as per experts?

Face Oils or Moisturizer?

Face oils or moisturizers? Confused? Know all about them, and identify what works for you.

The traditional skincare routine cannot be imagined without a moisturizing step in the three-step virtue of cleansing, toning, and moisturization.

Our skin, the largest organ, requires attention and care to stay young, blemish-free, and healthy.

There have been developments in the arena, and they claim to be promising. Natural oils and essences are booming in the industry, and they are raising questions in the audiences.

Oils, moisturizers, lotions, and creams may leave you baffled and have you questioning whether you shall use both a moisturizer and essential oil or whether you should stick to one, and if one, then which is for you?

There is too much confusion, and knowing before choosing doesn't hurt. 

Read on to know all about moisturizers and natural oils, the goodness they bring to your skincare routine and discover what works for you:  

The basic formula that distinguishes them:

Natural oils- Simply oils, No water!

Lotions and creams - Combination of oils, water, and oil and water mixing ingredients. 60% - 90% water content.

Oil and water interaction with your skin determine the effects and benefits it will bring to the table.

Many skincare enthusiasts have grown passionate about oils and bid goodbye to conventional moisturizers, while some still opt for the traditional thick, rich, creamy moisturizers.  

What out of the two will give the healthy, supple skin you desire? 

All about face oils

Fragrant plant oils or essential oils, non-fragrant plant oils, or synthetic oils are all types of facial oils that go around in the market, with a bad rap or a good rap.

Face oils are the new beauty cabinet sample due to their ability to hydrate and nourish various skin types. They don't leave your face oily and leave a breakout like you may think they would. Instead, their ingredients, polyphenols, fatty acids, and antioxidants, give you a dewy glow by reducing inflammation.

Oils mimic natural lipids found in the skin. Oils like avocado, jojoba, and almond, etc. have a similar structure, which helps repair and regulate your skin's moisture barrier, which produces oil.

Research shows that oils absorbed by the skin are treated as the skin's own, repairing and moisturizing your skin.

They generally contain few ingredients that may or may not work for your skin, and even lesser additives. But always read labels, choose what is pure, and has clean ingredients. Toxic people and components are better left behind.

Plant oils do fascinating things to your skin and make a remarkable difference to dry, flaky skin. That is if you choose the right plant oil or a blend of beneficial fats. Non-fragrant oils can also turn out to be efficient for sensitive skin.

Oils boost nourishment, smoothes renewal, and are apt for seasonal cold or drier climates that your skin doesn't like. 

Why face oils might work out for you?  

The key to authentic beauty is naturally occurring tools that replenish your skin. They don't overpower our senses and do not require boasting marketing strategies for you to recognize their unique benefits.

It will help your skin feel smoother, softer, more resilient, and have a beautiful difference along with a natural glow.

Acne-driven skin types are often advised to try out oils as these external natural oils help reduce the skin's natural sebum production as it does not have to overcompensate.

Natural oil is an optimal option for those who like keeping things simple and are after paraben-free products, hydration which doesn't base their existence on synthetic fragrances, penetrate deep into the skin, and don't empty bank accounts. 

The types of oils-  

Plant oils or Fixed oils.

Essential oils: Is diluted with other oils (higher in water content and do not absorb and vegetable-carrier oils do and hence is mixed with vegetable oil).

Both have a distinct manner and process to act on the skin. They can also be used in pure form or precisely blended and intricately combined with individual preferences and desired outcomes. 


Essential oils though helpful, in the long term can damage and lead to skin inflammation. 

The action of natural oils

Natural oils plump your skin from the inside and give it more than just a free radical barrier. While creams are made up of water, emulsifiers and wax sit on the surface, forming a protection film on the surface.

Suppose you are done with products with a truckload of preservatives, chemicals, petroleum, and alcohol that readily absorb your bloodstream. In that case, you should probably pay heed to pure, single-ingredient natural oils.

Dry and mature, or sensitive, there are many oils that you can opt for that natural glow.  

Know the oils

Oils prominent in the skin and ayurvedically respected are tea tree oil, rosehip oil, jojoba oil, raw coconut oil, natural sesame oil, olive oil, and grapeseed, sweet almond oil, and argan oil.  

Why they might not be for you?  

They are rich sources of antioxidants and emollients that replenish skin. Still, these are not significant sources of skin-restoring ingredients like niacinamide, retinol, or peptides, or neither are hydration boosting ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid.

The truth is they are unable to give dry skin the rich mix of emollients it requires for lasting results. Skin is a complex organ. It can never be fulfilled with a single product or a single excellent ingredient. Every product and oil works as a supporting player in the wholesome skincare routine.  

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Why avoid fragrant oils?  

At times, fragile oils, referred to as essential oils, share benefits with their non-fragrant counterparts but come with compounds of strong potential to sensitize and aggravate the skin.

For example, citrus oils, when exposed to UV rays, possibly change the skin's color.

Fragrant oils may also contain compounds that oxidize on the skin, causing problems. It may be invisible at the moment because the skin is good at hiding its aggravation. 

All about moisturizers  

Lotions, creams, and their likes are moisturizers that mix oil and water and work better for dry skin. Perhaps the most prescribed product, moisturizers, is intriguing.

Dry skin disorders due to low environmental temperature, low humidity, chemical exposure, microorganisms, aging and psychological stress, atopic dermatitis, and eczemas have made it vital to use moisturizers.

Facial moisturizers are essentially designed to have a nongreasy, esthetic effect and maximal skin benefits to protect the delicate facial skin from cold and hot weather, dust, pollution, and UV exposure.  

What do moisturizers do? 


It may seem obvious, but this vital action is increasing the water content. Hydration smoothes skin surface, more extensible and pliable. Emollients eminently moisturize, and it lasts for up to four hours.  


Moisturizers inhibit pro-inflammatory activity and thus have a soothing effect on inflamed skin.  

Reduces itching 

Emollients downplay cytokines, reducing itching. Furthermore, the evaporation of water from the skin surface after using water-based lotions has a calming effect. 


Sunscreens with SPF are used in moisturizers providing sun protection while moisturizing. 


Certain moisturizers act on skin surface microbes and help get rid of them.

Apart from this, smooth and hydrated skin gives a social life and psychological satisfaction.  

The moisturizers to go for

You need to be wary of ingredients that can further dry your skin when choosing a lotion, like, gel-based, alcohol-containing products.

Oil-free moisturizers; non-comedogenic; with plenty of vitamins - vitamin A and B5 for firmness and moisture levels, vitamins C and E for protection of new skin and fighting skin damage; SPF incorporated to prevent premature lines and wrinkles works best for your skincare regimen. 

The vitality of moisturization.  

Face, ears, neck, and chest have skin sensitive to environmental changes and more prone to develop skin cancer. These areas shed skin cells rapidly than other regions and need moisture for self reparation, allowing skin cells to rise to the surface.

Massaging lotions in circular motions also help blood circulation and cell generation.

Oiliness and extreme dryness can be reduced by religious moisturization. If not acted upon, then it will result in acne-like skin conditions.

Blemishes are covered by moisturizing and form a thin film covering any tint and even out skin tone.  

What shall you opt for?  


When you talk about oils, they are compatible with human skin as the outermost layers of skin are oil-based. Oils nourish these layers, replenishing and conditioning them in the process.

The barrier that the outer skin holds protects you from the constant suffering of infections, diseases, dehydration, and UV-induced damage.

Oil-products keep the skin barrier healthy.  

Coming to moisturizers.  

Moisturizers replenish the skin's barrier with a small amount of oil, but the primary function is hydration. Water and water-based ingredients are incorporated in moisturizers to sink deeper into the skin. Water-soluble active ingredients enhance the product's benefits.

Moisturizing creams and lotions containing water-based ingredients are supposed to reach a deeper skin layer before they activate. They have to cross the barrier. Therefore they are predominantly water incorporated and have less oil.  

The decree 

Dr. Dray says

that plant oils contain many bioactive compounds constituents that play a potential role in skin health both in our skin biology, restoring our skin's barrier preventing dry skin flares of itchy irritated skin. 

She further adds that oils also contain antioxidants, which, when applied to the skin, can potentially scavenge free radicals that damage skin leading to photoaging; they are frequently generated.

If your skin is hydrated, you may replace your lotion or cream with natural oils. Consequently, if you have a skin condition like eczema, and hydration is a vital requirement, you may integrate both.

When we are moisturizing, we hope to prevent the transepidermal water loss, preventing evaporation of water from the skin, which usually happens after we bathe. We remove our natural oils, shave, or use a harsh exfoliant. Consistent use of SME occlusive moisturizer combats TEWL and helps restore the skin barrier, promoting overall skin health.

But what is essential is that plant oils are not fantastic moisturizers. They soften the surface and coat. It provides a brightening effect on the skin, but it does not moisturize.

While plant oils are effective and emollients can soften the skin, plant oils' sole application won't work.

Certain skin conditions like rosacea, fungal acne, seborrheic dermatitis, etc. may worsen due to oil usage, and leaving them on makes you vulnerable to potential problems. Oils are not stable by themselves and are optimally advised to use products containing oils like cleansers.
Oils are NOT moisturizers.  

Advice By Minimalist

Use mild soaps, drink more water, wear SPF 30 or more when stepping out, moisturizing (with whatever you go for) is unavoidable.


In the end, it all boils down to personal inclination. Hyaluronic acid and ceramides infused lotions work best for hydration. As for the oils, herbs and extra oils work on repairing and nourishing based on the components' specialties.  

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When to use: AM / PM

Frequency: Everyday

View details