Ask Anna: What Exactly Is A Facial Oil?


I’m so excited about my latest reader-submitted Ask Anna question!:

So…what’s the deal with facial oils? I’m reading about them everywhere, but adding oil to my skin seems so counterintuitive (especially since my skin is already oily). Help?


SUCH a good question! Let’s dig in:

Since joining Beautycounter as a consultant (almost exactly two years ago — time flies!), I’ve discovered the amazingness of facial oil. (I use Beautycounter’s No. 2 Plumping Facial Oil, geared toward preventing/fighting the signs of aging and formulated for people with dry skin.)

But facial oils aren’t just a Beautycounter thing.

You’ve likely heard about them before, even if you haven’t tried them personally.

goop says “you’ll see serious benefits right away.” Popsugar Beauty claims that “oil moisturizers are the best thing for your skin.” Allure touts that “the right oil can actually help balance out oil production and help kick acne to the curb.”

Okay, so there’s lots of love for oils out there, and apparently it’s good for people with all skin types, but what’s the science behind facial oils? To help answer this question, I reached out to my friend and aesthetician, Janine Berard of Rave Beauty.

Janine knows her stuff, so I knew she’d be the perfect resource for this question! Here’s what she had to say:

  • A facial oil is usually a blend of a few different oils and DOES NOT contain water (whereas a moisturizer contains water, oil, actives, and emulsifiers to bind and stabilize ingredients).
  • Oils are able to penetrate down to the base layer of the epidermis due to their fatty acids. Fatty acids work with the skin barrier by preventing moisture loss. (The outermost layers of the skin are oil based, and so if the natural oils are compromised you will see dry/dehydrated skin, uneven texture, and/or sensitivity of the skin.) By containing ingredients mentioned above, a facial oil can maintain and repair the skin’s barrier.
  • Oils that contain a mineral oil are best to stay away from as they are comedogenic (clog pores).
  • Facial oils can be used on ALL skin types, including oily. An oil will maintain a healthy, supple skin. A facial oil will help balance oil production and normalize skin function. This is a challenging idea for those with oily skin as they do not want to be any more “greasy,” but in fact, oil attracts oil and therefore it does create balance.
  • An oil is best applied last in a skin care regimen. A great rule of thumb for skin care is to apply the thinnest viscosity to thickest (due to molecular structure).
  • There are multiple way to apply: An oil can be applied over top of a moisturizer for additional hydration, or over a serum for a beautiful rich treatment. A drier skin may even like to apply a few drops in the morning for more of supple feeling to the skin, followed by a daily SPF.

Thank you, thank you, Janine! This is such awesome info.

I hope that helps answer your question a bit, reader! 🙂 Thank you again for your question. (Oh, and Beautycounter has an amazing oil for those with oily skin, or skin that’s red and unbalanced: No. 3 Balancing Facial Oil.)

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