The best facial oils to treat dry skin this winter


These effective formulas restore your shine without leaving any greasy residue.

Dryness, flaking, redness, itching: Ah, winter must be here considering how much the skin condition is currently on the rise. The best antidote: super-nourishing facial oils that, thanks to their high lipid content, heal parched areas and repair your moisture barrier to prevent water loss. These elixirs have proven so effective that there are now hundreds to choose from, which can be a little overwhelming. Plus, applying oils isn’t as intuitive as applying moisturizer. Each formula feels different and most are extremely versatile, allowing you to apply them in different ways. Consider this a guide to frequently asked questions – when is the best time to apply? How much should I use? What to combine oils with – so you can get through the winter with a healthy, dewy glow.

Apply as a final step, but also experiment

Most experts agree that facial oils should be applied as the last step in your skincare routine, before sunscreen and makeup. The reason for this is that most vegetable oils have a large molecular structure, meaning they are found primarily in the upper layers of the skin. Products with smaller molecules, like essences and serums and water-based moisturizers, penetrate deeper and should therefore go under your oil. But it doesn’t hurt to experiment to find what works best for you. People with extremely dry skin sometimes apply an oil first, allow it to absorb completely, and then continue with the rest of their skin care routine. Others also dab the oil over makeup to add a little extra shine.

Pat on oils, do not rub

Unlike creams and serums, oils don’t need to be applied all over the face, from the chin to the hairline. If you only have a few dry patches, instead, spot treat where needed—for example, on your cheeks and other high spots on your face. A little goes a long way: put a few drops on your fingertips, spread, then press and pat onto your face. If you think oils are making you feel greasy, it’s probably because you’re applying too much.

Mix with other products

For an extra boost of moisture, oils can be combined with other beauty products. Try adding a drop to your moisturizer or even foundation and blending on the back of your hand to add more hydration to your routine.

Get the benefits without the shine by applying it at night

If you prefer a minimalist, matte look during the day, apply your oil as a night treatment before bed. Leave it on for a few minutes before hitting the pillow to avoid transferring.

Choose the right oil for your skin needs

Most formulas contain multiple oils that work in harmony to provide a spectrum of benefits. Here are some of our favorite overall blends.

To lift and refine:

Pai Skincare Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil

Rosehip is rich in omega fatty acids and antioxidants to stimulate cell regeneration – and has long been used in folk medicine as a remedy to treat wounds, scars and fine lines. Sensitive skin fans especially love it as it soothes redness without causing breakouts. To maximize the benefits, this cult favorite British clean beauty brand uses supercritical CO2 extraction (a non-toxic, low temperature, low pressure process) to harness the plant’s superpowers.

To brighten and protect:

Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate Oil

Think of this as a daily vitamin to revive dull skin. Maqui, a fruit known for its uniquely high levels of nutrients such as vitamin C, is combined with antioxidant-rich berries as well as jojoba and sunflower oils that are light and easily absorbed. The formula gets top marks for being hydrating but non-greasy, especially for combination skin.

For clarifying and toning:

Sunday Riley Luna Night Oil

Retinol is the gold standard for tightening skin, improving pores, and smoothing skin, but it can often be drying. This clever elixir combines retinol with healing botanical oils – anti-inflammatory German chamomile, soothing blue tansy – for a clear, radiant complexion. Use it at night, as retinol can make you sensitive to the sun (and don’t worry about the oil’s blue hue not transferring to your skin).

Heal from head to toe:

Noto Botanics Agender Oil

It’s one of the best multitasking oils, formulated with hydrating organic hemp, calming vetiver, and calming lavender. The result is a versatile tincture that can be dabbed onto your face, arms, legs, and even hair to get rid of frizz (or massaged into the roots as an intensive treatment for dry, flaky scalps).

+ Do you have any further questions about facial oils? Send them to us in the comments!

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