The 11 best face oils, no matter what your skin type - with expert advice on how to use them

Our beauty experts pick the best face oils for a spectrum of skin concerns

A selection of the best face oils from Soho Skin, Sunday Riley and Cosmoss
(Image credit: Future)

Choosing the best face oils is no mean feat, as the breadth of options seems to widen by the minute. Got a skin concern? There's an oil for you. And yes, that includes the oilier-skinned among us and even those who experience acne.

In years gone by, the thought of slapping oil on one's face may have sent a shudder down skincare fans' spines. As we increasingly learn, however, not all long-held beliefs in the beauty world are correct. Laden with soothing ingredients, used on their own or on top of the best face moisturisers, the best face oils can provide robust hydration and help protect the skin. 

Don't believe us? Just look at the science. A 2018 study published by the National Institute of Health, credits plant oils with having, "anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the skin, promotion of wound healing and repair of skin barrier." If you're not already using these complexion boosters, prepare to be impressed, as we've compiled this tried and tested list of the best face oils for every skin type, at every budget. 

The best face oils, tested by our beauty experts

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

How we tested the best face oils

A selection of the oils Aoife tested for this guide

A selection of the oils we tested for this guide

(Image credit: Aoife Hanna)

When testing the best face oils our team considered the following factors:

  • Key ingredients
  • Texture
  • Absorption 
  • Fragrance
  • Value for money

What are the benefits of face oil?

As you may already have learned, face oils are a skincare product designed with moisture and hydration in mind, to create softer and better-nourished skin. Dr Christine Hall, a skincare expert and aesthetic doctor from the Taktouk Clinic explains to us that face oils are an occlusive product. "This means that they create a barrier on the outermost surface of the skin locking in everything that you have applied to your skin beforehand, but also protecting your skin from pollutants and toxins on the outside."

Plastic surgeon and brand founder of Anokha, Dr Nina S. Naidu adds that they're not only useful for locking in moisture - but often feature in the best cleansers too. "Face oils can be used to cleanse, soothe, and hydrate depending upon the specific composition," she says. "They're the ultimate way to customize your skincare regime."

Who should use face oils?

Facialist and cosmetic scientist Sarah Chapman, who founded award-winning skincare brand Skinesis says that anyone can add face oil to their skincare regime - no matter their skin type. 

"It’s a common misconception that oils and even oil-based cleansers aren’t suitable for those with oily skin. Our skin produces its own natural oil – sebum – so oil is easily absorbed through the existing oil pathways and helps the skin to regulate its own production."

Dr Mazin Al-Khafaji, world leading clinician in Chinese medicine and founder of Dermatology M agrees that anyone can use a face oil and that in fact, these trusty products will complement and enhance the skin products you are using. "In combination with moisturizers, they lock in hydration, and they offer a perfect base to use before applying makeup," he explains.

How should you use facial oils?

Face oils can be used as often as twice a day as part of your everyday routine and you might want to do this if you have particularly dry skin, says Hall. "For most though, I would only suggest using it at night and perhaps even less often if you have oily skin - maybe every other night."

Naidu agrees that using face oils in the morning and evening is fine - if it suits your skin type and environment. "If you have very oily skin and live in a humid climate, evening application will be more comfortable," she suggests.

Hall adds that how, and in which part of your skincare routine, face oils are applied is important. As a rule of thumb, she suggests that they should be applied after your moisturizer as the last step in your evening routine and just before the best facial sunscreen in your morning routine. 

"They are actually less hydrating than you think when used on their own," warns Hall. "So what you apply and lock in beforehand is really important."

Hall also suggests, for anybody wondering how to use a gua sha, that using the best face oils is a sure-fire way to enhance your gua sha and facial massage as they, "help to reduce pull and tugging on the skin that can lead to inflammation and redness."

Will face oils give me acne?

Putting oil onto an already congested face may seem like utter insanity, and a one-way ticket to breakout central. However, the experts say that isn't the case and that if you're on the quest to discover how to get rid of acne, maybe you actually need an oil.

"Face oils will not give you acne and in some cases can help to control it," explains Naidu. "The key is to use the appropriate facial oil for your specific concern."

Al-Khafaji adds, "it seems counterintuitive to use face oils on acne-prone skin, but some of them are eminently suitable for those experiencing can. They can dramatically improve the appearance of acne-scarred skin, as well as smooth and rebalance the skin so as to prevent further breakouts."

However, Hall believes that for some people facial oils will be too much. "I would say that the majority of people with acne-prone skin will not like using facial oils," she says. "Oils can clog pores and lead to blackheads and spots and if you are adding oils onto already oily skin you are perhaps only adding to the problem."  

She explains that some oils are far worse than others and coconut oil is definitely one to be avoided. "That said there are some face oils out there that are non-comedogenic and some people find that they get on fine with [coconut oil] but I would be cautious."

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly woman&home's junior news editor and a contributing writer at Bustle, her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica and EVOKE.

Her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.

With contributions from