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Is facial oil good or bad? 15 benefits of facial oils put to the test

Posted by Lara Schimweg on

Facial oils are on everyone's lips. They are said to have many positive properties: They are said to provide moisture and replace creams, serums and cleansers. Some even claim that oils have a natural sun protection factor. What is behind these myths? Spoiler: some things are true, but many things are not.

Some fear that oils are even bad for the skin. Is that true?

Many supposed benefits of facial oils are actually misconceptions.

In order to benefit from all the benefits of facial oils, it is important to select and combine the right oils.

Pure, unprocessed vegetable oils even have some disadvantages for the skin.

Why is facial oil good?

We hear the following benefits again and again when it comes to facial oil. We'll go through one thing at a time, questioning whether the advantage is really an advantage.

Does oil moisturize?

It is often said that pure oils are ideal for the skin because they provide so much moisture. However, that is not the case. Moisture means water combined with moisturizing ingredients such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, PCA, sugar, etc. However, oils consist only of fats. So how is an oil supposed to moisturize?

But why do people claim that pure facial oils are so moisturizing?

It's a small misunderstanding. Because (some) oils can lock in moisture in the skin and slow down moisture loss. The fat layer prevents the skin from losing even more moisture. Provided you choose the right oil.

However, what you should keep in mind with all pure facial oils is that they can have a drying effect if used incorrectly. You heard right. Pure oils can dry out your skin if you apply them to dry skin. It is precisely the lack of moisturizing effect that becomes a problem here. Because oils act like a cleanser and wash out oil from your skin when you put them on dry skin. This would result in even more moisture being lost. So pure facial oils should always be applied to damp skin. The minimum is water, but not ideal. It's best to apply a moisturizing skin care product, such as a cream or serum, to your skin before applying an oil to your skin.

With serum (e.g. our serum spray ) and oil you can get close to a cream in 2 steps.

But does oil at least prevent moisture loss?

That's partly true. Unfortunately, not every pure oil can retain moisture in your skin. Light oils rich in linoleic acid or jojoba oil , for example, cannot retain enough moisture in the skin. These oils make sense if you want to supply your skin with certain fatty acids. Pure olive oil can even cause your skin to lose more moisture.

In conventional cosmetics, mineral oils are often used to retain moisture in the skin. Mineral oils retain moisture extremely well in the skin. The best example of this are cold creams and petroleum jelly for dry skin. Unfortunately, mineral oil is harmful to the environment and is not always suitable for sensitive skin. Mineral oil is a trigger for rosacea . Silicones can be used for combination skin. However, these have little to do with the structure of the skin, but are usually better tolerated than mineral oil. However, people with rosacea often cannot tolerate silicones or only tolerate them in small quantities.

In natural cosmetics, unprocessed vegetable oils and rich vegetable butters are used instead to retain moisture in the skin. These are not as effective as mineral oil or silicone. Therefore, a lot of fat is often used in natural cosmetics. Unfortunately, not all skin can tolerate unprocessed vegetable oils and fats because the skin is not structured like a plant. You should keep this in mind when switching to natural cosmetics . Unprocessed vegetable oils can also be food for acne bacteria and are also among the triggers for rosacea.

Squalane is almost as good as mineral oil when it comes to moisturizing properties. Squalane can be obtained from olive oil or sugar cane and is therefore an ideal replacement for vegetable oils and butters in natural cosmetics. But that's not all: Squalane occurs naturally in your skin in the form of squalene and is therefore seamlessly integrated into your skin layers. Since the amount of squalene in the skin decreases with age, skin care products containing squalane are useful to compensate for the loss.

It is a very tolerable oil that is also suitable for people with sensitive skin, acne or Rosacea can be used. That's why we use squalane in our creams and in our face oil Human Glow .

Can oil replace a cream?

No, pure vegetable oil cannot replace a cream because, as described above, it does not provide any moisture. You would need to combine an oil with a serum or other moisturizing product to get close to the effect of a cream. Even with pure squalane you lack moisture.


Bright Head – Serum spray for hydration and Squalane or Human Glow to lock in moisture.

Can oils make a cream richer?

There are some plant oils that will make your cream richer in no time. A few drops added to or over the cream are usually enough. Depending on your skin type and current skin condition, different oils make sense as a supplement.

Dry skin types benefit from oils rich in oleic acid. For dry skin that doesn't tend to break out easily, plant oils can be a good addition. However, if the skin barrier is weak, oleic acid can further weaken the barrier. So be careful if you have sensitive skin, especially if you have neurodermatitis, rosacea or psoriasis. If you use active ingredients, oleic acid can transport the active ingredients deeper into the skin. This can be an advantage, but also a disadvantage if you have sensitive skin. You can find a large proportion of oleic acid in organic marula oil, almond oil or avocado oil, for example. However, depending on the harvest, the proportion can vary greatly. Tip: If you have dry skin, you could use a few drops once a week to avoid putting too much oleic acid on your skin.

If your skin is prone to breakouts or you are concerned about unprocessed vegetable oils, then squalane could be the oil of your choice. Because squalane, obtained from olive oil or sugar cane, is an oil that is compatible with all skin types.

Facial oils provide the skin with vitamins and antioxidants

With the different plant oils you can bring some antioxidants into your skin. Depending on the type, unprocessed oils contain many of these. These work against the free radicals and skin stress that your skin is exposed to in everyday life. It's best to use kernel or seed oils.

Can oil replace an active serum?

There are two answers here, depending on what product it is:

1. As described above, pure vegetable oils usually naturally contain vitamin C, E or A. However, you cannot compare the effect with a serum that is enriched with vitamins. For example, the proportion of vitamin C in marula oil is much lower than in a vitamin C serum . In addition, the vitamin C is not as stable as in a serum. Another example is rosehip seed oil, which is often advertised as a natural retinol. However, the natural vitamin A content in rosehip seed oil is far too low to protect you from skin aging to the same extent as a retionol serum would.

With a pure vegetable oil you can give your skin natural vitamins and antioxidants. However, you shouldn't expect them to work like vitamin serums. You probably won't be able to lighten pigment spots with marula oil. And you probably don't need retinol. Pure vegetable oils are more likely to be seen as a supplement. With their natural vitamins and antioxidants, they act like a small umbrella against environmental stress. Your skin can benefit from the different fatty acids. At least if you choose the right oil, use it correctly and your skin can tolerate unprocessed vegetable oils. Otherwise your skin might become unnecessarily dried out or irritated.

2. Oil mixtures: It makes sense to dissolve certain vitamins in pure oils because they can then be better absorbed by the skin. And some vitamins are intentionally dissolved in oils so that they are better tolerated. An oil serum with added active ingredients can work just as well as a water-based serum . Of course, this also depends on the active ingredients. Some active ingredients are water-soluble and therefore cannot of course be used in a purely oil-based product.

Tip: Active ingredients dissolved in oil are milder than those dissolved in water. Therefore, oil serums can be a good idea for sensitive skin.

Is oil cleansing the mildest cleanse?

This is a widespread opinion. This statement is too short and general. It's true that pure plant oils wonderfully dissolve dirt, grease and make-up. This works according to the principle “like dissolves like”, i.e. oil dissolves fats and everything that is dissolved in them. A pure vegetable oil is still not ideal for mild facial cleansing . The so-called “oil cleansing method” can lead to pimples, underlays and, in the worst case, acne. Pure oil cannot be removed from the skin with water. Every time you clean, a layer of grease would remain mixed with dirt and make-up. This would be the perfect breeding ground for acne bacteria to multiply.

Ready -made oil cleaners are much more useful. In theory, these work similarly to pure oil, but also contain emulsifiers. These ensure that you can completely wash the oil off your skin. No greasy film remains. This type of cleaning is mild. However, this is not necessarily best for every skin type. Some skin types are sensitive to oil cleansers with unprocessed plant oils

Hand of a woman with cleansing foam Facial cleansing: The foundation of your skin care routine

Sugar surfactants and neutral fats are an equally mild, if not even milder way to cleanse the skin. Neutral grease dissolves make-up, dirt and sunscreen. It does not feed acne bacteria. The mild sugar surfactants, similar to the emulsifiers in oil cleaning, mean that you can wash everything off easily.

Don't get it wrong: every cleansing is a small intervention in the natural function of your skin. Unfortunately, makeup, sunscreen, etc. cannot be washed off with water alone. That's why daily, mild cleansing in the evening is very important. However, pure vegetable oils are just as unsuitable as harsh cleaners with harsh wax substances, such as sodium laureth sulfate (SLS).

Here you will find our mild facial cleanser for very sensitive skin . Game Changer combines an oil cleansing with a very mild surfactant cleansing with sugar tensin. This gives it a “creamed effect” and ensures that your skin retains exactly the amount of oil it needs. This means you need less cream.

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