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

Posted by Lara Schimweg on
Viele vermeintliche Vorteile von Gesichtsölen sind eigentlich Irrtümer

Facial oils are on everyone's lips. They are said to have many positive properties: They are supposed to moisturize, replace creams, serums and cleansers. Some even claim that oils have a natural sun protection factor. What's wrong with these myths? Spoilers: some things are true, but many aren't.

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

Many of the supposed benefits of facial oils are actually fallacies.

Selecting and combining the right oils is key to reaping the full benefits of facial oils.

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

Why is facial oil good?

We hear the following advantages again and again when it comes to facial oil. We go through them one by one, questioning whether the benefit is really a benefit.

Does oil moisturize?

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

But how does it come to the claim that pure facial oils are so moisturizing?

It's a bit of a misunderstanding. After all, (some) oils can trap 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 face oils is their drying effect if used incorrectly. you heard me right Pure oils can dry out your skin if you put them on dry skin. Exactly the lack of the moisturizing effect becomes the problem here. This is because oils act like a cleanser, washing out oils 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 put a moisturizing skin care product, like a cream or serum, on your skin before putting an oil on your skin.

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

But after all, oil prevents moisture loss?

That's partly true. Unfortunately, not every pure oil can hold 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 provide 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 examples 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 either. 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 do not tolerate silicones or only in small amounts.

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 every skin tolerates 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 a trigger for rosacea.

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

It is a very well tolerated oil that people with sensitive skin, with acne or Rosacea can use. That's why we use squalane in our creams and in our Human Glow facial oil.

Can oil replace a cream?

No, a pure vegetable oil cannot replace a cream because, as described above, it does not provide any moisture. You would have 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 the moisture.


Bright Head - serum spray for moisture

and Human Glow – The Universal Oil to lock in moisture.

Can oils make a cream richer?

There are some vegetable oils that will instantly add richness to your cream. A few drops to or above the cream are usually enough. Depending on the skin type and current skin condition, different oils make sense as a supplement.

Dry skin types benefit from oils rich in oleic acid. Vegetable oils can be a good supplement for dry skin that is not prone to pimples. 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 for sensitive skin. You can find a large proportion of oleic acid in organic marula oil, almond oil or avocado oil, for example. Depending on the harvest, however, 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 pimples or you are concerned about unprocessed vegetable oils, then Squalane could be your oil of 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 vegetable oils you can bring some antioxidants into your skin. Unprocessed oils contain many of these, depending on the type. These work against the free radicals and skin stress to which your skin is exposed in everyday life. It is best to use core or seed oils.

Can oil replace an active ingredient serum?

There are two answers here, depending on the product in question:

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 amount 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 natural retinol. However, the natural vitamin A content in rosehip seed oil is far too low to protect you from skin aging to the extent that a retinol serum would.

With a pure vegetable oil you can give your skin natural vitamins and antioxidants. However, don't expect them to act 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 of a supplement. With their natural vitamins and antioxidants, they act like a small shield against environmental stress. Your skin can benefit from the various fatty acids. At least if you choose the right oil, use it correctly and your skin tolerates unprocessed vegetable oils. Otherwise your skin might become unnecessarily dried out or irritated.

2. Oil blends: 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 to make them better tolerated. Such 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 naturally cannot 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 cleaning the mildest cleaning?

That's a common belief. This statement is too short and sweeping. It's true that pure vegetable oils are wonderful at removing 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 a mild facial cleansing . The so-called "Oil-Cleansing-Method" can lead to pimples, deposits and, in the worst case, to acne. A pure oil cannot be removed from the skin with water. This would leave a layer of grease mixed with dirt and make-up every time you clean it. That would be the perfect breeding ground for acne bacteria to multiply.

Ready -made oil cleaners are much more useful. In theory, these work in a similar way to pure oil, but they 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 the best for every skin type. Some skin types are sensitive to oil cleansers containing unprocessed vegetable oils

Hand of a woman with cleansing foam

Facial Cleansing: The foundation of your skincare routine

Sugar surfactants and neutral fats are just as mild, if not even milder, ways of cleaning the skin. Neutral fat dissolves make-up, dirt and sunscreen. It doesn't feed acne bacteria. The mild sugar surfactants, like the emulsifiers in oil cleaning, mean that you can wash everything off easily.

Don't get me wrong: Every cleansing is a small intervention in the natural function of your skin. Unfortunately, make-up, sun protection and the like cannot be washed off with water alone. Therefore, a 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 surfactants. This gives it a "cream effect" and ensures that your skin retains exactly the amount of fat it needs. This means you need less cream.

Can the skin learn to produce less fat?

We've heard that many times. If you put pure vegetable oils on your skin, it is said to lead to the skin learning that it no longer needs so much oil.

Unfortunately, that's not entirely true. The skin cannot really learn. She is reacting to the acute situation, but this has no impact on the future. If you apply lotion to your dry skin regularly, you will help it not to dry out further. She becomes more resilient. If you stop applying cream, your skin returns to its original dry state within one skin cycle. It's similar to oil. When you put an oil on your skin, the oil does not teach the skin. The contained fatty acids balance your skin. Here's why:

Oils can balance the fat on the skin

When your skin barrier is weakened, the fats on your skin are out of balance. Even if you have more stress, slept less or your hormones are going a little crazy. During this time you will probably have a few more inflammations, redness and pimples. Then it may be that your skin contains just too little linoleic acid. The fat spectra in your skin are not in balance. This is more common with combination skin, oily skin, very dry skin and dry oily skin.

Linoleic acids are found naturally in certain vegetable oils, such as hemp seed oil , rosehip seed oil, or as pure linoleic acid in oil blends. This explains the effect that some oils make the skin less greasy. Just a few drops are enough to even out your fat spectrum. But there are a few things to consider when it comes to vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid .

Here you can find out which oils are suitable for combination skin and oily skin .

Linoleic acid in skin care: How to use it correctly

Facial oils for combination skin and impure skin: which one is suitable?

Can Oils Cure Acne?

Here it depends on what you understand by the term acne:

Acne is a skin condition that requires medical treatment. It cannot be cured with a vegetable oil. In fact, unprocessed vegetable oils are the best food for acne bacteria. Therefore, even for some people with mild pimples, the "oils help with acne" tip will lead to full-blown acne developing in the first place. There are lists of comedogenic (pimple promoting) and non-comedogenic oils on the internet. However, these lists are hardly meaningful to us humans, since the oils were tested in studies on rabbit ears.

If you only have a few pimples and inflammation due to hormonal fluctuations, stress and the like, or if your skin has become drier due to acne treatments, a vegetable oil can actually help. Then it depends on your individual skin and the choice of the right vegetable oil. If your skin is a bit out of balance and therefore more pimples and inflammation are developing, oils with a high proportion of linoleic acid can make sense. More on that in the previous section.

Is oil a natural sunscreen?

No!!! No!!!!! No!!!!!!!!

It is irresponsible that pure oils are offered and advertised as super natural sunscreen substitutes.

Like many other ingredients, oils form a thin layer on the skin. This means they can theoretically provide minimal protection from the sun's rays. However, this protection is far too weak.

Vegetable oils cannot replace sunscreen. On the contrary: there are even vegetable oils that cause skin stress when they come into contact with sunlight. Hemp oil is high in good linoleic acids but is not stable when exposed to UV rays. Then it breaks down and free radicals form. The skin then not only has to deal with the sun but also with additional skin stress. Not so ideal

Vegetable oils cannot replace sunscreen

If you want to use oil for skin care, that's totally fine. Only use stable oils during the day and please do not use vegetable oil as a substitute for sunscreen.

Effective sun protection is important to prevent skin cancer. With sensitive skin it is extremely difficult to find a good sunscreen.

Get our free sun protection guide for sensitive skin here

Here are tips and sunscreens from different brands that may be suitable for sensitive skin.

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Oils consist of only one ingredient?

Isn't a vegetable oil the most minimalist skin care product because it consists of just one ingredient? Sounds logical, but it's wrong: Unprocessed vegetable oils consist of many components. If there is only one term on the list of ingredients (INCI), it does not mean that it consists of only one ingredient. From a chemical point of view, plants consist of a whole cocktail of different substances.

That's one of the benefits of oils. Many use oils because they contain a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and certain fatty acids. Only the skin is not a plant. There are a lot of substances that have a good effect, but also a few substances that our skin does not need. And not every skin tolerates it.

Isn't it then possible to use only the "good" parts of the oils? Neutral oils and squalane can be obtained from natural oils. Squalane is similar to the fat in our skin. It occurs as a component, for example, in vegetable olive oil or sugar cane. Caprylic/ Capric triglycerides (neutral oil) can be obtained from coconut oil. Because these oils are extracted from the original oils, they are so compatible and truly one-ingredient. The only disadvantage: Unfortunately, they no longer contain any vitamins or antioxidants. These can easily be added to a neutral oil or squalane. This would always contain the right amount of vitamins and antioxidants. If you want to know more about it, read this article to the end.

Is Pure Oil Best for Sensitive Skin?

As you can probably guess by now, the answer is no. If you use oils incorrectly, pure oils can actually dry out the skin. Sensitive skin does not tolerate every vegetable oil. It depends on the type of oil. Unprocessed vegetable oils can be food for acne bacteria if your skin is acne-prone. Some oils have a stimulating effect. This is problematic, for example, with rosacea and skin prone to redness. Some vegetable oils may contain natural essential oils that can cause allergies and irritation. An unprocessed vegetable oil contains significantly more ingredients than a minimalist cream.

If you have sensitive skin and would like to use unprocessed vegetable oils, seed and fruit kernel oils are most suitable, as these are more compatible than unprocessed vegetable oils obtained from the flowers. So you can be sure that there are no irritating essential oils. Seeds and fruit kernel oils can be a good addition if you have sensitive skin. However, a vegetable oil alone is not an ideal substitute for a cream.

Processed oil ingredients such as squalane , medium-chain fatty acids (caprylic/ capric triglycerides), linoleic acid (linoleic acid) or linolenic acid (linolenic acid) are even better for sensitive skin. These oils are best in combinations that come close to the composition of the fats in the skin.

Vegetable oils are good for massage

Oils are wonderful for a massage. They make the skin supple and your hands or your massage tool can glide better on the skin with the help of oil. This will prevent your skin from getting injured. Without oil, the massage would feel very dull. And cream often absorbs too quickly for a massage with a Gua Sha or with your hands to be possible. Pressure injuries are more likely to occur without oil. Pay special attention to the massage oil that it glides enough so that you can massage in a relaxed manner.

To prevent the massage oil from drying out the skin, we recommend always moistening the skin beforehand.

Here you will find fair massage tools for facial massage:

Oils give the skin a glow

Oils lay on the skin like a protective layer and keep the moisture inside. As a result, they give a certain radiance to particularly slightly dry and dry skin. Because if your skin lacks fats, the skin can look sallow and tired. With a facial oil you can give your skin a natural glow again.

However, don't overdo it with unprocessed vegetable oils. They are more to be understood as complementary oils. The skin is not a plant and will not be able to incorporate all of the components into the skin. That's why some unprocessed vegetable oils are more likely to leave behind a greasy layer of fat than beautiful, glowing skin.

It is best not only to use facial oils but to combine several methods for a natural glow . This is healthier for the skin and will also look more natural.

Natural glow: What other cosmetic brands don't tell you

So is face oil good or bad? Which is the best face oil?

Pure vegetable oils and vegetable oil mixtures promise more than they can. So is oil bad for your skin? Neither does that. Oils are not an all-rounder but a nice addition to your skin care routine. If you want, you can bring a few more natural vitamins and antioxidants into the skin by adding a vegetable oil or two. However, a mild cream is clearly superior to a pure, unprocessed oil. A good cream also contains antioxidants and also has important properties that a pure oil lacks.

We could end this article with the advice: just use a cream. But we don't make it that easy for ourselves. An oil just feels different than a cream . That is why many people feel the need to take care of themselves with an oil or an oil mixture. It's easy. The skin also gets vitamins, antioxidants and good fats. The skin feels supple and soft. Oil is great for a little relaxing massage. Some oils absorb so quickly. Not to mention that oils are very economical and work perfectly under make-up. With oil, the skin glows and that thanks to a completely natural product.

That's exactly what we've been thinking about over the past few years and trying out a few things. The topic of oil became our passion. We really wanted to know everything and have written one or two articles about facial oils, like this one.

We couldn't let go of the question: it must be possible. Making an oil blend that does what's expected of facial oils - without the downsides.

For a long time we thought about offering a pure Squalane. However, squalane lacks vitamins and antioxidants. Also, skin is not 100% squalane. Therefore, it could be too much for the skin on its own.

That's why we didn't choose pure squalane, but radically rethought the category of facial oils: A facial oil shouldn't be complicated to use. Choosing the right oil shouldn't be difficult. You don't have to work your way into all the oils if you don't feel like it. Don't worry about choosing the wrong facial oil - for example, if you have sensitive skin or if you're prone to breakouts. An oil has to be more than just a bottle full of fat.

A facial oil should be smart. And so "Human Glow - The Universal Serum-Oil" was born. It makes your skin glow and is well tolerated because it symbolically consists of the fats that we humans are made of, from very well tolerated processed vegetable oil components. These are also suitable for sensitive skin or skin prone to pimples. It contains antioxidants and vitamins that make a difference on your skin: Vitamin E and Q10 make Human Glow a real oil serum. So it's a vegetable oil that isn't a typical vegetable oil - made up of fewer components than any unprocessed vegetable oil.

Human Glow calms inflammation and locks in moisture so your skin doesn't dry out. Simply apply to damp skin or over a moisturizing skincare product. It is a very pleasant massage oil and is very suitable as a preparation for make-up. Of course, it doesn't protect you from the sun. So don't forget sunscreen !

This face oil works for sensitive skin and for anyone who has had secret dreams of finally being able to take care of themselves with a pure, all-natural face oil. Wish fulfilled?! ;)

Our recommendation for your routine:

Bright Head - Serum Spray For Moisture And Above

Human Glow - The Universal Serum-Oil as a facial oil to lock in moisture, as a healthy aging oil serum or as a priming oil.

Lara Schimweg

about the author

Lara Schimweg is the founder of Xeno . She studied sports science and health research and is a trained health worker. Lara has rosacea and very sensitive skin.

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