Can Face Oil Replace Face Moisturizer?

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Take a long look back into the history of skincare, and you’ll notice some ingredients used then are no longer on our shelves today.

For instance, the Elizabethans whitened their faces with lead. That said, the practice has been put to rest since lead has proven to be poisonous. If you lived during the Victorian age, you may have tried to prevent fine lines and wrinkles by mixing arsenic (also poisonous) with chalk and vinegar and applying the paste to your face.

You’ll also notice, however, that one ingredient continued to be used for thousands of years (and is still in use): oil. The ancient Egyptians are believed to have used moringa and fenugreek oils to soothe their sun and sand-exposed skin, while Aboriginal tribes of Australia are thought to have used emu oil as a moisturizer.

Which brings us to the subject of this article: Can face oil replace moisturizer? Face oils and moisturizers are similar, yet different, so let’s take a closer look at both products before answering the question.

What Is Face Oil?

Face oils are a skincare product all on their own, just like cleansers, toners, serums, and moisturizers. They’re a liquid product, usually sold in bottles with droppers, and are designed to improve the texture and appearance of your skin and keep it moisturized.

Face oils are usually made with plant-based oils, such as apricot kernel, argan, grapeseed, and marula oil, although they can also be of synthetic origin. However, synthetic ones can block pores. Properly extracted and unfiltered natural plant oils will do the opposite, and help leave you with dewy-looking skin.

You can apply face oil by squeezing a drop or two onto your fingers and massaging it into your skin, using a sweeping upward motion.

What’s The Purpose Of Face Oil?

In addition to softening your skin, and locking in hydration, the antioxidants in some face oils can help treat a variety of skin conditions, such as dryness, dullness, fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage, as well as protect your skin from environmental stressors.

In other words, you can probably find a face oil that’s right for your needs and skin type (more on this later).

To really get the maximum benefit from face oil, apply it after you put on moisturizer. And it’s OK to use more than one face oil at the same time to enjoy their different advantages! Just make sure your skin absorbs each one before applying the next one. Which brings us to …

Where To Include Face Oil In Your Skincare Routine

It’s important to apply your skincare products in a specific order so they can penetrate your skin properly and be their most effective. As a general rule, apply your lightest products first, such as liquids, and finish up with heavier products, such as creams.

This means face oil falls toward the end of your skincare routine, like in these skincare steps you can follow:

Step 1: Cleanser

A cleanser does just what it sounds like it does: cleans your skin by removing dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. Think of this step as prepping a canvas.

Step 2: Toner

Toner helps remove any residue that may be left after cleansing, and it preps your skin for more concentrated products, like serums. Apply toner after your face is dry from cleansing.

Step 3: Serum

Serums deliver high concentrations of active ingredients to your skin to help improve myriad conditions.

Step 4: Moisturizer

Hydrate your face with moisturizer, but be mindful of using one that suits your skin type. If it’s dry, for example, we recommend choosing a lightweight gel formulation. Oily skin? Skip the rich, heavy creams.

Step 5: Eye cream

Keep your peepers looking perfect by caring for their surrounding areas, where the skin is thin — and more susceptible to showing the first signs of aging.

Step 6: Face oil

Oil is nearly last because it will help seal in moisture. Let it fully sink in before applying sunscreen.

Carry out your skincare routine in the morning and at night. You can obviously skip the sunscreen after sunset.

Note that the key to an effective skincare routine is consistency. This will help you achieve and maintain results.

Why You Should Include Face Oil In Your Skincare Routine

There are many reasons why skincare aficionados love and use face oils. In addition to providing your skin with an extra layer of protection to trap moisture, they can:

• Reduce the look of wrinkles by stimulating the production of collagen

• Protect your skin from free radicals

• Even out your skin’s tone, texture, and color

• Brighten your skin

• Promote a glowy, dewy finish

Another reason to include face oil in your skincare routines is that there’s one for just about every skin type.

Is your skin dry and dehydrated? Look for a face oil made with oil that’s high in fatty acids, such as argan, Abyssinian, jojoba, marula, moringa, or pomegranate oil.

Oily skin doesn’t mean you have to avoid face oil! Not when you choose one that features rosehip, grapeseed, black cumin or pumpkin seed oil. Prone to acne breakouts? Face oil made with hemp oil might become your new go-to.

Marula oil will give combination skin some TLC, while skin that’s showing signs of aging may appreciate face oils loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, such as açai oil.

And if you have sensitive skin, a high-quality single-ingredient face oil (like one featuring squalene) may be right for you.

A Quick, Close Look At Face Oil’s Cousin, Moisturizer

When your skin doesn’t retain enough water, it can become dry, rough, and feel tight. Frequent cleansing or washing, environmental conditions, or medical conditions can suck out moisture. The good news is, that moisturizer can restore that hydration and make your skin feel so much better!

Keep an eye out for vitamin E on the list of ingredients, because it helps add moisture, or hyaluronic acid, to really help it stay put in your skin. Moisturizers can also be made of water, oil, ceramides, glycerin, petrolatum, and salicylic acid to replenish your skin.

You can also use moisturizers formulated to address various skin conditions, such as:

• Eczema

• Psoriasis

• Atopic dermatitis

• Contact dermatitis

• Cracked skin

Moisturizers also create a protective barrier against environmental stressors, such as dry or cold air, and helps makeup go on more evenly. And because it adds moisture to your skin, fine lines and wrinkles are “filled in” with that hydration, diminishing their appearance.

As per our skincare routine steps above, apply your moisturizer after eye cream and before you put on face oil. For the best results, we suggest using a moisturizer that matches your skin type.

Face Oil Versus Moisturizer

So if face oil and moisturizer both work to moisturize, they’re basically the same thing, right? While they both help hydrate your skin, they have some differences, too.

The main difference between face oil and moisturizer, as we mentioned, is that moisturizers hydrate your skin while face oils help keep it there. Let’s take a deeper dive:

Your skin can be hydrated in essentially three different ways: by using a humectant, an emollient, or an occlusive.

To hydrate your skin and maintain its healthy appearance, humectants pull moisture from your skin’s deeper layers and push it to the surface. Hyaluronic acid is one example of a humectant.

Emollients moisturize the skin when you apply them topically. Great examples of emollients include panthenol and cetearyl alcohol.

Occlusives create a barrier on the skin to stop it from losing moisture. They’re great on mature, extremely dry skin since these skin types can dehydrate quickly.

Generally speaking, face oils tend to be occlusive, preventing the skin from losing moisture, whereas moisturizers tend to be humectants and emollients.

Note that it’s best to use face oil in small amounts because it is oil, capable of clogging your pores in excessive amounts. Moisturizers tend to be creamy and can be used daily.

Can Face Oil Replace Moisturizer?

You’ve probably figured out by now that face oils can’t replace moisturizers. While they work toward the same goal (keeping your skin moisturized), they serve two different functions: moisturizer hydrates, while face oil helps that hydration by sealing moisture into your skin.

Another reason why face oil can’t replace moisturizer is face oils don’t actually moisturize, because they don’t contain any water themselves.

You can think of face oil as a supplement to your moisturizer — they kind of work like a tag team. Applying a moisturizer before a face oil will allow your skin to soak up the nourishing ingredients in the product, then face oil will seal that all in, as well as protect your skin from irritants.

So if you’d like relief from dry, tight skin, and want to improve the way it looks, consider adding this dynamic duo to your skincare routine. Hello, gorgeous!

Disclosure: We are a professional review and product rating website and mobile app that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review and rate. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own interpretations of a trusted source.


Can Face Oil Replace Face Moisturizer? was originally published in Think Dirty on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


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