It seems silly to put oil on your face when most of us don’t want to look oily—especially if we already happen to have oily, acne-prone, or combination skin. But that hasn’t stopped companies from making new face oils seemingly every week.
They usually smell great and feel luxurious, but are they actually doing anything for you? Experts tell us that the answer to that depends on both the oil and your skin.
Yes, your skin already makes oil.
The one type of oily substance you probably know about already is called sebum, which is secreted by the skin’s sebaceous glands and contributes to the noticeable oiliness on the face. But there are also other lipids (fats and oils) produced by cells in the stratum corneum, the protective outer layer of skin that functions as the skin’s primary protection against water loss. Together, the oils produced by your skin keep the layers of your skin soft, seal hydration in, and protect against allergens and pathogens by keeping the skin layers in tact.
Any oil is hydrophobic, including the oils that your face produces, which means that they’ll keep water from escaping. And that in turn keeps your skin hydrated. “Hydration is really a function of water balance, so oils help hold water in and prevent the environment from stripping water out,” Tyler Hollmig, M.D., director of Laser and Aesthetic Dermatology at Stanford Health Care, tells SELF.
Without natural oils, your skin will be dry.
n the other hand, if your skin is oily, that’s because your skin produces too much oil (sebum).
But, of course, it’s not always that simple.
Using harsh skin-care products (like some acne products) can either dry out your skin or even cause the skin to produce more oil in response to dryness, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) explains. “People with oily skin tend to think that a moisturizer will make the problem worse,” Joel Schlessinger, M.D., board-certified dermatologist from Omaha, Nebraska, tells SELF. “However, neglecting to hydrate your skin is a key component in excess sebum production.”
And then there are people with combination skin, meaning that it’s both dry and oily. Basically, everyone could use some type of moisturizer. But whether or not an oil will help moisturize your skin depends on your skin type and the oil.
What do facial oils do, exactly?
Facial oils are seemingly everywhere right now, and they have a long history in skin care. In fact, the ancient Egyptians reportedly used oils in cosmetics as early as 4500 B.C.E. But what do face oils actually do?
The basic idea is that putting an oil on your face will help supplement the natural oils your skin is (or isn’t) producing in an effort to add moisture to your skin and help repair the barrier that keeps that moisture in. Depending on the type of oil—lilac, rose coconut, neem, tea tree, etc.—the oil may naturally have other purported benefits, like anti-inflammatory or antioxidant properties, but those are bonuses. The biggest benefit that comes with an oil is the moisturizing benefit.
So, how do moisturizers work? There are essentially three ways a moisturizer can increase the water level in your skin.
The crucial factor here is the size of the fatty acid molecules that make up the oil. If they’re too big to get through the skin barrier, they sit on top and act as occlusives. If they’re small enough to get through, they may be able to penetrate to deeper layers.Plus, some oils come with other benefits, such as antioxidants or anti-inflammatory properties, that might make them beneficial for certain skin concerns. Whether or not an oil is the best choice for that issue is another question.
Different face oils claim to combat different skin concerns—and it’s not always about hydration.
“The problem with a lot of these oils is there’s like a new flavor of the week every week,” Dr. Zampella says. “There’s a new oil that somebody’s trying out on their skin all the time, so there’s just not a lot of data to say this definitely works for this or that.”
There are some oils that we know more about than others, he says. Tea tree oil, for instance, has been shown to have some antibacterial and antifungal properties that can be useful for acne and seborrheic dermatitis,. And rose hip oil is often touted as having antioxidant benefits.
The biggest benefit you might get from using an oil would be moisturizing, some oils are marketed as having other benefits. But every single oil product hasn’t been researched—and your derm probably isn’t going to recommend tea tree oil or rose hip as a first-line treatment over something like, say, a salicylic acne medication or topical retinoid that’s been in proven to work in a specific formula.
But when we’re talking about treating or managing specific skin conditions, there’s almost always a product that has more peer-reviewed research or clinical trials and testimonials behind it.
“Why would you [use] an oil that has an unknown concentration of something in it when you could [use] something that has a known concentration of that?” Dr. Zampella says. You don’t necessarily know if it’s going to be effective and you also don’t know the potential dangers of putting it on your skin.
Organic Body Shop has skin care in 4 categories
1-Ageless -over 35 -retinol,Q10,Salsilic Acid,Borage Oil and Rosehip iFacial Care
2-Vita C -under 35 -castor oil,buttermilk,Vitamin C Facial Care
3-Vita E-all ages acne,oil,combination,hormonal with Tea tree and Vitamin E facial Care
4 -Neem Sea allages-sensitive,prone to skin redness and reactions.
Because we are dealing with cosmetic products—not drugs—it’s difficult to know what each patient is actually putting on her skin and how she’s likely to respond to it,Therefore, patients with sensitive skin or known allergies to botanical ingredients may need to be extra cautious when using an oil. As a reminder: Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s inherently safe.