For a very long time, I avoided using any kind of face oil for fear that it would make my oily/combination skin, 'even more oily'. As my skincare knowledge grew, I quickly realised that this is one of the biggest myths in the beauty world. So much so, that the opposite is in fact true; using a face oil on oily skin can actually make it less oily and more balanced because your skin isn't having to work so hard to make more natural oil/sebum for your face. Once I had embraced this, I soon began to reap the many benefits of incorporating one into my skincare routine, and I branched out into serums as well. Finding one to suit you can take some trial and error though, so I thought I'd share five of my own favourite face oils and serums to give you an idea as to what's on the market.
What's the difference between a face oil and a face serum, and when do I use them in my skincare routine?
A face serum is typically a concentrated formula that usually address a specific skin problem (blemish prone, anti-aging, drying, etc) and promises to deliver one or more benefits. You apply it first, after cleansing and toning. It should be lightweight and absorb quickly into the skin, providing a base for the next step in your skincare routine. The formulas are especially created to contain very small molecules to allow this. A face oil on the other hand has much larger molecules and acts more like a moisturiser. As the name suggests, they're usually made up of a specific or combination of oils, and can take a little longer to absorb into the skin as they like to create a protective barrier on the skin's surface. This helps to lock everything underneath in, whilst protecting it from the outside elements. So apply your face oil after your serum, and if needed, you can apply a moisturiser over your face oil to further keep it hydrated.
Do I have to use both a face oil and a serum?
There are lots of conflicting views over this, and truth be told, it really comes down to personal preference and what your skin needs. It also depends on what kind of serum or face oil you're using, as to whether you'll require both. For example, in A/W when my skin is feeling more dry and dehydrated, I'll use both. But in S/S I'll usually just stick to using a face oil at night.
Do I have to use a moisturiser as well?
Again this really comes down to personal preference and what your skin likes and needs. I rarely use a serum, face oil and a moisturiser simply because my skin doesn't feel like it needs it. However, some people swear by using all three so it's a matter of experimenting and finding what works for you.
So onto my current favourite five face oils & serums!
Laidbare From Dusk Till Dawn Vitamin C Serum* (30ml, £9.99, link)
Best for Normal, Dry to Very Dry & Sensitive Skin Types
This is a special blend of plant oils which feels much more like a traditional oil than a light serum, so I'd recommend using it as a face oil instead. It has Blackcurrant Seed Oil to help dry, irritated, and damaged skin; Evening Primrose Oil to protect against aging and Carrot Oil to further protect the skin from free radicals. I like to use it in the colder months before going to bed, and I always wake up with hydrated and soft skin in the morning.
Bodhi Neroli Luce Revitalising Face Oil* (15ml, £32, link)
Best for Oily, Combination & Blemish Prone Skin Types
Like everything else from Bodhi, this face oil feels very luxurious to use and I love to treat my skin to it when it's feeling a bit congested or simply looking a little dull. The formula feels quite rich at first, but surprisingly it absorbs into the skin super fast, meaning that I can even use it in the mornings before I apply make-up. It's packed full of beta carotene which gives a lovely, healthy glow, and contains a blend of Neroli, Frankincense, Sea Buckthorn and Evening Primrose Oils. It smells incredible too.
Elemental Herbology Cell Food Radiance & Vitality Facial Serum* (30ml, £45, link)
Best for Dehydrated & Dull Skin Types
If your skin suffers from dehydration, then this is definitely the serum for you to try. Cell Food is something of a cult product and the packaging is very slick and modern. The formula of this serum boasts a 'powerhouse' of anti-oxidants, vitamins and proteins to help restore your skin to its former glory. In this you've got Green Tea and Co-Enzyme Q10 to reduce the damage caused by free radicals, whereas Olive Squalane and Aloe and Rose Damask Water care for the skin by conditioning, softening, and soothing it. There are also 3 exclusive patent formulas that it uses to increase radiance and stimulate cell renewal. Best of all though? It works! I love this lightweight, easily absorbed serum because it really does make my face look more 'glowy' and healthy, as well as hydrating it a treat.
A'Kin Pure Radiance Rosehip Oil (23ml, £16, link)
Best for All Skin Types & Sensitive
I think everyone should have a pure and simple rosehip oil in their skincare stash. It's a brilliant multi-purpose product that does so much for the skin. Rosehip Oil hydrates, reduces redness, calms down sensitivity, gives skin a natural glow and reduces any acne or blemish scars. It's a miracle in a bottle! I often recommend a Roseship Oil to anyone who is interested in trying out a face oil for the first time and isn't sure about what to choose to start with.
S5 Purity Serum* (sample shown, full size 30ml, £44, link)
Best for Oily & Blemish/Acne Prone Skin Types
A new serum I've been trying out recently is this one from S5. It's a specially targeted breakout control treatment which helps to clear up the skin quickly for a clearer complexion. I've tried many products like this in the past, but this is definitely the most effective I've found to date. It uses an array of all natural rainforest bioactives to reduce the appearance of blemishes, reduce oil and sebum production, and it reduces the size of pores as well. There's also some Salicylic Acid in there for good measure. The serum itself has a gel like texture, so it's incredibly light and sinks into the skin immediately. I apply it to breakout areas like my t-zone and chin, and it clears everything up within 48 hours.
One last thing to add...when you're using a face oil and/or a serum, remember that less is more! Most of the time (and for all the ones I've reviewed here), you only need a teeny tiny amount or a few drops for each application, so they last a LONG time!
Have you tried any of these?
What are your favourite face oils & serums?