First things first: face oils are not “moisturising”. They don’t actually add moisture into the skin – that’s what a humectant (like hyaluronic acid) does. Instead, oils are either emollient or occlusive, meaning they soften and fill in any skin barrier gaps (emollient) or create a seal, protecting the skin entirely from both loss and further absorption (occlusive). That’s why, when skin is feeling dry, it’s important to load up on humectants or water-binding products first, and then go in with oils and butters to lock everything in and prevent the skin drying out. For this reason, oils should occupy the last steps in your skincare routine – like the pieces of bread to your chicken salad sandwich.
Regardless, face oils can be polarising. Either they’re liquid gold or will break you out. The truth is there’s no neutral stance. What’s touted as a miracle by one will feel like pure grease to another. That’s why choosing the correct formula is paramount – not all are equal. With all that being said, below you’ll find an edit of the best face oils for the impending cold season – those that will keep moisture locked in and your complexion dewy, regardless of wind chill.
The Cream Of The Beauty Crop: Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Essence
Even skincare beginners will likely have heard of Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum ($270). Lauded as gold standard as far as facial oils are concerned, it contains nourishing agents like rosehip, rose, hazelnut, calendula and grape seed. All natural and cold-pressed (it’s produced in the same methods that apply to wine making), you can expect brighter, bouncier and smoother skin. It’s got a golden hue as well, so gives a lovely glow pre-makeup.
The Skin Barrier Line Of Defence: Rationale Antioxidant Lipid Concentrate
Glow dealers Rationale know all the secrets when it comes to healthy, radiant skin, and the Antioxidant Lipid Concentrate ($165) is no exception. As the name suggests, this oil is jam-packed full of antioxidants and lipids, helping to reinforce the skin barrier and thus preventing water loss. It also contains a small dose of vitamin A, meaning it will improve skin clarity over time. Add a few drops to your morning skincare serum when skin is feeling particularly tight or sensitised.
The Super Hydrator: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil
Pure marula oil is high in oleic acid (the main fatty acid compound in olive oil) known to help dry, sensitive and reactive skin. Drunk Elephant’s Marula Oil Luxury Face Oil ($115) is pure and cold pressed. Try incorporating it into your routine to help lock in moisture and bolster skin lipids.
The Skin-Identical Formula: The Jojoba Company Jojoba Oil
A controversial inclusion, because jojoba oil is actually a wax ester, not as oil so to speak. It’s this structure though that allows it to penetrate the skin incredibly well (our skin “oils” are almost exactly the same). It deeply nourishes, but antibacterial properties mean it’s a wonderful pick for breakout-prone skin. The Jojoba Company Organic Jojoba ($35) is cold pressed and grown organically on a farm in regional Australia – if you’re in the market, these guys are the best.
The Beauty Editor-Approved Option: Go To Face Hero
Developed by Beauty Editor Zoe Foster-Blake, Face Hero ($45) is a rich, calming, nourishing mix of plant and nut oils like almond, jojoba, macadamia, buriti and arnica. It locks in moisture, and will soothe skin that’s red, irritated, chapped or dry. It has a soft rose-y scent too, meaning it’s a treat to apply.
The Cult Pick: Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil
This clean formula ($112) is made on a base of squalane – a stable version of squalene, a lipid already produced by our skin. Squalene is wildly popular in skincare, but it often comes from questionable sources (like shark livers), which is why many brands favour plant-based squalane. Biossance extract theirs from sugarcane, and pair it with oil soluble vitamin c and damascus rose for a face oil that’s nourishing, brightening and smells like a dream.
The Clean, Sustainable Pick: Circumference Pure Balancing Botanical Face Oil
Clean and sustainably-sourced, Circumference is a brand that utilises the power of plants in all its formulations – the website even offers a map detailing where raw materials come from. The Pure Balancing Botanical Face Oil ($165) is a well-rounded blend of jojoba, argan, and meadowfoam seed oils to nourish without feeling greasy.
The Cheap Thrill: Trilogy Rosehip Oil
Thanks to a high concentration of omegas, Trilogy’s Certified Organic Rosehip Oil ($48) is great for tight dry skin, as well as fading scars and marks. It has a light texture and a floral smell, so works well under makeup as it does overnight. Add a few drops into your body lotion during winter for an added moisture boost, too.
The Acne Fighter: Sunday Riley UFO Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil
It’s a common misconception that acne-prone skins should avoid oil. More often than not, acne-specific treatment products can be so drying that they strip the skin of all natural lipids, causing an over-production of oil thus making the whole issue worse. Sunday Riley’s cult U.F.O Oil ($128) is a plant-oil based formula bolstered with tea tree and salicylic acid to mildly exfoliate and kill acne-causing bacteria.