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Best face oil 2023: For skin that glows

Achieve a more radiant complexion with our pick of products for every skin type

If you believe face oils are just for dry skin, think again. Rich in vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids – all required for optimum skin health and maintenance – oils can address several complexion concerns, including redness, irritation and acne, while at the same time hydrating and protecting the skin. It’s just about finding the right oil for you.

“Oils have the properties to replenish, restore, revive and replace. Our skin has a natural barrier – known as the ‘barrier function’ or ‘lipid barrier’. It’s a combination of oil and water that sits below the skin’s surface, preventing dehydration and keeping it protected from environmental pollutants,” explains skincare specialist Jane Scrivner.

“As we age, the appearance of wrinkles is a sign of the skin’s natural oils depleting, leading to a breakdown of the lipid layer, and the skin dries out more quickly. Oils can help to replete the skin’s lipid layers, preventing further water loss and hydrating the skin from within – plumping and smoothing at the same time.”

As such, while face oils shouldn’t be a replacement for your targeted treatment serum or moisturiser, they’re great for sealing in moisture as the last step in your routine and – depending on the formulation – they can even be added to your moisturiser for an extra hydration boost.

So, get ready to revolutionise your skincare and reclaim your radiance, as we’ve found the best facial oils for every skin type.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best anti-ageing creams

Best face oils: At a glance

How to choose the best face oil for you

Which skin types are best suited to face oils?

Not all oils are created equal. “Oils can be a staple in every skincare routine,” says Jane. “The crux is finding the right facial oil with ingredients designed for your specific skin type.

“Rosehip works wonderfully for all types of skin damage – from post-op and acne scars to sunburn. It’s choc-full of essential fatty acids, vitamin C and vitamin A (a natural retinol), which together restore and protect your skin by increasing cell turnover. For intense moisture, apricot oil is full of vitamins B and E, and forms a protective layer on the skin.”

Meanwhile, mature skin types should seek out acai oil, which is a rich source of omega 3, 6 and 9. “These omegas also support cellular structure, which can start to deteriorate from an early age and is often accelerated by poor diet,” adds Jane. “Acai oil is rich in B vitamins and amino acids, too, which all contribute towards greater skin elasticity.”

I have acne-prone skin, can I use a face oil?

Naturally, some oils will be pore-clogging, but oily and blemish-prone skin types shouldn’t discount them completely. In fact, many will act as an astringent and can even dissolve sebum (we’re looking at you, jojoba), decreasing excess oil overall. As Jane reiterates, the key is to look for the right ingredients to find an oil that will clarify and hydrate, rather than clog.

As a rule, coconut oil should be avoided, while squalane, grapeseed, jojoba and sunflower oil are all non-comedogenic and will help to regulate sebum production and repair a compromised skin barrier. “Sea buckthorn oil also has hugely regenerative and healing properties for damaged skin cells and helps to improve fine lines and wrinkles,” adds Jane. “It’s also extremely high in omega 7, which means it’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and aids the skin in fighting infection.”

Where do face oils sit in a skincare routine?

Facial oils can be used as and when required – you don’t have to use them every day. Note that oil will easily penetrate other products of a thinner consistency, such as serums and moisturisers, but nothing can penetrate oil, so your facial oil should be the last thing you apply in your routine at night; but this can depend on the product. Whatever you do, start with thoroughly cleansed skin and layer from there, thinnest to thickest.

If you choose to use facial oil in the morning, apply your SPF over the top and make that the last product in your routine. Technically, sunscreen isn’t trying to penetrate the skin; it’s just there to protect it and act as an armour against sun damage.

How we test face oils

We put more than 20 face oils to the test, using them as the last step in our evening skincare routine over the course of four weeks. In that time, we consider the consistency of each formula, its scent, ease of application, and much more. To narrow down the final edit, only the face oils that deliver truly hydrated and nourished-feeling skin make the list. The aim is to include face oils that will work for a variety of skin types and budgets, which is the reason you’ll find hardworking formulas from as little as £6.

READ NEXT: The best facial serums

The best face oils you can buy in 2023

1. No 7 Youthful Replenishing Facial Oil: The best anti-ageing face oil

Price: £21 (30ml) | Buy now from Boots

This light, non-pore-clogging oil is perfect for layering over your moisturiser, both morning and night – or whenever your skin needs a hydration boost. It contains moisture-locking jojoba oil, which in use resulted in our skin feeling both soft and nourished. Its fragrance is light and almost fruity, and the formula isn’t as thick as some of the oils we tried, so a little goes a long way. For the price, we loved this product’s ability to quench dry skin and leave it feeling supple and rejuvenated.

Buy now from Boots

2. Allies of Skin CE15 Bakuchiol Firming Oil: The best face oil for brightening and toning

Price: £141 (30ml) | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Retinol may be the reigning queen of anti-ageing ingredients, but if you’re a sensitive soul who actively avoids it, bakuchiol could be the alternative your skin is crying out for. The plant-derived ingredient has been shown to increase collagen production and cell turnover just like retinol, but it’s far more suited to easily irritated skin types. As well as bakuchiol, this youth-boosting clinical formula is jam-packed with nine cold-pressed plant oils, highly concentrated vitamin C and vitamin E to brighten, firm and tone the skin. It isn’t at all greasy, but skin feels noticeably softer and subtly dewy after use. A luxury purchase, but one we can certainly get behind.

Buy now from Cult Beauty

3. The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil: The best budget oil for skin and hair

Price: £5.90 (30ml) | Buy now from Look Fantastic

Rich in vitamin E and hydrating essential fatty acids, raw argan oil has both cooling and soothing properties, making it great for irritated complexions. So, getting a pure, cold-pressed version – which preserves the integrity of the fatty acids – for the same price as lunch sounds like a pretty good deal. This budget oil sinks into skin quickly, leaving a rather glowy but subtle sheen. The natural scent of argan oil does seem to divide people, but we didn’t find this offensive; once absorbed, we certainly didn’t notice it. The handy dropper makes it easy to apply to hair that needs a shine boost, too.

Buy now from Look Fantastic

4. Esse Protect Oil: The best probiotic face oil for barrier repair

Price: £55 (15ml) | Buy now from Esse Skincare

We’ll sing the praises of this serious skin-saver time and time again – and after trying for the first time would repurchase in a heartbeat. The active ingredient is ximenia oil, which helps to protect even the most sensitive skin types from environmental aggressors. It forms a light, defensive layer on the skin when exposed to UV, so it’s ideal for use as part of your morning routine for extra protection beneath your SPF. It also contains non-comedogenic sunflower seed oil, which is high in vitamin E, so it’s great for calming and soothing redness and sensitivity. It feels thick and luxurious, and smells incredible. We loved using this daily – our only gripe is that we wish it came in a larger bottle!

Buy now from Esse Skincare

5. Caudalie Vinosource-Hydra Overnight Recovery Oil: The best face oil for sensitive skin

Price: £30 (30ml) | Buy now from Feel Unique

When it comes to soothing finicky skin that’s prone to tightness and flare-ups, this certified organic oil does it all. Packed with ultra-light grapeseed oil, jojoba oil and rose, it brings balance to the skin, helping to repair barrier function, while leaving your complexion feeling softer and more comfortable when you wake in the morning. It’s a dry oil, so it’s incredibly lightweight and absorbs rapidly. In fact, despite being labelled an overnight oil, we found this gentle enough to use under makeup in the mornings, too.

Buy now from Feel Unique

6. Farmacy Honey Grail Ultra-Hydrating Face Oil: The best multi-use oil

Price: £44 (30ml) | Buy now from Boots

This deliciously scented, crowd-pleasing oil is a dream to apply. It goes on like silk and feels supremely nourishing, sinking swiftly into skin and leaving a noticeably bright but subtly dewy finish – and no greasy or sticky tell-tale residue. It smooths on evenly, too, so a little goes a long way. The active ingredients include antibacterial honey and sea buckthorn, making this a great hydrating solution for all skin types – even oily complexions. It’s lightweight enough to use both morning and overnight if needed, and even works to tame flyaway hairs and boost shine.

Buy now from Boots

7. Antipodes Divine Face Oil Rosehip & Avocado Oil: The best face oil for dry skin

Price: £23 (30ml) | Buy now from Feel Unique

The key ingredients in this super-rich oil include collagen-boosting avocado oil, anti-ageing rosehip and deeply hydrating macadamia nut oil. The heavier texture is perfect for relieving parched, flaky and stressed-out skin, as well as areas of sun damage and scarring. Despite the rich texture, it spreads evenly and sinks in well. We highly recommend massaging into areas of concern post-moisturiser as part of your night-time routine – in the morning, skin feels soft, plumped and deeply hydrated.

Buy now from Feel Unique

8. Mara Algae Retinol Face Oil: The best face oil for acne-prone skin

Price: £60 (15ml) | Buy now from Cult Beauty

This vitamin-rich facial oil includes 1.2% retinol to encourage cell turnover, fade the appearance of blemishes and lines, and clarify your complexion. It also contains a powerhouse of other skin-loving ingredients, such as fermented green tea (hello, antioxidants) and algae, which stimulates natural hyaluronic acid to plump and smooth. Since it contains retinol, we used it before bed, allowing our rather hormonal skin to soak up the ingredients. Following just a few uses, we were waking up with a clearer, softer and more radiant-looking complexion. Those who love a guaranteed seal of approval should note its A-list endorsements from both Chrissy Teigen and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – you can believe the hype!

Buy now from Cult Beauty

9. Bondi Sands Wonder Potion Hero Oil: The best lightweight face oil

Price: £9.99 (30ml) | Buy now from BootsThis seriously affordable oil is part of the new skincare lineup from Aussie fake tan experts Bondi Sands, and it’s a brilliant product for the price. Enriched with antioxidant-loaded sea buckthorn, calendula extract and rosehip oil, it’s incredibly light and absorbs instantly, but at the same time feels nourishing and leaves skin feeling super-soft. Unlike most face oils, which come in a glass bottle with a pipette, this comes in recycled plastic, sans pipette, so it feels like less of a luxury purchase. Nevertheless, the product itself is up there with some of the best and most effective formulas. It makes a great canvas for makeup, too.

Buy now from Boots

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