For a long time, using oils and natural butters was made out to be the big evil boogieman of skin care. It will cause anything bad from making your skin so greasy and shiny, so that you could mistake your face as a mirror, to causing blocked pores and breakouts.

Particularly, if you had acne-prone skin, there were countless stripping cleansers, toners, astringents, scrubs, and other oil-free products to help banish oils. But nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, avoiding oils entirely may be the reason why you did not get reach your skin health goals.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

It seems fats and oils are making the same career as in our diet. They went from avoiding at all costs to there are fats that are vital for our health, such as macadamia nuts or avocados. Now, face oils are even becoming a big trend in the beauty industries and you can browse aisles in stores filled with them.

Many know that oils and natural butters can help you with many of your skin concerns, from providing nourishment to reducing dark spots. But some stories seem to stick and around and turn into urban legends, so that many people shy away from including a face oil in their routine.

Not all oils are made the same. If we talk about oils, we mean plant-based oils. They’re great for moisturising, protecting, and healing. There’s also mineral oil. It’s a petroleum byproduct and not plant-based.

While something like Vaseline (mineral-based) is a great occlusive moisturiser, it doesn’t have the valuable plant-based vitamins and other nutrients that provide various beauty benefits. These plant-based oils are great not only for your overall skin health but also for your hairs and nails.

Oil isn’t the same as what we’ve known. Of course, if you use a cold-pressed variant of something like walnut oil still feels like what we know oil feels. But advances in oil refining methods mean that oils used in cosmetics can have the consistency of water, even if they’re very emollient.

Let’s start with unraveling the mythic, shall we?

Face oils are heavy and leave a greasy residue

First of all, it depends on what kind of plant-based oil you’re applying. But most plant-based oils, if organic and cold-pressed – are lightweight and can penetrate the skin quickly without leaving a greasy film.

Secondly, modern formulations of facial oils are lightweight. They’re purposely formulated, so that they can penetrate quickly into your skin, leaving it dewy and not greasy.

Using an oil makes your skin more oily and should not be used by people with oily skin

Even if this claim may sound sensible, there are 2 reasons why it’s a myth.

Some oils such as jojoba oil have a similar consistency as sebum, the natural oil produced in your skin. It looks so similar that your body thinks it has made enough sebum. Using an oil will help you control and balance out oily skin.

It’s also important to remember that your’s skin’s protective barrier is partly made of oil. The skin barrier’s job is to protect you and your skin against the elements. A healthy skin barrier prevents your skin from becoming sensitive, prone to infection, and even premature ageing.

Face oil will clog your pores and cause breakouts

Your skin is constantly producing natural oils called sebum. You get zits when your skin makes too much sebum and they get trapped in the sebaceous glands by a buildup of dead skin cells. The main function of the natural oils is to prevent dehydration, but your skin goes into overdrive it it senses rapid water loss after you’ve used a harsh cleanser or a toner that has stripped away the sebum.

So, if you replace the natural oils, you strengthen your skin barrier and it will prevent your sebaceous glands from going into “overcompensation” mode. And this will help frequent breakouts occurring. So, in essence, it’s the amount that is the determining factor for zits.

If you apply an oil that has a high content of essential fatty acids like linoleic acid, it’ll easily penetrate your skin since it resembles sebum. On the other hand, if the levels of linoleic acid are low in your skin, your sebaceous glands work harder and the sebum they make is thicker and stickier.

This is the real cause of clogged pores. Hence, if you use an oil with a high level of linoleic acid, it can relieve this problem. It signals to your sebaceous glands to not produce the thick and sticky sebum.

Another way a face oil helps is that most plant oils are antimicrobial and therefore help to contain acne bacteria. The antioxidants contained will soothe and calm inflamed skin.

You shouldn’t use a face oil daily

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t use a pure in your daily regimen as long as you find one that suits your skin’s needs. They’re lightweight and can penetrate your skin quickly providing it not only with nourishment but also forming a protective barrier. If you feel they’re a bit heavy and sitting on your skin, use them at night.

Only use face oils in winter

This myth is like an extension of the last one. It’s true that with falling temperature your skin is more prone to dryness and roughness causing itchy and inflamed skin. Therefore a face oil can alleviate dryness. Often, when the temperature rises again, the first thing people ditch is the oil and they reason that it feels heavy especially on sweaty skin.

But even in higher temperatures, it doesn’t mean your skin doesn’t need hydration and nourishment. Just pick lightweight facial oils so that they can easily penetrate into your skin without leaving your skin feeling greasy.

Face oils aggravate sensitive skin

Many plant-based oils have inherent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Perhaps the oil that’s the most renowned for its anti-inflammatory property is tamanu oil. This means that they can both calm down your skin and reduce inflammation.

A face oil is not effective as an anti-ageing agent

Often, you see argan, pumpkin seed, or camellia oil as an active ingredient in your serums and moisturisers. But if you use the oil towards the end of your routine, you get the same ingredients but in much higher concentrations. They’re a purer form of what you already use on your skin.

Plant-based oils are abundant in antioxidants and other nutrients so that they can reduce free radical-induced damage to your skin. They also boost collagen production and help even out skin tone.

Face oils are just a fad

It’s just the hype cycle that every product goes through. After being the fiend in skincare, it’s now just going into the opposite. But natural oils and butters were used like forever. It seems each advanced civilisation has used various oils. Starting with the beauty-obsessed Egyptians who used anything from castor, moringa, and sesame oil in routines, to the Japanese geishas who use camellia oil so that they get flawless skin.

All face oils have the same properties

First off, there are plant-based and mineral oil. Then they’re not produced in the same way. And lastly, there are so many different plants of which you can make oils. Each and every plant has different properties from the next. So, it depends on what you want to address.

For example, if you have dry or mature skin, you’ll want an oil that’s more moisturising, that is humectant (pulling in water) and occlusive (trapping water in the skin). If you want to know more about what makes an oil lightweight or heavy-duty, check out what makes natural oils comedogenic.

In any case, you have to be your skin detective and study the ingredient list. You want to look out for organic and cold-pressed plant oil while avoiding synthetic oils.

Do you have other face oil myths you know of? Share them with us in the comments below.

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