Oils get a bad wrap. The word ‘oil’ in general seems to have a negative connotation, often associated with terms like grease, acne, and dirt. But an oil-based formula may be the product your skincare routine is missing, especially as cooler weather approaches. Not convinced? As Dendy Engelman, M.D., dermatologic surgeon, puts it, “Oils help make the skin supple and pliable. Since they are quickly absorbed, they help to reinforce the skin barrier, making it stronger and less vulnerable.”
And face oils aren’t just desirable for dry skin types either. As counterintuitive as it sounds, using oil on oily skin can actually be beneficial. “For oily skin, if the skin is stripped of natural oils, it will go into overproduction mode and cause more sebum buildup,” Engelman explains. So using an oil can help replenish your skin’s natural oils, which can keep oil levels balanced and breakouts at bay.
That said, not all oils should be used on oily skin. Some ingredients to look for are rose oil, tea tree oil, and magnesium. “Face oils with rose oil have anti-inflammatory properties, which are great for calming redness and sensitive skin,” Engelman explains. “It’s very emollient—meaning it’s good for locking in moisture and hydration.”
Then there’s tea tree oil, which is antibacterial to ward off zits, and magnesium, which reduces inflammation, she says. As for the trendy coconut oil, Engelman says anyone with acne-prone skin should steer clear of it as it’s comedogenic (i.e., it clogs pores).
Interested in upgrading to an oil? From drugstore picks to cult favorites, here are the eight best oils for people with oily skin.
Femmue Ideal Oil
This ultra-luxe oil absorbs so quickly, it leaves behind little-to-no trace that it was ever even there. Except, of course, for the fact that you’re left with skin that appears ultra hydrated and lit from within.($58; peachandlily.com)
Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil
A key word that people with acne-prone skin should look for on the bottle: “clarifying.” This dry oil is one of the best we’ve tested. Not only does it prevent future breakouts, but it also helps clear up present ones thanks to the 1.5 percent salicylic acid.($80; sephora.com)
Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate
A blend of sunflower, tamanu, and ginger root oils make up this product, which, in all honesty, feels more like a serum than an oil—great for anyone who fears that oil-slick feel. Apply it before a moisturizer at night, and you’ll wake up with an even-toned, glowing complexion.($46; kiehls.com)
Manuka Doctor Normalising Facial Oil
Specifically formulated for oily skin, this lightweight oil helps balance your skin’s natural oil levels. Pores appear smaller thanks to a reduction of sebum, and with less pore-clogging gunk, you’ll see fewer blackheads and pimples too.($42.95; amazon.com)
Shea Moisture 100% Pure Argan Oil
Argan oil is the opposite of coconut oil, completely noncomedogenic (or non-pore-clogging). That makes it a no-brainer necessity for oily skin types. This drugstore buy is a multitasker, so you can use it on your face, body, or even in your hair to tame frizz.($8.99; sheamoisture.com)
Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Day Oil
For a luxe but more affordable clarifying option, this fan-favorite calms redness while also reducing and balancing oil production. In other words, it immediately improves skin and provides long-term results.($45; dr.hauschka.com)
Josie Maran Argan Moonstone Drops
We already know argan oil is a great option for those who suffer from breakouts, but this one is more than just a face treatment oil. It also primes your skin with a dewy base for makeup. The result? A subtle, iridescent glow that makes skin look highlighted, without any of the complicated contouring stuff.($48; sephora.com)
FARSÁLI Rose Gold Elixir
With actual specks of gold in the formula, this oil makes you feel like royalty, for one, but it also absorbs quickly, leaving behind nothing short of a genuine, nongreasy glow. Oh yeah, and it smells as heavenly as it looks. Ahhh.($54; sephora.com)