There are so many products out there that are formulated to reduce the signs of ageing—wrinkles, fine lines, dull complexion, dark spots, sagging—and you might have a few in your bathroom cabinet. You've got your moisturisers, night creams, serums, masks, eye creams… But have you ever given face oils a thought? This could be your secret weapon for keeping your skin looking SO GOOD—especially if you have mature skin that is prone to dryness.
"Oils can also be helpful in anti-ageing routines and provide antibacterial and healing benefits," explains Robyn Gmyrek, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Park View Laser Dermatology. "As we age, our skin moisture levels decline, causing dry, dehydrated skin, which makes fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable. Oils not only hydrate the skin but because they are rich in antioxidants, they also fight free-radical damage to cells, thereby preventing further ageing. The oils keep skin layers soft, seal in hydration, and can even protect the skin by keeping the outer layer of skin, the stratum corneum, intact. Oils help keep hydration in and prevent the environment from stripping water out."
To use a face oil, Gmyrek suggests applying once or twice daily for at least 12 weeks to see results. "It takes at least three months for your body to produce new collagen and elastic tissue," she explains. "If you see results immediately, it is not due to new collagen and elastic tissue but rather due to the hydrating effects of the oil. When your skin is well hydrated, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles is improved." It's important to note that face oils aren't for everyone. Gmyrek says that they can cause breakouts in people who have acne-prone skin.
And if you're sold on face oils now to add to your mature-skin routine, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when choosing one. "For anti-ageing, there are lots of good ingredients out there," Gmyrek says. "Most oils act as antioxidants, which counteract the damage caused by UV radiation and pollution-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS cause inflammation as well as the destruction of collagen and elastic tissue, leading to premature ageing. Those oils that contain retinoids (vitamin A) add the effects of retinoids which stimulate collagen."
When reading the labels of these oils, she recommends looking for the words "cold-pressed," which means that they have better nutritive properties than those that have undergone the refining process. "This is because the cold-pressing procedure does not involve heat or chemical treatments, which may alter their composition and therapeutic effects," she explains.
Gmyrek listed some oils you might come across and the benefits of each:
Gmyrek says argan oil boosts skin elasticity and contains essential fatty acids, "namely omega-3, -6, and -9s, which can improve hydration, hyperpigmentation, and the health of the skin barrier."
Almond oil has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. It's also hydrating.
Gmyrek says rosehip oil stimulates collagen and elastin production while brightening and evening out your skin tone. It's also high in vitamin A, an antioxidant, and contains hydrating essential fatty acids.
Gmyrek says this plant-derived oil is rich in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and palmitoleic acid. It improves hydration, hyperpigmentation and the health of the skin barrier.
An anti-inflammatory and hydrating, this oil is an antioxidant that is high in omega-3 and contains vitamin E.
Gmyrek says that coconut oil increases skin hydration and can heal the skin barrier but notes that it can cause acne by clogging pores.
Apricot oil is made from the seed not the fruit, Gmyrek explains. It has high levels of the antioxidant vitamin E and linoleic and oleic acids (which help the oil penetrate the skin).
Rosemary oil can increase circulation and reduce overall inflammation. It's antioxidant and antibacterial. Since it's an essential oil, you'll want to dilute it with a carrier oil before you apply to your skin.
Gmyrek suggests looking for avocado oil that is made from the seed. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory stimulates collagen.
More Anti-Ageing Face Oils
Now that we know the benefits of various oils, you might want to try some different blends or formulations. Below is a list of some of Gmyrek's and our recommendations.
But before you buy, Gmyrek cautions that a lot of these over-the-counter products are not tests for claims the same way prescription drugs are tests. "So we can only go by the manufacturer's tests and claims," she says. "Even though a product many contain vitamin A or vitamin C, for example, depending on the way it is formulated or packaged, it may or may not be biologically active—i.e., it may not work!" Therefore, it's best to do your research, read the labels carefully, and understand that some products might work on your skin and some might not.
A recommendation from Gmyrek, this product contains a blend of oils to soothe, nourish and rejuvenate skin. It's recommended to apply to clean skin morning and night.
Drunk Elephant's popular face oil is rich in antioxidants and omega-6 and -9. The vegan formula absorbs quickly into the skin to hydrate and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It's good for all skin types, too.
This oil provides relief to parched skin while leaving a healthy glow. It contains resveratrol, micro hyaluronic acid, viniferine and jojoba wax to smooth, plump, minimise dark spots and moisturise.
With oils like rose-hip, sea buckthorn, meadowfoam and neroli, Herbivore's natural face product leaves your skin soft, radiant and protected. It also contains chia seed CoQ10 for skin cell renewal.
Gmyrek says Tata Harper's face oil has vitamin A from rose-hip oil to prevent signs of aging and calendula for calming. It's recommended to apply after your moisturizer in the morning and at night.
Sunday Riley's sleeping oil works overnight to exfoliate, revitalise and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores. It's also infused with retinol but doesn't leave skin irritated.
This is one of my personal favourites. Applying just a couple of drops leaves my skin looking so refreshed and hydrated the next morning. It contains botanical oils like lavender, squalane and evening primrose, and is paraben-, sulfate- and phthalate-free.
This oil is rich in vitamin A and works to condition and firm skin while diminishing the appearance of fine line, wrinkles, sun damage, stretch marks, and scars. Apply two to three drops to clean skin and let it absorb.
Formulated with vitamin A and retinoid analogue, this powerful oil protects against and fights the signs of aging. It also boosts collagen, hydrates, and firms skin.
"It contains rose-hip oil (vitamin A) and adds vitamin C, which is an essential building block of collagen and a potent antioxidant," Gmyrek says. Other ingredients like camapu, bisabolol, and ginger root will protect skin against environmental damage and the signs of ageing.
A big splurge, La Mer's renewing oil both hydrates the skin and boosts collagen and firmness. It's recommended to apply three to five drops to your face and neck morning and night. You can also use it on your hair, cuticles, and other dry skin areas.