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Face Oil Questions
Expert Q/A

Winter Face Oil Know-How


December 23, 2017

I LOVE face oil. But like so many women with oily, acne-prone skin, I resisted using face oil adamantly. Are you kidding? Add oil to my face? It’s already an Exxon oil spill. But learning from experts like Patti Pao who told me face oil cured her cystic acne, and April Gargiulo, who says it made her rosacea disappear, I finally gave in.

I dipped my toe in with a simple rose oil from REN several years ago and quickly became obsessed. Now face oils are a staple of my beauty regimen that I cannot live without them. But I still had some questions about the most effective ways to incorporate face oil into my skincare routine. Do you need to use a moisturizer along with a face oil? If so, which do I apply first? Should I use it in the morning and at night? Should I use different oils for winter vs. summer?

I was confused. So I reached out to a few experts to get definitive answers.


Face oil can actually clear up breakouts (it’s helped me tremendously). Your face might be oily because your skin is actually being dried out. It’s possible that you’re using harsh drying agents on your skin, which is triggering your body to produce more oil to compensate (#doublefail). So your skin becomes even more oily and irritated, and thus prone to breakouts.

So, if you add oil to your skincare routine, it will calm down the amount of oil your body naturally produces and put your skin into balance.


April Gargiulo of Vintner’s Daughter says we should be using face oil morning and night. “For day, oils work beautifully under makeup, imparting a beautiful, more sheer, matte glow. For night, when your skin is doing its most important work to repair, restore, and regenerate, an oil like Active Botanical Serum that delivers optimal nutrition is critical. Your skin cannot do its best work without the kind of support a serum like this provides.”


According to April, we should use our own judgment to decide: “Cleanse, tone and apply oil while skin is still damp. You may or may not need additional moisturizer. It really depends on how dry your skin or environmental conditions are.”

Nurse Jamie recommends using face oil in combination with a moisturizer. “Face oil works especially well for achieving restorative, anti-aging effects when you pair it with your favorite rejuvenating face cream, especially when left on over night. So choose a moisturizer specific to your skin type, condition, or the concern you’re trying to correct.”


Nurse Jamie makes it clear that “face oil goes on after your moisturizer, not before.” Why? “Because the oil traps in the moisture and keeps it from dissipating. Because of this moisture barrier, your moisturizer and its nutrients have a better chance of absorbing into, and staying in your skin.” So, apply the moisturizer of your choice, and then lock it in with a few drops of facial oil.


“There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this,” April says. “But generally oils with a higher molecular weight work better in winter, and lower molecular weight oils are more suitable for summer.”

“With this said,” she added, “because Active Botanical Serum is so much more than an oil, it was formulated to have a low molecular weight so that it could deliver its 60+ nutrients deep into the dermal layers. It should be used throughout the year to balance, clarify, brighten, tighten, and accelerate cellular renewal. In the winter you can use it more as a serum with an additional layer of moisture, and on its own during the summer.”


Vintner’s Daughter Botanical Serum, $185 at SpaceNK

A multi-correctional infusion of  22 active organic and wildcrafted botanicals. This is a lightweight but powerful concentration of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, balancing minerals, collagen-building, nourishing fatty acids, and wrinkle-fighting antioxidants. It helps to reduce signs of aging, stimulate cellular turnover, inhibit melanin production, strengthen collagen and skin elasticity, and deliver oxygen to cells while protecting against free radical damage. This formula is very lightweight and absorbs fast; it’s easy to use day or night.

“I love this oil for the morning because it’s so light. I have rosacea so it really helps calm my skin. In the winter I pair it with Drunk Elephant’s Marula Oil at night.” – Robin Shobin

EGF Platinum 3 Restorative Facial Elixir, $198 at Neiman Marcus

This elixir is a nutrient-infused blend including three active essential oils specially formulated to deliver increased hydration and moisture. It’s perfect for those uber dry winter months. You can use a lighter oil in the morning and this heavier formula at night.

“This oil is great for my uber dry winter skin. I know I am supposed to layer it, but sometimes I mix it in with SkinCeuticals sunscreen.” – Krista Iovino

REN Rose012 Moisture Defense, $80 at SpaceNK

This is more than just rose oil. It’s a great year-round ultra-moisturizing, oil-based serum. It’s ideal for dry skin and great for those who have combination skin (part dry and part oily). It has ceramides from carthame oil, phospholipids from soybean, and fatty acids from seabuckthorn berry oil, as well as rosehip seed oil to help repair skin. Apply under moisturizer in the morning and night cream in the evening.

“I absolutely love this rose oil, but sometimes I need a bit heavier of an oil in the winter. But I always keep this one on hand. I suffer from old acne scars and rose oil is great for pigmentation issues.” – Robin Shobin

African Botanics Neroli Infused Marula Oil, $120 at Net-A-Porter

A very lightweight moisturizing oil using a unique blend of Marula Oil and Neroli blossoms. This blend is formulated to be rejuvenating and anti-inflammatory so it’s great for those with combination, oily, blemished, or stressed skin.

Mila Moursi Moisturizing Oil, $160 at Barneys

A super lightweight oil blend made with concentrated borage and evening primrose oil. Best for aging and dry skin.

“Whenever I use this oil my skin is instantly glowy. I think there is magic in the bottle.” – Krista Iovino

Drunk Elephant Luxury Marula Oil, $72 at Sephora

Marula Oil is super rich in vitamin E and rich in omegas 6 and 9, which help to moisturize, rejuvenate, and nourish skin. Drunk Elephant sources their Marula straight from the “pip” of the marula fruit, and it’s untouched by any chemical or fragrance—natural or synthetic—and remains in its purest form.

“I always keep this next to my bed because it’s super rich and moisturizing. It’s just a gorgeous pure oil I can put on as a last step before bed when I am feeling dry.” – Robin Shobin

Dr. Alkaitis Organic Ageless Facial Elixir, $150 at ABC Home

An organic and anti-aging powerhouse. This oil is unique in that it uses Ayurvedic herbs and high-potency superfoods. It’s a favorite among organic and green beauty junkies.



We did an ingredient check on grapeseed oil to find out why it’s such a popular ingredient in face oils.
Plus: we found the best hair oil!


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