Apply one of these super-soothing oils for softer, smoother skin from head to toe.
Some think facial oil cleanser is the black sheep of the beauty world, because of it’s greasy nature.. But just as there are good oils for your diet, the right natural oils can keep your skin moisturized, smooth, and glowing — and even fight breakouts — without any slimy residue.
If you have acne or sensitive skin, make sure you do a patch test before you commit to a particular oil.)
Read on to find out how these 11 oils might be the natural solution for your beauty problems.
Best for: Fine lines, dry skin, and dry hair
What it is: Argan oil is surrounded by more hype than Justin Timberlake’s new album — and the consensus is that the hype is justified (for both). Extracted from the kernels found in the fruit of Moroccan argan trees, argan oil has high levels of vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. While it first claimed fame as a savior for dry, damaged hair, the oil also works wonders on the face and body. “The fatty acids help our skin cells make healthy membranes, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy collagen,” says Joshua Zeichner, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York City.
Best for: Dry, sensitive, or irritated skin
What it is: “This oil is high in vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, which helps proper cell function and decrease inflammation,” says Jennifer Linder, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California at San Francisco. Because it’s such a rich emollient, avocado oil is ideal for those with dry, itchy, or aging skin.
Best for: Sensitive skin, eczema, dry hair
What it is: “When a client has super-sensitive skin, I recommend coconut oil, straight from the grocery store, as a body moisturizer,” says Joanna Vargas, a celebrity facialist in New York City. “Its fatty acids make it helpful for anyone with eczema, too.”
Additionally, research has shown that coconut oil restores dry hair. “Its 12-carbon fatty acid structure allows it to penetrate the hair cuticle and help provide flexibility and strength,” says Perry Romanowski, a cosmetic chemist in Chicago. Rub a small amount on dry ends, smooth a bit on your fingers to tame flyaways, or use it as a deep-conditioning treatment in the shower.
Best for: Irritated, sensitive skin, and conditions such as eczema and dermatitis
What it is: Packed with heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, flaxseed is important for a healthy heart and complexion. You can mix the seeds in foods, or use the oil as a topical moisturizer, says Howard Sobel, MD, an attending physician in dermatology and dermatologic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. “It has anti-inflammatory properties, and studies have shown that if taken daily, it can improve skin conditions such as eczema in just three months.”
Best for: General dry skin
What it is: While technically a wax, jojoba (pronounced ho-HO-ba) oil has a chemical structure that’s very similar to our skin’s natural oils, so it’s easily absorbed. Dermatologists recommend it because it also contains such minerals as zinc and copper, and vitamins B and E, which help strengthen the skin.
Best for: Acne-prone or irritated skin
What it is: Collected from the fresh flowering tops of lavender, lavender oil may be especially beneficial for those with acne and general skin irritation. “It helps control sebum production, soothes irritation, and is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant,” says Linder. Lavender oil can also boost the performance of your other skin products. Says Linder, “It’s thought to help aid in the absorption of active ingredients into the skin.”
Best for: Very dry skin
What it is: Olive oil — particularly extra-virgin olive oil — is a good all-around natural moisturizer and is recommended for dehydrated skin. “It’s super rich in fatty acids and vitamin E,” Dr. Sobel says. Like jojoba oil, olive oil is similar to the oils naturally produced by our skin and so is absorbed well into the skin. It typically does not cause allergies, but because it’s a heavier oil, those with acne should avoid using it on their face. Studies also show that the antioxidant content in olive oil may help protect against skin cancer.
Rose Hip Seed Oil
Best for: Uneven pigment, scars, fine lines, and acne-prone skin
What it is: Rose hip seed oil, which is extracted from the seeds of a South American rosebush, is like Mother Nature’s Retin-A without the irritating side effects. “It contains omega-6 essential fatty acids and vitamins A and C, which work to increase cell turnover,” explains Sobel. “If you use it for a few weeks, you’ll notice significant change in any dark spots, scars, or any other skin discoloration.”
This retinol-like effect, and the resulting increase in collagen and elastin production, means aging skin will benefit from rose hip seed oil, too. Its high concentrations of linoleic acid may also help acneic skin.
Best for: Dry, irritated skin
What it is: The oil of this thistle-like flower contains linoleic acid, or omega-6 fatty acid, which helps your skin make ceramides, a type of lipid that helps the skin hold onto water and prevent dehydration. “It’s the best of all the oils for inflamed, dry skin — with the exception of argan oil, but safflower oil is much less expensive,” says Leslie Baumann, MD, a dermatologist in Miami and author of Skin Type Solutions. You can also consume safflower oil to prevent dry skin, especially if your diet is low in fat. “Vegetarians and those on low-fat or low-cholesterol diets are more likely to have dry skin, but adding safflower oil to foods can help,” Dr. Baumann says.
Tea Tree Oil
Best for: Acne-prone skin
What it is: Tea tree oil is the essential oil taken from the leaves of the Australian tree Melaleuca alternifolia. Found in many natural acne remedies, it helps kill bacteria in the pores and hair follicles that lead to blemishes, and, luckily for those who can’t find relief fast enough, it penetrates the skin quickly. “For best results, use it in conjunction with alpha- and beta-hydroxy-acid washes,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Doing so will help slough off dead skin cells to prevent clogged pores.”
Although it’s a natural substance, tea tree oil may cause irritation, so make sure you test it on a small patch of skin before you use it generally.