At Kiehl’s, we’re constantly fielding questions from customers about how to use different types of skincare products. And in our experience, face oils are among the most misunderstood products. A lot of people seem to think that oils are off-limits for those with oily, blemish-prone skin. It’s a common misconception; after all, we know that oily skin tends to be more prone to breakouts, so it seems logical to conclude that face oils for oily skin would worsen those concerns. In reality, however, oils can be a great addition to your skincare routine, even if you have a shinier skin type. The key is using the right ones—and using them properly (so leave that jar of coconut oil in the pantry for now).
Luckily for you, we’re here to help. Ahead, we’ll give you the scoop on how to use face oils in your oily skin routine. We’ll also introduce you to our best face oils for oily skin and provide tips on using them the right way. Keep reading for the ultimate Kiehl’s guide to using oils on oily skin.
What Are Face Oils—and How Do They Differ From Serums?
Before we discuss the benefits of face oils, it’s important to differentiate oils from other targeted skincare treatments. Like serums, facial oils are concentrated liquids designed to help address one or more skin concerns, such as dryness or irritation. However, while serums are often water-based, facial oils are generally made with plant oils and emollients, like olive-derived squalane (a Kiehl’s signature ingredient). Some formulations may also contain other skin-friendly ingredients, like plant extracts.
What Are Face Oils Used For?
While face oils have many applications, they’re typically used to help moisturize and soften the skin to promote a smoother, more even skin texture. You may not think this is necessary if you have oily skin, but that’s not necessarily the case.
As Kiehl’s consulting esthetician Shamara Bondaroff explains, “even though [facial oils] are all called ‘oils,’ they’re varied. There’s a face oil (or five) for everyone, no matter your [skin] concerns or type.” Different formulas address different unique issues, and as such, facial oils can be a worthy addition to any skincare routine. The key is to choose a formula suited for your specific needs.
Daily Reviving Concentrate
During the day, we recommend protecting your skin with a lightweight antioxidant face oil, like Daily Reviving Concentrate. This revitalizing formula with sunflower oil and ginger root essential oil helps defend against damaging free radicals and reduces the visible signs of fatigue. The energizing, non-acnegenic oil is suitable for all skin types and can be applied every morning for fresh, radiant-looking skin.
Midnight Recovery Concentrate Face Oil
At night, reach for an oil that helps hydrate and repair your skin. We recommend Midnight Recovery Concentrate Face Oil, which contains olive-derived squalane, evening primrose oil, and aromatic lavender essential oil. This Kiehl’s staple absorbs quickly and helps replenish the skin at night when it is most receptive to repairing itself from daily stressors. It also helps boost essential moisture, leaving skin looking firmer and smoother over time. We recommend applying several drops to clean, dry skin as part of your nighttime skincare routine and letting it absorb fully before applying your night cream.
Kiehl’s Tip: For added hydration, pair your face oil with an overnight face mask, like Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask. It helps replenish skin’s water reserves while you sleep for refreshed, healthy-looking skin by morning.
Will Face Oils Clog My Pores?
If you have oily skin, adding facial oil to your skincare routine can be intimidating (even more so if you have blemish-prone skin). And we get it: The thought that applying oil could somehow help reduce oil is counterintuitive, to say the least. Additionally, up until fairly recently, common practice in skincare was to avoid oil-based products if you have oily skin.
But recent studies have shown that the right oils—specifically, non-comedogenic varieties, like cannabidiol-rich Cannabis sativa seed oil—can actually help balance the skin. This is because dehydrated skin tends to over-produce sebum to compensate for the lack of moisture. This excessive oiliness ultimately leads to clogged pores, more frequent breakouts, and shiny-looking skin. In other words, oily skin benefits from the use of face oils—so long as they’re the right kind of oils.
Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Extract Face Oil
If you have oily skin or are prone to blemishes, the best way to avoid potential issues is by sticking to face oils labeled “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic,” which means they won’t clog your pores. Additionally, we recommend seeking out face oils made specifically for problem skin, like Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Extract Face Oil.
This unique formula is made with 100% naturally-derived ingredients, including hemp-derived Cannabis sativa seed oil and green oregano oil.* It helps calm the feeling of stressed skin and strengthens the skin’s natural moisture barrier to enable it to better protect itself from stressors. Over time, this gentle face oil for acne-prone skin also helps relieve discomfort and visibly reduces redness to reveal a more balanced appearance.
*We consider ingredients to be naturally-derived if they retain more than 50% of their molecular structure after being processed from a natural source.
How To Use Face Oils For Oily Skin: 3 Top Tips
Now that you’re caught up on our best face oils for oily skin, we’ll teach you how to use them. Keep reading to learn our top tips for incorporating facial oils into your skincare routine.
Always Cleanse First
Before applying your face oil, it’s imperative that you wash your face thoroughly. A good cleanse helps remove impurities, like dirt and pollutants, that could otherwise accumulate and clog your pores or irritate your skin. Applying your face oil after washing your face also helps trap moisture, leaving your skin feeling softer and more hydrated.
If you wear makeup, we recommend first washing with an oil-based cleanser, like Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil. This lightweight cleansing oil emulsifies with water to create a light, milky lather that washes away impurities without over-drying the skin. It’s non-comedogenic, suitable for all skin types, and rinses off easily, leaving your skin feeling soft and replenished.
For an even more thorough clean, try double cleansing. This method involves first washing your face with an oil cleanser, like the one mentioned above, then washing your face again with a foaming face wash. If you’re interested in trying this technique, you can find a few of our best cleansers here.
Apply Your Water-Based Treatments First
After washing and drying your face, you can go ahead and apply your chosen skin treatments—essences, serums, and the like. We recommend applying these products according to weight. Fast-absorbing, water-based products should be applied first, while heavier oils should be layered on toward the end of your routine. Keep in mind that with most oils, less is more: A few drops is usually more than enough for your entire face.
It’s also important to note that even the most hydrating facial oils aren’t a replacement for moisturizer. You’ll still need to reach for a face cream or lotion after applying your face oil (and, of course, a sunscreen for daytime). If you need help picking a moisturizer that suits your skin’s needs, check out our article The Best Moisturizer For Every Skin Type.
Kiehl’s Tip: For an extra indulgent application, use a skincare tool, like a jade roller, to massage your face oil onto your skin before applying your moisturizer.
Go At Your Own Pace
Besides adding a face oil to your routine, you can try easing yourself into things with oil-infused products, like Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask. This creamy face mask, which contains avocado oil and extract, helps seal in moisture to prevent water loss. In just one application, skin feels softer and more hydrated, while consistent use leaves skin feeling replenished.* This Kiehl’s favorite is suitable for all skin types and can be used up to three times per week for supple, nourished skin.
*Consumer perception study, US: 55 subjects, all skin types, immediate time point.