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How To Use Face Oils On Oily Skin Types

Can You Use a Face Oil On Oily Skin?

As skincare experts, we’re constantly fielding questions from customers about whether or not specific products can work for a given skin type. One thing people ask us frequently involves oily skin—specifically, if it’s safe to use oil-based products, like facial oils, on oily skin. The anwer, unequivocally, is yes: Oils can be a great addition to your skincare routine. That said, it’s not quite that simple (so put down the jar of coconut oil).

Because this is such a common query, we’ve gone ahead and put together a guide to using facial oils on oily skin. We’ll teach you about which ingredients to look for, when to use facial oils, and which products to skip to avoid clogged pores. Read on for the official Kiehl’s guide to using face oils on oily skin.

What Are Facial 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, such as essences. Like serums, facial oils are concentrated liquids designed to address one or more skin concerns (for example, acne or irritation). However, while serums are often water-based, facial oils are typically formulated with a variety of lightweight, skin-friendly oils that help moisturize and nourish the skin.

As Kiehl’s counseling 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.

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 acne-prone skin). And we get it: The thought that adding 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 regulate sebum production and balance the skin.I This is because dehydrated skin tends to over-produce sebum to compensate for the lack of moisture. This excessive oil production 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.

Our best-selling Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate Face Oil is an excellent face oil to start with, particularly if you’re prone to blemishes or irritation. This non-comedogenic formula stars hemp-derived Cannabis sativa seed oil, which researchers have identified as an effective treatment for some types of acne.I In our formula, it’s combined with green oregano oil and vitamin E, which work together to help hydrate and strengthen the skin barrier. With regular use, this potent facial oil (formulated with 100% naturally-derived ingredients) helps visibly reduce redness for calmer, more balanced skin.*


How To Use Facial Oils In Your Skincare Routine

Unless the package says otherwise, facial oils are generally meant to be applied to a clean, dry face after water-based treatments but before moisturizer. Read on to learn how to incorporate face oil into your skincare routine for oily skin.

Step 1: Remove Impurities With an Exfoliating Cleanser

No matter your skin type or specific concerns, the first step in your routine should always be cleansing. If you have an oily face, we recommend Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser. This best-selling facial cleanser is formulated with Amazonian white clay and aloe vera to remove excess dirt and oil without stripping the skin. It also contains diatomaceous earth, which gently exfoliates the skin and minimizes the appearance of enlarged pores. Use this cleanser morning and night to balance shiny, oily skin and promote a healthy-looking appearance.


Step 2: Apply Water-Based Treatments

After cleansing, use a cotton pad to apply toner and remove any excess dirt, oil, or residue left on your face (if you’re not sure which toner best suits your needs, we can help). This is also when you’ll apply lightweight water-based treatments, like serums and essences. Head to our article Discover Our Best Facial Serum For Your Skin Type to find a formula suitable for your skin.


Step 3: Replenish Your Skin With a Facial Oil

After allowing your water-based treatments to absorb for a minute or so, you can apply your facial oil. You already know that non-comedogenic oils are the best varieties for oily skin types, but that’s not the only factor to consider. The time of day, your age, and your lifestyle will also play a role in which oil you apply (and when).

For daytime, reach for a lightweight, antioxidant-rich formula to help protect your skin from environmental aggressors, like pollution. Try Daily Reviving Concentrate, which stars sunflower oil, ginger root essential oil, and tamanu oil, along with vitamin E. This unique facial oil helps defend skin against damaging free radicals and improves the visible signs of fatigue for a healthy-looking glow. Like our other facial oils, this top-rated formula is also non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic.

While you sleep, your skin works to repair itself from damage caused by your daily exposure to external aggressors. As such, skin can benefit from a slightly richer formula at night. We recommend Midnight Recovery Concentrate, which contains olive-derived squalane, evening primrose oil, and fragrant lavender essential oil. These potent ingredients work together to help replenish skin while you sleep for softer, more supple skin by morning. Use it regularly to diminish the appearance of fine lines and boost radiance for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Kiehl's Expert Tip: When it comes to face oils, a little goes a long way. We recommend using no more than a few drops for your entire face. Warm up the facial oil in your hands before using your palms to pat (not rub) the formula into your skin.


Step 4: Lock In Moisture For Lasting Hydration

Once you’ve given your face oil a few minutes to absorb into the skin, you can apply your chosen moisturizer. If you have a naturally oily face but few breakouts, try Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream. This non-comedogenic moisturizer stars desert plant extract and glacial glycoprotein for lightweight, 24-hour hydration without a shiny finish. It’s suitable for oily and normal skin types and gentle enough for daily use.

On the other hand, if you have oily and blemish-prone skin, we recommend a treatment moisturizer, like Breakout Control Acne Treatment Facial Lotion. It contains salicylic acid and niacinamide, both powerful acne-fighting ingredients. This daily moisturizer is clinically-demonstrated to reduce the appearance of acne blemishes and reduce roughness for a clearer, more even appearance.** With regular use, it also helps prevent new breakouts from forming.


Bonus Step: Try a Purifying Mask

Certain factors—like weather, stress, and hormones—can stimulate sebum production and make skin a bit oilier than usual. When this happens, a face mask can help restore balance. We recommend Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask, which contains absorbent Amazonian white clay to draw out oil and other pore-clogging impurities. It helps reduce skin’s surface oil production by a whopping 46.7%, which visibly minimizes the appearance of pores.*** Head to our article, Discover Our Best Face Mask for You, to learn how to get the most out of your mask.


Next: How to Use an Exfoliating Cleanser

*We consider ingredients to be naturally derived if they retain more than 50% of their molecular structure after being processed from a natural source.
**Tested in a dermatologist-controlled clinical study.
***Based on results two hours after use vs. untreated skin.

I.Oláh, Attila et al. “Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes.” The Journal of clinical investigation vol. 124,9 (2014): 3713-24. doi:10.1172/JCI64628

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