I hate warm weather in New York City for two reasons: 1. The sidewalks radiate urine stench 2. “Getting fresh air” is a meaningless figure of speech.
Unless the “melting look” miraculously becomes cool and dermatologists start advocating for clogged pores, city smog is not doing my skin any favors.
Of course, after a lifetime of dealing with seasons and air in general, I've developed a series of strategies to combat the oil build-up and effects of heavy, filthy air on my skin: making pit-stops in CVS to revel in the AC, slowing down my walk to one notch above stagnate, telling people I just showered, etc.
These “strategies” obviously have their drawbacks (it takes me forever to get anywhere), so I recently looked into a more long-term and practical solution to my skin concerns: face oils.
I've always regarded oil as a nuisance -- the stubborn residue left on my hands after devouring a bag of popcorn -- and definitely not something I would want to smother all over my face.
On top of my anti-oil predisposition, it seemed counterintuitive to start pumping my skin full of emollients this time of year. It's obvious in colder months our skin needs some moisture help, but August humidity usually has us stripping and scrubbing our skin.
Because it took a little persuading, I was pretty late to come around on this beauty trend. Face oils have become an unavoidable buzz topic, and there are countless brands with infinitely nuanced variations.
The options truly seem endless, which is a blessing and a curse for someone figuring out how to incorporate essential oils into her daily regimen. (At what point do you just say “f*ck it" and rub extra virgin olive oil all over your face?)
Tired of the Internet's beauty buffs shaming me with exasperated titles about how I STILL don't know what face oils are, I dove into the vortex of fruit seeds, leaf extracts and foreign compounds and came out the other side with a breakdown of what essential oils you should look for based on your skin type.
Ultimately any oil is better than no oil, but keeping an eye out for particular ingredients best suited for your skin will ensure you capitalize on the benefits.
Also keep in mind, because everyone's skin, habits, likes and needs are different, there's no reason to cling rigidly to the instruction label: Experiment and see what works for you.
Oily: Your Personality Should Shine More Than Your Face
I was most hesitant to try face oils because my skin is prone to get a little shiny. If you share my gleaming disposition, just be wary and start off using oils only at night so your skin has a long time to absorb them and there won't be any residual sheen the next day.
An outdated belief is that in more humid months, we need to dry out our skin. Driving the entire face-oil movement, however, is the fact that oil combats oil by giving your skin a reason it doesn't need to produce its own.
Depriving your skin of its natural moisture only makes your body want to secrete more (similar to how your hair gets greasier faster if it's dependent on shampoo every day).
Ingredients you want: Jojoba oil balances naturally occurring oil because it's similar to the sebum our body produces and also dissolves the excess; Lavender also helps our natural sebum production stay level while accelerating cell turnover and scar fading.
What to use: Of the products I tried, Living Libations' Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever smelled the best, even edible. “Edible” may be a weird way to describe external products you're definitely not supposed to consume, but most oils I tried had a noticeably toxic scent.
In case you wanted any opinions from non-humans, I woke up with three bug bites. That's how delicious I smelled.
Acne-Prone: Life Has Enough Bumps On Its Own
If you're prone to breakouts, you probably have some of the same reservations as your oily peers. A lot of essential oils, however, assist in relieving redness because they soothe agitated skin.
Our faces are on the front-line against fluctuating weather, dirty/bacteria-filled air and burning sunlight, so our skin craves moisture to counteract the harmful effects caused by simply existing.
Ingredients you want: Those with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, like vetiver and tea tree oil. Rose hip seed oil is touted for expediting cell turnover, so this essential oil is another favorite for clearing breakouts, healing damaged skin tissue, enhancing firmness and reducing discoloration.
What to use: Not banking on any bells and whistles, Vitamin C-rich Pura d'Or Rose Hip Seed Oil gets right to the point with only one ingredient. It smells vaguely waxy and, because it has a pump rather than a dropper, comes out pretty fast, but it also absorbs fast so don't let that throw you off.
Sensitive: Some Of Us Are Just More Delicate
People with sensitive skin typically don't like to mess with it out of fear they'll just cause a problem that wasn't there before. But just because something ain't broke doesn't mean it can't be better.
The right essential oil will change your skin gradually so nothing shocks your system.
Ingredients you want: Calming anti-irritants and anti-inflammatories like eucalyptus.
What to use: Sunday Riley Artemis' blend includes lemon ironbark, which is in the eucalyptus family. Because it's a little thicker than the others, I was surprised when Artemis absorbed almost instantaneously, only leaving behind a lemony fragrance.
Uneven Or Cracked: These Sound More Like Mental Health Issues
Puberty may have been a long time ago, but your skin might have never fully recovered from the hormonal tornado that tore through.
Unlike those middle school memories you actively try to suppress, marks from acne, other past skin ailments or aging are only skin-deep and can be treated topically.
Ingredients you want: Oils rich in collagen to plump skin and restore elasticity, like apricot kernel oil; oil from the Borago officinalis plant to even out pigmentation.
What to use: Tata Harper's Replenishing Nutrient Complex smells floral in a fresh-plant-and-soil type of way and has a repertoire boasting apricot kernel, Borago officinalis leaf extract and rose geranium, which helps smooth overall skin tone and texture.
Dry And Dull: Two Things No One Aspires To Be
By now I hope you've gathered face oils nourish mal-moisturized skin, but on top of treating any skin flakiness (if it's you who's flakey, not your skin, maybe just buy a planner), oils boost luminosity.
Among the most common positive feedback about face oils is they provide a glow people never knew their skin was capable of having.
Ingredients you want: Fast-absorbing oils that provide deep moisture to replenish roughness and restore your skin's youthful glow, like those derived from citrus.
What to Use: Zelens' Z-22 Absolute Face Oil smells like medicinal bark and evokes sentiments of camping… for $195 a bottle. It follows through with its naturey aura, though, and will leave your skin as smooth as a leaf. The blend features rice bran oil, which has skin-lightening properties, camellia oil, a protecting agent against UV rays and cooling Bergamot orange oil to refresh your skin.