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10 best face oils that lock in moisture

From vitamin C to rosehip oil, bolster your skin’s defence and add radiance to tired skin with one of these products

Sabine Wiesel
Tuesday 30 March 2021 16:46
<p>Antioxidants protect the skin barrier, while active-ingredients like retinol and vitamin C have a rejuvenating effect</p>

Antioxidants protect the skin barrier, while active-ingredients like retinol and vitamin C have a rejuvenating effect

In our eternal quest for youthful, glowing skin, facial oils have come of age. Nothing locks in moisture and creates instant fresh-looking, dewy skin like the latest slick operators.

A face oil should be used as the last step in your skincare routine, rather than a replacement for your daily moisturiser or night cream. It’s a common misconception that they actually hydrate the skin when scientifically speaking, “they are occlusives meaning they act as sealants on the skin surface,” says Dr Sharon Wong, dermatologist based at The Shard, London. They do this by creating a protective layer over our complexions that prevents any moisture from escaping.

While dry skin types will have the most to gain from this moisture boost, enhancing the hydrating effects of your moisturiser is something all skin types can gain from. After all, skin looks its best when plump and well-nourished. And don’t be put off if you’ve got combination or oily skin, as there are targeted formulas that can balance skin’s sebum levels too.

The best face oils should be packed with skin-loving nutrients. They should be antioxidant-rich to protect the skin barrier from daily aggressors, and contain anti-inflammatory properties to repair and maintain the skin barrier.

Advances in cosmetic science have even introduced us to next-generation oils, so some are now also laced with rejuvenating active-ingredients like retinol, vitamin C and exfoliating acids.

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We know finding the right face oil for your wants and needs is difficult in such a flooded skincare category, so we’ve done the hard work for you. Our winners not only had to feel luxurious to use, but they also had to help increase hydration levels, making skin feel softer and look smoother.

In addition, we wanted them to go the extra skincare mile, whether it be soothing, brightening, or balancing. Either way, there’ll be a perfect blend for you, so get glowing…

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

PSA Skin midnight courage rosehip and bakuchiol retinol night oil, 15ml

PSA Skin is the new little sister brand to Allies of Skin – the much-loved, fuss-free, combinations of highly effective skincare containing backed-by-science ingredients. You’ll find similar, clinically proven actives in the new six product collection, but with much cheaper price points.

Take this night oil for instance, which contains retinol and its plant-based alternative bakuchiol, a great combo as there was no irritation or sensitivity whatsoever when used night after night. We found after a week of use we were waking up to a much healthier-looking, brighter skin-tone, while pore-size was reduced too. Affordable, effective and a real winner!

Kloris superior CBD superboost face oil, 30ml

The stresses and anxieties of the pandemic can show-up in all matter of forms on the skin. So, if you’re looking to reap the CBD benefits, look no further than this super-potent 600mg natural powerhouse. It’s a real find for soothing reactive skin, thanks to its powerful anti-inflammatory formula.

Our tester’s stressed-out skin appears in the form of random spots and red dry patches, especially around the nose and between the eyebrows. Usually, a steroid cream is the only cure, but this worked wonders at calming the skin when mixed into our daily moisturiser and as a massaging treat before bed. After one week it had almost cleared. Impressive!

Oskia London restoration oil, 30ml

This does exactly what it says on the bottle; addressing skin that’s in need of repair from damage. This could be from the sun or pollution, and can show up as pigmentation – a sign of ageing or dull and lifeless skin – or perhaps you’ve overdone it with too many active ingredients, and some irritation has formed. With turmeric oil, which is great for tackling inflammation and speeding up healing, this is highly recommended for its soothing and comforting abilities. We found this comforting on patches of red, irritated skin after overdoing it on the retinol, and our skin was back to normal after three days.

Weleda pomegranate firming facial oil, 30ml

This oil is formulated with forty-plus complexions in mind, the age when we start to see changes in firmness from loss of elasticity, as well as more visible lines and wrinkles. It targets these natural signs of ageing with its antioxidant-rich pomegranate seed oil formula, rich in skin-loving vitamin C and B5, so it not only rejuvenates the skin but protects it too. It’s a non-greasy formula, so we loved to use it day and night, on its own or mixed in with moisturiser. Expect to feel smoother skin within days, and a firmer complexion with a real radiance to it with continued use.

Dermalogica retinol clearing oil, 30ml

Breakouts can happen at any age, especially in a pandemic when mask-wearing has become a part of the everyday. Whether you’ve got “maskne”, decongested, oily or combination skin, you’ll love this. Combining the pore-unclogging wonder ingredient salicylic acid safely with youth-boosting retinol, this oil is a game changer.

We used it on hormonal breakouts on skin that is somewhat used to retinol – using every other day, we found our skin tolerated the retinol fine, so quickly increased usage to every night. After a week of daily bedtime use, regular blemishes didn’t make an appearance and skin looked much brighter and clearer.

Green People nordic roots marine facial oil, 30ml

Inspired by the clean and functional Scandinavian approach to living, this simple, organic and effective formula is a great pick for sensitive skin types. It would also suit those that are looking to strip-back their skincare routines for a more “skinimalistic” approach. It’s fragrance-free and boasts a vitamin-E oat kernel extract formula that calms and soothes.

At first glance, it looked too rich for day time use, but once pressed into the skin it leaves a fresh glow. We tested it in the evenings too with the brands Obsidian Gua Sha tool. Using long outward strokes under the eyes, cheekbones, jawline and chin, it released facial tension and de-puffed tired eyes with continued use. A great pair!

Biossance squalane and vitamin C rose oil, 30ml

Rose is having a real beauty resurgence in skincare. It’s been used for centuries in beauty routines, thanks to its healing, calming and moisturising properties. The Damascus rose extract in this is therefore more than just a romantic, floral scent (although it really is beautiful). It also boasts skin-brightening vitamin C and super-moisturiser squalane, to make up a face oil that boosts radiance after just a few days of use. It’s so lightweight, we used it day and night, and also loved mixing a couple of drops with our foundation for a dewy finish.

Trilogy hemphip balancing oil, 20ml

We’re already huge fans of the brand’s rosehip oil – and we’re in good company as Kate Middleton is rumoured to love it too – so, we couldn’t wait to try out their latest organic formulation for combination skin types. Promising to balance an oily T-zone with salicylic acid and nourish normal-dry skin with a botanical blend of hemp seed, rosehip, jojoba and grape oils, it really delivered.

The lemon myrtle makes the citrus a real stand-out scent, a lovely morning pick-me-up, but do wait a few minutes until it’s fully absorbed if you’re applying make-up on top. We used it day and night, and after a week there was a reduction to excess shine, and a balancing of oil production, leaving a healthier and radiant complexion. This would work a treat on decongested and oily skin types too.

Wildsmith Skin active super oil, 30ml

This luxe oil has a fragrance that transports you to a much-missed indulgent spa, and leaves you with an instant facial glow. It’s made-up of an impressive 17 plant oils picked, as the brand says, for their regenerating and rejuvenating properties, including prickly pear, which has a high-concentration of skin-protecting and nourishing vitamin E. It’s the perfect addition to a morning routine, as the texture is super lightweight, but equally, we loved using it for a facial massage in the evenings. Yes it’s pricey but, a little goes a very long way with this one. If you could bottle up instant dewy skin, this would be it!

Tropic elixir age-defying omega oil, 30ml

Reach for this bottle if your complexion is looking tired, dull and lacklustre, for some instant gratification. The bright orange oil looks intimidating at first, but that’s just the beta carotene from the rosehip berries. It leaves an instant warm golden sheen brightening-up pasty complexions after lockdown hibernation.

The healthy glow is also a result of the omega-rich formula, packed with antioxidant rich rosehip oil to protect the skin, anti-inflammatory properties to soothe, and nourishing moringa oil. We loved to go foundation free when using this in the mornings, but it also makes a great base for make-up. All this at a purse-friendly price too.

The verdict: Face oils

The winning duo of skincare ingredients in PSA Skin’s midnight courage rosehip and bakuchiol retinol night oil makes it our best buy, thanks to its rejuvenating formula that skin tolerated so well, and all at an affordable price. For those with a bigger budget, the Wildsmith Skin active super oil is the perfect all-rounder – a dream to use that leaves skin with amazing dewy results. 

For more moisture-boosting skincare products, read our review of 10 best hyaluronic acid serums and creams for hydrated skin

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.