A Little Drop Of Oil To Treat Your Face Like Royalty

All that you wanted to know of skincare’s best kept secret.

Published On Feb 21, 2024 | Updated On Mar 08, 2024

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On a recent trip to Rajasthan the bitter wind and sand dried out my skin. I started slathering a body oil on my face — a blend of nine different oils, including olive squalane, meadowfoam seed oil and Moroccan argan oil. It worked miraculously, reviving my parched skin, keeping it hydrated in the dry, desert clime. 

Our skin naturally produces sticky, oily sebum, fats and lipids to form a barrier to protect itself from losing too much water, while keeping it healthy. Dr Madhuri Agarwal, founder and medical director- Yavana Aesthetics Clinic, says, “This (layer) helps to soften the skin, seal water in and strengthen the barrier. Facial oils work as emollients to prevent loss of hydration from skin. For dry skin or where the natural oils have been depleted, they help replenish it.” 

Traditionally, oils have been a part of skincare, such as apricot kernel oil and mustard seed oil, used the mountainous Himalayan regions and the plains of Punjab. Prachi Bhandari — co-founder and head of research and development, Aminu — while sharing the benefits of botanical face oils, says, “Plant oils are full of vitamins and nutrients that can benefit your skin. Face oils have the ability to penetrate deeply into the skin layers and nourish it with essential nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants. These nutrients can transform and protect the resilient lipid barrier, which is responsible for keeping your skin hydrated, firm, and healthy.” The brand’s Radiance Face Oil is made with a blend of 10 easily absorbable seed oils, bakuchiol, squalane, and vitamins C and E to plump and soften skin. 

Choosing the right face oil depends on your skin type and concerns. Dr Aruna Purohit, Ayurvedic advisor at Kama Ayurveda, says, “Face oil serves as a skincare solution for various skin issues such as dryness, redness, and inflammation. It is formulated to be in sync with the skin's natural oils and maintain balance. Facial oils serve as both a base and even a cleanser, they reduce the appearance of pores, texture, and penetrate deeply to seal moisture and protect against toxins.” Kama Ayurveda’s Kumkumadi Thailam, Amarrupa Wrinkle Repair and Firming Face Oil, and Urjasara Hydrating and Replenishing Face Oil are created from parts of the plants such as flowers, leaves, and roots and possess anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing properties that address various skin concerns. 

Choosing the right oil for your skin type is essential to get the best results. Dr Agarwal recommends using coconut, macadamia, flaxseed and palm oil for dry skin. “These oils are rich in fatty acids. They help in retaining moisture, making skin supple and plump.” For combination and oily skins, she suggests one use jojoba, squalene, argan, marula or grapeseed oil for their sebum-balancing properties. “These oils improve skin hydration without clogging the pores and have anti-inflammatory properties for acne-prone skin.” For sensitive skin Dr Agarwal recommends one use gentle oils such as rosehip and argan oil due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that help nix free radical damage. “They contain Vitamin E and linoleic acid that help improve skin elasticity,” she says. 

All oils are not created equal. Dr Niketa Sonavane, celebrity dermatologist and founder of Ambrosia Aesthetics, Mumbai, says, “Before applying oil to your face, perform a patch test on a tiny area of skin. If you suffer irritation or allergic reactions, discontinue use. And avoid oils containing additional perfumes or synthetic components, as they are more likely to trigger sensitivity.” Steer clear from face oils if you have skin conditions such as acne, eczema, rosacea and contact or seborrheic dermatitis. 

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It’s important to prepare your skin before you apply face oil, says Bhandari. To get maximum benefit, first cleanse your face and leave it slightly damp for better absorption. “To apply the oil, put a few drops on your fingertips and gently pat or press it onto your skin. Focus on areas that tend to be dry or need more hydration. Avoid rubbing the oil too hard, which can cause irritation. Instead, use upward, circular motions to help the oil absorb and promote circulation.” Apply it on your neck and chest area too, and wait for it to be fully absorbed by your skin. 

“Oil can be used alone or layered with other skincare products, such as moisturizers or sunscreens, to enhance hydration, nourishment, and protection against harmful UVA and UVB radiation. Adjust the amount based on your skin's needs,” says Dr Purohit, adding that since they are concentrated, thus a little goes a long way. “Use one to three drops to cover your whole face, adjusting the amount based on your skin's needs. For dry to normal skin, daily use is suitable, while oily skin may benefit from two to three times a week.” 

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Facial oils can be applied twice daily, suggests Dr Agarwal, adding that they complement your skincare routine and are not mandatory. “Oils are thick so if you apply them at the start, it will prevent the serums and moisturisers from penetrating into the skin. Facial oils can be used after humectants like hyaluronic acids to lock in moisture. Always use oils at the end, before sunscreen, to seal in the actives.” However, she cautions to never mix oil with sunscreen or apply oil over sunscreen. “It will negate the effects of the sunscreen.” Oils usually do not react adversely to other skincare products, but if your skin breaks out post use, consult your dermatologist for appropriate medication. “Stop using all active ingredients and switch to a gentle non-foamy face wash and ceramide-based moisturiser. And avoid massaging or manipulating the area till the reaction clears,” says Agarwal. 

With so many oils flooding the market, concerns of quality are valid. Dr Sonavane says its necessary to distinguish high quality oil from its inferior counterparts, and adds, “Look for oils that are cold-pressed or expeller-pressed, as these procedures preserve more of the oil's essential ingredients. Choose organic or sustainably sourced oils to reduce your exposure to pesticides and other potentially dangerous chemicals. And finally, read product labels carefully and avoid oils with fillers or synthetic compounds.” 

A great addition to your skincare routine especially when you skin needs some TLC, oils keep your skin supple, moisturised and smooth.


Photo: shutterstock; Instagram/Kamaayurveda

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