Can Face Oil Replace Moisturizer?

Can Face Oil Replace Moisturizer? Face oils and oil based "balm" moisturizers are SO popular these days due to the glowy dew they instantly give to the skin and lovely nourishing FEELING they have when applied.   With that said....NO, it is not good for the skin to use a face oil or balm instead of moisturizer.  Here's

Can Face Oil Replace Moisturizer?

by Nicole Mandallaz blog

Can Face Oil Replace Moisturizer?

Face oils and oil based "balm" moisturizers are SO popular these days due to the glowy dew they instantly give to the skin and lovely nourishing FEELING they have when applied.  

oil blob

With that said....NO, it is not good for the skin to use a face oil or balm instead of moisturizer.  Here's why...

 What Makes Up Our Skin's Natural Moisture:

Our skin's natural moisture barrier, the outermost top layer of our skin, is our body's first line of defense against the environment and external aggressors (like pollution, harmful bacteria, mold, viruses and allergens).  For some reason there is the idea that since our skin excretes oil that our barrier and natural moisture is just oil.  But it is way more complex and amazing than that.  

woman applying moisturizer

Our skin's natural hydration factor and lipids that hydrate the outer most layers of our skin cells, like mortar in between bricks, is actually made of water, free fatty acids, cholesterols and ceramides with a slightly acidic PH.

 A good moisturizer for the skin should at least mimic the skin's natural moisture barrier by containing a combination of the things it's made of: water, lipids, fatty acids, cholesterols and ceramides matching the slightly acidic PH of the skin.

So What About Face Oils then?

Well, first things first...oil and water do not mix.  So when you put a bunch of oil on your skin, for one, it blocks your skin's absorption of water, creating a situation where it becomes dehydrated. 

face cream from jar on fingers

Some skin types (especially after menopause) become lipid dry, so could benefit from added oils, but skin's moisture, like many other things with our health and body's requires balance.

Many oils contain beneficial properties to the skin.  But since the skins natural moisture barrier is made of different things, too much of one can throw off the balance.  

In clinical studies, oils with over 40% oleic acid disrupt the skins natural moisture barrier and clog pores, and oils high in linoleic acid help the skin to stimulate ceramides.  

So What Do We Do Then?

Oils can definitely be beneficial to the skin but they need to be used with a moisturizer that contains a balance of the skins essential moisturizing components.  

If you are truly lipid dry, then oils can be beneficial if tapped on top of your balanced moisturizer.  That way, the emulsifiers in the moisturizer (the ingredients that help bind oil and water) will help bind the extra oil in WITH the water in the moisturizer to prevent dehydration, rather than exacerbating it.

pretty face with moisture

Oils may feel really good when first being put on the skin, but in the long run, when used in place of moisturizer, disrupt the natural moisture barrier, and will cause chronic dehydration in the skin.  Better stick to a good and balanced moisturizer and if you need added oil, add some by pressing it on top.

Nicole Mandallaz
Esthetician, acne and aging expert, ingredients nerd, information junkie.
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