Before I discovered facial oils, I thought I knew all there was about facial moisturizers. Foamy cleansers left my skin feeling tight and itchy, which I remedied each day with some white, creamy lotion. My skin wasn’t in great condition, but I didn’t know any better.
But since being introduced to oils and serums, there’s been no going back to those old ways. These richly nourishing, multi-use products contain pure, potent ingredients that actually help the state of my skin as well as my hair, cuticles, dry patches on elbows, and more.
I have dry skin, but those with combination or oily skin need not dismiss oils and serums too quickly. For every skin type, there’s an oil that can nourish it. So I’ve put together this handy guide to some of the best oils & serums out there. Think of this as your cheat sheet to all the kinds that are available today, and scroll to the end of the post for ways to use oils & serums!
Let’s start with the basics. If you’re new to using facial oils, I’d recommend trying ones that contain only one or two ingredients. Not only will this help you figure out which ones are best for your skin, but you’ll be getting the full benefit of one particular plant oil.
This amazing serum from Skin Owl is made of only two ingredients: baobab oil and mangosteen oil. is a powerful anti-oxidant that can not only brighten, but heal and prevent acne. , meanwhile, is rich in vitamins and can improve skin’s elasticity. If you have combo to oily and acne-prone skin, this overnight oil treatment is like a swiss army knife for your skin! This oil is also a treat to use as it smells like the two tropical fruit it comes from (get ready for some serious candy sweetness).
This oil is one of my faves due to its simplicity. It consists of a single ingredient: olive squalene oil. Squalene is a component of our skin, and so when you put this oil on you’ll get quick, effective moisture that sinks into the skin beautifully. It’s a great oil for oily or combo skin since it doesn’t leave any residue behind. However, I would recommend this oil for any skin type. I have dry skin and I used it all winter to maintain moisture balance. And Indie Lee’s Squalene is derived from a safe, vegan source rather than some squalene that can come from shark liver. This oil also won’t bother those with sensitive noses, as it has no scent.
Another product that contains only two ingredients, Pure Anada’s Smooth Priming Serum contains only hydraulic acid and chamomile extract. If you’re looking for an anti-aging serum and you have super sensitive skin, this one is for you. Like Indie Lee’s Squalene Oil, this serum sinks into the skin beautifully rather than sitting on top of it, and is light enough to be used with any skin type. The chamomile (which lends the serum a very light scent) helps to soothe, and hydraulic acid sucks moisture from the air into skin, helping to retain it throughout the day. This one is a another favourite of mine, especially considering its affordable price tag of $25 CAD.
Nourish and Soothe
If you’ve got ultra sensitive skin like mine, you’ll want to look for serums and oils (as well as all other skin care products) that contain rose or lavender derived ingredients. I’ve had so much luck with products that use this flowers as a base, and I’ve gathered a few oils that can help to soothe sensitive and nourish it back from rashy breakouts and redness.
At the other end of the price spectrum is this serum from Beuti Skin Care. New to North America, this mixture of precious plant oils is already the fave of British beauties such as Kate Middleton and Emma Watson. It contains lavender to help soothe, but also packs a punch thanks to oils from the seeds of chia, pomegranate, raspberry, strawberry and cranberry. It is filled with antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and vitamins that help heal skin from sunburn, inflammation, and other damage that can contribute to the look of aging. It also has a beautiful floral scent. It’s appropriate that the oil itself is such a golden colour since this overnight elixir is just that – liquid gold!
Since I first opened this bottle, Biossance’s serum has a new look and a new name: the oil formerly known as The Nourisher is now their Squalene + Vitamin C Rose Oil. You can tell from the name that this facial oil contain three things that are amazing for your skin. Plant squalene interacts with compounds already in your complexion to promote health, vitamin C prevents free radical damage and rose oil soothes sensitive skin. This serum is said to also promote firmness and is good for all skin types. Plus it straight up smells of roses, which is one of my favourite scents.
Based in Quebec, Maison Jacynthe has some serious skin care. This little bottle of the Rose Serum is perfect for the most sensitive skin types. It’s filled with rose ingredients, and although I’ve been using it for ages now, I’ve never had a rash or breakout from it. For me, it’s the perfect antidote for any time when I’m trying out a new skin care product that just doesn’t agree with me. Whenever that happens, I just have to go back to using this moisturizing serum to rebalance my skin.
Revitalize and Regenerate
After you’ve mastered the basics and discovered some oils, you might want serum that targets specific issues. If you’re looking for a more intense lift, detox or regenerating serum, you’ve got to check out this batch:
With seed oils from apricot and grape, argan oil, and anti-aging powerhouses tumeric and hydraulic acid, this lifting serum is not playing around. Unlike the other oils on this list, the Frankincense Intense Lifting Serum from Neal’s Yard Remedies is a thick, white liquid. I apply it in upward motions to help the ‘lifting’ action, and love it pre-event. And each time I’ve used it, I’ve actually seen an immediate improvement in my skin’s appearance.
The goji berry in this serum contains tons of vitamin C, which helps to brighten skin and reduce the appearance of age spots and sun spots. This unique serum also contains squalene, as well as myrrh, cypress, grape oil and ginger root oils, which not only reduces the look of aging but also protect your complexion from microbes and other potentially harmful compounds. If you’re looking for an oil to help you battle adult acne, this is the one!
If you’re skin is more on the dry side and you’re seeking a serum with regenerative properties, you’ll want to try out Wild Wood’s Idunn Regenerating Facial Elixir. The unique combination of blue cypress and frankincense help reduce redness, while pomegranate seed and myrrh are anti-oxidants that improve the health of skin. Add soothing geranium and nourishing carrot seed oil and you’ve got one powerful serum!
Finally, there’s Graydon’s powerhouse Detox + Renew Serum. This serum is filled with Canadian raspberries, cranberries and blueberries that combined contain super high amounts of Omega fatty acid 3 & 6, and Vitamin E. The serum also contains beneficial ingredients such as turmeric, and not only increases the overall health of your complexion, but can heal and prevent blemishes as well! This one is definitely a do-it-all serum!
How to use Oils & Serums:
Whichever oil you choose your your skin type, be sure to start with one or two drops. These are potent oils, and so a little goes a very long way. Over time, you can build up until you find the perfect balance for your complexion.
Usually, I take two to three drops, rub the oil in my palms to warm it, and then pat into my face and decollete rather than rubbing it in. It’s an easy step to incorporate into your routine after cleansing and toning, and if your skin is particularly dry you can layer moisturizer over any of these oils or serums.
However, there are so many other ways to use these products. You can add a drop or two to your moisturizer or liquid foundation, or you can use them as an oil cleanser to take makeup off effortlessly.
I’ve also used some of these oils on my cuticles, hands, and hair as an overnight mask, and you can also experiment with using them as body oils. They really are amazing, multi-use products and when you find the right one, it’s well worth the investment.
Do you use serums or oils on the regular? Do you prefer a pure oil or a blend? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below!