Does anyone else remember the Great Oil Mania of 2015? Suddenly, it seemed, every single skin-care article was dedicated to espousing the benefits of face oils. (Decreasing fine lines! Moisturizing! Quelling irritated skin!)
Before 2015, I thought oils were something that should never ever touch blemish-prone skin such as my own. But then, convinced by various friends and articles, I took the plunge and tried Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Oil. I was pleasantly surprised — after only a few uses, my skin looked noticeably brighter and felt smoother. I used it obsessively that entire summer, and loved it. It never made me break out, and despite the intense heat, I never looked greasy, just glowy and radiant. But then October came around, and as if overnight, my skin stopped responding to my newly beloved oils. I broke out constantly, and felt convinced the oil was at fault.
I asked a dermatologist why the Kiehl’s product that was once so good for my skin had suddenly turned sour. Her answer permanently altered my relationship to oils: It’s imperative to change oils seasonally; your skin craves different things in summer than it does in winter. Some of this is intuitive: Skin produces more natural oils in the summer, so a lightweight oil product will penetrate and work more effectively. In the winter, a richer oil is necessary for deeper hydration. Follow these guidelines, my dermatologist told me, and oils would actually help prevent acne instead of triggering it. The reason my summer-time Kiehl’s stopped working come September? That oil was too thin for the drop in temperature.
Few other products can hydrate your skin so deeply and produce such glowy results, and after a few years of trial and error, I finally feel confident enough to tell you which oil to reach for, and when, to achieve the healthiest skin year-round.
For those who are acne-prone and still a little nervous to get down with face oils, this one is a great place to start. This oil includes Moroccan plant extract, which can really help out with any redness and inflammation. It also has antibacterial elements to it to combat any nasty brewing or preexisting blemishes. I used this last summer, and I’m happy to say it didn’t make me break out. I use this primarily at night before my moisturizer.
Last summer, I had a classic case of “too much AC plus too much humidity” skin; i.e., I was breaking out. A friend of mine highly recommended this oil from Dr. Hauschka, and when I finally bought it, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been using it all along. I put this on in the mornings, right before my lightweight moisturizer, and was shocked at how quickly it helped balance and repair my skin. I would never use this in the winter, but in the peak of summer, when you’re constantly sweating and feeling like you’re in a sauna, this is definitely worth trying out.
Circumference is a relatively new natural beauty brand that I’m so excited about: I’ve only had this oil for about two months, but I’m already a huge fan. I use it once a week on days when my skin is looking dull, tired, and all-around bleh. It has 16 different botanical oils — including prickly pear, sea buckthorn, jojoba, and even some marula — but it still goes on very light. The first time I tried this out, I impulsively decided to slap this on my skin before bed and I woke up to radiant skin. This has quickly subbed in as the perfect summer oil for my skin. I typically use this in the morning before my moisturizer, and it makes makeup look better, too.
I’ve written about this product before, but I can’t say enough how much this product has changed the entire texture of my skin. It’s incredibly thick and rich, so I do tend to wean off of it during the summer. But during this winter I wouldn’t dare go to sleep without delicately patting this oil into my skin, ensuring that it’s penetrating as deep as possible. This oil has omega-9 and antioxidants, so it helps repair any cracked, irritated, angry skin and also helps with redness and inflammation. If, like me, your skin is sensitive or breakout-prone, definitely give this a go. I press a layer of this into my skin before moisturizer during my night routine.
One of the best dupes on the market is this Marula Oil from the Ordinary (it’s a seventh of the cost of Drunk Elephant). While the effects are essentially the same, I’ve found that the D.E. penetrates just a little bit easier into the skin, really sinking in, instead of sitting on top. And who can resist this price?
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.