year in review

The Revlon Oil-Control Roller Is the Best Thing I Bought This Year

Photo: Ambar Pardilla

If you’ve read any of our Strategist editor hauls, you’ll know that our writers and editors buy a lot of stuff, and even though we think carefully about each thing that goes into our carts, there are still standouts. To close out the year, we’ve asked our staffers to write about the best thing they bought in the past 12 months. Today, Ambar Pardilla on the Revlon oil-control roller that’s finally left her face shine-free.

Keeping my face shine-free is a Sisyphean effort. I’d like to look like a perfectly lit Gucci ad but end up looking like a melting Goober candle. I’ve tried all the glossy mag tricks — that cleanser with this primer. And I’ve decided all the beauty influencers are lying because their beloved setting powders are b.s. Even my friends can’t be trusted. Their “miracle” blotting papers are nowhere near divine. My skin obviously made a pact with the devil — in exchange for a slick surface, it was essentially pimple-free for years.

The more I try to mattify, the angrier and redder my face becomes. It’s a vicious cycle of oil production, inflammation caused by one of the “solutions” above, and then even more oil.

The algorithm caught on to all my searches for oil control because for weeks I kept seeing the Revlon Oil-Absorbing Volcanic Face Roller on my For You page. But #BeautyTok is known for shilling #ad and #sponsored content disguised as real reviews, so I ignored the recommendation at first. But eventually, the succession of roller review videos convinced me (the very close close-ups on this TikTok tipped the scale.)

The roller almost looks too minimalist to work (the vibe is Dame meets The Flintstones), but the spherical volcanic rock is really the main attraction. It does the oil absorbing by swiveling around inside the handle while I lightly roll it over my cheeks, nose, and forehead. I thought “volcanic rock” was a weird ingredient at first — it sounded like something my mom would use as a cure-all (she’s a big believer in using limón on breakouts). So I turned to two experts to explain what makes volcanic rock work. New York City–based dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman compares volcanic rock to clay — think Caudalie’s cult-favorite Instant Detox Mask or the ever-popular Aztec Secret facial. It works the same way, attracting oil like a magnet to remove it, she says. Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green, who is based in the Upper East Side, echoes this: Volcanic rock “draws all the impurities from your pores and beneath the skin.” This “super absorbency” is what makes the roller work so well.

Pre– and post–Revlon roller. Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Ambar Pardilla

The volcanic rock feels surprisingly smooth gliding across my face. Rolling is like a mini-massage — not quite gua-sha level, but just enough. The rock sucks off oil very quickly. It takes just one pass to get rid of most of the excess on my cheeks, chin, and the center of my nose. My forehead hoards grease, so it does take a few passes there. And you don’t have to press it into your skin for it to work (actually, Jaliman says, be gentle or risk irritation.)

Those swipes leave my face magically matte-ish — like a muted dewiness. That balance is the best part. Post-roll, the oily parts of my face aren’t greasy, but they aren’t completely dry, either. As bizarre as this sounds, my skin is left looking like skin rather than that mannequin-like matte you see in Instagram filters. Plus, my concealer stays in place, as does my cream blush and highlighter.

The roller isn’t a cure-all. My face will always be on the oily side, despite having my skin-care routine down pat. But when I get too oily, I now have the perfect fix.

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.

This Oil-Control Roller Is the Best Thing I Bought in 2021