The right types of oils are essential for good health, both inside and out! Topically, oils act as emollients for the skin, helping hydrate, soften, and balance with a physical protective layer. Rather than a single oil, our skin needs a combination of oils because the molecular size of each specific oil will determine how it helps the skin. That’s why I use a combo of oils in my homemade skin serums.
Once I started using different combinations of fatty acid rich oils on my face, my skin health improved dramatically, and I can’t complain about that glow. A healthy balance of skin oils and hydration contributes to your skin’s strength, elasticity, and proper functioning.
Here are the best oils for all types of skin.
Benefits of Using Oils on Your Skin
I have transitioned away from spending boat loads of money on potions, lotions, and serums for my skin in favor of less expensive and more effective oils. I feel good about ditching the expensive chemicals. I now rotate among my favorite oils depending on what my skin needs and the time of year. I’ve been oil cleansing on and off for a while now, and I have several oils I use–sometimes alone, sometimes I’ll combine ’em into a homemade formula–for cleansing, moisturizing, repair, and protection.
You might be thinking, “why would I put oil on my skin? Wouldn’t that cause breakouts?” Actually, the more you strip your skin of its natural oils by using harsh cleansers, the more it compensates by overproducing sebum, causing all your washing and product application to backfire. Dead skin, bacteria, and build-up then clog the pores, and the excess oil is unable to escape. Bam, a zit.
The oil cleansing method can be excellent for rebalancing oily and combination skin, especially when you use anti-bacterial oils such as jojoba combined with tea tree. If you have oily skin, avoid those strong and foamy cleansers that make your skin feel tight and squeaky. Bad news. Those cleansers can damage your skin’s delicate microbiome.
Oils are wonderful for all types of skin because they
- are rich in antioxidants (free radical protection = anti-aging!)
- don’t contain a laundry list of chemical ingredients
- have natural SPF (some do anyway)
- plump skin (more anti-aging!)
- repair damaged skin and prevent wrinkles
- are well absorbed when you use the right types of oils
- moisturize and give you a dewy glow
- are gentle and soothing for sensitive and irritated skin
Not all oils are great for skin health, however. You’ll often see mineral oil in over the counter products because it’s cheap. But mineral oil is a petroleum product (like gasoline) that contains impurities which are bad for skin and may cause breakouts. Avoid mineral oil.
Here are my favorite oils for your best and healthiest glowing skin. Note that the best combination of oils will differ for everyone. It depends on your skin type and even the time of year. I mention some of my favorite combinations below at the end of the post.
The 10 Best Oils for Glowing Skin
1) Rose hip oil (also known as rose hip seed oil) comes from the seeds of a specific variety of rose. It’s incredibly rich in essential (and non-essential) fatty acids that are easily absorbed by the skin and enhance tissue regeneration. Rose hip oil is high in vitamin C, one of the most important skin antioxidants, so it’s great to combat aging skin. I LOVE rose hip oil and use it daily. I mostly use it as part of or the base of my combination formulas (see below). It makes skin incredibly soft and dewy and erases fine lines, prevents wrinkles, reduces scars, and fades dark spots. I use this brand— it’s very affordable! If you have dry skin especially, this oil is for you for daily use.
2) Jojoba oil is my personal main choice for oil cleansing (my skin tends to be dry). Jojoba most closely resembles your skin’s natural sebum, so it’s a great skin conditioner and works well for combatting acne since it regulates skin’s own sebum production. It can be great for modulating oily skin. It’s rich in vitamins A and E and is a great anti-inflammatory agent for acne-prone or irritated skin. Also great for hair and scalp.
3) Coconut oil is of course the stuff of miracles and has been used for beautiful skin and hair for centuries (probably, I don’t really know how long). Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal, making it another great oil for oil cleansing and regulating the skin’s microbiome. A saturated fat, it’s especially thick but absorbs quickly. BUT there is a big caveat: if you have acne-prone skin, coconut oil is probably not for you, as it’s highly comedogenic, meaning it may clog pores and cause zits. If you’re acne prone, use jojoba. I use coconut oil as a base for my miracle skin butter and use it most often in the drier winter months. It’s also a great wrinkle preventer and leaves skin looking very dewy. Also works great as a makeup remover. My dry skin loves coconut oil, but it’s not for everyone.
4) Carrot seed oil is pretty amazing for skin health. Like rose hip oil, it offers a high level of antioxidant support and promotes cell regeneration. Best for aging or damaged skin. I add a few drops to my everyday moisturizer.
5) Avocado oil is super rich in skin softening monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. Good for soothing itchy, sunburned skin and eczema. It makes a great whole body conditioning oil because it’s not too expensive. Also good for oil cleansing for dry skin. Great for hair also.
6) Sweet almond oil is one of my favorite all-over body oils. Very rich in vitamin E and monounsaturated fats (notice a pattern here?), it’s great for both skin and hair. It’s mild and another great one for overall softness and conditioning. Apparently almond oil is very hypoallergenic and a great choice for oil cleansing, but I’ve never tried it. I add a few drops of essential oil to it and apply for all over skin softness. Especially great for sun damaged skin and may repair signs of aging. Do not use if you have an almond allergy.
7) Argan oil is another that’s rich in antioxidants and fatty acids. It’s a great moisturizer and anti-inflammatory. Improves skin elasticity, making it great for stretch marks. This is another great one to add to a carrier oil for all body moisturizing. I use this one. Also excellent for dry hair and scalp– just work a few drops in the ends of dry hair.
8) Pomegranate seed oil: pomegranates are as wonderful for your insides as they are for your skin. Super antioxidant-rich to promote healing and protect skin from aging, the seed oil protects, nourishes, and moisturizes. I use this with rosehip seed oil and tamanu in my everyday skin oil blend. I also occasionally use the Burt’s Bees pomegranate eye cream.
9) Tamanu oil is sticky and rich and one of the most effective agents in promoting the formation of new tissue. It accelerates wound healing and encourages the growth of healthy skin. It’s antibacterial and good for acne prone skin, eczema, and psoriasis. Great for acne scars.
10) Frankincense is probably my favorite essential oil. It is absolutely wonderful for skin. It protects and tones, encourages skin regeneration, prevents wrinkles, fades and heals scars, and makes skin soft and glowy. I add several drops to whatever carrier oil I’m using and sometimes apply it straight to problem areas. It smells rich, earthy, and divine, and I like to use it for meditation also. There are tons of essential oils out there, but you don’t need to pay $75 a bottle for them. The less expensive kinds are find for topical use as long as they’re therapeutic grade and pure.
Myrrh is another I use in my DIY miracle skin cream. It’s excellent for anti-aging, good for chapped or cracked skin, and is a powerful antioxidant. Rose oil is super pricey (the real stuff, be aware that many rose oils only contain like 5% rose oil, or are not pure) but smells divine. It actually increases skin’s permeability, which means it enhances absorption and effectiveness of other oils you’re using. It’s anti-inflammatory, reduces redness, calms the skin, and moisturizes. Great for aging skin. Also has amazing aromatherapeutic benefits and is said to reduce depression.
Neroli and palmarosa are great essential oils for skin also. Neroli also smells divine, as it’s derived from orange blossoms.
My Favorite Oil Combinations
Note: I have fairly dry skin, so most of the combos I use are for dry skin and anti-aging, but I’ve included options for oily skin here.
- My everyday moisturizing and anti-aging oil is a combo of jojoba as a base carrier oil, rosehip seed, tamanu, pomegranate seed, 2-3 drops carrot seed oil (it’s very strong) and often some type of essential oil like neroli or frankincense. I use equal parts jojoba to rosehip and about half that quantity of pomegranate and tamanu. You can find more detail about it here. I call it my anti-aging beauty blend. I use this year-round at night before bed.
- For oil cleansing, I use jojoba as a base with a few drops frankincense. If you have oily skin, try this with tea tree oil. Coconut oil cleanser may work well for acne because it’s anti-bacterial, but it may worsen acne in some people.
- For my winter moisturizer, I make my DIY miracle skin cream with frankincense, myrrh, and carrot seed.
- I occasionally use pure rose hip oil as a base underneath the other oils first thing in the AM and before bed.
- In the summer, I like my anti-aging beauty blend at night and jojoba as a carrier with a few drops rose hip, frankincense, avocado oil during the day. I also love neroli. It’s good to prevent wrinkles and fine lines. I apply this before bed most often.
- As an all-over skin moisturizer, I use sweet almond oil with several drops of rose hip oil and frankincense. You can also use avocado oil.
Did you know that skin issues mirror gut health problems? Issues like candida overgrowth and dysbiosis (and imbalance between your good and bad gut bacteria in the digestive tract) can cause acne and breakouts. Check out my 21 day gut reset and my candida masterclass for help in healing your gut to get clear, radiant skin.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.