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10 best face oils for the perfect moisture boost

Bolster your skin's defence and add radiance to tired skin with one of these products

The right choice for you will sink in nicely with a little facial massage and be absorbed a few hours later ( iStock/ The Independent )

Applying oil to your face may seem completely counter-intuitive when many of us put a lot of effort into trying to control greasy skin. 

However, while mineral oil should be avoided for its breakout-inducing properties, a good blend of essential oils such as evening primrose or patchouli can lock in moisture, supporting skin’s natural barrier and improve elasticity in tired, papery skin. 

There’s a facial oil to suit every skin type.

The right choice for you will sink in nicely with a little facial massage and be absorbed a few hours later; if it just sits on the skin, it’s probably too heavy.

Oils do tend to be more expensive than most other skincare – with the exception, perhaps, of serums – due to their focus on pure, natural ingredients in high percentages, but their efficacy and potency means you only need a little, so a bottle lasts far longer than you might expect.

We recommend massaging two or three drops of any of the below into your skin before bed every night. 

Apply as the last product in your skincare routine to lock in moisture, as the oil barrier it forms will prevent anything water-based applied on top, such as moisturiser, from penetrating properly. 

Oils naturally leave residue on the skin when first applied, so most are not a suitable base for make-up. If you do need a morning moisture boost, try adding a drop or two to your moisturiser.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Kiehl's midnight recovery concentrate, 30ml: £38, Kiehl's

We keep a bottle of this much-loved product by our bed, and apply a few drops every evening. Its plumping and brightening blend of essential oils and fatty acids is perfect for rehydrating and faking a good night's sleep the morning after a late one in the pub. I once went without it while on holiday and found my skin was noticeably rougher and redder. It gets extra points for being eco-friendly, too, with a recyclable glass bottle.

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Tata Harper retinoic nutrient face oil, 30ml: £144, Cult Beauty

Tata Harper, aka the “queen of green”, is a clean beauty brand, meaning it is dedicated to not using any synthetic chemicals in its formulas, and is wildly popular among beauty editors. Nutrient face oil lives up to its name, containing antioxidants, fatty acids, vitamins A-E, lipids, amino acids and omegas. We found it great for regulating across a combination complexion, reducing inflammation and breakouts on oilier areas while nourishing drier ones, giving radiant skin all round. The clever push-pipette dispenses just the right amount of product too.

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Elemis superfood facial oil, 15ml: £45, Elemis

This, from the ever-popular (with us, anyway) superfood range smells like you could eat it and not come to any harm – perhaps even like it would actually taste good. Responsible for this earthy, healthy scent is its ingredient list of broccoli, flax seed, carrot, rosemary and multiple nut oils, which leave skin feeling “fed”, plump and protected.

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The Ordinary 100% cold-pressed virgin marula oil, 30ml: £8.10, Look Fantastic

Unrefined, cold-pressed and antioxidant-packed, this lives up to The Ordinary's usual standard of quality skincare ingredients for a fraction of the price. Our tester saw a big improvement in radiance in dull winter skin, and also used it on her curly, knotty hair to great smoothing and detangling effect. This oil is vegan and cruelty-free as well, which are both good boxes to tick.

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Eve Lom radiance face oil, 30ml: £60, Eve Lom

We love facialist brand Eve Lom – maker of the cult cleansing balm – for its luxe, simple packaging and similarly luxe, simple formulas, which give great results with no fuss and fanfare. Its Radiance oil has a light, silky texture and an antioxidant – and fatty acid-packed list of ingredients, including hemp seed, abyssinian and avocado oils, plus vitamin C. Our tester has sensitive, dry skin and found that this soothed and restored moisture levels without aggravating it.

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Sisley Paris black rose precious face oil, 25ml: £150, John Lewis

For the price, it's certainly precious, but Sisley's oil has sold at too fast a rate and topped too many awards lists to leave it off any best face oils round-up. Its thin formula belies its deeply moisturising effects and leaves skin soft and smooth. This was the thinnest, most quickly absorbed oil we tried, and our tester found she could even apply make-up half an hour afterwards, so well did it flood her parched winter skin without leaving behind a hint of grease.

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REN vita mineral omega 3 optimum skin oil, 30ml: £28, Cult Beauty

REN delivers time and time again on efficacious formulas at far lower prices than their quality suggests. Optimum skin oil contains high levels of fatty acids, which improve the skin’s natural barrier to reduce the risk of irritation and damage, and Omega 3, which stimulates cell renewal. We’d recommend it as a great purchase for those in their late twenties and early thirties wanting to try their first oil.

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Laura Mercier infusion de rose nourishing oil, 30ml: £45, John Lewis

We promise we don't only love this for the chic matte glass bottle and pink shade (though they help). This was one of the lightest, fastest-absorbing oils we tried, so can be used on parched skin under make-up in the morning, and can also be used for all sorts beyond the face: try it on lips, cuticles, hair ends, even elbows. 

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Votary rose maroc and sandalwood facial oil, 30ml: £65, Votary

Super-natural brand Votary is a powerhouse for oils, its founder Arabella Preston being one of their earliest proponents. Its rose maroc and sandalwood blend is our go-to for winter, when a combination of central heating and wild weather leaves skin dry, taut and chapped, as avocado and apricot oils are extremely nourishing. The gorgeous scent from the rose and sandalwood is relaxing, too; take a moment to inhale it before applying.

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Balance Me Rose Otto Facial Oil, 30ml: £32, Look Fantastic

Our tester doesn't usually use oil-based products, but says this has converted her. She found her skin felt softer, redness was reduced and it has prevented dry, flaky patches in the colder weather. It contains citronelloil, which gives it a slight scent of insect-repellant candles; some may find it a little off-putting, but it mostly just reminds us of summer.

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The Verdict: Face oils

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate is a classic for a reason, and comes in at a good middle-ground price point, too.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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