Why Your Facial Oil Isn't Working + Tips To Fix It

Written by Dominique Caron

Facial oils, oil-based serums, and oil cleansers are very popular these days, but there is one problem with these products: They lack water. Don't get me wrong; I'm a huge fan of plant oils and use them in my personal skin care regimen, but using them correctly is key to a healthy glow.

Adding water-based products after cleansing will help deliver nutrients deeper into the skin than using only oil-based products.

Water is essential for healthy skin. Without water, skin barrier function becomes compromised, and the skin can start showing symptoms such as inflammation, breakouts, flakiness, roughness, not to mention premature aging. The skin is made up of hydrophilic (water-loving) and lipophilic (oil-loving) layers. The deeper part is hydrophilic while the top layer is lipophilic.

Naturally, water is what keeps the skin hydrated and healthy and also keeps everything working. The top, oil-loving layer helps keep water from evaporating but protects the skin in many other ways as well. This is why facial oils work wonders and why those of you with naturally oilier skin have skin that actually ages slower, is less prone to inflammation, and is more effective at fighting free-radicals (thank you, sebum!).

So, water and oil work together to keep your skin healthy. Your skin needs water to function and oils to prevent water from evaporating and to protect the skin. Turns out water and oil do get along!

Remember how the top layer is oil-loving and the deeper layer is water-loving? This means that water-based products will actually travel deeper into your skin layers. Adding water-based products after cleansing will help deliver nutrients deeper into the skin than using only oil-based products.

Topical application of water in its many forms (hydrosols, teas, aloe juice, etc.) is a great way to help your skin stay hydrated while also delivering extra benefits deep within your skin.

So how can you add water back into your routine without ditching your oils?

You might be tempted to turn to lotions, but the water content in lotion can evaporate quickly and may not leave skin feeling hydrated. Lotions also often contain fillers, emulsifiers, and preservatives that your skin doesn't need.

I suggest that instead you apply water-based products in between your cleanser and facial oil. This can be an alcohol-free toner, facial mist, and/or water-based serum.

For added benefits and extra hydration, look for products that contain hydrosols/floral waters, herbal teas/infusions, and humectants like hyaluronic acid.

The key is to apply these water-based products immediately before your facial oil (so apply the facial oil when your skin is still damp). If you use a lotion or cream as well as a facial oil, apply the lotion/cream before your oil or balm.

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