Face oils are weirdly amazing. Weird, because the idea of rubbing straight-up oil on your face seems like a cruel, cruel joke (the breakouts! The shine! The BREAKOUTS!), but amazing, because, well, they practically transform your skin into a dewy drop of radiance in under 30 seconds. And that is not an exaggeration.
Here’s a little science for you: Oils are lipophilic, meaning they combine really well with fat, so they can pass through the lipid layer of your skin more effectively than other moisturizing ingredients. So when you apply a face oil on top of your normal moisturizer (yes, oils should always, always go last in your skincare routine), you’re not only giving your face a deeper dose of hydration, but you’re sealing in all of the good-for-you ingredients of the serums and moisturizers you applied first.
Tl;dr: Oils are superheroes at plumping, moisturizing, and protecting your skin. And normally, an all-in-one product that pretty much turns you into a baby cherub would cost a bajillion dollars (and, trust us, there are insanely expensive face oils out there), but we don’t believe you should have to spend part of your rent check to get glowing skin. So we scoured the most-loved drugstore facial oils, narrowed them down to four, and then tested them for the one ultimate winner.
Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C Dry Skin Cocktail, $22.99
I immediately liked this serum for no reason other than the fact that it reminded me of a lava lamp. But, unlike a lava lamp, you can spread this citrus-scented oil over your face without burning off your skin with chemicals, which is always a nice bonus. The other nice bonus: This face oil feels nothing like a traditional face oil.
Thanks to its mixture of vitamin C and cranberry and cloudberry seed oils, the formula spreads easily over skin like an oil-serum hybrid, meaning it absorbs almost immediately and leaves behind only a very subtle sheen—a rarity in a face oil. It’s also packaged in an air-tight pump bottle, making it more bacteria-resistant than a classic dropper applicator.
And though it’s not crazy potent, the vitamin C component can’t be overlooked. Because when a facial oil is formulated with antioxidants, like vitamin C, the oil molecules pretty much trick the skin into absorbing even more of the antioxidants, which means a more effective anti-aging treatment for your face. Still, even with the cool packaging and the antioxidants, I feel like this face oil leans more toward serum than true face oil, making it too lightweight of an option for my dry skin.
Physicians Formula Argan Wear Glow Oil, $14.99
And here we have the most traditional of traditional face oils: 100-percent argan oil. And sure, that might sound boring, but it’s actually crazy refreshing to use a face oil that’s just one single hydrating ingredient, especially since argan oil is not only one of the most widely-loved facial oils on the market, but is also non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores.
The scent-free argan oil is housed in a little glass bottle (which, I’ll admit, doesn’t have the prettiest of designs, but ignore that) with a dropper applicator, making it easy to dispense a few drops into your palms before rubbing them over your face. Just make sure not let the applicator touch your skin, or you’ll risk transferring bacteria back into the bottle. A little definitely goes a long way, though—four drops covered my entire face, with enough left over to massage into my cuticles.
Because this is a straight-up argan oil, it has a shinier, oiler-looking finish and a richer feel, so I chose to layer it on at night, right before bed, rather than under my morning tinted moisturizer, which would have slid right off. When I woke up, though, my skin was crazy soft, and the patch of dry bumps on my cheeks were noticeably smoother.
L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal Facial Oil Light Serum, $24.99
You’ve probably seen this oil on every face-oil article that’s ever been published in the last year, and for good reason: The formula consists of eight essential oils, like jojoba, rosemary, apricot, and lavender, that all somehow feel hydrating, yet not at all greasy or heavy on skin. Still, I wouldn’t call this a lightweight oil. Despite it absorbing incredibly well into your skin, the finish was definitely more of a traditional face-oil finish, with a pretty prominent shine. Again, not a big deal if you’re staying in for the night, but this wouldn’t be my first choice for an under-the-makeup morning product.
Also, those who are sensitive to scent should be aware that this oil has a pretty strong—though not at all unpleasant—musk to it, like a mixture of patchouli and cloves, though I couldn’t find either of those ingredients on the label. Though it was a nicer turn from the usual floral-as-hell fragrances, the musk noticeably lingered for a full day until I washed it off.
Nuance Salma Hayek Nourish and Renew Glow Facial Oil, $21.99
Celebrity beauty lines usually go one of two ways: they either hardcore suck and stay on the market for an uncomfortably long amount of time before disappearing into the ether, or, they very surprisingly, and very rarely, rock the beauty world. Salma Hayek’s Nuance line is, thankfully, the latter.
Pretty much every skincare and hair product in Hayek’s line is great—some even being very excellent—and that includes the Hayek Nourish and Renew Facial Oil. This jojoba-based oil is insanely lightweight, almost like a watered-down serum (yes, it’s that lightweight), with just a subtle fresh-flower scent that dissipated almost immediately after I massaged it into my skin. And, unlike most face oils that leave your skin with a sheen that screams “I’m a face oil!,” this one sank in and left my dry skin glowing, hydrated, and silky smooth—a tall order for one product.
Being the daredevil that I am, I also attempted to wear this under my tinted moisturizer one warm morning, and was excited to find that my makeup had not melted off my face by noon, but instead looked pretty damn fresh and dewy, still. An overall win in my book.
WINNER: Nuance Salma Hayek Nourish and Renew Glow Facial Oil
Credit photo. StyleCaster