There are so many products out there that are formulated to reduce the signs of aging—wrinkles, fine lines, dull complexion, dark spots, sagging—and you might have a few in your bathroom cabinet. You've got your moisturizers, night creams, serums, masks, eye creams… But have you ever given face oils a thought? This could be your secret weapon for keeping your skin looking so good, especially if you have mature skin that is prone to dryness.
"Oils can also be helpful in anti-aging routines and provide antibacterial and healing benefits," explains Robyn Gmyrek, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at UnionDerm. "As we age, our skin moisture levels decline, causing dry, dehydrated skin, which makes fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable. Oils not only hydrate the skin but because they are rich in antioxidants, they also fight free radical damage to cells, thereby preventing further aging. The oils keep skin layers soft, seal in hydration, and can even protect the skin by keeping the outer layer of skin, the stratum corneum, intact. Oils help keep hydration in and prevent the environment from stripping water out."
To use a face oil, Gmyrek suggests applying once or twice daily for at least 12 weeks to see results. "It takes at least three months for your body to produce new collagen and elastic tissue," she explains. "If you see results immediately, it is not due to new collagen and elastic tissue but rather due to the hydrating effects of the oil. When your skin is well hydrated, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles is improved." It's important to note that face oils aren't for everyone. Gmyrek says that they can cause breakouts in people who have acne-prone skin.
And if you're sold on face oils now to add to your mature-skin routine, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when choosing one. "For anti-aging, there are lots of good ingredients out there," Gmyrek says. "Most oils act as antioxidants, which counteract the damage caused by UV radiation and pollution-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS cause inflammation as well as the destruction of collagen and elastic tissue, leading to premature aging. Those oils that contain retinoids (vitamin A) add the effects of retinoids, which stimulate collagen."
When reading the labels of these oils, she recommends looking for the words "cold-pressed," which means that they have better nutritive properties than those that have undergone the refining process. "This is because the cold-pressing procedure does not involve heat or chemical treatments, which may alter their composition and therapeutic effects," she explains.
Gmyrek listed some oils you might come across and the benefits of each:
Gmyrek says that this oil comes from argan fruit trees that are indigenous to Morocco. It boosts skin elasticity and contains essential fatty acids, "namely omega-3, -6, and -9s, which can improve hydration, hyperpigmentation, and the health of the skin barrier."
More Anti-Aging Face Oils
Now that we know the benefits of various oils, you might want to try some different blends or formulations. Below is a list of some of Gmyrek's and our recommendations.
But before you buy, Gmyrek cautions that a lot of these over-the-counter products are not tested for claims the same way prescription drugs are tested. "So we can only go by the manufacturer's tests and claims," she says. "Even though a product may contain vitamin A or vitamin C, for example, depending on the way it is formulated or packaged, it may or may not be biologically active—i.e., it may not work!" Therefore, it's best to do your research, read the labels carefully, and understand that some products might work on your skin and some might not.
Gmyrek says this is a very economical choice that is still effective with ingredients like argan, camelina, and coconut oils. It's formulated to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, and uneven skin tone.
This is one of my personal favorites. Applying just a couple of drops leaves my skin looking so refreshed and hydrated the next morning. It contains botanical oils like lavender, squalane, and evening primrose and is paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free.
"It contains rose-hip oil (vitamin A) and adds vitamin C, which is an essential building block of collagen and a potent antioxidant," Gmyrek says. Other ingredients like camapu, bisabolol, and ginger root will protect skin against environmental damage and the signs of aging.