Dara Kennedy

Dara Kennedy worked in beauty product development and marketing for more than 10 years before starting Ayla. She is a graduate of Princeton University and holds an MBA from Harvard. A longtime yoga practitioner and mother of 2, she's been a supporter of non-toxic beauty products for years.

Facial oils have been all the rage for awhile now, so we thought it was high time we addressed them with a simple introduction that answers three key questions: Why is oil good all of a sudden, who should use oils, and how do you choose the best one for your skin?

Q: For at least a decade, I tried to avoid oil.  Now I might want more of it?  Really?

A: Yes, really. Unlike the clogging mineral oils of yore, the newer, non-comedogenic formulas people are raving about feature pure, plant-based oils — either a single type or a blend — that moisturize, provide antioxidant protection, and soothe skin. Whether your skin tends to be dry or oily, facial oils can help bring it back into balance either by preventing your skin from overproducing oil or by replenishing moisture loss.

Q: Are oils right for everyone?

A: Generally speaking, anyone can use face oil as long as it’s the right kind for your skin. Oils might work particularly well for you if you:

Are looking for a dewy, glowy look.  (Aren’t we all?)  Oils are spectacularly efficient at delivering moisture to skin: they pass through skin’s lipid layer more quickly than creams do. This helps both add moisture and prevent moisture loss for a prolonged period of time, making skin look pleasantly plump and dewy.

Have sensitive skin.  Many oils boast anti-inflammatory, soothing properties, and as the stellar New York facialist Julia March says, “They can calm, hydrate, and replenish skin that’s been exposed to external stressors more quickly and without possible irritation.”

Are 40+. Julia March also informed us that skin’s natural oil production decreases significantly starting in our late thirties, and as skin becomes more fragile due to the breakdown of its natural moisture barrier, it becomes much less likely to retain essential moisture. This dryness and fragility continues to increase in subsequent years, so it’s a good idea to get into the habit of using oils to deeply moisturize and soothe skin sooner rather than later.

Want a quick, one-step skincare solution. If at first you thought oils were a little too messy and complicated to deal with, you might want to reconsider: They can be a single solution to provide your skin with essential moisture and anti-aging antioxidants, and all you have to do is apply 3-5 drops to damp skin.  They also work beautifully under mineral makeup, and they can also work wonders on dry hair, cuticles, and hands.

Q: OK, I’m sold.  How do I pick the right oil for my skin? 

A: Well, finding the right match can be a little tricky because oils tend to vary quite a bit.  When in doubt, contact one of our Guides.  You can also use the list below, which presents the oils from lightest (Argan Oil) to heaviest (Marie Veronique Rejuvenating Night Oil).

  • Kahina Argan Oil is a great choice for those who are new to or tentative about oils due to concerns about breakouts. It’s simple, light, and fast-absorbing.

  • Marie Veronique Treatment Oil is another great option if you're acne-prone: it's the single go-to, breakout-fighting, treatment-and-moisturizer-in-one product that many of our blemish-prone customers swear by.
  • Vintner's Daughter is an anti-aging serum that uses grapeseed oil as its base, which absorbs well and makes it suitable even for oilier skin types. It boasts myriad anti-aging ingredients and works beautifully on many of our acne-prone customers.

  • Marie Veronique Protective Day Oil works on a wide range of skin types, from combination-oily to dry, because it absorbs quickly and layers well. It boasts a blend of antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory oils, some of which are naturally sun-protective.
  • MyHavtorn Organic Facial Oil is excellent for sensitive skin, and it's particularly wonderful for the rosacea-prone. It's rich in vitamins A and C, and it boasts a full suite of essential fatty acids to deeply nourish skin. At the same time, it's not too heavy.
  • M Picaut Precious Oil sets itself apart as an oil/anti-aging serum hybrid because it blends organic oils with high-powered peptides to boost elasticity, firm skin, and plump fine lines and wrinkles. We typically recommend it as a booster with a moisture lotion or a hyaluronic acid serum, but it works just fine on its own, too.
  • S5 Replenish Serum has a unique, lightweight feel that belies the suite of heavy-duty replenishing oils it contains. A great choice for those battling irritation or hormonally-induced skin changes who want a light and non-greasy formula.
  • The Organic Pharmacy Antioxidant Serum is one of our best sellers, and our top choice for those who want an oil that really goes to work on the signs of aging (from wrinkles to hyperpigmentation and other signs of sun damage). If you wish you could use it but worry that it might be too heavy for you, just blend it with The Organic Pharmacy's Antioxidant Gel to create the perfect product for you.
  • Marie Veronique Rejuvenating Night Oil is our most substantial oil, and a top choice for those who find that their skin looks dry and dull (it can be used day or night, despite the name). Packed with super-nourishing organic oils, this wonder product has the ability to transform lackluster skin overnight.