These four oils are recommended by dermatologists. (Photo: Henry Leutwyler)
In case you missed it, oily skin is in. Every day, another celeb or makeup artist admits to being over-the-moon about oiling up, whether with a natural oil (like coconut) or essential oil (like lavender). Oils definitely have their perks.
Since many over-the-counter products contain toxic or allergenic compounds, they can be an especially good alternative for consumers with sensitive skin, allergies or who are synthetic chemical-wary. In addition to providing a moisture barrier to soften skin, essential oils, in particular, have effects beyond moisturizing according to expert and author Robert Tisserand. “Essential oils have an unusual chemistry,” he says. The small molecular size lets them penetrate the skin’s top layers.
Before you play with oil at home, dermatologists say it’s important to always test first to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction. “Thyme, oregano, cinnamon and clove are particularly irritant,” says New York City dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe. Some—including citrus oils like bergamot and lemon— can also make you more prone to sun damage.
We talked to some of the country’s top dermatologists and experts to find out which oils work best.
For Acne: Tea Tree Oil
Even the most skeptical derms agreed that tea tree oil works. “It does have microbial properties,” says Connecticut based dermatologist Dr. Lisa Donofrio. It can help to clear up pimple-causing bacteria. As with any essential oil, never apply tea tree oil directly; instead, either buy it diluted or use between 5 and 15 drops of an undiluted essential oil per ounce of base oil, like argan, rosehip or jojoba.
For Rosacea: Lavender Oil
“Lavender oil does have antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s thought to also have some antioxidant activity,” says Dr. Shari Lipner, dermatologist at the New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. That makes it ideal for someone with rosacea. It does make your skin extra-sensitive to the sun, though, so slather on the SPF.
For Dry Skin on the Body: Coconut Oil
Dermatologists agree that coconut oil can to clog their patient’s pores so it’s best to avoid using it as a moisturizer for your face, but on chapped lips or dry legs, it’s ideal.
For Dry Skin on the Face: Argan Oil
“From the neck up, I would use argan oil, says Dr. Angela Lamb, an assistant professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital. “It’s a thin oil and it hasn’t been shown anecdotally to clog pores.” Bonus: It smells great.