The Best Face Oils to Treat Dry Skin this Winter

These potent formulas restore your glow, minus any greasy residue.

Dryness, flakes, redness, itching: Ah, winter must be here, judging by the skin conditions spiking right now. The best antidote: super nourishing face oils, which, thanks to their high lipid content, heal parched patches and repair your moisture barrier to prevent water loss. These elixirs have proven so effective that there are now hundreds to choose from, which can be a bit overwhelming. Also applying oils isn’t as intuitive as slathering on moisturizer. Every formula has a different feel, and most are highly versatile, meaning you can pat them on in different ways. Consider this a guide to frequently asked questions — what’s the best time to apply? how much to use? what to pair oils with—so you can survive winter with a healthy, dewy glow.

Apply As the Last Step, But Experiment, Too

Most experts agree that face oils should be applied as the last step in your skincare routine, before sunscreen and makeup. The reason being that most botanicals oils have a large molecular structure, which means they mostly reside on the upper levels of your skin. Products with smaller molecules, such as essences and serums, and water-based moisturizers, penetrate deeper, and should therefore, go underneath your oil. But, there’s no harm in experimenting to see what works best for you. Those with super dry skin sometimes apply an oil first, let it absorb fully, and then proceed with the rest of their routine. Others dab oil over makeup, too, for a little extra shine.

Pat, Don’t Rub, On Oils

Unlike creams and serums, oils don’t need to applied all over your face, from your chin to hairline. Instead, if you only have a few dry patches, spot treat where needed—such as on your cheeks and other high points of the face. A little goes a long way: Put a few drops on your fingertips, spread together and then press and pat onto your face. If you think oils make you feel greasy it’s likely because you’re applying too much.

Mix Into Other Products

Oils can be combined with other beauty products for an extra shot of moisture. Try putting a drop in your moisturizer or even your foundation and blending on the back of your hand to bring more hydration into your routine.

Get the Benefits Without the Shine by Applying at Night

If you like a minimal, matte look during the day, apply your oil before bed, as overnight treatment. Give it a few minutes to absorb before you hit the pillow to avoid any rub-off.

Pick the Right Oil for Your Skin Needs

Most formulas contain multiple oils that work together in harmony to deliver a spectrum of benefits. Here are some of our favorite overall blends.


To lift and refine:

Pai Skincare Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil

Rosehip is rich in omega fatty acids and antioxidants to stimulate cell regeneration—and has long been used in folk medicine as a remedy for treating wounds, scars and fine lines. Sensitive-skin fans particularly love it for calming redness without causing breakouts. To maximize the benefits, this cult favorite British clean-beauty brand uses supercritical CO2 extraction (a non-toxic process involving low temperatures and pressure) to capture the plant’s superpowers.

To brighten and protect:

Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate Oil

Think of this as a daily vitamin for reviving dull skin. Maqui, a fruit hailed for its uniquely high levels of nutrients, such as vitamin C, is combined with antioxidant-loaded berries, plus jojoba and sunflower—oils that are lightweight and easily absorbed. The formula gets top marks for being hydrating but not greasy, especially on combination skin.

To clear and tone:

Sunday Riley Luna Overnight Oil

Retinol is the gold standard for firming skin, improving pores and evening out skin, but it can often be drying. This clever elixir combines retinol with healing plant oils—anti-inflammatory German chamomile, calming blue tansy—for a clear, bright complexion. Use it at night since retinol can make you sun sensitive (and don’t worry the oil’s blue tint won’t transfer to your skin). 

To heal from head to toe:

Noto Botanics Agender Oil

It’s one of the best multitasking oils, formulated with hydrating organic hemp, soothing vetiver and comforting lavender. The result is a versatile tincture that can be dabbed on your face, arms, legs, and even hair to de-frizz ends (or massage it through your roots as an intense treatment for a dry, flaky scalp). 


+ Got more face oils questions? Send them to us in the comments! 

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